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This is part one of a two-part series. Part two will appear next week and will focus on the differences in ERISA compliance between Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)/Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Department of Labor (DOL).

To the average plan sponsor and participant/retail client, there is no difference between a broker and investment adviser. In the regulatory and legal worlds, there is a large difference.

To the average retirement plan investment “advisor,” there is no difference between SEC/FINRA and ERISA regulations when it comes to compliance. In the regulatory and legal worlds there is a large difference and it can lead to big financial problems.

Let’s focus on the differences in the regulators and regulations.

Advisors think being in compliance with ERISA doesn’t matter or worse, being in compliance with SEC/FINRA is in compliance with ERISA.

They are wrong.