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ERISA 3(38) Certification

What is DALBAR's ERISA 3(38) Certification Program?The DALBAR 3(38) Certification Program provides investment managers with a powerful combination of sales tool and compliance disclosures to satisfy the requirements of ERISA section 3(38). Certification enables investment managers to use client testimonials to advertise and attract new assets. 

Do you have what it takes to be a great 3(38)?RIAs can claim to be 3(38)s by putting it on a business card but it is up to the plan fiduciary to make sure that there is substance behind the business card:

  • Competent: Experience, qualifications and knowledge
  • Superior background and performance
  • Reasonable fiduciary arrangement
  • Financial strength to take on the responsibilities

Without solid answers, the career as a 3(38) will not last very long.

Complete the Ultimate 3(38) Questionnaire for an evaluation of your prospects for success as a great 3(38).

What are the Benefits of Participation?Gives Certificants the ability to:

  • Use the client testimonials in marketing and promotional materials:
    • Trust – How many of your clients really trust your firm?
    • Results – How many believe their investments performed as expected?
    • Advice – How many respect the quality of investment advice from your firm?
    • Service – What percentage of your clients believe you deliver great service?
  • Support due diligence required by ERISA

What are the Deliverables?

  • Personalized Credential document
  • Certificate of Achievement
  • Client feedback from evaluations performed

What are the Prerequisites? Financial Professional must:

  • Have a minimum of 5 years experience in the field of financial advice.
  • Be a full time financial professional
  • Pass a background check.

What is the Certification Process? The following steps are required to obtain the DALBAR rating:

  • Candidate completes application detailing qualifications and experience.
  • DALBAR conducts a background check of the regulatory record of the candidate to determine if the individual qualifies for certification in compliance with SEC rules.
  • DALBAR reviews the client agreement to determine if it services and terms are consistent with ERISA 3(38) and that document is understandable without bias against client.
  • DALBAR evaluates investment theory to determine if it is generally accepted.
  • DALBAR reviews due diligence and investment performance reports to determine if basic tool are available to perform as 3(38) manager.
  • Candidate provides DALBAR with a complete list of clients.
  • DALBAR verifies completeness and evaluates a representative sample of clients to determine if ethical and quality standards have been met.
  • DALBAR issues certification.

What is the Timing and Cost? Timing:

Certifications take approximately 60 days. Certifications are renewable annually.


The cost for certification of the firm is $3,250 for the first time, plus $250 for each IAR. The cost to renew is $2,500.

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