WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 28, 2014 – The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) released the following statement from IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford, in advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, outlining IRI’s federal public policy priorities in 2014:
“A year ago, tax reform was the talk of the town. We made it our central focus to ensure that all policymakers understood the importance of tax incentives for retirement savings, and many put pen to paper – encouraging their protection in any reform legislation. Tax reform momentum has since stalled, but the importance of these savings incentives has not diminished. As we watch President Obama’s address this evening, we will be listening carefully for any new tax reform efforts, and we will remain vigilant as reducing or eliminating tax deferral for retirement savings would be detrimental to those working toward a financially secure retirement.
“We also will be listening to learn about President Obama’s ideas for creating a more efficient regulatory environment. The Treasury Department, via the Federal Insurance Office, recently recognized the need for increased uniformity in insurance oversight to benefit both market participants and consumers. At IRI, we support reforms that will lead to more efficient and effective regulation, ultimately reducing the costs to insurance providers and the Americans who rely on their strategies for a secure retirement. That is why we have long advocated for commonsense reforms, such as the creation of a national insurance licensing clearinghouse through the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act (NARAB II). Already passed in the House and with possible Senate action on the horizon, we are committed to work with policymakers to help streamline and improve the insurance licensing process for thousands of financial advisors across the nation.
“President Obama and his administration have been tremendous partners in promoting lifetime income and educational initiatives that enhance Americans’ understanding of their retirement savings options, such as the Department of Labor’s (DOL) work to develop rules for including income illustrations on benefit statements. These efforts to expand access to lifetime income and retirement information are laudable. But it will be equally important to ensure that no other efforts deliver the unintended consequence of impeding access to investment information and retirement plan services. As President Obama readies his address to the nation, we know that it is a nation that is lacking confidence in their retirement security. We also know that those working with a trusted financial professional are much more confident in their retirement plans. They also are more likely to have determined a retirement savings goal, more likely to have retirement savings, and overall, are more engaged with their retirement plans. Thus it is imperative that, above anything else, we focus on protecting and expanding access to retirement information and services. This includes ensuring that the DOL’s ‘fiduciary rule’ does not limit consumer choice and deprive lower- and middle-income Americans from accessing affordable retirement plan services and information. Throughout the year, we will knock on doors and ensure all policymakers understand the importance of the advisor-client relationship, and we will partner with any and all who share our goal of protecting access to retirement plan information and services. Together we can ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to attain a financially secure and dignified retirement.”