IRI: Policymakers Must Focus On Retirement Security Challenges
By Cathy Weatherford
Insured Retirement Institute (IRI)
Washington, D.C. - The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) released the following statement from IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford in response to President Obama's State of the Union address last night in relationship to important policy issues affecting retirement security in America:
"The President is rightly focused on protecting the promise of a secure retirement for all Americans. The facts show that Americans are struggling to save and are lacking confidence in attaining a financially secure retirement. According to IRI's Baby Boomer research, only 36 percent of Americans aged 50 to 66 believe they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years. The work the Administration has done to promote lifetime income options within retirement plans has been laudable. The next step is to provide clarity to plan sponsors to alleviate their concerns so that in-plan options can become more broadly available. I believe we can overcome these hurdles.
Regarding efforts to cut the nation's deficit and broader tax policy reforms, our industry needs to be vigilant. While no proposal has been put forward in Congress that would reduce or eliminate the tax-deferred status of annuities or other retirement saving plans, ongoing fiscal battles bring with them the temptation to seek new short-term federal revenues by cutting these important incentives. As leaders in Washington study tax expenditures, it must be made clear that tax deferral is greatly valued, significantly utilized, and an important tool to help middle-income Americans save for a financially secure future. As such, it is paramount that we call on all policymakers to join us in working to protect these incentives that are helping Americans attain financial security in retirement.
Efforts underway at the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue a modified rule that would determine when a person is considered a fiduciary under ERISA also must be closely watched as such a rule could bring with it potentially adverse consequences for the retirement security of middle-income Americans. It is believed that the DOL's initial proposal, which was withdrawn in 2011, would lead to increased costs and limit consumer choice. A modified proposal is expected in the coming months. We will need to work with policymakers to ensure that any proposal does not present middle-income Americans with a barrier to obtaining affordable services to help make informed decisions regarding their retirement plans. The guiding question should be: how does this help address the retirement security challenges that we face as a nation?"
About the Insured Retirement Institute:
The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) is a not-for-profit organization that for twenty years has been a mainstay of service, commitment and collaboration within the insured retirement industry. Today, IRI is considered to be the authoritative source of all things pertaining to annuities, insured retirement strategies and retirement planning. IRI proudly leads a national consumer education coalition of nearly twenty organizations and is the only association that represents the entire supply chain of insured retirement strategies: Our members are the major insurers, asset managers, broker-dealers/distributors, and 150,000 financial professionals. IRI exists to vigorously promote consumer confidence in the value and viability of insured retirement strategies, bringing together the interests of the industry, financial advisors and consumers under one umbrella.
IRI's mission is to: encourage industry adherence to highest ethical principles; promote better understanding of the insured retirement value proposition; develop and promote best practice standards to improve value delivery; and advocate before public policy makers on critical issues affecting insured retirement strategies and the consumers that rely on their guarantees. Visit www.IRIonline.org today to experience the vast resources of the Insured Retirement Institute for yourself.