Blueprint Focused on Expanding Opportunities to Save for Retirement, Increasing Access to Lifetime Income and Protecting Older Investors
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) today released its 2018 Retirement Security Blueprint. The 2018 Blueprint is focused on helping Americans achieve their retirement goals through common-sense, bipartisan policies. The Blueprint will guide IRI’s dialogue with Congress and the Administration about providing sustainable strategies to address the challenges Americans are facing as they seek to save for retirement and achieve a secure and dignified retirement.
“The Blueprint was constructed on the pillars of expanding opportunities to save, increasing access to lifetime income in retirement, helping savers make decisions about their finances for their retirement and protecting older investors from financial exploitation,” said IRI Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lee Covington. “In 2018, we have identified initiatives to pursue which will maintain and enhance the current tax treatment of retirement savings; expand opportunities and enhance features to help Americans save for retirement; increase use of lifetime income products in workplace retirement plans; preserve and improve access to professional financial guidance, education and information; and provide more resources to protect older investors from financial exploitation. We look forward to presenting and discussing these proposals with Members of Congress, the Administration, and state regulators.”
Highlights from IRI’s 2018 Retirement Security Blueprint
Maintain and Enhance the Current Tax Treatment for Retirement Savings
Congress recognized the vital role tax deferred retirement savings plays in spurring America’s economic growth and prosperity in the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” enacted in 2017. Congress should: 1) maintain and promote the use of tax deferral for retirement savings, 2) protect and preserve the distinct types of retirement plans, and 3) create tax incentives to encourage greater usage of guaranteed lifetime income products.
Expand Opportunities for Retirement Savings
Congress should enact legislation which 1) generally requires all but the smallest employers to automatically enroll their employees in a 401(k) plan maintained by the employer and eliminate the barriers which discourage employers from offering these plans 2) removes the regulatory and legal obstacles to facilitate small businesses use of multiple employer plans (Open MEPs), 3) increases auto-enrollment and auto-escalation default rates, and 4) improves and enhances access to the start-up retirement credit for small business employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Increase Access to Lifetime Income Products
Congress or the Department of Labor should clarify employer fiduciary responsibility in the annuity selection safe-harbor. Congress should enact legislation which: 1) enables annuity portability, 2) reduces the age requirement for in-service rollovers to purchase lifetime income products, 3) updates required minimum distribution (RMD) rules to reflect longer lifespans, 4) authorizes the Department of Treasury to enhance and reform the rules governing the use of QLAC, and 5) directs the Department of Labor or the another appropriate federal department to revise Qualified Default Investment Alternatives (QDIAs) rules to allow broader use of lifetime income products as default investment options.
Help Savers Make Decisions about their Finances
IRI is calling for federal and state legislators and regulators to work constructively and collaboratively to develop a clear, consistent and workable best interest standard to avoid the creation of potentially duplicative, conflicting, or incompatible rules. Congress should enact legislation which: 1) requires lifetime income estimates on workers’ benefit statements, and 2) permits electronic disclosure for retirement plans. The Securities and Exchange Commission should adopt a variable annuity summary prospectus and annual update. The President should implement the national insurance licensing clearinghouse.
Provide More Resources to Protect Older Americans from Financial Exploitation
Congress should enact legislation to: 1) enable financial advisors to report suspected financial abuse protect their clients from financial abuse, and 2) restore and increase the amounts appropriated to support currently underfunded federal programs supporting state Adult Protective Service agencies.
Excerpts from the ‘Blueprint’
Help Savers Make Decisions About Their Finances
- 1. ADOPT A CLEAR, CONSISTENT AND WORKABLE BEST INTEREST STANDARD OF CARE
FOR FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS
For nearly a decade, Congress and regulators at the federal and state levels have been working to formulate appropriate standards of conduct for financial professionals who provide personalized advice about investments and/or insurance to retail consumers. The Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule, which took effect in part last year, is under review by order of the President, while the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) are developing their own proposals to establish a best interest standard for financial professionals who provide investment advice.
Moreover, Congress and several state legislatures and regulators are considering or have introduced their own proposals. IRI and its members have long supported the principle that financial professionals should be required to act in their clients’ best interest when providing personalized recommendations. To avoid the creation of duplicative or conflicting rules, IRI urges all regulatory bodies – including the SEC, the NAIC, the DOL, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) – to work constructively and collaboratively to develop a clear, consistent and workable best interest standard that will provide meaningful and effective consumer protections without depriving Americans of access to valuable financial products and services
- 2. REQUIRE LIFETIME INCOME ESTIMATES ON WORKERS’ BENEFIT STATEMENTS To save appropriately for retirement, workers should understand how much monthly income their nest egg could generate in retirement. Research by IRI found that more than 90 percent of workers want retirement income estimates and would find them helpful. Additionally, more than 75 percent of workers said they would increase their savings level after seeing these estimates. Congress should enact the “Lifetime Income Disclosure Act (LIDA),” which would direct the Department of Labor to adopt a rule requiring the inclusion of lifetime income estimates on benefit statements. This provision was also included in the “Small Businesses Add Value for Employees Act (SAVE) of 2017” and the “Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2016.”
- 3. ADOPT A VARIABLE ANNUITY SUMMARY PROSPECTUS A variable annuity summary prospectus would improve consumers’ understanding of their investment choices and reduce regulatory burdens by streamlining disclosures to facilitate better decision making regarding lifetime income options. There is widespread support among investors for a shorter, more consumer-friendly prospectus. An IRI study found that 95 percent of investors would prefer a summary prospectus and six out of 10 individuals said they would be more likely to talk to their financial advisor about, and consider, a variable annuity if they had access to a variable annuity summary prospectus. IRI urges the SEC to move forward expeditiously to promulgate a summary prospectus for variable annuities.
For a digital copy of the Blueprint, click here.
About the Insured Retirement Institute: The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) is the leading association for the retirement income industry. IRI proudly leads a national consumer coalition of more than 30 organizations, and is the only association that represents the entire supply chain of insured retirement strategies. IRI members are the major insurers, asset managers, broker-dealers/distributors, and 150,000 financial professionals. As a not-for-profit organization, IRI provides an objective forum for communication and education, and advocates for the sustainable retirement solutions Americans need to help achieve a secure and dignified retirement. Learn more at www.irionline.org.