The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) opened its annual conference on Tuesday with a celebration of three decades of championing retirement security for America’s workers and retirees.
The four-day virtual event runs this week and next with informative and thought-provoking speakers and sessions focusing on the insured retirement industry’s issues and challenges.
In opening remarks, IRI President and CEO Wayne Chopus announced that IRI is celebrating 30 years since its inception as the National Association of Variable Annuities in 1991. The name change to the Insured Retirement Institute occurred in 2009.
“The new identity was a better reflection of the broader nature of our mission and our members,” Chopus said. “Our members give IRI its unique value proposition — no other industry association represents the entire supply chain of the insured retirement industry. Each link in the chain is essential to our overall success, and we are a stronger, more credible organization by representing a holistic view of our industry.”
Reflecting on the association’s history, Chopus described five observations about the industry. “We find ourselves at a confluence of circumstances and events that, while challenging in many ways, also offer significant opportunities,” he said.
“An insured retirement matters,” Chopus stated. “Nothing else in the marketplace today offers the benefits, safety, and security that annuities provide.”
He added that market conditions, demographics, positive changes in public policy, and technology advancements are making annuities more desirable and available.
Next, he noted that today’s investing environment is among the most challenging of our lifetimes, and the complexity in generating income from a portfolio requires expert human guidance. “Financial advisors are more valuable than ever,” Chopus said.
Chopus also said that advocacy strategy must be constructive, flexible, and focused. “Advocacy will continue to be a critical and major IRI asset,” he said. “We are the industry’s common voice to advance policies that provide solutions to the retirement issues facing our nation today.”
Technology was the focus of Chopus’ fourth observation, noting that the adoption of digital solutions is accelerating. “IRI is leading the industry in a digital solution transformation that is overdue and critical to future success,” he said.
Chopus added that the pandemic served as a change accelerant as companies had to adapt to a virtual world. “This first-of-its-kind initiative is vital to our industry as technological changes march forward and consumers need access to the products and services our industry delivers.”
The fifth observation centered on the critical importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). “This a mission of action, not merely words,” Chopus said.
He added that IRI has a critical role in driving necessary change given its unique position representing the entire supply chain of insured retirement solutions. IRI established a board-level working group and an advisory council of member company DEI professionals to guide IRI efforts to promote adoption of best practices.
“Thirty years ago, IRI was formed to help lead our industry to meet the challenges of the day,” Chopus said. “Challenges remain. They always will. But IRI is your dedicated partner and advocate prepared to address those challenges. Working together, we can deliver on the promises our industry makes to help America’s workers and retirees achieve a secure and dignified retirement.”