Protecting and expanding retirement security access is goal of IRI’s just-released 2017 advocacy blueprint

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) released its 2017 Retirement Security Blueprint during a live conference call on Monday. The Blueprint is built upon common sense, bipartisan policies designed to help Americans achieve a secure and dignified retirement, the IRI said in a statement announcing the Blueprint.

The IRI plans to use the Blueprint to advocate for the sustainable retirement solutions Americans need and to engage Congress and the Administration in a dialogue about the retirement security challenges Americans are contending with today.

“The principle of protecting and expanding access for American retirement savers is the foundation of our 2017 agenda,” IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford said. “Our Blueprint identifies policy proposals that expand access to workplace retirement plans, increase lifetime income options to help Americans ensure their savings will not be outlived, protect access to professional financial advice, improve access to the education American savers need to make better-informed decisions regarding their finances, and preserve the current tax treatment and structures for Americans’ retirement plans.”

Cathy Weatherford

Highlights from IRI’s 2017 Policy Agenda:

• “Do No Harm” to Current Retirement Policy for America’s Retirement Savers: Congress should enact legislation to: (1) establish a consistent best interest standard of care that protects affordable access to professional financial guidance, preserves access to retirement advice, and offers a wide array of lifetime income products; (2) maintain tax-deferred treatment for retirement savings to help workers prepare for a secure retirement; and (3) protect the current structure and diversity of workplace retirement plans by maintaining the different types and structures of retirement plans that were created for the needs of different types of workers.

• Increase Workers’ Access to Lifetime Income in Retirement Plans: Congress or the Department of Labor should clarify employer fiduciary responsibility in the annuity selection regulations to allow employers to select lifetime income products provided by insurers that meet certain existing regulatory requirements. Congress should enact legislation to: (1) enable annuity portability to ensure workers are not harmed if their employer decides to make a recordkeeping change; and (2) to remove regulatory and legal barriers to facilitate small businesses use of multiple employer plans.

• Help Americans to Better Prepare for a Secure Retirement: Congress should enact legislation to: (1) require lifetime income estimates on workers’ benefit statements; encourage employers to offer retirement plans for workers if workers do not have access to other retirement plans; (2) increase auto-enrollment and auto-escalation default rates; (3) enable financial advisors to protect their clients from financial abuse and exploitation; (4) permit electronic disclosure for required disclosures to retirement plan participants; (5) update required minimum distribution (RMD) rules to reflect longer lifespans; and (6) amend the IRS Code to reduce the age requirement for in-service rollovers to purchase lifetime income products.

• Regulatory Initiatives to Promote Consumer Choice, Education and Reduce Regulatory Burdens for Lifetime Income Options: (1) Congress or the Department of Labor should preserve employer choice, competition and protections on retirement plan coverage options by revoking the state and local savings arrangements rules, and instead authorize states and local governments to rely on existing requirements for private sector plans; (2) the Securities Exchange Commission should adopt a variable annuity summary prospectus and annual update to improve consumers’ understanding of their investment choices and reduce regulatory burdens to facilitate better decision-making regarding lifetime income options; and (3) the president should implement the national insurance licensing clearinghouse by appointing National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB) board and establish a one-stop federal licensing clearinghouse for financial professionals holding state insurance licenses in multiple states.

Click HERE to access a PDF of the IRI 2017 Advocacy Blueprint.

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.