House, Senate Agree to Retain State Oversight of EIAs

Reps. Bachus and Garrett say states have regulated EIAs appropriately

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  • Suitability and Fiduciary Duty Recommending suitable investments is more than just a regulatory obligation.  Many investors bring cases claiming lack of suitability, so RIAs must continuously put the onus on clients to notify the advisor of changes in their financial situation.  
  • Client Communication and Miscommunication RIA policies and procedures must specify what type of communications should be retained. The safest course of action is for RIAs to retain all communications—to clients, from clients, and about client accounts.  To comply with fiduciary obligations, communications must be thorough and not mislead.
House conferees agreed Thursday, June 24, with the Senate in passing the amendment offered by Senator Tom Harkin's (D-Iowa) which retained state regulation of equity-indexed annuities (EIAs).

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) voted against the Harkin amendment, stating that dual oversight of equity-indexed annuities by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the states was the best way to go.

However, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) ranking minority member on the House Financial Services Committee, said that over the last two years the "states did an excellent job of regulating the insurance industry." Regulating EIAs as securities, Bachus argued, would "lead to other insurance policies being classified as securities," like whole life policies. He questioned whether it was wise to put yet another product under the SEC's oversight when the agency is "struggling."

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-New Jersey) concurred with Bachus, stating that the "record shows that the states have regulated these [EIA] products appropriately."

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