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FIA Fly-In: More Than 150 Offices Visited

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Participants in the fixed indexed annuity fly-in are probably visiting the offices of more than 50 senators and about 100 House members this week.

Blair O’Connor, legislative affairs committee chair at the National Association for Fixed Annuities, Milwaukee, and chairman of the new Independent Fixed Annuities Agents Council, Sterling Heights, gave that estimate in an interview today.

The fly-in attracted a total of about 100 participants.

The fly-in officially took place Tuesday, but many participants – especially those who flew in from the West Coast – are still in Washington, O’Connor says.

“We’re going to do a breakdown Monday,” O’Connor says.

O’Connor, president of Producer’s Choice Inc., Sterling Heights, Mich., an FIA wholesaler, helped lead efforts to organize the fly-in.

Fly-in participants want the House to pass H.R. 2733 and the Senate to pass S. 1389. The bills would define fixed indexed annuities as insurance products and block the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from trying to implement Rule 151A, which would classify the products as securities.

The SEC argues that it should regulate FIA products as securities because, from the perspective of consumers, they appear to be similar to securities.

Fly-in participants argue that the products clearly are insurance products, with principal and minimum returns backed by insurance company general accounts. They also argue that defining FIA products as securities would drive up compliance costs and make the products unaffordable.

Reps. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and Thomas Price, R-Ga., introduced H.R. 2733.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., is the primary sponsor of S. 1389.

Nelson spoke at a fly-in reception Tuesday, and Meeks appeared at a fly-in breakfast meeting Wednesday.

Meeting reports are still coming in, but participants believe they have persuaded at least 5 lawmakers to become cosponsors of either H.R. 2733 or S. 1389, according to NAFA Executive Vice President Kim O’Brien.

O’Brien says she was pleased with the fly-in turnout.

“We even had Idaho and Missouri,” O’Brien says.

Some key lawmakers come from those states, but finding agents from those states who can come to Washington is sometimes difficult, O’Brien says.

Many fly-in participants said the event was awe-inspiring and fun as well as a way to make their voices heard on an issue that they care about.

Michael Passer, a Las Vegas FIA wholesaler, said while staring at Senate office buildings that he was amazed by the buildings themselves.

He said he was asking himself, “I get to go in this building?”

Diane Brewer and Michael Passer

Diane Brewer, a Las Vegas financial services retailer, went with Passer to 5 meetings Wednesday, then went with another fly-in participant to a breakfast meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., today. She did not get time to make her case directly to Reid, but she spent an hour with an aide, and the aide made arrangements for an office staffer to take her on a tour of the Capitol.


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