IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford applauded the Obama administration Tuesday for making retirement reform a priority and suggested many of the issues enjoy a rare distinction on Capitol Hill — bipartisan support.
That said, the lobbying organization will no doubt take part in the counterassault to President Obama’s proposal to cap contributions to retirement accounts once individuals reach a balance of $3.4 million.
Also read: Obama to push retirement reforms
And the group, which represents the interests of insurers, broker-dealers, asset managers and financial professionals, stands at the ready to push back against an overreaching fiduciary standard, if indeed the Department of Labor’s final rule amounts to as much.
Here, then, is a closer look at the IRI’s 2015 regulatory agenda: 1. Maintain tax-deferred treatment for retirement savings. IRI wants Congress to maintain the current tax treatment for retirement savings to help workers prepare for a more secure retirement. Research conducted by IRI overwhelmingly shows Americans would save less if tax deferral were reduced or eliminated.
2. Protect access to professional financial help (aka counter the DOL’s fiduciary rule, if need be). The Department of Labor has been considering making changes to the definition of a “fiduciary” – changes that IRI believes would prevent consumers from accessing these services through full-service brokerage accounts. Research, it says, shows that those who work with a financial professional have better savings habits and exhibit sounder retirement planning behaviors.
3. Clarify employer fiduciary responsibility on longevity annuities.Employers need clear rules regarding their selection of lifetime income annuity products they select for retirement plans. Current regulations ask too much of employers in assessing insurance companies viability to meet future obligations.
4. Enable annuity portability. The tax code needs to be amended to make a recordkeeping change a “distributable” event. This will assure workers they don’t lose guarantees when sponsors change annuities or service providers. 5. Provide multiple employer plans with lifetime income options. Bipartisan support exists to expand MEPs to more employers, IRI says. It wants Congress to require lifetime income options in all MEPs.