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Bills Introduced to Foil DOL Fiduciary Plan

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With Congress failing to include an alternative to the proposed Department of Labor fiduciary standard or a defunding rider in the omnibus spending bill earlier this week, Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced two measures Friday that they say will help ensure financial advisors are able to provide retirement advice as they’ve done in the past.

The Strengthening Access to Valuable Education and Retirement Support (SAVERS) Act is being led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), while Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) is supporting the Affordable Retirement Advice Protection (ARAP) Act. Both pieces of legislation would require an affirmative vote by Congress before any final rule by the Department of Labor goes into effect.

“We’re proud to strengthen and protect retirement planning tools for working families by raising investment advice standards throughout the industry,” a bipartisan group of legislators said in a press release on Friday. “These bipartisan proposals require advisors to serve their clients’ best interests, strengthen protections for retirement savers, and maintain access to quality financial advice for small businesses and low- and middle-income Americans.”

The group includes Roskam and Roe, as well as Reps. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and John Larson (D-Conn.).

The Financial Services Institute, which represents independent broker-dealers, says it is pleased with these bipartisan efforts “to protect retirement savers.”

FSI President & CEO Dale Brown says the group supports the SAVERS Act, which addresses “deep concerns over the pending Department of Labor fiduciary rule and its effects on retirement savers.”

For years, “a large, bipartisan swath of Congress has shown great concern with the impact the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule will have on small and mid-sized investors,” Brown said in a statement. “We are hopeful the Department will take Congress’ deep concerns seriously and fix this rule before it’s finalized and retirement savers are irreparably harmed.” 

American Council of Life Insurers President & CEO Governor Dirk Kempthorne says his organization supports the bills. “Many of the 10,000 baby boomers reaching age 65 every day need help now, or will need help in the near future, financially planning for retirement. These bills are pro-consumer because they enhance consumer protections by ensuring savers and retirees maintain access to financial professionals who will be required to act in their clients’ best interest,” Kempthorne explained in a statement.

“We urge more members of Congress to co-sponsor these bills and encourage swift action in the House and Senate,” he added.

Also on Friday, FSI shared the news that Hornor, Townsend & Kent’s 775 independent financial advisors have joined the group.

“FSI has been a strong partner and advocate for independent financial advisors. Since HTK’s advisors serve such an important role in helping clients with their financial lives, we are pleased to offer them even more support that will benefit this noble profession. We hope to help FSI expand its reach and influence by offering complimentary first-year FSI memberships to our network of financial advisors,” said Hornor, Townsend & Kent President and CEO Michelle Barry in a statement.

FSI represents some 100-plus broker-dealers and financial-services firms and their 160,000 affiliated advisors.

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