Washington, DC (PRWEB) June 27, 2014
As part of its promotion of June as National Annuity Awareness Month, NAFA, the National Association for Fixed Annuities, held its fourth annual Annuity Leadership Forum at the Liaison Capitol Hill June 11-13, 2014. The event was broken into two key components: a walk on the Hill, focusing exclusively on educating members of Congress about fixed annuities, and general sessions focusing on legal, regulatory and compliance issues facing fixed annuities in the form of tax reform, securitization efforts, QLAC, suitability, fiduciary standards and more.
Industry leaders and professionals from across the nation had the opportunity to hear from and engage with an impressive lineup of speakers, including Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Representative Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.), former NAIC Commissioner Jim Poolman, and Attorney-Advisor for the U.S. Department of Treasury William M. Evans, among others. These individuals offered unique insight into the current legislative environment and perspectives on challenges proponents of fixed annuities may face as various proposed regulations are reviewed and considered.
“Although we won the fight against SEC Rule 151A in 2010, we continue to have our work cut out for us. Fixed annuities are in a precarious position when it comes to current issues like tax reform and the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary duty standard. Without support and continued interest shown by professionals across the industry, we may face legislation that could have a detrimental effect on fixed annuity products and the benefits they offer consumers,” said Kim O’Brien, NAFA president and CEO. “NAFA is pleased to have gathered such a great group of industry leaders and speakers to reinforce the need for continued fixed annuity advocacy.”
During the forum’s opening reception Wednesday evening, Representative Moore reminded attendees of the important role annuities play in helping consumers hedge against the risk of outliving their assets. She shared her commitment to continue working diligently to make certain consumers have access to free retirement planning advice and that they are not limited in their financial options for preparing for their future. She then thanked NAFA for its dedication to promoting the education and awareness of these important products and shared her enthusiasm and support for June as National Annuity Awareness Month.
Thursday morning’s general sessions were kicked off by a keynote from Senator Hatch, who reminded listeners that retirement annuity legislation does not have to wait for tax reform. Rather, he shared some of the key aspects of the proposed Secure Annuities for Employee (SAFE) Retirement Act of 2013 that he unveiled last summer. He highlighted that annuities offer critical protection from living too long, and that the SAFE Act would work to remove obstacles for accessing annuity options from 401(k) plans and provide employers with annuity fiduciary standard protection.
“Let me tell you, a comprehensive bill on a complex subject like retirement and annuities does not come together overnight. NAFA was one of the first and most enthusiastic supporters of my bill. And, it really helped immensely, so I am very grateful to you and want to thank you for it. It’s a difficult subject to talk about but you understand it better than anybody else,” said Hatch.
After a full day of discussions led by a variety of industry leaders, Evans closed the general sessions by sharing insight into the myRA program, offering a new retirement savings account for individuals looking for a simple, safe and affordable way to start saving, currently being developed by the U.S. Department of Treasury. He mentioned that the Treasury is looking for input on two aspects of the program in particular, including ways to improve the process of minimizing retirement plan leakage for consumers considering IRA rollovers and options for helping consumers with the decumulation phase that work to protect against longevity risk. Within this part of the program, the Treasury is considering revising distribution rule requirements to allow workers of a certain age to use a portion of their account to purchase an annuity, and thereby have access to income that can last as many years as they live.
Following the conclusion of speakers, attendees walked the Hill, meeting with their respective elected officials to discuss the importance of fixed annuities in consumer planning and concerns with regard to potential tax reform and fiduciary regulation that will negatively impact these products, the industry, and consumers who want and need them. Additionally, attendees asked for Congressional support of declaring June as National Annuity Awareness Month. The response to these meetings was overwhelmingly positive, and participants agreed the message was well received.
As NAFA continues to advocate for fixed annuities and the industry as a whole, part of this outreach will be to work toward a resolution in the House or Senate for National Annuity Awareness Month. NAFA is a leading member of the Coalition for Annuity Awareness and will be working with this group of industry associations and companies to continue the mission of protecting fixed annuities from unnecessary oversight and potentially harmful legislation.
NAFA, the National Association for Fixed Annuities, is the premier trade association exclusively dedicated to fixed annuities. Our mission is to promote the awareness and understanding of fixed annuities. We educate annuity salespeople, regulators, legislators, journalists, and industry personnel about the value of fixed annuities and their benefits to consumers. NAFA’s membership represents every aspect of the fixed annuity marketplace covering 85% of fixed annuities sold by independent agents, advisors and brokers. NAFA was founded in 1998. For more information, visit http://www.nafa.com.
About the Coalition for Annuity Awareness
The Coalition for Annuity Awareness is comprised of industry associations who serve consumers by helping them understand annuity products. As today’s challenging economic environment continues to evolve, a growing number of individuals and families are turning to annuities to help provide security for their retirement. Specifically, many consumers are using annuities as a vital risk management tool to protect themselves against the possibility of outliving their financial resources. Annuities are unique among financial products in the marketplace because they can provide retirees with a guaranteed lifetime income stream.
Currently, there is more than $500 billion of in-force premium serving roughly 3.3 million Americans. The annuity market is largely comprised of middle-class consumers with an average annuity valued at $90,000(1) and a household income of around $100,000(2). In 2012, life insurance companies paid $97 billion in annuity benefit payments providing crucial retirement security to contract holders(3). In addition, more than 75 million Americans rely on annuities and other insurance products for financial and retirement security, and nearly 20 percent of Americans’ long-term savings is in life insurance and annuities. For more information about National Annuity Awareness Month and resources, visit http://www.annuityed.org.
 2013 Beacon Research Report
 The Committee of Annuity Insurers, Survey of Owners of Individual Annuity Contracts (The Gallup Organization and Mathew Greenwald & Associates, 2013
 The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI)