Access, Not Obstacles

Jan 12, 2024

America’s life insurers believe that everyone deserves a retirement they can count on, and access to the tools to get there.

That’s why we strongly supported legislation signed into law by the last two presidents that made it easier for workers to access guaranteed lifetime income as part of retirement savings plans. And that’s why we adamantly oppose the U.S. Department of Labor’s latest fiduciary-only proposal that will make it harder for low- and middle-income Americans to obtain annuities and guaranteed lifetime income.

We reiterated these messages this week during an important hearing of the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee in Washington D.C.

In my hearing testimony, I recognized Congress for its leadership in supporting Americans’ retirement security through its overwhelming bipartisan votes approving the SECURE and SECURE 2.0 bills. I also contrasted Congress’s forward thinking to the DOL’s recalcitrant insistence on resurrecting a discredited fiduciary-only proposal.

The DOL tried to advance a restrictive fiduciary-only package before. But its 2016 rule was vacated by a federal court two years later. Before the Fifth Circuit vacated the onerous fiduciary-only rule, more than 10 million American workers’ accounts with $900 billion in savings lost access to professional financial guidance, according to a 2018 Deloitte study.

In a letter to the DOL this week calling for the proposal to be shelved, a bipartisan group of 50 House members, led by Reps. French Hill (R-AR) and David Scott (D-GA), cited the Deloitte report as well as a Quantria Strategies study that showed that reinstatement of the rule would result in a roughly 20% increase in the wealth gap for Black and Hispanic Americans.

“Past efforts by DOL to pursue expanding and supposed enhancements to these rules, which federal courts have repeatedly rejected, dealt a devastating blow to millions of America’s workers and retirees by impairing their ability to obtain much-needed affordable financial professional help to prepare for and achieve a secure and dignified retirement,” they wrote. “We urge DOL to cease its efforts to adopt this proposal so that harm can be prevented from needlessly being inflicted on millions of retirement savers across the country.”

Truer words were never spoken … or written.

Susan K. Neely

Susan K. Neely is the President and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the nation’s leading trade association determined to help families live better lives by achieving financial security and certainty. As president and CEO, Neely drives public policy and advocacy on behalf of ACLI’s member companies that represent 93 percent of industry assets and serve 90 million families.