Big Sky Blessing

May 19, 2021

Blessed by rich mineral reserves and majestic vistas, Montana boasts two iconic nicknames: The Treasure State and Big Sky Country.

Now there is another reason for Montanans to feel blessed, thanks to a new consumer protection law signed recently by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte.

The legislation ensures that financial professionals must act in the best interest of Montana savers. It enhances the standards financial professionals must follow while ensuring that individual savers maintain access to, and information about, annuities, the only financial product in the marketplace that can provide guaranteed income for life. 

This is a significant victory for all Montana citizens planning for retirement.

The law mirrors the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) updated model regulation on annuity transactions, and builds on momentum for similar consumer protections nationwide. Montana is now the 11th state with a new law or rule that incorporates the NAIC model’s enhanced consumer protections. Several additional states are considering comparable measures to protect their residents.

The activities in the states also closely align with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest, which took effect last year. 

With these enhanced state and federal consumer protections, savers can be confident that financial professionals must act in the consumer’s best interest when offering recommendations about retirement savings products, including annuities. The U.S. Congress reaffirmed the significance of lifetime income when it passed legislation in 2019 that made it easier for employers to include annuities in workplace retirement plans. These protections safeguard consumers while also ensuring that middle- and working-class families will retain access to clear and sensible financial information.   

Now more than ever, preserving access to financial information is especially important. The economic turbulence ignited by COVID-19 has raised concerns for many Americans about their retirement security. These apprehensions can be eased by financial security tools, including annuities, which can provide income that retirees cannot outlive.

More states should follow the lead of Montana with this treasured consumer protection. Then more consumers across our nation will benefit from a best interest standard of care, regardless of where they live.

(Dan Rust, a State Farm agent, is Government Relations Chairman for NAIFA-MT and NAIFA National Committeeman for Montana.)

Joann Waiters

Joann Waiters is a Regional Vice President in the State Relations Department at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). She has worked at ACLI for over 20 years and is currently responsible for managing the legislative and regulatory affairs for Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Montana.