Don’t Hurt People Like Joan

Feb 28, 2022

America’s life insurers believe that everyone – no matter their gender, race or how much they earn or have saved – should have access to the knowledge and tools to help protect their family’s financial future. That includes everyone having the right to learn about and choose from the many different options available in the marketplace.

Unfortunately, a new regulation under consideration in Washington, D.C. would cut off access to these options and hurt the very people the regulation intends to help.

People like Joan Gustaff.

Joan and I testified at a hearing in Boston two years ago, opposing a plan to impose a strict fiduciary regulation in Massachusetts. Two weeks later, Joan wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, echoing our concerns. As a small business owner in Boston with modest savings, she worried the proposed regulation could limit access to life insurance and annuities for many residents like her. It’s important to know that the average annual income of an annuity holder is $70,000.

The points Joan made about that state proposal two years ago are just as relevant today. Regulators at the U.S. Department of Labor are considering reinstating a previously discredited federal regulation that made it harder for lower and middle-income Americans to have access to and information about annuities. If this approach is resurrected, many working Americans who don’t have $100,000 or more in savings required by most fiduciaries would lose support from financial professionals who receive one-time commissions.

ACLI recently reconnected with Joan, who shared her story with us so that policymakers could hear what access to information and options meant for her. Joan started working with a financial professional when her retirement portfolio was too small for most fiduciaries to even consider. She said she benefitted greatly from the products she chose.

Joan has since happily retired. She passionately believes that all savers should have access to the options that she had, especially the ability to protect retirement savings and make it a source of guaranteed income for life, alongside Social Security.

“If you decide to adopt a fiduciary-only regulation, you are taking away the ability for many small investors to find financial advisors to work with them and maximize their investments to achieve a comfortable retirement,” she said.

Financial protections shouldn’t limit financial options. And all retirement savers, particularly those of moderate and limited means, deserve the right to choose how they protect their family’s financial future. The federal government must not make it harder for working Americans to achieve financial security.

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 94 percent of industry assets and serve 90 million families.