Thankful for Choices

Nov 23, 2021

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend provides a welcome opportunity to pause and reflect on what’s truly important in our lives.

We certainly have a great deal to be thankful for, both personally and professionally.

We have seen time and time again how everyone’s financial situation is different. That is why financial professionals work closely with their clients to tailor solutions to best meet their needs.

Thankfully, we live in a nation that lets consumers address their retirement security:

  • With a broad variety of options including annuities
  • With help from financial professionals that best fit their circumstances

For some, that means working with fee-based advisers. But for many, especially lower and middle-income individuals, it means working with financial professionals who receive a one-time commission.

We are thankful that our nation – and our industry — cares deeply about consumer protection. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) updated best interest model regulation on annuity transactions to raise the standards financial professionals must meet while ensuring that consumers maintain access to, and information about, annuities, the only financial product in the marketplace that can provide guaranteed income for life. More than one-third of our United States have adopted rules or laws patterned after the NAIC model.

The actions in the states align closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest, which took effect last year. America’s life insurers strongly support these measures, which ensure that savers, particularly financially vulnerable middle-income Americans, can access and learn about different choices for long-term security throughout retirement.

We’re thankful that building on this momentum, several other states are considering similar measures. This is critically important, because we don’t want to see a return of a fiduciary-only approach, which would exacerbate the wealth gap by depriving lower-to middle-income individuals with choices to save for and secure their retirement.

Let’s all be thankful that with the best interest standard in 18 states and more on the way, and at the SEC, there are strong consumer protections that ensure people have access to the help they need to ensure a secure retirement.

(Howard Bard is Vice President, Taxes and Retirement Security at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Howard helps guide ACLI policy on regulation and legislation affecting the retirement security business of its members. He has more than 20 years of experience in the practice of employee benefits law.)

Jim Szostek

Jim Szostek is Vice President & Deputy, Retirement Security at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). He helps guide ACLI policy on legislation and regulations affecting the U.S. retirement system. Prior to joining ACLI in 2008, he held positions at CIGNA and The Hartford.

Howard Bard

Howard Bard is Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel with the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Howard reports directly to the General Counsel with responsibility for supporting the legal needs of the organization. He also helps guide ACLI policy on regulation and legislation affecting the retirement security business of its members.