Top News

IRI Comments on the NASAA Standard of Conduct Proposal

On Sunday, IRI submitted comments on the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA) proposed standard of conduct model regulation. IRI’s comments stated that the proposal is unnecessary, confusing, and conflicts with existing strong federal and state consumer protection regulation. The proposal also includes a menu of provisions that states could pick and choose, leading to a patchwork of varying regulations and less state-by-state uniformity. For these reasons, and as outlined in the letter, IRI is urging NASAA to withdraw the proposal. 

IRI Comments on the SEC RILA Registration Form Proposal 
On November 28, IRI submitted comments on the SEC’s proposal titled, Registration for Index Linked Annuities; Amendments to Form N-4 for Index-Linked and Variable Annuities, which would, among other things, propose rule and form amendments to provide a tailored form to register the offerings of registered index-linked annuities (RILAs). IRI’s comments generally supported the proposal while providing recommendations to help the SEC refine the proposed rule. IRI also expressed support for comments submitted by the Committee of Annuity Insurers (CAI) and the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI).
IRI supported the proposal to amend Form N-4, which is currently used by most variable annuity separate accounts, to require issuers to register RILAs and contracts that offer a combination of index-linked options and variable options on the same form. Further, IRI supported how the proposed rule would allow issuers to file RILA registration statements using financial statements prepared in accordance with statutory accounting principles (SAP) rather than GAAP to the same extent and under the same circumstances and conditions as issuers of variable products registered on Form N-4. IRI also encouraged the SEC to consider allowing IRI also encouraged the SEC to consider allowing the use of Form N-4 for registrations registered market-value adjustment annuities and future annuity product innovations.
Last year, IRI led a legislative effort that resulted in Congress passing a law directing the SEC to create a registration form specifically tailored to fit these products.
IRI News

IRI 2024 Annual Conference Registration Opens

Join IRI April 2 – 4, 2024, for education, networking, and innovation as we explore the latest industry developments and insights. This conference is designed to inspire and inform professionals from all aspects of the insured retirement industry. Attend sessions on digital solution advancement, annuity product innovation, regulatory and legislative updates and more, all led by top leaders in the field.

Registration is officially open for the 2024 IRI Annual Conference. Mark your calendars and take advantage of the early bird rate. See you in Nashville. 

Upcoming Women in Leadership Webinar

Please join us on Thursday, December 7, 2023, at 1 p.m. ET for the next step in IRI’s ongoing Women in Leadership Initiative. This virtual event, From an Idea to a Movement: Choosing Self-Confidence + Finding Our Strengths, will feature Lisa Sun, founder and CEO of the lifestyle and fashion company GRAVITAS, who will share the techniques she and her many clients have used to let go of haunting insecurities, making our unconscious gifts conscious, and learning to share them with those around us. Blending research from her time at McKinsey & Company and her personal story, Lisa will impart a powerful message about drawing on specific gifts to make the world a better place. You will feel inspired to draw upon your unique strength and superpower to push past your potential and transform an idea into a movement. This event is being sponsored by Symetra Financial and presented with support from the Money Management Institute.

Registration is complimentary. 
Legislative News

IRI Launches DOL Fiduciary Grassroots

IRI launched its initial grassroots advocacy campaign designed to educate and raise awareness among members of Congress about the potential harm the 2023 Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rule can cause to retirement savers. The letter is to be sent to all congressional offices and highlights key points against the proposal:

 The DOL’s proposal is a rehashing of the 2016 Fiduciary Rule.

 More than 10 million retirement savers lost access to professional financial   guidance under the 2016 Rule.

 People of color could see a 20 percent increase in the racial wealth gap.

 Existing federal and state laws provide a strengthened and robust regulatory   framework, making the DOL’s new proposal duplicative.

 Access to lifetime income solutions is vital to ensuring Americans do not run   out of savings during retirement.

“If adopted, the proposal will deepen our nation’s retirement security crisis by limiting access to affordable and sound professional financial advice and access to financial products,” says the letter. “I ask you, as a member of Congress, to oppose this proposed rule. Your opposition to this rule is the only way to ensure that your constituents can retain access to professional financial advice and products that best fit their needs.”
IRI shared its campaign with its member companies and asked that it be disseminated with their employee grassroots advocacy network. If you are interested in participating, please have your company’s government affairs representatives contact John Jennings.
Regulatory News
IRI Comments to NAIC on DOL, NASAA Proposals
Jason Berkowitz, IRI’s Chief Legal & Regulatory Affairs Officer, provided comments to the NAIC Life and Annuities (A) Committee on the DOL fiduciary proposal and the NASAA standard of conduct proposal. Berkowitz thanked the NAIC for their statement following the release of the proposal, emphasized that the NAIC’s process to develop a best interest model got it right, and offered IRI as a resource going forward. He also raised industry concerns with the NASAA proposal as well. During the Committee meeting, Iowa Commissioner Doug Ommen also expressed his concerns with both the DOL and NASAA proposals and said that the NAIC should be engaged in both of these processes. 
IRI Provides Updates to NAIC on DEI Efforts
During the 2023 NAIC Fall National Meeting this past weekend, IRI presented on important issues to the industry. Christina Brady, IRI’s Chief Operating Officer, and Shani Armon, IRI’s Chief Membership and Marketing Officer, presented to the NAIC Special Committee on Race and Insurance on the hard work that IRI is doing to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). They reviewed IRI’s ongoing, comprehensive DEI efforts and described how they align with the NAIC’s recommendations across several areas. 
IRS Releases Long-Awaited Proposed Regulations on Long-Term, Part-Time Employee Retirement Plans
On Friday, November 24, the IRS released a proposed rule addressing retirement rules for long-term part-time employees for 401(k) participation to reflect statutory changes made by the SECURE Act (Section 112) and SECURE 2.0 Act (Sections 125 & 401). The proposed regulation would affect participants in, beneficiaries of, employers maintaining, and administrators of plans that include cash or deferred arrangements. 
IRI is still in the process of reviewing and analyzing the proposed rule, with specific attention to the requirements set forth for employees to qualify for participation, compliance requirements, and effective dates. Comments are due January 26, 2024. A public hearing on this proposed regulation has been scheduled for March 15, 2024, at 10 a.m. We will share this information with IRI’s SECURE 2.0 Working Group and our Retirement Plans and Tax Committee.
Compliance News

FINRA Reg BI and Form CRS Enforcement Actions

FINRA recently barred a representative from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity. This action is the result of a previous complaint investigation where the representative churned and excessively traded four customer accounts between July 2020 and July 2021. The activity included over 5,300 trades that resulted in net trading of more than $350 million. Collectively, the customers lost over $2.3 million in value from their accounts and paid more than $715,000 in trading costs and margin interest, including over $595,000 in commissions. The representative also repeatedly lied during the investigation in response to staff requests for information and testimony and denied preparing and delivering fake account statements to customers. 

Additionally, FINRA recently censured and fined a firm $10,000 for failing to disclose on its Form CRS that several of its financial professionals and its control affiliate had legal or disciplinary history. The firm only has one branch office and six registered representatives.
Please note that recent FINRA Reg BI and Form CRS enforcement actions can be viewed on FINRA’s SEC Regulation Best Interest website. IRI continuously monitors this information to provide information and updates to members.
IRI Calendar

SECURE 2.0 Implementation Task Force
All December Meetings | Cancelled


Securities Committee
December 6 | 2 p.m. EST


Compliance & Implementation Committee
December 6 | 3 p.m. EST 

Standard of Conduct Working Group
December 7 | 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST