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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI)  offered several proposals to assist the U.S. Treasury Department in developing a strategy to “broaden access to financial services among underserved communities and improve the ability of such communities to use and benefit from financial tools and services.”

The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2023 directed the Treasury Department to develop a national strategy to improve financial inclusion. The department requested information and recommendations from interested parties to advance financial inclusion through policy, government programs, financial products and services, technology, and other tools and market infrastructure.

IRI recommended several common-sense, bipartisan policies to help all workers and retirees achieve economic equity, strengthen their financial security, and protect their income to sustain them throughout their retirement years.

The association also recommended withdrawal of a proposed U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) retirement security rule about investment advice because it would significantly limit access to professional financial guidance and choice of protected lifetime income products for millions of retirement savers.

IRI’s recommendations include:

Require Employers to Offer Retirement Plans to Employees
Congress should enact the Automatic IRA Act of 2024 by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) to require all businesses with ten or more employees to offer a workplace retirement plan and require that participants be given the choice to receive a portion of their vested balance in the form of guaranteed, protected lifetime income products.

Allow Catch-Up Contributions for Qualified Caregivers
The challenge of leaving the workforce to care for a family member disproportionately impacts women. Congress should enact the Expanding Access to Retirement Savings for Caregivers Act, allowing qualified caregivers to make catch-up contributions for a period equal to the time they spent as caregivers before reaching age 50.

Decrease the Age for Participation in Workplace Retirement Plans to 18 Years of Age
Congress should enact legislation, such as the Helping Young Americans Save for Retirement Act, to reduce the age of participation in an ERISA-covered defined contribution plan to 18 to enable more young workers to access employer-sponsored retirement savings plans.

Streamline How Consumers Receive Electronic Documents
Congress should enact the E-SIGN Modernization Act to streamline how consumers receive electronic communications and ensure that retirement savers can choose how they want to receive and access their financial information. This change will enable non-native English speakers and those who are blind or have other disabilities to take advantage of modern technologies to access information relating to their retirement savings.

Permit Electronic Delivery of Reports for Registered Investment Companies
Congress should enact the Improving Disclosure for Investors Act directing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to permit electronic delivery of required reports for all registered investment companies which would enable non-native English speakers and those who are blind or have other disabilities to be able to take advantage of modern technologies to ensure they are able to access information relating to their retirement savings.

Authorize the National Use of Remote and Electronic Notarizations
Congress should enact the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act to establish minimum federal standards for the nationwide use and recognition of remote online notarizations to provide easier access to services for those with disabilities or other contributing factors that make leaving home a challenge.

Enhance Corporate Governance by Increasing Diverse Representation
Congress should enact the Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act to require organizations regulated by the SEC to file annual reports disclosing the gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and veteran status of their board of directors, nominees to their boards, and senior executive officers. Disclosure of such information will provide a transparent look at a company’s steps to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices.

Withdraw Harmful DOL Investment Advice Rule
IRI also strongly recommended that DOL withdraw a proposal to change the rules that define and govern fiduciary investment advice under ERISA because it “would represent a significant step backward in pursuing a more inclusive financial system.” IRI has called for its withdrawal in testimony provided during a DOL hearing in December, written comments submitted to the DOL in early January, and testimony provided during two recent hearings in the House of Representatives.

“The ‘one-size-fits-all’ ‘fiduciary-only’ approach taken by the DOL in this proposal will harm millions of Americans – particularly lower- and middle-income retirement savers – by making it harder, and in many cases impossible, to access professional financial guidance and lifetime income solutions,” IRI wrote.

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Contact: Dan Zielinski

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