NAIFA Confronts the Skeptics

November 3rd, 2015, One Comment ».

One reason I truly admire NAIFA members is that you need a very thick skin to do your jobs. You and your colleagues are dedicated to serving your clients and ensuring the financial security of 75 million American families. Yet, whenever you are dealing with the finances of others you’re bound to encounter those skeptical of your motives.

Sometimes it’s a healthy skepticism. NAIFA strongly encourages consumers to shop around and find an advisor with strong professional credentials and a good reputation – someone they are comfortable working with. We provide NAIFA members with the resources, knowledge, connections and ethical framework they need to build their standing within the profession and with clients and potential clients.

Other times, the skepticism may be well-meaning, but is simply misguided. The Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary rule is an example. The rule in its current form is unworkable for advisors and their clients and will place a real road block on millions of Americans getting access to quality advice from knowledgeable professionals. NAIFA’s staff and grassroots government relations efforts have focused on educating the DOL and working with Congress to ensure that the final rule does not have unintended consequences for hard working Americans planning for retirement. The rule, as currently proposed, would have a chilling effect on getting quality advice to the average American family. NAIFA believes firmly that this should not occur, and we are fighting every day on your behalf in the halls of Congress and with regulators so they understand the potentially devastating impacts of this unwise proposed regulation.

Other skeptics may be motivated by their competitive interests. Speakers at a recent National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) meeting called into question the motivation of advisors who earn commissions, opining that those who support the DOL’s proposal hold the “moral high ground” in the debate. They actually called out NAIFA by name. Of course, they failed to mention that the fee-only advisers NAPFA represents stand to benefit if the DOL’s draconian regulation limits consumer choice and hampers the ability of NAIFA members to serve their clients.

NAIFA responded quickly and decisively to this attack. NAIFA President Jules Gaudreau was quoted by Investment News as saying: “NAIFA certainly does not concede the ‘moral high ground’ in the debate over the DOL proposal. In fact, some of the most vocal proponents of the DOL proposal seem to be looking out for their own interests. They have put a lot of effort into supporting new regulations on advisers who they see as their competition.”

“NAIFA has always said there is absolutely a place for fee-only advisers,” Gaudreau added. “However, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Since I became NAIFA’s CEO, I have learned that to know our members is to know that virtually every NAIFA member has their clients’ best interests in the foremost of their minds. Your work does immeasurable good for the families and small businesses you serve. NAIFA’s advocacy programs will continue to educate regulators and legislators about the exemplary efforts you put into helping your clients. We will tell your story until they truly understand the positive impact your work does for millions of Americans. We will fight off cynical attacks on your business by competitors who stand to benefit from misguided regulations that would harm you and your clients. As always, NAIFA has your back!

NAIFA GR Team Presents Legislative Forum at Conference

October 5th, 2015, Comments Off on NAIFA GR Team Presents Legislative Forum at Conference.

NAIFA is adapting its advocacy methods to better engage officials in Washington, both those who are elected to Congress and those appointed to regulatory posts, NAIFA Senior Vice President of Government Relations Diane Boyle told attendees of NAIFA’s Legislative Forum at NAIFA’s Career Conference and Annual Meeting.

“We are engaging new NAIFA members to become politically active,” she said. “We are addressing the changing demographics of the country and their needs, and we must communicate to all these audiences in a way that they want to receive information.”

NAIFA has a tough advocacy job ahead. More than 1,500 bills were introduced in the 113th Congress that are of direct interest to NAIFA members and their clients, and the current Congress is on a similar track. Additional measures would seek sources of revenue for the government, which always presents a potential danger to the insurance and financial services industry.

Every state legislature introduced even more bills than Congress, Boyle said.

On the State Level

NAIFA Counsel and Vice President of Government Relations Gary Sanders told the Legislative Forum that state measures to create state-run retirement plans present a real threat to NAIFA members.

“Many of these plans would directly compete with the types of retirement services you provide, which raises the question of whether states are focusing on the real problem,” Sanders said. “What makes more sense, for a state plan to compete with effective and competitive private-market solutions or for the state to focus its resources on consumer education, outreach and greater incentives to think and act on retirement planning?”

 Department of Labor Proposal

The DOL fiduciary rule proposal is a top NAIFA focus at the federal level, said NAIFA Director of Government Relations Judi Carsrud. The rule would impact all NAIFA members who work with retirement accounts as well as their clients.

“Regardless of the type of securities license you have, or don’t have, if you provide advice for a fee, under the proposal you are a fiduciary when advising on retirement savings,” Carsrud said. “If you don’t want to be a fiduciary, you would need to work for free.”

NAIFA has been actively involved with the issue, testifying at DOL and congressional hearings, submitting official comments, meeting with members of Congress and DOL officials, and activating our grassroots.

“We are taking this very seriously and have been at the forefront of strategies to ensure that any rule enacted protects your ability to serve middle-income families using the compensation model that best suits those families.”

NAIFA By the Numbers on DOL Fiduciary

  • $455,500 raised for Congressional candidates
  • 270 meetings
  • 241 fundraisers attended
  • 102 meetings with Joint Trades and Coalitions
  • 45 NAIFA hosted or cohosted fundraisers
  • Multiple hearings, forums and briefings with policymakers
  • 5 meetings with the DOL, White House and FINRA
  • 2 appearances to testify before Congress and the DOL

Political Action and Involvement

NAIFA Vice President of Political Affairs Magenta Ishak called on Conference attendees to lead the way in NAIFA’s grassroots and PAC activities. “Attend town hall meetings,” she said. “Recruit others. Give to IFAPAC.”

The GR Team concluded the Legislative Forum by crowning NAIFA members Robert Miller and Terry Headley as “IFAPAC Kings.” Headley and Miller each has personally contributed over $100,000 to IFAPAC.

“This city has a rich history filled with traditions, pageantry and characters. NAIFA, too!” Boyle said. “But hidden, in the sometimes peculiar, are strength, intelligence and generosity. This is certainly true of the two gentlemen we’d like to honor today for their selfless commitment of time, talent and treasure.

“Gentlemen, thank you! As the first in NAIFA history to achieve this [$100,000] milestone, you are the IFAPAC Kings!”