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Policy experts from industry associations, including NAIFA Assistant Vice President for Government Relations Judi Carsrud, provided congressional staff with a briefing on the defined contribution retirement system and how Congress can improve it. They explained some common challenges faced by employers providing plans and employees anxious about covering present-day expenses while saving for retirement.

Among the topics discussed by panelists were:

  • Promoting access to savings
  • The importance of financial advice
  • Generation of lifetime income
  • Legislative proposals to bolster retirement savings, and more

“Congress played a big role in making it easier for employers to sponsor retirement plans, and for workers to participate at adequate amounts, especially with the ability of employers to match contributions,” Carsrud said. “But more can be done. Over 64% of workers participate in a plan, and there are features that can significantly improve those numbers.”

She described policies that increase participation rates and savings amounts, including auto-enrollment (with the ability of employees to opt down or out), auto-escalation of savings amounts, further incentives for employers to provide matching funds, and measures expanding the availability of multiple employer plans.

Carsrud also voiced support for the bipartisan Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021, also known as the SECURE Act 2.0. It would create numerous reforms, such as increasing the age for plan owners to begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs), reducing tax penalties for those who fail to take RMDs, increasing some tax credits for small employers that offer plans, and increasing some limits on “catch-up” contributions by savers.

The briefing also emphasized the crucial part insurance and financial advisors, like NAIFA members, play in helping Americans prepare for retirement and advising employers that offer retirement savings plans.

“It can be complicated – how to save, how to turn that into a lifetime monthly income and when to start saving,” Carsrud said. “And that is why personalized advice is so critical.”

NAIFA’s advocacy plays a key role in educating members of Congress and their staff on the many ways agents and advisors serve Main Street Americans and small businesses. NAIFA members and other attendees will emphasize these themes and reiterate support for the SECURE Act 2.0 during NAIFA’s Congressional Conference, May 25-26. The event is 100% virtual this year and will feature Zoom meetings between members of Congress and groups of attendees. NAIFA’s Congressional Conference is open to all insurance and financial services professionals. Registration is open.

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