Alabama, Maine, and Virginia have joined 12 other states in adopting consumer-protection regulations or legislation based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC’s) Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model. The NAIC model requires financial professionals to work in the best interests of their clients during annuities transactions and aligns with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest. It also preserves the ability of consumers to work with agents and advisors offering a variety of successful business models and avoids restrictions that would likely make it impossible for financial professionals to work with Main Street investors and retirement savers.
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NAIFA's Virginia chapter held a successful Day on the Hill event on January 29, even though Virginia’s legislative session is completely virtual at present due to COVID-19. The Day on the Hill has been a key element of NAIFA-VA's advocacy mission for many years and a way for the chapter to engage with members from around the state.
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Virginia House Bill 2174 would establish the VirginiaSaves Program, a state-run automatic enrollment payroll deduction IRA savings program. The program would be optional for employees, but would require employers with five or more employees that do not offer retirement plans to set up a payroll deduction and retirement savings plan through the state-run system.
Elizabeth Pate, a NAIFA-VA Board member and Past President for the state chapter, testified via Zoom before the Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Compensation and General Government Subcommittee that NAIFA-VA has concerns about the proposed program.
Pate said that NAIFA applauds efforts by the Virginia General Assembly to help Virginians prepare for retirement, but cannot support the legislation as it currently stands. She noted that the federal SECURE Act makes it easier for employers to band together and offer retirement plans in a cost-effective manner. This achieves the goal of encouraging greater retirement preparation by employees without creating a state-run plan to compete with the private sector.
Plans created under the SECURE Act, she noted, would give participants protections afforded by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), while it appears VirginiaSaves participants would not benefit from ERISA protections.
Pate also noted that enrollees in the state-run program would lack access to personalized advice from financial professionals that many participants in private-market plans receive.
Several members of the Subcommittee raised questions about potential financial impacts of the VirginiaSaves plan on small businesses and expressed concerns about the mandatory nature of employer participation under the current draft of the legislation. The Subcommittee vote to send HB 2174 to the full committee for further consideration.
NAIFA and NAIFA-VA will remain politically active and engaged on the proposed legislation.