On the same day the D.C. circuit court declined its request to block the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, the National Association for Fixed Annuities vowed to continue its fight against the regulation.
“We are still working hard to defeat rule and make sure everyone understands our position on that,” said Chip Anderson, NAFA’s executive director, during a webcast Thursday to summarize the association’s activities during 2016 and provide an outlook for 2017. “Rest assured, NAFA will continue efforts to stop the DOL rule any way we can.”
Much of the association’s 2016 activities revolved around the Labor Department fiduciary rule released in April, said Anderson. In addition to keeping its membership apprised of the rule and its implications following its release, NAFA also met with other financial industry trade groups and attorneys before filing a lawsuit June 2.
During the third and fourth quarters of 2016, NAFA focused much of its energy on its legal challenges of the Labor Department rule, including appealing Judge Randall Moss’ decision in favor of the Labor Department and filing the emergency motion for an injunction to block the rule.
New lawsuits and a presidential veto added clarity and more questions to the industry’s efforts to challenge the fiduciary rule.
Anderson addressed speculation that the outcome of the presidential election could affect the course of the fiduciary rule, saying the association is confident President-elect Donald Trump will address the rule even though lawsuits against it to date have been unsuccessful.
“We feel comfortable that we will get some favorable rulings from the Trump administration,” said Anderson, who noted time is of the essence as the April 10 deadline outlined in the rule rapidly approaches.
In addition, in the wake of the federal fiduciary rule, states could weigh in with their own variants of the fiduciary rule, said Anderson. Keeping an eye on state-level developments is high on NAFA’s list of priorities for 2017. NAFA also will be watching tax reform initiatives, Anderson said.
Anderson also noted the Illinois case of agent Dick Van Dyke, who was involved in a 2013 state ruling that classified fixed indexed annuities as securities. In July, a three-judge panel issued a unanimous order reversing the lower court’s decision and determined that fixed indexed annuities are not securities under Illinois law, said Anderson. NAFA and Van Dyke have petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court in an effort to compel the state to publish the decision.
NAFA also recently approved its 2017 board of directors, said Anderson. Nominations were received from the association’s membership and vetted by the current board. Newly appointed board members include:
- Margo Thompson of Annuity Source Inc.
- Lauri Beck of Insurance Network America
- Heather Kane of EquiTrust Life Insurance Co.
- Jeff Maxey of InsurMark
- Mike Morrone of Nationwide.
Brian Mann of Partners Elite Advisory Group will assume the role of chairman of the board of directors, taking over for exiting chair Nathan Zuidema of Imeriti Financial Network. Dominic Cursio of M3 Financial Inc. will become vice chairman and Jim Maietta of Allianz becomes secretary, while Chris Conroy of CreativeOne will join the executive operating committee as its newly appointed treasurer.
“Each year, I’m amazed by the talent that is identified within our membership to help serve the organization and drive our mission forward,” said Anderson. “We are thrilled to have these individuals join an influential group of professionals already on the board, and look forward to their contributions as we work through a tumultuous legislative and regulatory environment surrounding fixed annuities. I’m confident our premier, supporting and vendor partners will all benefit tremendously from the time, efforts and service of these appointees.”
NAFA membership subsequently approved the entire board roster, which includes the following current members: Cary Carney of Voya Financial, Tony Compton of Great American Insurance Group, Rich Lane of Standard Insurance Co., Eric Marhoun of Fidelity & Guaranty Life, Randy Matzke of Advisors Excel, Paul McGillivray of M&O Marketing, Kevin Mechtley of North American Co. for Life and Health Insurance, and Kirby Wood of American Equity.
NAFA recognized the contributions of exiting board members Chris Johnson, formerly with National Western Life; Rod Mims of Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Co.; Harry Stout of NelsonWells LLC; and Eric Taylor of AIG Life & Retirement with commemorative plaques presented in front of the general membership assembly.
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