Happy New Year and best wishes on the beginning of what is hopefully the new roaring ‘20s. As I look back on my inaugural year, it was an opportunity to engage and understand the many aspects of our business, including the wide array of distribution platforms; the breadth and depth of knowledge and creativity at our carriers and marketing organizations; and, most importantly, the need for and utility of fixed annuity products to our clients. I have appreciated your candor, ideas and commitment to helping make our industry even better. NAFA will strive to utilize your feedback and a clear, strategic vision to achieve our goal of continuing to lead in the fixed annuity space through its evolution.
In 2020, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fixed indexed annuity. Meanwhile, we continue to see dynamic changes across the industry, including significant consolidation of distribution, product enhancements and a proliferation of new and innovative carriers in the FIA space. In addition, there are significant regulatory pressures at the state and federal levels, coupled with a continued need for stable and guaranteed lifetime income products by Americans who are approaching or are in their retirement years.
In thinking about these challenges and opportunities, I use our guiding principles of Education, Advocacy and Integration as the foundation for my strategic view on how to move the organization forward. As we begin 2020, I want to provide a roadmap of where NAFA will be focusing our resources for you, our membership.
Education is the pillar on which we can all have a significant impact for our firms, colleagues, the industry, and, most importantly, our clients. We will continue with our trimester themes this year, beginning with longevity, followed by stable retirement income and, finally, sequence of returns risk. These topics will be the focus of content, including articles, whitepapers and webinars, we develop to help our clients understand the issues surrounding the decumulation of their retirement savings and the importance of predictable lifetime income.
Advocacy will remain at the forefront of our organization’s efforts. As the NAIC moves toward adopting a revised model regulation that will incorporate a Best Interest Standard into the suitability framework, we continue to work toward an outcome that creates a consistent and repeatable process-oriented framework in which clients, regulators, advisors and carriers can serve consumers in a meaningful way. On the federal level, the DOL is close to releasing its revised regulations that will provide guidance subsequent to the “fiduciary rule” that was struck down in 2018. Finally, the states present additional challenges, and, while many will likely adopt the NAIC Model Rule, others have been continually pushing for their respective agents and advisors to be fiduciaries. NAFA continues to advocate on your behalf to stem the tide of this movement.
NAFA’s last tenet, Integration, reminds us all of the need to get involved in protecting the future of fixed annuities by helping develop a best practice feature to our functions. When you participate in grassroots advocacy, identify valuable educational material for consumers or advisors, or utilize a breakthrough program or software, please share this with me, the NAFA staff and your fellow committee members so that the non-proprietary ideas, materials or technology might provide an opportunity to enhance the stature of our industry and make it a better one for us all.
I would also like to extend an invitation to all members to attend our two conferences in 2020. The NAFA Annuity Leadership Forum will be held at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, on June 8-10 and will be critical to understanding the impact of new legislation and regulations affecting our marketplace, while presenting an opportunity to get firsthand insights on the potential ramifications of the 2020 elections. Our premier event, the Annuity Distribution Summit, will be held at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya in New Mexico and coincides with the Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on October 7-9. This promises to be an outstanding one-of-a-kind opportunity to gain insights on how to survive and thrive amidst industry evolution, and participate in exceptional networking in a truly unique and beautiful setting.
I appreciate you taking the time to engage with us, and I wish all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020.
President & CEO, NAFA