Earlier this month, Hyland Financial Planning partnered with the Financial Planning Coalition in speaking with members of Congress. The goal of this meeting was to advocate for policy measures that ensure financial planning services are delivered in the best interests of the public and to enable the public to identify trustworthy financial advisors.
The Financial Planning Coalition advocates for a comprehensive assessment and update to the retirement system framework to address the difficult challenges American workers face when planning for a financially secure retirement. This includes the availability of retirement plans through their workplaces, the accumulation of sufficient retirement savings, and assurances that accrued savings and benefits last for the remainder of their lives.
Ryan Bayonnet, CFP®, MSF sat down via video conferencing with representatives from the offices of Representative Mary Kaptur, Senator Rob Portman, and Senator Sherrod Brown to discuss the topics of combating senior financial exploitation, raising the standard of care for investment advice and retirement advice, and increasing access to competent and ethical financial planners.
A summary of the major topics discussed are listed below:
1. Combating Senior Financial Exploitation
Seniors and retirees are uniquely vulnerable to financial fraud and exploitation. While there are commendable efforts to protect seniors and retirees by federal and state securities regulators, FINRA, and the financial services industry, much more can be done.
For these reasons, we support the Senior Security Act, which is bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate that will (i) establish a Senior Investor Taskforce within the Securities and Exchange Commission to focus on these issues, and (ii) direct the SEC to coordinate with other federal and state regulators to help ensure that our laws and regulations provide the protections that older Americans need.
2. Raising the Standard of Care for Investment Advice and Retirement Advice
Many consumers turn to financial professionals to help them make good financial decisions. Yet when they seek financial advice, they find it difficult to distinguish a salesperson from a financial advisor. They also find it difficult to distinguish between advisors who are legally obligated to act as a fiduciary when providing financial advice and those who are not.
As a result, the fiduciary duty in the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct reflects the simple and unambiguous principle that CFP® professionals operating under all business models must always provide financial advice to clients under a fiduciary standard.
The Coalition has long advocated for a federal uniform fiduciary standard for all personalized investment advice, no matter who is providing it.
We supported the Department of Labor’s 2016 Conflict of Interest Rule, which in 2018 was overturned by a federal appeals court, and we encouraged the Securities and Exchange Commission to go further than Regulation Best Interest to meet this objective.
Today, we believe the SEC and DOL have an opportunity to deliver on the promise of a fiduciary standard for all personalized investment advice and we strongly encourage them to do so.
3. Increasing Access to Competent and Ethical Financial Planners
There is ample research that demonstrates that individuals who use a competent and ethical financial adviser achieve greater financial security and have greater peace of mind. Given that, we believe that Congress should provide incentives for Americans of all income levels to benefit from professional advice.
The Coalition supports federal legislation that: (i) restores and expands the tax deduction for investment and financial planning services; (ii) permits the use of 529 Plan funds to obtain or maintain professional licensure and certification; and (iii) allows for a refundable tax credit for qualified training services for Americans displaced from their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pictures from the event are shown below!