I have long professed my concern that retirement issues get short shrift when it comes to political speeches and public discourse. I am not talking about industry discussions which occur all the time. I am referring instead to Main Street outreach. Even today, there seems to be scant mention by U.S. presidential candidates about how to strengthen programs like Social Security and reform tax laws to encourage savings. Of course what the pundits call the "silly season" has just begun, with many months of campaigning to go. Imagine my surprise then when, in between news segments this week, several ads appeared on television about impending changes. In one ad, a man and a woman are chatting in a car about their concern that talking to their advisor will become more expensive and they will end up talking to a robot. Another ad showcases a small business owner who worries that new regulations will make it harder for him to keep offering a 401(k) plan to his employees. Viewers are urged to call their lawmakers.
Research suggests that the ads are sponsored by the Secure Family Coalition. Its website lists organizations that include the following:
- American Council of Life Insurers;
- Association for Advanced Life Underwriting;
- Insured Retirement Institute;
- National Association for Fixed Annuities;
- National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies; and
- National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are groups such the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard. Its website cites advocacy, research and education of the public as ways for "all those willing to help" to get involved.
Regardless of one's stance about the U.S. Department of Labor proposal (and discussions by other regulators and lawmakers), the hope is that further conversations about retirement planning will encourage a long overdue focus on the abysmal state of readiness in this country and around the world.
If ads are hitting the airwaves now, is a Hollywood movie next?