Lawmakers Aim to Reform Index Linked Annuities Registration Regs

A bipartisan group of representatives is seeking to require the Securities and Exchange Commission to revise its rules regarding the development and offering of certain annuity products.

A trio of lawmakers has reintroduced the Registration for Index Linked Annuities Act, a piece of legislation that supporters say will lower barriers to the launch of innovative retirement income products.

The legislation would require the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revise its rules regarding the development and offering of certain annuity products. Specifically, the bill directs the SEC to devise a new form for annuity issuers to use when filing registered index-linked annuities (RILAs).

Under current SEC rules, these and other new products must be registered using forms designed primarily for equity offerings. Therefore, supporters of the Registration for Index Linked Annuities Act say, registration of these products requires the provision of extensive information that is in fact not relevant to prospective annuity purchasers. They say these forms also require disclosure of financial information prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which many insurers are not otherwise required to produce.

Cosponsors of the legislation include Representative Alma Adams, D-North Carolina; Representative Dean Phillips, D-Minnesota; and Representative Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio. The lawmakers say the legislation will address the misalignment between the current registration forms used for RILAs and the information needed by investors who might benefit from purchasing these products—a point of view shared by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).

“The current rules and processes to register RILAs stymies innovation, creates a barrier to entry into this growing market for insurers that do not produce GAAP financials, and impedes consumer comprehension and choice with excessive and confusing information,” says Wayne Chopus, IRI President and CEO. “A new registration form more closely tailored to the particular products being offered would ensure that consumers have access to the pertinent information they need to make an informed investment decision.”

Experts say a registered index-linked annuity, used correctly, can bring balance to retirement portfolios by allowing participation in market growth while reducing exposure to market loss, helping savers reach retirement goals.

“This regulatory structure ultimately impairs consumer choice without any corresponding benefit to consumers or the SEC,” Chopus argues. “The modernized approach contemplated by this legislation will encourage innovation and ensure investors can easily find the information they need about RILAs and other innovative products without having to wade through irrelevant, excessive, and confusing disclosure documents.” 

The text of the latest version of the bill is not yet available online, but a previous version can be viewed here.