The NAPA DC Fly-In Forum: AFS Goes to Capitol Hill

One of our advisors, Alex Assaley was honored to be invited to the first NAPA DC Fly-In Forum held on Capitol Hill last week. Hundreds of advisors flocked to DC to meet with policymakers and discuss the critical role of employer-retirement plans in helping American workers save for retirement. It's not every day that plan advisors are invited to contribute to the legislative process so this was truly a unique experience. There is a small, but vocal group of academic professors and legislators who wonder if the current 401(k) retirement plan system is "broken." Others opine for a government-run program akin to social security. There is also the larger Tax Reform debate which puts the tax incentives currently in place for qualified retirement plans in focus (and maybe on the chopping block). The Forum allowed retirement advisors, who are working each day to help workers save for their future, discuss these and other issues with leading Senators, Congressional leaders, and their staff.

One of the highlights from the event was hearing from Maryland Senator Ben Cardin. Senator Cardin was an active component in the important Portman-Cardin bill passed in 2003, which still dictates many of the qualified retirement plan features used today. This legislation, among many things raised the limit on how much the average working American can contribute to their 401(k) (or other retirement) plan annually, and allowed for people aged 50 and older to make "catch up" contributions to outweigh years when they could not contribute to their 401(k) plan. Some of the other accomplished speakers included:

  • Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO), who has authored the Retail Investor Protection Act, which works to get the SEC and DOL on the same page regarding fiduciary standards.
  • Mark Iwry, Senior Advisor in the Department of Treasury, who has been listed as one of the "most influential people in the 401(k) industry" by 401(k) Wire due to his involvement in such areas as the creation of the SIMPLE 401(k)-type plan and automatic enrollment.
  • Representative John Klein (R-MN), holds the position of Chairman in the House Education and Workforce Committee and has opposed legislation that would drive up 401(k) costs.

Alex also participated in a one-on-one meeting with Zack Cafritz, Legislative Aide for Congressman James Moran, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee. They were able to discuss the importance of maintaining the tax deferral status of qualified retirement plans and reaching the appropriate level of government oversight when it comes to ERISA law.

Overall, the goal of the NAPA Fly-In Forum was to address the importance 401(k) and other qualified retirement plans hold in millions of Americans' lives. This is just one example of the active thought leadership and involvement our team maintains in order to stay abreast of regulatory and compliance within the retirement plan industry.