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MARKUP: Chairman Roskam Opening Statement on Markup of the SAVERS Act

February 03, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam delivered the following opening statement at a Ways and Means Committee markup of his bill, the SAVERS Act of 2015 (H.R.4294):

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for your work on the fiduciary rule and for scheduling this timely markup of H.R. 4294, the SAVERS Act.

“I’m grateful to Congressmen Richie Neal and John Larson for their leadership on this issue and their willingness to personally spend tremendous time and energy advancing a goal that we all support that is encouraging Americans to plan and save for a financially secure retirement.

“I’d also like to recognize Chairman Phil Roe, who introduced H.R. 4293, the Affordable Retirement Advice Protection Act, which changes ERISA–the federal retirement statute–to mirror the legislation we are considering today. It’s my hope these bills will move as a unified package as they advance to the House Floor.

“Here’s the backstory. Last April, the Department of Labor issued a proposed rule that would drastically alter the definition of a fiduciary. The administration argues that this rule is necessary to protect individuals saving for retirement from bad investment advice. That’s a laudable goal. But the proposal was deeply flawed. You don’t have to take my word for it. There were 386,000 individual comments the DOL got on the proposal, many from ordinary Americans saving for retirement or small businesses that were trying to do the right thing and offer a retirement savings plan to their employees. Some of them we heard in the Oversight Subcommittee when we had a hearing on that. The concerns were broad, and deep.

“We can all agree that we need policies to root out bad actors in the retirement savings industry who are taking advantage of consumers to benefit their own financial interests. This bill does that. By expanding and strengthening the definition of a fiduciary and requiring investment advisors to always act in the best interests of their clients when providing investment advice. The legislation creates a new, enforceable best interest requirement, significantly strengthening current legal protections for retirement savers.

“Our bill also ensures individuals saving for retirement can continue to access a wide variety of investment products and services, including annuities. Unlike the DOL proposal, this bill will not force savers into fixed-fee arrangements which can raise the cost of investing and investment advice, an approach that hurts those with moderate savings and lower incomes the most.

“The bill also requires smarter–not just more–disclosure. Rather than flooding consumers with a mountain of fine print and data they are bound to ignore, we require clearly communicated disclosure of key information about the compensation an advisor stands to earn and whether the advice they are providing is generic, or individually tailored to meet specific retirement savings goals. This ensures consumers have the information they need to make well-informed decisions. By contrast, the DOL proposal requires endless disclosure that won’t actually accomplish anything, and treats savers like they are fools to comparison-shop for a quality investment advisor and the investment products and services that best suit their own retirement planning needs. I don’t know about you, but when I hear from working families and individuals in my district, they tell me they don’t need more government making choices about how they use their hard-earned money and plan for their futures.

“Finally, our bill has strong protections against bad actors in the retirement industry. If an advisor gives bad advice for their own financial benefit instead of their client’s, they have to make the client whole for all the damages. This is a strong, new, enforceable standard that will better protect every American saving for retirement.

“In closing, the SAVERS Act represents a sensible, bipartisan solution to strengthen retirement savings and help American workers have the tools they need to plan for a secure financial future. I look forward to working with every member of the Committee to advance this important legislation.”