Speaking before the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America annual convention in Washington, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) assured insurance agents that a pension reform bill is coming, and when it does it will allow them to offer 401(k) advice "in some form," according to a report in the National Underwriter.
Insurance companies, which provide significant funding to defined benefit plans, have lobbied for legislation that would allow for automatic enrollment for new employees in 401(k) plans, long term care riders to annuities, and allow agents to offer investment counseling in cases where the insurance company they represent administers another company's 401(k) plan.
Presently, the Employment Retirement Income Securities Act (ERISA) prohibits 401(k) administrators from offering investment advice. Instead, employers are allowed to hire a third party investment counseling adviser to help guide their employees' investment decisions, although few do.
Insurance industry representatives have also argued for a provision to provide codes for how corporate-owned life insurance policies are taxed, and set best practices guidelines.
The Financial Planning Association opposes the bill, arguing that it presents too great a conflict of interest and could potentially make investors more vulnerable, rather than more savvy.
The bill also faces opposition in the Senate, although Boehner denied suggestions that slowed negotiations would keep the bill from completion before Congress recesses for Memorial Day.
At another meeting last week, Boehner said, "Real progress was made."