The Insured Retirement Institute is beefing up its efforts to reform the licensing and distribution process for broker-dealers selling lifetime income products.

A new research initiative aims to uncover the effect that regulatory hurdles such as state licensing have on advisors’ ability and willingness to sell retirement investment services.

“We are focused and committed to working with policymakers to reduce barriers to attaining lifetime income so that all Americans may enjoy a financially secure retirement,” IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford said. “This includes identifying and removing regulatory red tape and other obstacles that are preventing the broker-dealer community from making insured retirement strategies more readily available. Our new research initiative will serve as the backbone for these efforts, including IRI’s support of legislation that promotes the efficient and cost-effective licensing of thousands of financial advisors across the country.”

The data would support bills such as NARAB II, which would establish a National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers. Introduced to the Senate for the first time in April of this year, the NARAB bill would bring about a one-stop federal licensing clearinghouse for financial professionals operating in multiple states, allowing reps who have passed background checks to avoid duplicitous registration.

Meanwhile, state regulators will still retain their authority over the broker-dealer space through conduct rules, enforcement of misrepresentation and fraud, etc.

“We urge all Members of Congress to advance this legislation to secure its promise of an improved and streamlined licensing process while retaining authority for the states to regulate the marketplace,” Weatherford said.

The process has already begun with focus groups and individual meetings with members. After examining the findings, IRI will develop a survey for broker-dealers and financial advisors.

Results of the survey will likely be out by the end of late summer, vice president and general counsel Lee Covington predicted over the phone from the 2012 IRI Government, Legal and Regulatory conference. That leaves time for findings to be submitted to congress before NARAB II goes before congress, which Covington believes will be sometime early 2013.

Founded 20 years ago, IRI is a non-profit organization comprised of 150,000 financial professionals that closely follow the retirement services industry and promote advisor and consumer education. 

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