Friday, October 28, 2016

NTSA Supports Extension of Fiduciary Standard to Governmental 403(b) Plans

Chris DeGrassi of NTSA
Well this is out of left field. I think Tara Siegel Bernard's New York Times articles are having an affect. Less than a week after two scathing articles about the non-ERISA 403(b) market were released, a major trade organization for 403(b) sales agents has come out in support of extending the Department of Labor's Conflict of Interest rule to government 403(b) plans.

The full release is below and can also be read here.

What is left unsaid is who in the organization supports this, many of the members of the organization were against the rule and some are currently part of trade groups that are suing to have it overturned. Further, the release didn't say that the members would be encourage to follow the DOL rule regardless of whether it was implemented for government or not.

Still, this does represent a momentous shift in an organization that has long been against fiduciary standards for all and the thought should at least be applauded.

My gut instinct is to be a cynic. It's easy to support something that you know will never happen. But for now I'll remain cautiously optimistic.

I've asked the organization to come on my podcast (Teach and Retire Rich podcast), we'll see if they can make it happen.

Here is the release:

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Tax-deferred Savings Association (NTSA) has formally affirmed its support for a fiduciary standard for all not-for-profit organizations, and the extension of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule to governmental 403(b) plans and participants.

NTSA, the nation’s only independent, non-profit association dedicated to the 403(b) and 457(b) marketplace, chose to embrace the standard, even though the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule does not apply to governmental retirement plans.

“This policy is in keeping with NTSA’s long-standing support for effective and clear disclosure of fees, compensation and alternatives within 403(b) plans,” according to NTSA Executive Director Chris DeGrassi.

Founded in 2009, NTSA’s mission is to provide high-quality related education, technical support, information resources and networking forums for all professionals involved in the 403(b) and 457(b) marketplace.  NTSA and the partners have actively worked with both the SEC and FINRA to make sure that public school employees have access to the same fee and compensation disclosure that re provided to 403b participants at private schools. NTSA also published a guide on implementing auto enrollment programs as a way to increase savings participation rates in voluntary supplemental savings programs.

Fiduciary Education

As part of its support for this new standard, NTSA, in conjunction with its parent organization, the American Retirement Association, began development of a fiduciary education program in advance of the final Labor Department rule, and will make the program available to its members later this year, ahead of the April 10, 2017 implementation date of the fiduciary regulation for private sector plans, such as 401(k)s and IRAs.

“NTSA and NTSA partners have led on these issues for many years, and will continue to work to advance professional standards in the best interests of public education employees that need these important services our members provide,” DeGrassi noted.  “America’s teachers need and deserve access to the best, and most transparent financial advice as they work to prepare for their future, and NTSA’s members have long been an integral part of that planning.”

About the National Tax-Deferred Savings Association

The National Tax-Deferred Savings Association (NTSA) is a non-profit group whose members specialize in helping public education employees save for retirement. We have more than 3,300 members nationally who serve the public-sector retirement plan industry. Our members include investment professionals and recordkeepers who help America’s public education employees plan and save for retirement. We are part of the American Retirement Association.

Media Contact: Don Jackson, (703) 516-9300 Ext. 169,