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Suitability regulation

New Standard of Care Center

Compliance with annuity and life insurance standard-of-care regulations (e.g., suitability,best interest, fiduciary issues) just got A LOT easier!

Currin Compliance Services is excited to announce our new Standard of Care Center (SCC) — an online collection of materials on the various fiduciary standards and suitability regulations, including NY’s new Reg 187. We will be following and creating materials about the NAIC’s efforts to revise and adopt a new suitability model regulation as well.

We are looking at suitability and standard of care issues in small, manageable chunks due to the size and scope of those issues. Our expectation is that this will be an evolving field for a long time and many of us will be dealing with these issues well into the future. We are launching the SCC as a monthly subscription service. As a subscriber, you will continue to receive updates, new information, reference documents, and analysis about developments in this area with unlimited access as long as your membership is current. The lessons are short and to the point. The titles are descriptive so you can find the appropriate lesson quickly. You’ll be able to scan the list of lessons and pick the exact one that you need. Each lesson focuses on a single topic.

We invite you to take a look at the SCC Introduction and Free Sample lesson as a preview into our vision — a one-stop repository for audio/visual lessons with downloadable scripts, reference documents, and other resources on this important topic. If you don't already have an account on our education and training platform (CICEd), you'll need to create one (it is free and without obligation). A CICEd account gives you access to all of our free materials and resources, plus the opportunity to register for paid courses and subscriptions. 

If you're ready to subscribe to the SCC now, use code 10OFFMEMBER and receive 10% off your monthly subscription price. Instead of $950/month your member subscription price will be $855/month — but only if you subscribe BEFORE April 1st. As of April 1st, the subscription price will be $950/month.

Questions? Email info@currincompliance.com or call (518) 692-2494.

VT Bulletin 198

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On Monday, January 8, 2018 Vermont joined Iowa and Tennessee and issued detailed guidance on providing advice for securities and insurance products. Insurance Bulletin 198 (and Securities Bulletin S-2018-01) is a joint bulletin that the Department of Financial Regulation felt was necessary in order to provide financial professionals additional guidance on what activities are and are not permissible when it comes to providing advice on securities and insurance products.

The Department had issued more general guidance back in 2011, however, they stated two specific reasons for providing more detailed information now.

First, the Department said, there has been “an increase in investigations and enforcement actions relating to unregistered investment advice.”

Second, the “continuing evolution of state and federal suitability laws that now require an extensive financial analysis of a consumer’s financial affairs and a discussion of broad financial trends prior to making a recommendation on an insurance product or an investment/securities product.”

One point I found interesting is that, in the past, we’ve thought of this guidance as related to “source of funds”; that is, a specific focus on where the funds are coming from, and who can provide what level advice on those funds. While that’s still something that is being addressed in this bulletin, the #2 reason the department cited is related but broader than just source of funds. It goes to the growing discussions and developing regulations around how financial services are provided to consumers and what standard of care is owed to those consumers of financial services.

With NY’s proposed changes to their suitability regulation (which includes a number of significant changes, one of which is including life insurance within the suitability standards) as well as the questions of what will become of the DOL rule and what will the SEC do, as well as the NAICs current work on incorporating “best interest” standards into the suitability model, it’s clear that there are lots of questions around how financial transactions should be handled and what the burdens of the financial professionals are to ensure consumers are getting the “best” products and services for their needs.

With this bulletin, VT is stepping into the arena to add a bit more clarity at least around who can provide what services, and what types of discussions are permissible depending on the licensing and/or registration the financial professional holds. While only two other states have issued nearly identical guidance, we think it’s prudent for financial professionals to follow these guidelines regardless of what states they live in.

Why? Because this language is the most detailed we’ve seen, except in TN and IA and by using it as a benchmark of how financial discussions should be had and what the limits of those discussions may be, it allows financial professionals to say that they are trying their best to provide advice that they’re qualified to give without stepping over any boundaries. It shows a commitment to using integrity with consumers, and that even for states outside of VT, IA, and TN, it may provide a “safe haven” of sorts to be able to show documentation of complying with these regulations.