By Ryan Cooperman, FSI Director of Federal Legislative Affairs
Each year, FSI visits several states to meet with our members and facilitate meetings between advisors and their representatives in Congress. This year, I began my journey in Minnesota. A brief account of my three days of meetings follows.
Day 1: Hitting the Ground Running
I flew into Minneapolis, and was right on time to meet up with the five FSI financial advisors who would be meeting with their representative that day: Gary Aiken of Tonka Financial Services; Jim Chapple of Investors Financial Group; Dick Hemingway of Boulay Financial Advisors; Howard Richard of Securus Wealth Management Group; and Ben Rowe of ECA Marketing Inc.
We spoke for a while before heading over to meet with Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) in his congressional office in Eden Prairie, MN. During our meeting, we discussed the importance of preserving the independent contractor status, raised our concerns with the Department of Labor’s efforts to re-propose the definition of ‘fiduciary’ and Rep. Peter DeFazio‘s (D-OR) Transaction Tax bill. Congressman Paulsen appreciated our comments and for us taking the time to visit with him. He told us that he understands what our members are trying to do each day as he used to be an independent financial advisor for four years.
Afterwards, I had the chance to talk with all of our members who attended today’s meeting. They enjoyed the chance to meet their Congressman and I enjoyed getting the chance to learn a little more about the challenges our members face on a daily basis.
Day 2: Heading to Burnsville
For the second day of meetings, I was joined by FSI members Robert Bayer of Stonebrooke Wealth Management Inc.; Greg Collins of Collins Wealth Management; Bill Franke of Raymond James Financial; Pete Sorensen of SagePoint Advisor; and Diane Weyrick or First National Investment Services.
We met with Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in his congressional office in Burnsville, MN. We had a pleasant meeting in which we discussed the importance of preserving the independent contractor status and raised our concerns with the Department of Labor’s efforts to re-propose the definition of ‘fiduciary.’
Our members told the Chairman that they choose to be independent contractors as it allows them to choose their clients and products to offer. Chairman Kline appreciated our comments and for us taking the time to visit with him. He told us that he understands what our members are trying to do each day. He discussed at length what he and his Committee have tried to do in stopping the DOL on the fiduciary issue because he saw how harmful it was to small investors.
Day 3: On to the Volunteer State
On the third day, I conducted a similar meeting with Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) who is Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions. The meeting took place in Kingsport, TN which is 100 miles east of Knoxville.
During this meeting, we discussed our concerns with the Department of Labor’s efforts to re-propose the definition of ‘fiduciary.’ He said we have been successful in stopping the DOL from changing the definition of ‘fiduciary,’ and thinks this is an issue that brings Republicans and Democrats together; he was pleased with the recent letter from the HFSC Democrats that are members of the CBC. Rep. Roe said his subcommittee is going to focus on this issue again as well as protecting multi-employer pension plans. Afterwards, I had the chance to talk with the three advisors, and I thanked them for all their involvement in this process.
Days like this demonstrate just how important it is for advisors to educate their representatives about the challenges facing their businesses and how proposed legislation will impact not just their businesses, but the middle class investors to whom they give advice.
Overall, a great three days! More to come when I head to New York in May.