Hill Visits: What They Mean

Day-on-the-Hill-team-1By Robin Traxler, FSI Vice President of Regulatory Affairs

Last week, I had the privilege of leading a member team around Capitol Hill as part of FSI’s Advocacy Summit/National Discussions. My team, set to visit representatives of Minnesota, consisted of me (a native of Minnesota) and Melissa Glennie with member firm Capital Management Securities Inc. in Minnesota.  We had four meetings – one with Rep. Erik Paulsen, and three staffers (for Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Rep. Keith Ellison), during which we spoke about the middle class investors who would be priced out of the market if they were unable to receive financial advice through a commission-based platform. Melissa has a financial advisor in her firm who provides financial services to nonprofits in Minnesota, and that is almost exclusively his client base.

Nonprofit employees are often making about $20,000 to $30,000 a year, and therefore need to start saving for retirement immediately, even if it’s only $15 per month.  Melissa’s financial advisor provides this service to those clients and would not be able to if the DOL fiduciary standard goes into effect.  It was very eye-opening to learn the impact the fiduciary standard will have on not only middle class investors but nonprofits and their employees as well.  I thought this was really compelling.

Prior to our event, I had never attended a meeting with a member of Congress, so I learned how the meetings work and how quick they are – because everyone is on such an incredibly tight schedule.  The information exchange has to be comprehensive but concise – and seeing this in action was very interesting!

One surprising element of the day was how willing people were to listen to our stories.  We received a lot of positive comments from people I wouldn’t have expected to even agree to meet with us. I think a major benefit of advocacy is just having someone listen to your viewpoint, even if they can’t or don’t want to support your side of the issue.  Therefore, I was impressed that people were taking the time to meet with us and really listening.

All in all, I thought the day was a huge success – it is so important that members of Congress hear directly from their constituents and long-time industry professionals who have first-hand experience navigating regulations and sustaining their businesses. Melissa did a fantastic job, and this is exactly why these exchanges are so significant.

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