ORLANDO -- The financial services industry needs to change its narrative in order to get a better seat at the table during the new political order inside the Beltway, Tom Crawford said.
The reality is retirement security is not being talked about in conjunction with taxes, health care and the federal deficit, explained Crawford, senior managing director for strategic communications for FTI Consulting.
Ten thousand baby boomers are retiring daily. The retirement readiness impact will be felt in every corner of the country. It is up to the financial services industry to raise its voice, said Crawford, who will speak today at the LIMRA Life Insurance Conference in Orlando, Fla.
“To me, it signals a real deficit where we enter this question with nobody seeing the need for retirement security as a reason we want to change the tax code,” Crawford said. “As a result, we’re not in policy focus. But when they’re in the revenue question, they’re not as focused on us. We’ve got to do a better job of raising our hands and talking about this in the context of these issues.”
Nearly all of the big issues can be tied back to retirement and financial services, Crawford said, whether it be health care, taxes or funding for Social Security and Medicare.
“Our products are giving people the ability to manage their own money,” he said. “We’ve got to understand the barriers and we’ve got to go in there with people thinking ‘How do we ever work our way out of this mess?’ And we need to say ‘We’ve got this.’”
President Donald J. Trump is not doing as poorly as some pollsters might suggest, Crawford said. Although the president’s poll numbers are hovering in the mid-30s, if you remove the largest cities from the equation, he said, the approval numbers are much higher.
“The question is who’s calling the shots for the Democrats,” Crawford said. “Right now it’s kind of the liberal progressives. And that makes it harder to get our issues talked about.”
'Near-Constant Election Cycle'
If tax reform does not occur by August, some suggest it won’t get done. Count Crawford among those who think politics will get in the way.
“The problem is the near-constant election cycle that we’re in,” he said. “You get to 2018 and that’s a big election year. No one on the Democratic side of the Senate will be inclined to let the Republicans have any wins, especially when they feel like maybe they have a shot to take that Senate back.”
Several recent policy reversals by Trump – including support for the Export-Import Bank and opting not to label China a “currency manipulator” – could cost the president support from his own party.
Things get a lot more unpredictable for a new president once you get beyond that 100-day barrier, Crawford said.
“Does he start to lose his base? Do the conservatives in Congress start to feel he has sort of become a Washington preacher overnight?” he asked. “And do they simply not play ball with him? That just kills something like tax reform.”
When it comes to regulation such as the Department of Labor fiduciary rule and the Dodd-Frank Act, Trump is bound to be better for the industry than a Democratic president, Crawford said.
While outright repeal of those regulations might not be politically feasible, he added, a Trump administration will likely make improvements to the rules' punitive aspects.
“(Trump) doesn’t come with a presumption that anything a business is doing isn’t in the best interest of the consumer,” Crawford said.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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