"Now Do We Have Your Attention?"
January 25, 2010 by Raymond J. Ohlson
READ BELOW FOR A SPECIAL MESSAGE BY RAY OHLSON OF THE OHLSON GROUP:
Well it was quite a week. The senate seat once held by the late Senator Ted Kennedy was taken from the Democrats when the newly elected Senator Brown scored an upset victory in Massachusetts. Both sides of the aisle are now explaining “what this means” and both sides are putting their spin on this change of heart by the voters. There is a lot of finger pointing going on and a lot of predictions for the upcoming fall elections. I will allow all the experts to opine on why they feel this happened and what the future will bring. For me, the message they should take is that they were sick and tired of no one listening. I am not giving an opinion on the health care reform initiative. Quite frankly, I am sick of all the shenanigans that seem to be playing out in Washington. Rome is burning and no one in Washington seems to have a fire hose. I feel as though Washington has been a runaway train and the leaders think they can do anything they want since they hold the votes. There are plenty of good elected officials but they seem more intent on “making history” while they are in office as opposed to determining what is necessary to get our financial house in order.Let’s get away from the health care debate for a minute. I am very upset with much of the financial reform that is trying to find its way through congress and the uncertainty that is plaguing and stalling America.
People don’t know what to do. Unemployment is at a number that is hard to fathom. Our deficit is exploding and no one seems to want to pay attention. You may find this with many of your clients. Some seem to want to do nothing for they fear making a bad decision. Why? They are scared. There needs to be some stability. This is a time when our products are of more importance to Americans than ever before. The guarantees we provide are able to put some tranquility in people’s lives. Americans deserve and yearn for more certainty in this ever changing world. But, there are some great threats to that state of mind. Washington wants to throw everyone in the financial services business under the bus. They are happy to put us with the Bernie Madoffs and protect the buying public from the guy or girl in Peoria that is just trying to assist his clients in obtaining a reasonable retirement. The advisor wants to make sure the client can’t lose. They want to make sure that the families can stay in the world they have become accustomed to in the event of a premature death of the bread winner.
The issues are many. It is not just Sec 151A which would have index annuities become a security because of alleged bad sales practices. It is also the potential of having an advisor with a Series 6 or 7 fall under the “fiduciary” standard role as though he/she was acting as an investment advisor. Bottom line, they need to fix what needs fixing and stay away from the areas that are working just fine. Granted, my father in law did not earn 20% on his index annuity last year. No, he only earned 6%. So, maybe he could have done better. But, this elderly gentleman is on a kidney transplant list and did not have to fret about last week’s 3 day string of triple digit losses. We must make our voices heard and there is no better time than now.
Every politician had better be a little concerned about the re-elections. This goes for Republicans and Democrats alike. The “Brown Syndrome” can also happen to them. I have not been able to get the support of either of my Senators, Bayh or Lugar, on SB1389 which would repeal Sec 151A. I am pestering again. I have also let them know as to how important this is to me and the industry. I have sent them the economic impact study by Sheryl Moore showing the potential loss of jobs and revenue that would occur in Indiana should 151A not be repealed. To date, this hasn’t worked. But, I do believe that the potential loss of “votes” may get their attention. Yes, I do believe the recent Massachusetts vote has the attention of all of Washington. It is time for the full court press. Our voices need to be heard. So, I am appealing to you once again to write your congressman and senators and ask for their support for the House and Senate bills that would repeal Sec 151A. For the readers that don’t like index products…remember that this is just the first step. Let them turn an insurance product into a security and they will address the tax advantaged products of all insurance products. They already want to have control of anyone that sells a financial product. I say no. The sponsors of these bills are increasing. We have some big names. I am proud that my congressman, Dan Burton, is a co-sponsor of the House bill. I received a call from him over the holidays and he said that he would speak to our two Indiana senators.
So, in closing, we have their attention. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to get Washington out of our business and send them back to determine what they can do to get America rolling again. Until next time,