Effective January 1, 2022, IAR’s in adopted states are subject to new CE requirements. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced on November 30, 2020 the adoption of a Model Rule that NASAA members can follow in order to implement Continuing Education Programs for IAR’s in their jurisdiction. The model rule is the culmination of years of work by state securities regulators to develop a continuing education program. The continuing education requirement serves to promote regulatory compliance while also helping representatives better serve their clients by remaining knowledgeable of current best practices. Every IAR registered in a state that adopts the model rule must complete annual CE requirements.
Model Rule: Adopted States
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What is IAR CE?
The IAR CE requirement consists of two parts totaling 12 hours of required CE to completed annually. An investment adviser must complete 6 hours of Ethics and Professional Responsibility content and 6 hours of credit relating to Products and Practices. IAR’s must complete CE courses offered by an approved CE Provider. The list of approved providers, including Success CE, can found here. FINRA registered brokers in compliance with FINRA’s CE requirements are considered to be in compliance with the Products and Practices requirement.
Rules for Completing CE
Investment Adviser Representatives are required to complete their CE by the first calendar year following the first year they are registered.
No excess hours completed in the current year may be carried over to the next year’s required hours.
CE courses cannot be completed more than once even if completed in another year. Every completed course must have a unique course ID number.
All CE courses must have an assessment of at least 10 questions. Assessments must be passed with a score of a 100% on an unlimited number of attempts.
An IAR registered in another state who is also registered as an IAR in his or her home state is in compliance if the home state has CE requirements that are at least as stringent as the model rule and the IAR is in compliance with the home state’s IAR CE requirements.
There are no exemptions or waivers available based on experience or other qualifications.
Course management and the tracking of completed courses is managed by Prometric LLC. For a full breakdown of the CE requirements as well as other FAQ’s click here.
If you need to complete your IAR CE see our Course Catalog for a list of approved IAR CE courses.
Licensed Insurance agents need to be on the lookout for new NY CE requirements beginning in April of 2022. The New York Department of Financial Services is putting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion(DEI) at the center of their priorities for 2022 and beyond. In March of 2021 the Superintendent of Financial Services, Linda Lacewell, issued Insurance Circular Letter No. 5outlining the need for insurance companies to prioritize the hiring and development of individuals from diverse backgrounds. Lacewell’s letter parallels the DEI initiative from The State Education Department that focuses on DEI in New York public schools. These diversity related efforts will be integrated into the insurance examination process and continuing education requirements.
The increased focus on DEI in the insurance industry stems from recent research pointing to the benefits of emphasizing diversity. In her letter Lacewell claims that, “research shows that diverse teams perform better, innovate more, and more effective at managing risks”.  The letter specifically references a study published by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, that details how companies with diverse leadership regularly outperform their less diverse competitors. The report, “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters”, found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Similarly, companies in the top quartile of ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed companies in the fourth quartile by 36%. Throughout the industry the research strongly suggests that increased representation and diversity is beneficial to a company’s bottom line.
More Benefits Attributed to DEI
Better Risk Management
Larger Talent Pool
More Satisfied Employees
New Continuing Education Requirements
Given the benefits of hiring and developing diverse teams it is obvious why DEI should be promoted throughout the Insurance Industry. DFS determined that the best way to support the Insurance Industry’s DEI efforts is to collect and publish data related to the diversity of corporate boards and management. DFS hopes the strength and transparency of their data influences Insurers to treat diversity like any other strategic priority. Additionally, DFS will incorporate DEI into their license examination and their continuing education requirements. As of April 2022 NY Insurance Agents must complete three additional CE courses before each license renewal:
1 hour of Insurance Law instruction
1 Hour of Ethics and Professionalism instruction
1 Hour of Diversity, Inclusion, and Elimination of Bias instruction
These courses will educate insurance professionals about new trends and developments in the workplace through a discussion of the current industry refocus on diversity and inclusion. These new courses are included in the 15 hours of CE required every 2 years.
If you need to complete your CE hours for your license renewal Success CE offers the three new required courses as well as over 20 other approved courses in New York. Visit our State Requirements page to check if you need additional CE. Follow this link to purchase our Diversity + Ethics + Law Package that includes the newly required courses.
 Lacewell, Linda. “Insurance Circular Letter No. 5 (2021)” ny.gov, March 16, 2021. https://www.dfs.ny.gov/industry_guidance/circular_letters/cl2021_05
 Dixon-Fyle, Sundiatu et al. “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters”. mckinsey.com, May 19, 2020. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters
 Dixon-Fyle et al. 2020. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters
Update: The new Regulation Best Interest Standard is going into effect in new states across the nation. South Carolina and Pennsylvania are the most recent states to adopt the new Best Interest Standard. Effective May 27,2022 in South Carolina and June 20, 2022 in Pennsylvania advisors must now complete a new Regulation Best Interest training in order to continue to sell annuities. Twenty states have now adopted the new standard and require additional training for advisors to complete.
Starting in 2003, The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) approved the “Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation” to protect consumers and provide uniformity between state regulations in annuity transactions. The “Suitability Model Regulation” offers a standard of procedure in which brokers must recommend products that are “suitable” for the consumer’s financial needs and objectives. However, in February 2020, the NAIC approved revisions to the “suitability” model that reflects a new “Best Interest Standard”. In short, theBest Interest Standard clarifies that agents and insurers must work in the best interests of the consumer and that agents and carriers may not place their financial interests ahead of the consumer’s when making recommendations. The new Regulation Best Interest Standard seeks to better aid consumers and impose consistency across state lines.
The Importance of Annuities
Annuities have long been a staple in the investment and retirement plans for millions of Americans but in today’s volatile financial landscape annuities are more popular than ever.
“Limra, an insurance industry group, forecasts annuity sales of $267 billion to $288 billion in 2022, eclipsing the record ($265 billion) set in 2008. Consumers pumped $255 billion into annuities last year — the third-highest annual total.”
The increasing attractiveness of annuities can be attributed to a few key factors such as; tax-deferred growth, no contribution limit, death benefits, and the exposure to the market’s upside while protecting against market declines. Annuities are designed to provide guaranteed income for life while transferring the risk of outliving your savings to an insurance company. With rumors of a looming recession, it is easy to understand the allure of annuities as a secure financial product. The booming of annuity sales gives regulators all the more reason to re-evaluate the current regulations and examine if improvements are necessary.
How we got here
As mentioned previously, the NAIC implemented the “Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation” in 2003 to aid consumers in making decisions regarding their retirement savings and financial future. Prior to the Best Interest Standard the Department of Labor proposed a “fiduciary rule” on financial advisors selling annuity products which would impose a legal requirement for financial advisors to work in their clients’ best interest. The fiduciary rule differs from the “suitability standard” in that under the “suitability standard” advisors are free to recommend products that earn themselves a higher commission as long as the product is deemed suitable for the client.
The federal appeals court shot down the fiduciary standard on the grounds that the Department of Labor overstepped its authority. While the federal court killed the fiduciary rule proponents of the new regulation argued that due to the recent weakening of Social Security, government pensions, and corporate pensions Americans are now more responsible over their financial futures and require increased protection. Opponents of increased regulation argue that, “the fiduciary rule would make it too expensive to work with smaller investors and could limit what types of investments are made available.” The Regulation Best Interest Standard seeks to provide a middle ground between the “suitability standard” and the fiduciary rule.
So What’s in Regulation Best Interest?
Regulation Best Interest seeks to hold financial advisors more accountable. The model now requires agents and carriers to act with “reasonable diligence, care, and skill” when making recommendations. A producer has acted in the best interest of the consumer if they have satisfied the following obligations regarding care, disclosure, conflict of interest, and documentation.
A broker-dealer must exercise reasonable diligence, care and skill when making a recommendation to a retail customer. The broker‑dealer must understand potential risks, rewards, and costs associated with the recommendation. The broker‑dealer must then consider these factors in light of the retail customer’s investment profile and make a recommendation that is in the retail customer’s best interest
Broker-dealers must disclose material facts about the relationship and recommendations, including specific disclosures about the capacity in which the broker is acting, fees, the type and scope of services provided, conflicts, limitations on services and products, and whether the broker dealer provides monitoring services.
Conflict Of Interest Obligation
The broker-dealer must establish, maintain, and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to identify and at a minimum disclose or eliminate conflicts of interest.
Producers are required to make a written record of the recommendation and the basis for it. Obtain a consumer signed statement that the consumer understands the ramifications if they refuse to provide consumer profile information. Obtain a consumer signed statement as an acknowledgement that the customer decided to buy an annuity that was not based on the producer’s recommendation
In addition to these obligations the Best Interest Standard includes a few more important provisions that insurers and producers need to be aware of. Producers must describe the sources and types of cash and non-cash compensation received when making a recommendation. Producers must also disclose a reasonable estimate of the amount of compensation to be received from a recommendation. With regards to documentation, investment advisers and broker-dealers are required to deliver a relationship summary to retail investors at the beginning of their relationship. The relationship summary is called a Form CRS and firms must maintain a copy of the Form CRS for at least 6 years after the form is created.
Insurers also have new responsibilities under the Best Interest Standard. Insurers must establish and maintain a supervision system that is reasonably designed to achieve the insurer’s and its producers’ compliance with the regulation. This includes establishing procedures for review of each recommendation prior to the issuance of an annuity as well as establish procedures to identify and eliminate sales contests, sales quotas, bonuses and non-cash compensation.
What this means for you
The Best Interest Standard seeks to aid consumers by mandating that insurers’ and producers’ disclose an increased amount of information that pertains to a producer’s recommendation as well as ensuring companies create procedures to review their own recommendations and provide a service that is in the client’s best interest. Since the original SEC approval of the new regulation in February of 2020, 21 states have adopted the Best Interest Standard with four more states set to adopt the provisions by July 21st, 2023. These states now require additional training in order to continue to sell annuities.
While some opponents may argue the new standard increases the cost of business for insurance companies and will drive out smaller investors, the Best Interest Standard does increase consumer protection and holds financial institutions to a higher standard. Additionally, the standard promotes uniformity across state lines, securing a quality of service for Americans across the nation. We will see in the coming years the true effectiveness of the new regulations. Does the Best Interest Standard go too far or should advisors be held to an even higher standard?
If you are a licensed producer in a state that adopted the Regulation Best Interest Standard you may need to complete additional training in order to continue to sell annuities. Fortunately, SuccessCE Inc. offers the new “Annuity Products – Best Interest” course in every required state. Go to our Course Catalog page to order your required CE courses. New students can use the discount code “New” at checkout to receive $5.00 off their first purchase of our Unlimited Success Package.
Why Use SuccessCE
The Success Family of Continuing Education Companies provides the highest quality Life/Health and Property/Casualty Insurance Continuing Education, CFP Continuing Education, CIMA Continuing Education, CPA Continuing Education, CLU/ChFC (PACE) Continuing Education, and MCLE (Legal) Continuing Education available in all 50 states in Live Insurance Continuing Education, Online Insurance Continuing Education, and Textbook Insurance Continuing Education formats.
View State Requirements
 Iacurci, Greg. “Annuity sales rise, buoyed by market fears and higher interest rates. What to know before you buy.” CNBC.com, 6 June 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/09/annuity-sales-buoyed-by-fear-higher-rates-what-to-know-before-buying.html.
 Smith, Kelly Anne. “What Regulation Best Interest Means for Your Financial Advisor.” Forbes.com, 5 March 2021, https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/financial-advisor/regulation-best-interest/