Mark Iwry, one of the principals of of the Retirement Security Project, has been appointed as  Senior Advisor to Treasury Secretary Geithner and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Retirement and Health Policy.

First and foremost, our heartfelt congratulations to Mark. This is a post well suited to him, and an appointment which will serve the nation’s retirement needs well.

Mark’s policy pedigree will be known to many readers of this blog: he was one of the early advocates behind the Automatic Enrollment rules under the PPA; he was instrumental (with David John) in the development of the Administration’s retirement policy of mandatory employer based IRAs; and has done much work with the RSP (through writings and many presentations) on the value of annuities and lifetime guarantees in defined contribution plans.  We have mentioned his work a few times in our blog.

We have no crystal ball or any inside information, but the presence of a senior administration official who passionately believes in protecting workers’ retirement income, and who sees annuities as one of the critical tools in that effort, is likely to manifest itself in the policies developed by this administration.

This appointment clearly gives a boost to an imorrtant financial tool. The challenge is for vendors  to develop a series of appropiate products and policymakers appropriate rules that address the concerns that advisors continue to raise, most particularly the transparency of an annuity’s financials and addressing the fear of insurance company meltdowns.