MyRA? Oops! CEO: Name of Obama’s New IRA Program Already Taken

By Barbara Hollingsworth | January 30, 2014 | 12:51 PM EST

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) – The president of a South Dakota-based financial services company says he was startled to hear President Obama call his new government-sponsored retirement program "MyRA" in Tuesday’s State of the Union address because that’s the same name as his firm’s four-year-old “keynote” investment product.

“Being a founder of the company, when you hear your first product out the door’s name – and it was the basis for what you kind of started on – it caught my attention, to say the least,” Doug Lawson, president and CEO of Kingdom Trust, told

On Wednesday, the president ordered the Treasury Department to create a pilot project for a government-sponsored MyRA (My Retirement Account), which can be opened for as little as $25. But Lawson says that nobody from the Obama administration called to ask permission to use the firm’s trademarked name.

He described the president’s MyRA as a “starter savings account” for people who don’t have employer-sponsored 401(k) plans, while his company’s MyRA is a self-directed individual retirement account that was created four years ago. The company acts as a custodian of tax-deferred investments chosen by thousands of customers in all 50 states.

“I think what’s going to need to be defined in the coming weeks is the fact that what the president’s MyRA plan is and the one that’s existing here at Kingdom Trust are materially different in their offering,” Lawson told

“The president’s offering an opportunity for people who don’t have a current retirement savings plan to start one, where the MyRA that has been offered at Kingdom for the last four years is materially a self-directed IRA account, and so there are differences. Both are geared around the retirement industry, but they share the same name.”

He noted that using the same name for two different retirement investment vehicles will undoubtedly be confusing.

“We built our business around educating our clients, and so we’ll make sure that they understand before they move on anything which vehicle they’re looking for. I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to make the definition 100,000 times within the next six months,” Lawson added.

When asked Lawson if he planned to contact the White House about the name duplication, he replied: “At this point, we’ll see. I’m not sure how this is gonna work out. There’s a lot of things to consider, and we wish the administration well.”

He added that if President Obama is able to develop an IRA program that’s simple enough for individuals and small businesses that don’t currently have retirement savings accounts, “he might have something that would provide an opportunity for people to get started.”