Displaying items by tag: insurance
The stock market is going to enter a new era as Joe Biden—in all likelihood—becomes president. As that happens, investors need to start thinking about how to align their portfolios. While all industries will likely be affected to some extent, there are a handful that might be impacted the most acutely, such as energy, autos, tech, manufacturing, agriculture, banking, pharma and healthcare. In autos, Biden’s push for more efficiency will likely benefit Tesla and GM, both of whom are looking to sell more electric vehicles. Tech looks like a real risk area as the chances for more data/anti-trust regulation look higher, though those could be somewhat mitigated by a red Senate. On the manufacturing front, Biden is expected to use government stimulus to boost domestic manufacturing, In banking, executives are bracing for more regulation, but changes are not expected at a fast pace, so nothing too shocking seems likely in the near-term. Pharma looks vulnerable as Biden is committed to bringing drug prices down; that said even Pharma companies don’t expect that Democratic policies will hurt their margins worse than Trump’s proposals. In insurance and healthcare, the picture is mixed. Insurers would almost certainly be challenged by increasing amounts of government coverage, but hospitals would likely benefit from providing care for millions of newly insured Americans.
FINSUM: Biden and the Democrats’ plans will reverberate through the market in the coming months, though not as much as they might if the Left grabs control of the Senate in January. Generally, we agree with that a divided government would be most beneficial to markets.
There is one sector that is facing a worrying meltdown as coronavirus rolls on. It isn’t as obvious as you may think—its not retail, or restaurants, or autos. Rather, it is insurance. Insurers are about to be hit with otherworldly losses. The head of Lloyd’s of London says COVID-19 will be the most expensive event in the history of insurance, wiping out previous records set during 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. The range of payouts coming is enormous, spanning event cancellation to management liability to business interruption. According to Lloyd’s “You’re into tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions of loss that will be discussed over time”.
FINSUM: This might not have been immediately apparent to some. Look out.
Fixed Index Annuities have suffered from some bad selling practices over the years, and resultantly, bad publicity. However, they can serve some very important roles in a portfolio. There are a few things to remember about them. Firstly, they were designed to compete with CD-like returns while giving complete principal protection. Don’t think of them as a market growth product, they are a life insurance product. Additionally, they are a very good vehicle for income rider guarantees, or contractually agreed guaranteed income. This latter point is especially relevant given that 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age every day and we live in a near pension-less world.
FINSUM: When carefully considered and utilized, FIAs can be excellent products that provide steady income and peace of mind.
Low volatility stocks have been the hero of the volatility over the last year. In the past 12 months, the S&P 500 has returned 3.2%. That compares to a whopping 14% plus for low volatility stocks, such as in the S&P 500 low-vol index. By definition, low volatility stocks are boring (think utilities, insurance, and REITs) and have stable earnings. That works well for defending against market swings, but the protection means that valuations are WAY above their long-term average (three standard deviations above). That said, falling rates are very helpful to this class of stocks, so there is wind at their backs.
FINSUM: Despite quite high valuations, we think low vol stocks will continue to do well so long as the trade war continues to plague markets.
Life insurance and annuities have always been a strange grey area for RIAs. They tend to be quite high commission products, a fact which obviously does not blend well with the no-commission, fiduciary mandate. This has left RIAs in an odd position. However, a new and quick growing company, DPL Financial, is now offering a solution. The company serves as an insurance network helping RIAs utilize products from the space. It works with providers of insurance products to help them tailor their offering for RIAs, such as making products commission-free. DPL has already signed up 200 RIAs to use its service. In an example of what they do, DPL’s founder and CEO, David Lau, commented on signing up Jackson National Life Insurance recently, saying “Jackson has long been a market leader in variable annuities, and we are excited to be their partner in launching their fee-based products to the independent RIA market”.
FINSUM: This seems like a very smart and useful approach and the utility for RIAs appears clear. It is obvious they are solving a big problem given their pace of growth.