Displaying items by tag: variable annuities
Advisors need to be careful of how they market and sell annuities to clients. The market is rife with annuities demand as the big losses and volatility of the last month have sent many looking for guaranteed retirement income. That said, advisors need to make sure they walk a fine line in selling annuities. In particular, be mindful of wording you use. Particularly, avoid fear-based selling tactics, and even the word “crisis”—though that could be appropriate in some circumstances. Also, don’t only focus on one aspect of the annuity you are selling, as that can easily be misconstrued as misleading selling.
FINSUM: Some selling techniques are always wrong, but in this scary environment, even the most disciplined advisors could accidentally overstep the line in their approach.
Advisors who are receiving inbound interest from clients about annuities might be interested in browsing a list of top recent providers. AIG, John Hancock, Lincoln Financial Group, Pacific Life, and Prudential regularly figure among the top players in the space. That said, data from 2019 has highlighted a new leader of the back—Jackson. “Jackson has dominated the variable annuity market for the past 7 years. In 2019, Jackson diversified its annuity sales to focus on growing its fixed annuity market share, which propelled its overall growth in 2019”, according to an annuities strategist.
FINSUM: One thing that is interesting is that the annuities industry is actually getting a little less consolidated (which stands in contrast to other product sectors, e.g. ETFs). The top three providers only account for 22% market share, down from 25% in 2014.
Many people who are thinking about annuities don’t realize that many of them are sellable products—they don’t necessarily have to be held forever (even if that is often the best strategy). So which annuities are sellable and which aren’t? In general, SPIAs (single premium immediate annuities), DIAs (deferred income annuities), and QLACs (qualified longevity annuity contracts) are not sellable; VAs (variable annuities), FIAs (fixed index annuities), and MYGA (multi-year guarantee annuities) are usually sellable. Each of those latter products have surrender charge time periods in them, so it may cost something, but it does mean money is not locked in them forever.
FINSUM: Since selling would usually not be the best idea, this is more of a peace of mind factor than anything else, in our opinion.
Variable annuities can be a fantastic product for long-term income security. However, they are complex products and buyers need to make sure they understand what they are buying. In particular, here are a few key points to remember when purchasing. Firstly, providers often have unique policies for how benefits are paid out once one spouse dies, so make sure these are understood to avoid accidentally disinheriting someone. Secondly, make sure clients understand the differences between the different value measurements of a variable annuity, such as cash-out value, death benefit, or “annuitized” value, as these can potentially cause some shocks. Finally, be careful when exchanging an older annuity for a new one, as older versions can be significantly more generous and are worth holding onto.
FINSUM: Variable annuities can be great long-term income streams, but it is integral to understand exactly what one is buying.
Variable annuities have been going through a difficult period recently. Fixed and fixed index annuities have been grabbing market share in the year since the DOL rule got canceled. However variable annuities just escaped an important new regulation. Massachusetts just implemented the first state fiduciary rule—which may become a template for liberal states all over the country. However, variable annuities have officially been categorized as insurance products, not securities, so do not fall under the purview of the best interest rule.
FINSUM: This is a major development for the variable annuities industry because there were a lot of fears the rule would consider them securities. It seems like the Massachusetts rule will become the standard template for state adoption all over the US, so this is a big victory.