Wealth Management

The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) has put its support behind a lawsuit challenging the Labor Department’s subsequent guidance on the fiduciary rule. The ACLI is the nation’s largest life insurance trade association. The group added an amicus brief to an ongoing lawsuit by the Federation of Americans for Consumer Choices against the DOL. The suit, which was filed in March, claimed that agents “oftentimes make rollover recommendations for purchase of annuities to IRA owners and participants in employer-sponsored 401k and similar benefit plans, for which they receive commissions or other compensation from annuity issuers.” The concern is that these agents will be adversely affected by the DOL’s new interpretation of the Fiduciary Rule that categorizes their status as investment advice fiduciaries under ERISA. ACLI believes that the new interpretation would achieve the same outcome as the 2016 Fiduciary Rule, which was rejected in the Fifth Circuit court. ACLI was one of the lead plaintiffs in that decision.

Finsum:The American Council of Life Insurers has put its support behind an ongoing lawsuit against the DOL and their new interpretation of the Fiduciary Rule.

There is no question ESG strategies have seen their fair share of negative press lately, but a new deterrent for investors may lead to more pressure for some asset managers. According to a paper by André Wattø Sjuve, a scholar from the Norwegian School of Economics, ESG funds that charge higher fees are seeing outflows, while ESG funds that charge lower fees are seeing inflows. The study looked at the capital flow data of over 16,000 mutual funds during a period between August 2018 and September 2021. These findings indicate that investors are just as concerned over high fees with ESG funds as they are with other strategies. This doesn’t bode well for asset managers charging higher fees based on the massive demand for sustainable investing strategies. Sjuve believes a possible explanation for outflows out of expensive funds is that prices of ESG assets have risen substantially over the past few years and investors could be concerned about the prospects of future returns.

Finsum:As theprices of ESG assets skyrocket, investors are leaving higher fee ESG strategies for lower-cost funds.

According to LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Annuity Sales survey, U.S. annuity sales increased 16% to $79.4 billion during the second quarter. The top selling annuities were fixed-rated deferred annuities, which posted their best quarterly sales result ever. Sales came in at $28.7 billion, a jump of 79% from the prior year’s quarter. In fact, all fixed annuities showed positive growth. Fixed-rate deferred annuities are contracts that offer investors a fixed annual percentage yield with tax-deferred growth. They typically offer a higher rate of growth instead of an income stream over a specific period. The massive jump in sales can be attributed to the volatility in the markets this year and rising interest rates. The current average yield on a fixed-rate deferred annuity is around 3% or higher. Sales for traditional variable annuities didn't fare so well, falling 27% year over year to $16.5 billion, the lowest quarterly sales since 1995 due to market volatility. Variable annuities are tied to the market with no downside protection.

Finsum:Driven by market volatility, sales for fixed-rate deferred annuities had their highest quarter ever. 

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