Wealth Management

Despite considerable volatility in 2023, fixed income inflows have been quite robust. According to an annual ETF investor study by Schwab Asset Management, adoption among Millennials is one factor.


According to Schwab, younger investors have a larger portion of their portfolios in fixed income relative to older generations. This is quite contrary to expectations as younger investors typically tend to favor riskier investments. Even Millennials with no fixed income investments, indicated an interest in learning more about the asset class.


According to David Botset, the head of equity product management and innovation at Schwab Asset Management, “Millennials actually indicated that they have a larger percentage of their portfolio in fixed income than older generations, which was quite surprising and not what you would expect.”


The survey was conducted across 2,200 individual investors between the ages of 25 and 75 with a minimum of $25,000 of investable assets. The differences in fixed income allocations between the generations is notable. Millennials had about 45% of their portfolio in fixed income, while baby boomers had 31%, and GEneration X had 37%. 


While about 45% of Gen X investors and 40% of baby boomers plan to invest in a fixed income ETF in 2024, 51% of millennials plan to do so. It’s a validation that the surge of inflows into fixed income ETFs and boom in new issues will only continue. 

Finsum: Charles Schwab conducted a survey of individual investors. One of the most notable findings was that fixed income ETFs are more popular among younger investors than older ones. 


The combination of high rates and an uncertain economic outlook have resulted in record sales for annuities. In the first three quarters of the year, total annuity sales were up 21% compared to last year for a total of $270.6 billion according to LIMRA’s US Individual Annuity Sales Survey. To compare, there was a total of $255 billion in sales in 2021 which was the last year of the ZIRP era.


In Q3, sales were up 11%, reaching $89.4 billion. LIMRA is forecasting another record year of sales for 2023, exceeding 2022’s record sales of $313 billion. Within the category, fixed indexed annuities continue to dominate, accounting for $23.3 billion in sales in Q3, a 9% gain from last year. YTD, these annuity products have accounted for 26.5% of total annuity sales.


Single premium immediate annuities and deferred income annuity sales saw the biggest increases at 20% and 88% compared to last year’s Q3, respectively. LIMRA is bullish on income annuities which tend to rise with interest rates. According to the group, “Income annuities will hit record levels in 2023, with sales in this category expected to exceed $16 billion for the year.”

Finsum: Annuity sales are hitting new records. Most of this can be attributed to the rising rate environment and risk-aversion among many investors.


Plan advisors and DC recordkeepers are keenly aware of the opportunity presented by the massive movement of dollars from 401(k) plans into rollover accounts. Research firm Cerulli estimates that over $400 billion were rolled into IRAs (from 401(k) plans) with the assistance of advisors in 2021 alone.


This flow of funds is expected to continue, and advisors see it as a way to grow their wealth management businesses. While the opportunity is enormous, a key data point offers a clue to capitalizing on the trend. Cerulli’s report revealed that “of advisor-intermediated rollover assets, 86% take place through an existing advisor.”


Associate Director, Shawn O’Brien emphasized the importance of relationship-building efforts. “For wealth managers looking to capture rollovers from DC plans, this data underscores the importance of establishing and nurturing relationships with participants earlier in their careers, years before potential rollover events.”


While the implication of this research is clear, not all advisors are set up to engage with every participant. More frequently, advisors are seeking “coopetition” with recordkeepers whereby participants needing rollover assistance are segmented; plan advisors helping a select group of participants – often those with larger account balances – and the recordkeepers serving the remaining participants.


This collaborative approach ensures that each participant receives the optimal solution, transforming the dynamic between advisor and recordkeeper from competitors to partners.

Finsum: Partnering with 401(k) recordkeepers to capture rollovers helps plan advisors capitalize on this huge wealth management opportunity.


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