Wealth Management

Annuity sales are expected to remain strong in the coming year on the heels of another record breaking year of sales in 2023. Whether 2024 sees another record year of sales ultimately depends on the economy and interest rates. Notably, the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA) sees these favorable economic trends, such as volatility in financial markets and uncertainty about the economy and Fed policy, continuing. 

 

LIMRA notes that rates are likely to continue declining, which could also lead to a surge of sales as buyers may be eager to lock in rates at these levels. If financial markets continue to move higher, demand for products with lower risk like fixed indexed annuities and fixed-rate deferred annuities may decline while demand for registered indexed-linked annuities will climb. 

 

2023 was rare as nearly all categories saw growth. The highest rates in decades propelled sales of fixed annuities, while uncertainty around the economy and monetary policy drove growth for annuities offering downside protection. 

 

If the Fed does start to cut rates as anticipated, LIMRA projects that sales growth will eventually be impacted especially for more rate-sensitive products. In total, it forecasts sales between $311 billion and $331 billion depending on the trajectory of interest rates. 


Finsum: Annuity sales are forecast to remain strong in 2024. However, sales could slow when the Fed does actually start cutting rates as this would impact returns. 

 

When it comes to investing for retirement, most think of IRAs and 401(k)s due to the unique tax advantages. However, there is a tradeoff as these accounts tend to be less flexible. According to Christine Benz, Morningstar’s director of personal finance and retirement planning, there are some upsides to investing for retirement in taxable accounts.

 

These advantages include the ability to save and invest as much money as available, withdraw funds with no penalty or limitations, and no constraints on investment choices. Using taxable accounts for retirement investing is also necessary for ‘super-savers’ who have maxed out contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts. 

 

Benz notes that with the right selection of investments, the taxable account can become as tax efficient as an IRA or 401(k). Additionally, it can help with financial goals of a short or intermediate nature like a down payment for a house, a remodeling project, or a vacation home. 

 

She notes that model portfolios are well-suited for tax-efficient investing in taxable accounts. She recommends structuring these model portfolios into 3 components. One is a liquidity basket for short-term spending needs, a high-quality municipal bond fund basket that is geared for withdrawals between 5 to 8 years, and the rest invested in a globally diversified basket of equities. 


Finsum: For retirement investing, there is still a place for taxable accounts especially for specific purposes. Here’s how to use model portfolios to achieve these goals.  

 

Building an effective lead generation strategy is essential for advisors who are serious about growth. According to Angela Osborne, the COO of Bluespring Wealth Partners, advisors should focus on generating referrals from existing clients and working on leads that are already in the pipeline. Failure to do so runs the risk of becoming a ‘melting iceberg’ which is a firm with no growth strategy that loses clients and assets through time and attrition.

 

She recommends being clear with prospects about the value being offered in addition to what differentiates you from competitors. And this branding should be consistent across all the mediums where you want to share your message. Additionally, the message should resonate with your ideal client. 

 

In terms of optimizing lead generation, she recommends having a digital marketing strategy. Advisors should also refine their messaging to quickly and clearly articulate why clients should choose them over their competitors. Once a lead is acquired, it must be nurtured which takes time in order to build an authentic relationship. 

 

The final step is to actually convert a lead into a client. Many advisors fail at this final step. She recommends identifying who in the company does this well and have them mentor others at the firm. 


Finsum: Without an effective lead generation strategy, RIAs are bound to become ‘melting icebergs’ as they lose clients and assets through time and attrition. 

 

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