Variable annuity sales are headed for their lowest annual sales in nearly two decades, since the mid 90’s, as their multi-year slide continues. Broker dealers have been running from the current trend in “transparency” of products, and are now turning to products with stronger guarantees: fixed indexed annuities. (FIA)
Sales of variable annuities are down some 25-30% over 2015, partially because of changes in the Department of Labor’s changes in the fiduciary rule. New disclosure rules are due to start in June 2017. These new rules force companies who sell variable annuities to become more transparent and disclose their inherently high fee structure. Variable annuity sales are also down due to insurers putting volatility controls in place on contracts with “guaranteed income riders” diluting their upside potential.
On the other hand, fixed indexed products continue their rapid climb to satisfy most of the conditions consumers demand these days, such as, little or no up-front fees, long term guarantees, competitive rates of return, the ability to change investment options, no on-going fees, the “no loss of principal” concept, and the contractual feature of not being able to outlive their money. Fixed indexed annuities offer the client a favorable alternative to their fixed income portfolios, often better than bonds and bank products.
LIMRA (Life Insurance Marketing and Research) projects fixed indexed annuities annual sales to reach $75 billion in 2017 which would be a gain of over 20% from the previous year. LIMRA also predicts a possible 20% decrease in the sale of variable annuities. Variable annuities are the lowest in sales since 1998.
All in all, the future appears bright for the fixed indexed side and very blurry for variable annuities.
Variable annuities are considered securities and are sold by security salespeople. Fixed indexed annuities are insurance products and sold by licensed insurance agents.