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  • Variable annuity players join the fixed indexed annuity fray

    September 30, 2011 by Darla Mercado

    John Hancock launches new product; Pac Life, Mass Mutual and
    Hartford file with regulators

    By Darla Mercado

    September 29, 2011

    Carriers that have been stalwarts in the variable annuity industry are trying
    their hand at manufacturing and selling fixed indexed annuities.

    John Hancock Annuities earlier this month launched its Inflation Guard
    annuity, which credits a fixed interest rate during the first year, and a rate
    pegged to the consumer price index-urban for subsequent years. Customers can
    choose how long they’ll stay in the annuity, up to 10 years, according to a
    prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But for now, only
    the 10 year structure is available to clients, said Tom Mullen, chief marketing
    officer at John Hancock Annuities. Surrender fees at their highest are 8% and
    decline from there.

    The insurer has labeled its product a registered market value adjusted
    annuity.

    John Hancock joins Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., which filed its
    New Elevations indexed annuity with state insurance regulators in May. A John
    Hancock spokesman declined to comment. MassMutual is currently deciding on the
    timing for launching its indexed annuity, said spokeswoman Patricia Norris
    Lubold.

    Pacific Life Insurance Co. and The Hartford Financial Services Inc. filed
    indexed annuities with insurance regulators in June. Pacific Life spokesman
    Tennyson Oyler declined to comment on the filing.

    The Hartford withdrew its application in August, according to the Connecticut
    Insurance Department, but the carrier can re-file and observers expect it to
    launch an indexed annuity this fall.

    The carrier’s spokesman, David Potter, declined to comment on the filing.

    Given the carriers’ history in the variable annuity business, industry
    experts expect the companies to target the same audience of registered reps at
    broker-dealers. Currently, ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Co., Jackson
    National Life Insurance Co. and Lincoln National Corp. are the most popular
    issuers of indexed annuities among registered reps.

    But tapping that audience isn’t going to be easy, as the insurance companies
    will have to change their tune to get the reps’ attention — especially in an
    environment that’s traditionally been more open toward variable annuities rather
    than indexed annuities.

    “[Variable annuity wholesalers] have been selling against the indexed annuity
    for so long, it’s hard to ratchet back and say that they’re not the enemy,” said
    Jack Marrion, president of Advantage Compendium Ltd., an indexed annuity
    research firm.

    Successfully marketing the product likely will require wholesalers and
    carriers to rethink their marketing approach.

    “It requires a different view of how to present the product,” said Mr.
    Marrion. “Reps are used to presenting ‘return.’ This is ‘safety.’

    Originally Posted at Investment News on September 29, 2011 by Darla Mercado.

    Categories: Industry Articles
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