Interest in Annuities Is Growing

Interest in annuities is growing as consumers demand guaranteed lifetime income in the face of challenging economic conditions, according to a report.
The Insured Retirement Institute’s “State of the Insured Retirement Industry” said 2012 marked the first year of any significant sales in the industry—an estimated $1 billion in sales for deferred income annuities (DIAs). And, in 2013, annuity assets are expected to reach an all-time high.

Variable annuities continue to be the dominant product sold today, but anticipation is that DIAs will be the fastest growing product in 2013, at least on a percentage basis.

Annuities are now the most unsolicited products requested by clients, and nearly three in four financial professionals had clients who requested to purchase an annuity over the past year, according to a survey of financial advisers.

The fear of outliving one’s assets is one of the top financial fears of many Americans, and insurance companies are the only legal entities that can insure retirement income for a person’s lifetime.


Going into 2013, the institute expects to see a decline in defined benefit (DB) plans, increasing retirement assets in individually managed accounts and uncertainty about the future of Social Security and Medicare. External challenges include historically low interest rates, market volatility, cost of capital in providing annuities and regulatory issues.

In 2013, the institute says to watch out for the preservation of tax-deferred status of retirement savings and the prevention of tax increases, particularly on the middle class; the re-proposed fiduciary standard applied to advisors of employment-based retirement plans; and investor behavior driven by market volatility and desire for guarantees.

Companies are innovating with new products and are expanding into new markets and new players are entering the market. At least six companies currently offer a DIA, or have filed to offer the product in 2013.

Many new products and benefits are falling into one of three market segments: income now, income later and unknown income needs. Annuity providers are seeking to balance product design to manage longevity, market and client behavior risks while in an economic environment of continued low interest rates and high market volatility.

While some companies have slowed down or eliminated new annuity sales, private equity firms are entering the annuity market by purchasing interests in fixed-indexed companies as well as variable annuity blocks.

The report is here.