Morningstar Launches Platform to Compare, Sell Annuities

The investment research firm has built the Annuity Intelligence Center for advisers amid a boom in the insurance product due to higher interest rates and retirement income demand.

Morningstar has launched a platform for advisers to compare and manage annuities for their clients, the investment research firm said Tuesday.

The Annuity Intelligence Center seeks to simplify annuity sales and management for advisers by offering a comparison tool, educational material and product accessibility. Morningstar is partnering on the offering with Luma Financial Technologies, an Ohio-based fintech company with a platform for broker/dealer firms to buy and sell annuities—long-term investment options issued by insurance companies—as well as alternative investments.

“Assets in annuities are climbing, and while these vehicles are growing in popularity, the annuity marketplace remains opaque, and advisers serving investors have difficulty evaluating their options,” Jeff Schwantz, global head of channel partnerships at Morningstar, said in a press release.

Morningstar launched the platform into a booming market for annuities, which have been breaking records this year as fixed-rate deferred and fixed indexed annuities are yielding stronger returns due to higher interest rates, according to insurance association LIMRA. There are also strong signs of demand for retirement income options, as well as a ramping-up of education offerings for advisers related to in-plan annuity options. Recent Invesco research shows that 94% of participants in a workplace retirement plan would like a lifetime income option.

While retail annuity sales have been booming, in-plan annuities for workplace sponsored plans have been slow to gain traction, according to recent PLANADVISER reporting. Morningstar’s platform is designed for retail annuity sales and management and not in-plan annuities, a spokesperson said via email.

The Annuity Intelligence Center is designed to provide a single solution for all annuity product types, including variable annuities, fixed index annuities and registered index-linked annuities. The platform is also designed to encompass the entire annuity workflow, from training and research to order entry and lifecycle management.

Luma’s technology supports a breadth of annuity contract coverage, according to Morningstar, which allows advisers to customize and personalize client offerings. Users can compare annuity features, including rates and expense requirements, and income and value projections based on specific preferences or settings.

The Annuity Intelligence Center is integrated into and accessible via Morningstar’s web-based platform for financial professionals, Morningstar Advisor Workstation. Cost for access to the platform varies depending on client needs, a spokesperson said.