Indexed annuity sales rise in Q1 as DOL fiduciary rule stalls

Variable annuity sales were down again, however

May 22, 2018 @ 4:35 pm

By Greg Iacurci

Indexed annuities posted a double-digit increase in sales last quarter as the headwinds posed by the Labor Department's fiduciary rule dissipated.

Broader economic developments, such as the market volatility during Q1 and rising interest rates, also combined to swell sales of the fixed annuity products by 11% year-over-year, to $14.5 billion, according to Limra, an insurance industry group.

The group is forecasting a 5% to 10% annual increase in sales for 2018. Last year, indexed annuities posted their first annual sales decline in a decade.

"This uptick in sales is a combination of an improved outlook on a regulatory front, as well as rising interest rates creating the opportunity for more attractive rates," said Todd Giesing, annuity research director at Limra, referencing more attractive product features.

Market volatility also generally leads consumers to seek out more conservative products.

A federal appeals court struck down the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule in March. The rule, which partially went into effect in June 2017, upped the sales standards for brokers selling products on commission in retirement accounts. Most indexed and variable annuities are sold on a commission basis.

Variable annuity sales were down 1% year-over-year in the first quarter, totaling $24.6 billion, according to Limra. It was the 17th consecutive quarter of sales declines for variable annuities.

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