Indexed annuity sales projected to grow nearly 40% by 2023

Continued market volatility and rising interest rates will push fixed annuities to new highs, Limra estimates

Apr 5, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

By Greg Iacurci

Indexed annuities, fresh off a record sales year, are poised for substantial growth over the next four years, according to projections from Limra, an insurance industry group that expects the stock market to remain volatile and interest rates to continue their steady ascent.

Limra projects that sales of indexed annuities — a type of fixed annuity — will rise to $96 billion by the end of 2023. That's $26.4 billion more than last year's total — a 38% increase.

Meanwhile, the group expects fixed-rate deferred annuity sales to swell by as much as 40% over the same time period to $62 billion, up from $44.2 billion last year.

Stock market gyrations toward the end of 2018 helped overall fixed annuity sales smash their previous record, as investors sought more conservative places to park their money. Interest rates are also on the rise, recovering from a decade of rock-bottom rates instituted around the time of the financial crisis, which helps investors get higher payouts on fixed annuities.

Todd Giesing, director of annuity research at the Limra Secure Retirement Institute, anticipates these trends will remain in place over the next few years, which he calls the "perfect recipe" for fixed-annuity growth.

"I think cash [and] fixed annuities will become an actual asset class again, where the last decade or so in this low-interest rate environment, it wasn't something anyone would even consider," said Jason Kolinsky, partner at Kolinsky Wealth Management.

The S&P 500 index ended 2018 down 6.2%, its first annual decline since the financial crisis. In the fourth quarter alone, the index lost nearly 14% of its value.

Variable annuity sales are expected to grow up to 10% through 2023 — to $110 billion from $100.1 billion last year — but that growth will be hampered by a volatile stock market, Mr. Giesing said.

While the market is up more than 14% since the beginning of the year, investors and advisers are likely fleeing to more conservative types of annuities, said Mr. Kolinsky, for a level of asset protection out of "fear of the market tanking again."

"January is perhaps one of the stronger Januarys we had by January standards for a while," Ron Grensteiner, president of American Equity Investment Life Holding Co., the sixth-largest indexed-annuity seller in 2018, said on a recent earnings call. "And I think volatility in the marketplace is certainly playing a factor in that."

Interest rates also increased throughout most of 2018, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury rate going from roughly 2.5% at the beginning of 2018 to a high of more than 3.2% in early November.

However, it has since fallen back to around 2.5%. The Federal Reserve, which raised its target interest rate four times in 2018, has indicated a much slower approach in the near term — potentially even a rate cut — given economic indicators.

Mr. Kolinsky believes interest rates will continue to rise but said lofty annuity projections would likely fall short of reality if that doesn't come to pass.

Tamiko Toland, head of annuity research at CANNEX Financial Exchanges, said the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule being struck down in court has been especially helpful in providing a better sales environment for indexed annuities.

The rule, which raised investment-advice standards in retirement accounts, would have made it more challenging for brokers and insurance agents to sell indexed annuity and other financial products.

"It was a real regulatory gauntlet that was put on indexed annuities," she said.

The rule was taken off the books last year following a ruling against it in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.


What do you think?

View comments

Upcoming event

Nov 20


Future of Financial Advice

An innovative conference dedicated to improving the client experience by enhancing digital technology, mainstreaming healthcare and optimizing wealth management strategies.The Future of Financial Advice will provide a forum for... Learn more

Most watched


Young professionals see lots of opportunity to reinvent the advice experience

Members of the 2019 InvestmentNews class of 40 Under 40 have strategies to overcome the challenges of being young in a mature industry.


Young advisers envision a radically different business in five years

Fintech and sustainable investing are two factors being watched closely by some of the 2019 class of InvestmentNews' 40 Under 40.

Latest news & opinion

New Jersey fiduciary rule: Pressure leads to public hearing, comment deadline extension

Industry push results in chance to air grievances on July 17 and another month to present objections.

InvestmentNews' 2019 class of 40 Under 40

Our 40 Under 40 project, now in its sixth year, highlights young talent in the financial advice industry. These individuals illustrate the tremendous potential of those coming up in the profession. These stories will surprise, entertain, educate and inspire.

Galvin to propose fiduciary rule for Massachusetts brokers

The secretary of the commonwealth is proposing a fiduciary standard in response to an SEC investment-advice rule he views as too weak.

Summer reading recommendations from financial advisers

Here are some books that will keep you informed and entertained during summer's downtime

4 strategies for Roth conversions

There's never been a better time to do a Roth conversion, and here are several ways to go about it.


Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.


Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print