With speculation running high about a possible sale of Aviva's U.S. operations, we asked producers and industry experts to weigh in on what an Aviva sale would mean for them — and how they plan to handle any client concerns.
Check out their responses and then tell us your own game plan in the comments section below.
"I have and still use the product, and I am definitely sure some of my clients will have questions if this does take place. There are a handful of fixed index annuities that I use, and Aviva's happens to be one of them.
"Although I will be entertaining questions and concerns, my clients know that I have their best interest in hand and everything will work out. Change is inevitable — including in business — so even if a sale is imminent, that doesn't mean that a company is not doing too well, and possible changes may benefit our clients and both entities involved."
— James R. Veal, founder & managing member, JRV Wealth Management Group LLC
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"This should not have much of an impact on my business. Client concerns can be addressed by discussing the regulatory requirements of fixed indexed annuities, including their reserve and solvency requirements. These protections are in place to protect the consumer.
"Because the increased requirements can result in less profit potential, only companies absolutely committed to the FIA market will continue to pursue the market. However, because the competition for premium dollars is as great as it has ever been, competition should continue to promote attractive product offerings with actuarial soundness."
— Jim Brogan, president and founder of Brogan Financial in Knoxville, Tenn., and Senior Market Advisor’s 2011 Advisor of the Year
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"The possible Aviva USA sale will not impact my business nor should it significantly impact an agent who focuses on annuities. Carrier takeovers and the sale of them are very common, often working for the benefit of the client. Usually, policies are grandfathered in and are not impacted.
"If an impact is to be felt, then it will be a good one, since these types of carrier transactions are designed to enhance and improve the client's policy and service. And the thing that will never change is the fact that the client still has me, and I provide exceptional service and products. So clients have nothing to lose and everything to gain."
— Henry Vazquez, MGA/IMO, Henry Agency of Georgia
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"It's a very difficult market for indexed annuities. Aviva and other mega annuity issuers need to consider moving 'direct' or back to the old model of captive agents versus the myriad of downlines and IMO’s… simply too many hands in the distribution pie to pass along suitable returns in exchange for locking one's money up for 10 years.
"Historically, when interest rates rise, older contracts put in force prior to the increase do not readjust to the higher caps and rates. How awesome would it be if Aviva could offer a short-term product with bailout rates?"
— Michael Ham, founder of the coaching sales system found at www.TheSalesTalk.com.
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"Speculation is speculation. The very mention of a possible sale speaks to how valuable the Aviva USA division is. As a long-standing power house in the indexed annuity business, the sale, in our opinion, is unlikely. However this has only been out for a short time. More answers and questions will come out in the days ahead. The focus and strides Aviva has made in the life insurance business and the room for market share in the U.S. also add to the unlikelihood of a sale.
"If it does take place, we will continue to assess the reserve status, investment mix of the portfolio and what innovations it brings to the marketplace. But again, today it's barely speculation."
— Matt Golab, RIA, licensed insurance agent at Aaron Matthews Financial Resources in Elk Grove, Calif.
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"Producers can't deny that it is a tough market for fixed products right now. However, something like this creates awareness and attention to fixed products, giving producers an opportunity to have a conversation with clients and prospects alike. That conversation and relationship is what the client really wants anyway — someone to stay up on trends and educate them consistently.
"On another note, it points out, too, the importance of diversifying your business. Putting all your eggs in one product basket is not a good idea for the agent or their clients. As products, markets and companies evolve, so must agents."
— Brandon Stuerke, CRPC, president of Golden Financial Group, LLC, in Columbia, Mo., and creator of the Winning with CPAs referral program
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"Advisors can be proactive by conducting an annual review with their clients. Policyholders have the security of their annuity contracts and the features that will provide the stated benefits. The question of what will happen with Aviva does not risk the contractual arrangement your customer has with Aviva. This is not an issue similar to AIG back in 2008. This is a proactive business decision that is being discussed, as reported, if true.
"There is an old saying in sales: success is when opportunity and preparedness meet. If anything, this provides you an opportunity to show your value to your customer by contacting them, performing an annual review and helping them draw up a game plan when their current contract matures. Help your customers be prepared for the next decision they may need to make in managing their assets and fulfilling their financial goals. To be sure the prospect is engaged, you have to use language that 'takes charge' of the meeting with the prospect."
— Lloyd Lofton, CSA, LUTCF, vice president and COO for American Eagle Financial Services Inc., a national marketing organization
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