AIG pushes fixed annuity sales at banks to lofty heights

Spreads over CDs remain favorable

Fixed annuity sales at banks soared nearly 70 percent in the third quarter, rising to $5.4 billion from $3.2 billion in Q2, according to Bank Insurance & Securities Research Associates (BISRA) Quarterly Annuity Sales Survey. It was also a major leap from the same quarter a year ago when sales hit $2.9 billion.

That surge was due in large part to significant growth in fixed annuity premium booked by AIG. BISRA reports that AIG’s Q3 sales volume more than tripled that taken in during the second quarter. Bolstered by an increase of more than $800 million, AIG’s fixed annuity premium vaulted over $1 billion for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2011.

BISRA’s head of research, Janet Cappelletti, noted in a statement that in addition to AIG’s strong results, fixed annuity sales at banks were strengthened by newcomers to the channel like Security Benefit. All told, the top five carriers registered growth rates between 69 percent and 238 percent and accounted for 62 percent of the fixed annuity market in financial institutions.

The most recent fixed annuity sales total represents the first time since 2009 that premiums topped $5 billion. In terms of market share, banks were the second largest channel for fixed annuity production, claiming 24 percent of the industry, up from 19 percent in the second quarter.

Variable annuity sales dip

Combined sales of fixed and variable annuities reached $9.9 billion, a 21 percent hike. It was the second highest level since the second quarter of 2011, when sales totaled $10 billion.

Those lofty numbers came despite a dip in bank-based variable annuity sales. After outselling fixed annuities for nine consecutive quarters, variable annuity production dropped below fixed annuity sales. In total, variable annuity sales fell 10 percent to $4.5 billion after hitting a two-year high in the second quarter.

Spreads in fixed annuities favor

As of mid-September, the favorable gap between five-year fixed annuity yields and CDs stood at 88 basis points, BISRA reports. Going to back to September 2012, the average five-year fixed annuity yield exceeded that of a five-year CD by just 8 basis points.

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