As we enter a new year and begin to focus on the months ahead, it is important to note the dynamics that will affect the annuity marketplace and how we do business. From public policy developments to macroeconomic factors, from innovation to demographic change, the industry will be shaped by numerous influences throughout 2014. To help monitor and understand these market-changing forces, IRI recently released its annual State of the Industry report, reviewing current trends and providing an outlook for the industry for the new year. Here’s what to watch for in 2014:
With the start of May most companies will file their annual prospectus updates with the SEC. This will serve as an indicator of current trends in variable annuity product design. The sheer length of these prospectuses, often 150 to 300 pages, should also serve as a reminder to the industry and regulators of the importance of pursuing a variable annuity summary prospectus. The SEC has indicated that this remains a top priority for the agency. Bringing forward and finalizing a variable annuity summary prospectus rule will better serve consumers and help facilitate more informed decision making.
Sometime after the Labor Day weekend, the industry will have a chance to review second quarter sales. Among other takeaways, it will be interesting to see how the introduction of new annuity products to the market has affected overall sales. Products such as deferred income annuities (DIAs) are now being offered by more providers. As the number of offerings has expanded, so have sales – from about $1 billion in 2012 to an estimated $2 billion in 2013. But DIAs are not the only new product to hit the market in recent history. Several new forms of variable annuities have emerged, including: growth-oriented variable annuities that do not offer living benefits but have generally lower costs and more investment offerings; structured variable annuities, which are linked to an equity index and have caps and buffers to provide upside growth potential with downside protection; and variable annuities with living benefits designed for immediate income.