Date posted: January 31, 2010
“FINRA Issues Guidance to Firms, Brokers on Communications with Public Through Social Networking Web Sites” is the latest news release from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA’s Regulatory Notice 10-06 is a question and answer document meant to provide recommendations to securities firms and brokers regarding social networking sites. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs and other social networking sites are one of the most popular ways for companies to communicate with the public. With their soaring popularity, issues arise regarding the credibility of the information being posted. FINRA’s document stresses how important it is for companies not to mislead clients and to keep good records of their social networking postings.
Whether in the business of annuities, stocks, or another financial product, FINRA wants to ensure that firms and brokers have developed new procedures to handle social networking. All regulations relating to the industry still need to be followed when using social networking for marketing and other communications. There are actually technology systems being developed to help companies keep records and maintain accountability with social networking. FINRA developed this document through their own research and experience along with a Social Networking Task Force representing 14 different firms.
Date posted: January 29, 2010
According to “Sony Life Insurance forms joint venture with AEGON” on TradingMarkets.com, Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. and AEGON N.V. have made a financial partnership. This joint venture was completed on January 27, 2010 and is valued at $55.88 million. The companies will join forces to sell insurance policies under the combined name Aegon Sony Life Insurance Co. The risks associated with variable annuities will now be reinsured by adding this second company to the mix. Sony Life Insurance Co. is based in Japan and is a subsidiary of Sony Financial Holdings, Inc. AEGON, located in Bermuda, is a life insurance and pension company based in the Netherlands. The partnership consists of a 50:50 reinsurance on annuities and other life insurance products sold by the new joint venture. Their trading symbols are AEG & SNYFY. Keep an eye on those stocks to see what effect the companies’ joint venture will have.
Date posted: January 27, 2010
President Obama will be talking about annuities in today’s State of the Union Address, according to the National Underwriter‘s article “Obama To Highlight Annuities” by Trevor Thomas. Obama’s administration will be releasing proposals aimed at helping middle-class people who are financially stressed. Using annuities to help generate lifetime retirement income is a large part of those proposals. The administration believes that highlighting the benefits of annuities to help avoid outliving one’s savings or losing that savings through inflation or investment losses is important. As Obama prepares for his State of the Union address tonight, the White House released a fact sheet of items he will discuss, including these proposals.
The American Council of Life Insurers is excited to work with President Obama to help spread the use of annuities used in retirement. They are praising Obama’s initiative and recognition of the difficulty retirees have making their savings last over their lifetime. There were a number of other initiatives released from the White House as well. A cap on student loan payments, an expansion of child care funding for parents who work, and increasing the number of people who receive federal aid being caretakers are a few of the plans. In regards to retirement, the administration plans to require better clarity in the fees that 401k plan administrators charge and press them to provide impartial advice to workers. As transfers to 401k annuities become more popular, it is crucial that workers nearing retirement have the best advice for making their lifetime savings last.
Date posted: January 25, 2010
Investment News‘ Darla Mercado summarizes the variable and fixed annuity sales of 2009 in her article “Banks’ annuity fee income rose, FA sales fell in ’09 3Q.” Through the first three quarters of last year, bank holding companies saw the fee income from their annuity sales increase. The sale of fixed annuities however, decreased in the third quarter due to their decline in popularity through 2009. With $2 billion in fee income from variable and fixed annuity sales during the first three quarters of 2009, banks saw a 2.5% increase from the same time frame during the previous year. Commissions increased 4% during the third quarter, according to a report of the top 922 bank holding companies. Overall, 71% of the largest banks accounted for almost 95% of the total annuity commissions.
Wells Fargo held the top spot even though their income was actually down from the comparable period in 2008. In second place was JP Morgan Chase & Co who also saw a decline from 2008, albeit a small one. Regions Financial Corp. and Bank of America Corp. saw the largest gains in annuity fee income during the three quarter time period. Western National Life was the largest seller of fixed annuities, despite the product taking an overall decline in the third quarter. Three companies made their way onto the top 10 list of bank annuity sellers last year. Jackson National Life Insurance Co., ING USA, and Hartford Life Insurance Company came onto the top ten list in 7th, 8th, and 9th places. Annuities hold strong as important financial products, despite some declines in the fixed annuity sales.