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Tax Benefit of Annuities

Some tips for reducing your taxes were recently posted in the RIS Media article "7 Year-End Tax Planning Tips."  The informative tips come from Ken Rubinstein of New York law firm Rubinstein & Rubinstein.  Gifting money to children or others is the best way to reduce your taxable estate, if that is something you are looking to do.  You can gift up to $13,000 per person and a husband and wife can even give gifts to the same people to help reduce their estate.  Of course everyone isn't in... Read More

Fixed Indexed Annuities Battle Over

It looks like the battle is over for fixed indexed annuities and other indexed annuity products.  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said they would have to reevaluate their information after the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the SEC's Rule 151A.  The SEC had hoped to get indexed annuities classified as securities so they would be put under the SEC's jurisdiction.  According to National Underwriter's "Rater: Indexed Annuity Ruling Will Stick," Standard & Poor's Ratings Services... Read More

Indexed Annuity Battle Lost By SEC, For Now

A year and a half long battle between the SEC and insurers is over, at least for now.  According to Arthur Postal's "Appeals Court Vacates Rule 151A" in the National Underwriter, the SEC will have to go back to square one if they want to propose another Rule regarding the indexed annuity.  The SEC hoped to use Rule 151A to classify indexed annuities as securities rather than insurance products.  This would allow them to have jurisdiction over the products along with insurance regulators in... Read More

Controversial Indexed Annuity Amendment

A strong debate over who should oversee equity indexed annuity products has been going on since the SEC introduced Rule 151A in 2008.  According to Investment News' "Indexed-annuities amendment: Insurers yea, advisers nay" by Mark Schoeff Jr. and Darla Mercado, the debate between sides will remain even if this amendment makes a final decision.  Regulation of equity indexed annuities will remain in the control of individual states if the bill passes, instead of transferring to the SEC as they... Read More

Rule 151A in the Hands of the Courts

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Rule 151A might be thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, according to "Court May Toss 151A Order" by Arthur D. Postal of National Underwriter.  The SEC's proposed rule would classify indexed annuities as securities, allowing the SEC to apply the same rules that they do with variable annuities and other securities starting in January of 2011.  Last January, insurers filed a lawsuit against the SEC in an attempt to stop Rule... Read More

How Valuable are Annuity Ratings?

It looks like there are some questionable practices going on with the financial strength rating institutions, according to "CalPERS Gives Rating Agencies an FFF" by Kerry Pechter in the Retirement Income Journal. Investors and advisers alike have historically put a lot of faith in the ratings from Fitch, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's.  The companies rate the financial strength of annuities, bonds, and bond funds through a letter value system.  Unfortunately, a lawsuit filed by... Read More

Variable Annuities: Fifth Third Securities Fined By FINRA For VA Sales

An article by Reuters' Jonathan Stempel further emphasizes the importance of responsibility when selling variable annuities. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has fined Fifth Third Securities about $2 million (including $250,000 in restitution) for unsuitable sales of variable annuity products to the elderly, whom are least likely to benefit from them--their long surrender periods, expensive fees, and swings in value make them less than ideal for retirement. However, FINRA... Read More

Thinking About Buying A Variable Annuity? Take Advantage of Current Features Before May

While the value of a variable annuity has sunk along with the stock market, it may actually be a good idea to purchase one soon if you're interested. Marc Ruiz in the Chicago Post-Tribune points out that the variable annuities currently on the market filed their contracts with regulatory agencies last May, before the current financial crisis. Federal law prohibits insurers from deviating from that contract during the regulatory year, and existing investors will not be subject to the changes... Read More

Phoenix Annuities Dropped by State Farm, National Life

This week, both State Farm and the National Life Group announced that they will stop selling Phoenix Companies annuities. Diane Levick writes in the Hartford Courant that those firms, which combined made up 82% of Phoenix's 2008 annuity sales, have made this decision because of Phoenix's recent ratings downgrade from Hartford. The firm is already struggling, given its 37% decrease in annuity sales (based on customer depositsw) in Q4... Read More

Suitability Rule for Variable Annuities from FINRA

Investment News'  Darla Mercado recently gave an update on how the annuity industry is dealing with a new rule. Last year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) passed Rule 2821, a suitability rule in order to ensure that variable annuities are sold to the appropriate investors. Provisions in the rule include: suitability checks (i.e. liquidity needs, taxes, client's assets) formal supervisory systems principal review for all regulated transactions Some smaller... Read More

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