By Cyril Tuohy
Jackson National, the top seller of variable annuities (VAs) in the U.S., has announced the launch of its EALive! program to educate advisors about alternative products.
The company previously had said it would expand its educational campaign around alternative investments, which are designed to boost returns in portfolios weighed down by low interest rates.
Jackson, with a 15.5 percent share of the U.S. variable annuity market last year, sold $20.9 billion worth of new VAs, according to Morningstar data.
EALive! includes webinars, in-person events, a virtual conference, teleconferences, presentations and keynote addresses from industry experts. EALive! is Jackson’s latest educational effort surrounding its Elite Access VA, launched in 2012.
Bill Burrow, senior vice president of national sales development for Jackson National Life Distributors, said EALive! would help Jackson “reach a wider base of advisors” and help them to invest in “today’s challenging market.”
The past year has seen interest rates rise even though they are still low by historical standards, while the stock market has performed well.
EALive! topics will include national and regional conferences on alternative investments, a call-in series devoted to subaccounts, a quarterly webinar series on subaccounts and performance, and quarterly webinars to help advisors wrestle with changing market conditions.
Burrow added that the educational program would offer advisors “fresh perspectives and philosophies on the value of alternative investments,” and arm advisors with tools and knowledge to explain alternatives to clients.
Earlier this year the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a “risk alert” in the wake of increasing demand for alternative investments.
Variable annuities, which have become part of the retirement and investment landscape, allow advisors to place money into subaccounts – usually mutual funds – in order to seek higher returns but without taking on undue risk.
Higher returns are necessary because low interest rates make it difficult for baby boom investors to squeeze enough yield from retirement portfolios typically anchored in conservative, lower-risk and lower-yielding investments.
Earlier this year, Burrow said Jackson saw a need among advisors to explain and clarify how alternative investments work. Alternative investments, which include commodities, are more volatile than stocks, bonds or cash.
Last year, more than 10,000 advisors attended 374 events by Jackson to discuss alternative investments, the company said.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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