By Cyril Tuohy
American General is launching a new variable annuity that the company says offers a “deep and broad investment platform” for the long-term accumulation needs of investors.
Branded as Polaris Select Investor, the new investment product is being offered nationwide. In New York, it is issued by U.S. Life.
“As Americans take even greater personal responsibility for their financial futures, developing industry-leading products that meet their evolving needs has become increasingly important,” said Bryan Pinsky, senior vice president of Individual Retirement Products for American International Group (AIG), American General ’s parent.
Polaris Select, he said, appeals to a growing segment of consumers looking for a way to accumulate capital, invest in a broader class of assets and benefit from tax advantages.
Investors can choose from among 33 money managers and more than 90 portfolios across 22 asset classes and professionally designed asset-allocation models, AIG said.
Polaris Select offers investors three ways to invest: through a customized allocation, an asset allocation model, or a mix of both. Polaris investors also have the option of adding a death benefit to the contract, the company said.
Two of the nation’s largest life insurance carriers have announced separate variable annuity product launches in the space of a week. American General's Nov. 11 announcement of the Polaris Select launch preceded the Nov. 17 announcement by MetLife and Fidelity Investments of their Accumulation Annuity, a variable annuity that seeks to take advantage of market gains while limiting an investor’s exposure to loss.
Life insurance companies see an opportunity for annuities as more Americans retire and as Congress encourages the development of products that generate steady income for many retirees and preretirees looking to cover their longevity risk.
With interest rates so low and with stock market returns robust, companies see demand from investors who want a chance to earn more on their investments.
Sales of fixed and variable annuities rose 6 percent to $177.7 billion in the first nine months of 2014 compared to the year-ago period, according to LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute.
Variable annuity sales dipped 3 percent to $105.9 billion in the first nine months of this year compared to the year-ago period, LIMRA 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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