Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) today announced final first-quarter 2014 sales results for the U.S. annuity industry, based on data reported by Beacon Research and Morningstar, Inc. Industry-wide annuity sales during the first quarter reached $56.1 billion, up 13.1 percent compared with the first quarter of 2013 when sales totaled $49.6 billion.
The year-over-year sales growth was supported by continued high levels of fixed annuity sales, which totaled $22.6 billion during the first quarter, according to Beacon Research. This was a 50.7 percent increase from nearly $15 billion in first-quarter 2013 and down just 4.1 percent from $23.5 billion in the previous quarter. Meanwhile, according to Morningstar, variable annuity total sales came in at $33.5 billion in the first quarter, down 3.2 percent compared with first-quarter 2013 total sales of $34.6 billion and down 6.4 percent from $35.8 billion during the fourth quarter of 2013.
“Combined annuity sales across the marketplace are well above the pace set in 2013,” said Cathy Weatherford, IRI President and CEO. “This surge was supported by continued strong sales of fixed annuity products. Sales of all types of fixed annuities soared well above first-quarter 2013 levels, achieving year-over year sales growth ranging, depending on the product, from 38 percent to nearly 155 percent.”
According to Beacon Research, strong fixed annuity sales during the first quarter were sustained by the second highest quarterly sales of indexed annuities on record. Indexed annuity sales reached $11.2 billion during the quarter, a 44.3 percent increase from nearly $7.8 billion during first-quarter 2013 but a 4.4 percent decline from the record high of nearly $11.8 billion set during fourth-quarter 2013. Market value adjusted (MVA) annuity sales continued to grow, reaching $2.48 billion in the first quarter. This was a 26 percent increase compared to sales of $1.96 billion during the previous quarter and a 154.6 percent increase from MVA annuity sales of $972 million during first-quarter 2013. For the fixed annuity market, there were approximately $11.1 billion in qualified sales and $11.5 billion in non-qualified sales during first-quarter 2014.
“For the first time since June of 2008, we have enjoyed nine months of higher year-over-year monthly sales,” said Beacon Research President Jeremy Alexander. “With declining rate advantages over other fixed rate investments, fixed annuities continue to be lifted by investor demand for retirement products.”
According to Morningstar, variable annuity net assets continue to reach new all-time highs, closing the first quarter at $1.88 trillion. Meanwhile, variable annuity net sales were negative for the first quarter, coming in at an estimated -$1.1 billion, which was a narrower loss in flows than the -$2.8 billion in fourth-quarter 2013. Within the variable annuity market, there were $22 billion in qualified sales and $11.5 billion in non-qualified sales.
“Variable annuity sales were down overall in the first quarter,” said John McCarthy, Product Manager, Annuity Solutions, at Morningstar. “At the same time, product development remains active, and several products that offer lifetime withdrawal benefits saw increased sales, reflecting continued advisor and investor demand for income guarantees.”
About Morningstar, Inc.: Morningstar, Inc. is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company offers an extensive line of products and services for individual investors, financial advisors, asset managers, and retirement plan providers and sponsors. Morningstar provides data on approximately 456,000 investment offerings, including stocks, mutual funds, and similar vehicles, along with real-time global market data on more than 12 million equities, indexes, futures, options, commodities, and precious metals, in addition to foreign exchange and Treasury markets. Morningstar also offers investment management services through its registered investment advisor subsidiaries and had approximately $164 billion in assets under advisement and management as of March 31, 2014. The company has operations in 27 countries.
About Beacon Research: Beacon Research is an independent research company and application service provider founded in 1997 and based in Evanston, Ill. Beacon tracks fixed and variable annuity features, rates and sales. Its quarterly Fixed Annuity Premium Study is the first and only source to analyze fixed annuity sales at the product level, and the first to make a decade’s worth of sales information available to subscribers online at www.annuitymarketstudy.com. Beacon lowers compliance risk and increases fixed annuity sales with 100% carrier-approved, comprehensive product profiles, spreadsheets and search tools for the advisor/rep websites of banks, TPMs, broker-dealers and marketing organizations. Carriers and financial institutions use its systems at www.annuitynexus.com for compliance review of 1035 exchanges, sales support, conservation and product research. Beacon also licenses information to other platforms. Directly and through licensees, Beacon information can be accessed by hundreds of financial institutions and thousands of advisors.
About the Insured Retirement Institute: The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) is the leading association for the retirement income industry. IRI proudly leads a national consumer coalition of more than 30 organizations, and is the only association that represents the entire supply chain of insured retirement strategies. IRI members are the major insurers, asset managers, broker-dealers/distributors, and 150,000 financial professionals. As a not-for-profit organization, IRI provides an objective forum for communication and education, and advocates for the sustainable retirement solutions Americans need to help achieve a secure and dignified retirement. Learn more at www.irionline.org.