By Rich Lane
Today’s investors are looking for a sound investment vehicle to help set them up for retirement. With many scarred from losing money in the recent economic downturn, clients are interested in a vehicle that has a guaranteed rate of return. That is one of the reasons why the fixed annuities industry is seeing strong growth in sales.
If you’re new to selling annuities or are interested in a new client base, these surefire strategies can help you make the sale.
1. Position it as one piece of the financial pie.
A sound financial plan should have a mix of options. Many clients are liquidating their 401(k) plans at retirement and taking them to other investors or brokers. Savvy brokers can recommend a fixed annuity as part of a broader financial portfolio instead of a bond, mutual fund or certificate of deposit. Younger investors with one or more decades before retirement will appreciate the conservative nature of annuities, as well as the guaranteed rate of return and lifetime income stream.
2. Find a suitable carrier.
Good advisors select a product that helps meet clients’ investment and accumulation objectives — not just something that increases their personal bottom line. Although many products might fit a client’s basic needs, it might be backed by a new or inexperienced carrier.
The influx of new annuity carriers is steepening competition for customers. Find a carrier to work with that not only sells sound products but also provides value-added services. Veteran carriers mitigate client risk and might provide a better return on investment. Consider these four things when selecting a carrier:
- Long-term outlook — Does the carrier have a track record of successful long-range investing for its customers? The carrier should be able to support the claim and not sell the liability off to another carrier.
- Ratings — Working with a respected, high-quality carrier can eliminate default risk and ensure guaranteed income for purchasers when they need it. Well-respected ratings agencies, including A.M. Best, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, offer valuable information.
- How funds are invested — Although every carrier has to make investments to support its annuity responsibilities, investments should be sound and keep an annuity purchaser’s interests in mind.
- Company’s assets — Collaborate with a carrier that has shown stability over the long term — including during the recent economic recession. Visit a carrier’s website to see where it is investing its funds.
3. Highlight unique features.
Annuities purchasers also may have other investment needs, aside from the general need to protect their nest egg. Some purchasers may be interested in unique features, including how their investment can pay out multiple beneficiaries, or beneficiaries with unique needs.
For a client whose beneficiary isn’t good with money, or for those with a disabled beneficiary who needs a continuous lifetime income stream, position a policy with restricted beneficiary designations. Restricted endorsements are a great way for the purchaser to decide how proceeds are disbursed. It also can take the decision-making process out of the hands of a beneficiary who might not be ready for the responsibility. It will help give purchasers peace of mind and help them plan for what will happen to their money after they’re gone.
Fixed annuities can help clients invest in the future and provide a sound strategy for retirement. Advisors can develop a secure and long-term client base by understanding an annuity’s place in a retirement portfolio for current or soon-to-be retirees, as well as younger investors who are looking to secure their post-retirement financial future.
Rich Lane is the director of individual annuity sales and marketing for Standard Insurance Co. He has been in the fixed annuities industry for more than 17 years, with an emphasis on product and distribution development for brokerages, banks and brokers/dealers. Rich may be contacted at [email protected].