In the uncertain world of retirement planning, MetLife is learning that innovation is a must, Yogini Biswas said.
MetLife, Biswas, who is assistant vice president at MetLife, participated in a panel today at the Insured Retirement Institute's Marketing Summit 2016. MetLife developed a new indexed-linked annuity that gives clients safety, plus a little market exposure.
Sales of this product more than doubled last year, Biswas said. In 2014, MetLife introduced a new deferred income annuity in response to market fluctuations.
MetLife also made its deferred income annuity available as a qualify longevity annuity contract (QLAC) in response to the new QLAC market created by the federal government. Approved by the Obama administration in July 2014, QLACs allow owners to defer required minimum distributions from age 70 1/2 to as late as age 85.
Technology and the availability of information mean the industry must work harder for clients, Biswas said.
"Benefits aren't as juicy as they were a few years ago, and that's not going away," she said. "If you're not delivering on benefits and you're not delivering on costs, that creates a demand for us to innovate."
Investors are searching "for more than 5 percent," added Matthew Williams, head of annuity product management for New York Life, which is also adding creative product lines.
"I'll be the first to admit I was completely wrong on QLACs," Williams said, adding that sales of New York Life's qualified longevity annuity contract are going well. "It's generating a bit more activity than we expected. ... We're reaching more customers."
Forty percent of clients are investing the maximum allowable $120,000 in New York Life QLAC products, Williams said. QLACs could become a popular annual year-end product as investors seek tax shelters, he added.
Further innovation is needed across the industry, said Simeon R. Hernandez III, senior vice president with Forethought Retirement, who moderated the session.
"We will continue to innovate with our products," he said. "The question is how do we get our clients to understand that?"
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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