Athene USA and Nationwide appear to be fierce competitors in the fixed indexed annuity market. But behind the scenes they share a common thread to their recent success: the Arizona-based annuity marketer Annexus, which works through other independent marketing organizations.
Athene and Nationwide take their indexed annuity market share battles seriously, said annuity market analyst Sheryl J. Moore, CEO of Wink Inc., publisher of Wink’s Sales & Market Report. “Both those companies have proprietary products through a common marketing group, Annexus, and it’s a big way they have been able to capture additional market share over the past few years,” she said, calling Annexus master marketers.
Just how seriously Athene and Nationwide take themselves is reflected in the latest quarterly indexed annuity league tables. Athene moved up a notch from last year to the No. 2 spot for indexed annuity sales with an 8.6 percent share and Nationwide moved up a spot from last year to No. 3 with an 8.1 percent share, Wink reported. Two years ago, Athene USA was the No. 7 seller with 4.4 percent and Nationwide was No. 5 with a 5.2 percent share.
Allianz Life remains the leader with 11.7 percent share.
Indexed annuity sales for the first quarter rose 10 percent to $14.2 billion compared to the year-ago period, and rose 4.4 percent when compared to the previous quarter, Wink reported.
Two Companies 'Killing it'
Two other indexed annuity companies warrant special mention in the first quarter: Great American and Pacific Life. Great American, with a 6.9 percent share, was the No. 5 seller of indexed annuities this quarter, and Pacific Life, with a 3.2 percent share, was the No. 10 seller.
Both companies, however, delivered among the largest market share increases from the fourth quarter of last year. Great American entered the indexed annuity market in 2016 with IndexProtector 7 by selling through independent agents and independent broker-dealers. But the company has lately “really just been killing it,” as it broadens sales into the bank channel and deepens its relationships among broker-dealers, Moore said.
For its part, Pacific Life has seen a 47 percent sales increase in the first quarter compared with the fourth quarter.
“You can’t ignore that when you look at that company’s sales and what’s driving growth,” Moore said. “They have a couple of products selling significantly well, and they are getting serious premium on them.”
Last August, Pacific Life replaced its flagship indexed annuity Pacific Index Choice with Pacific Index Foundation. Last May, the company introduced Pacific Index Advisory, a new fee-based indexed annuity to give financial advisors more choices.
“The financial strength, their consistent product development and their marketing works,” Moore said.
Pacific Life and Nationwide are quintessential examples of companies that have made inroads into the growing indexed annuity market from the shrinking VA market.
“I think the indexed annuity market is the next frontier for disenfranchised VA insurers,” Moore said.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected]