Last year was a tumultuous year when it came to market volatility and a global pandemic that brought the world’s economy to its knees. But client needs haven’t changed, and people continue to plan for retirement. The result is continued opportunities to present life insurance and annuities to clients.
That was the word from a panel of life and annuity experts who spoke at today’s NAILBA: Engage virtual conference.
“Regardless of the pandemic, client needs and demographics haven’t changed,” said Eric Taylor, senior vice president, distribution-individual annuities, at AIG. “People still marching toward retirement. So we must rise to that challenge.”
The low-interest rate environment means that annuities and life insurance products can provide clients with “tremendous value related to other alternatives out there,” Taylor said. “The products we offer can be of value for protecting against risks.”
Taylor cautioned about consumers who may be tempted to take the do-it-yourself approach to retirement planning. “Insurance solutions have never been so well positioned against the DIY alternative in the current interest rate environment,” he said.
Jim Bowman, president of life insurance with Advisors Excel, said his company wants advisors to take a holistic approach to retirement planning, which means presenting life insurance and annuities along with whatever other solutions they may suggest to clients.
“We want advisors to take a big picture approach and break it down to consumers’ advantage as they plan for retirement,” he said.
Many of the challenges of the past year have underscored the need for consumers to have a risk management strategy in retirement, Bowman said.
“We need to lean into that,” he said. “The current situation won’t stay that way forever, but clients and advisors are more aware of the risks we collectively face. It’s an opportunity for us to help advisors have these conversations with their clients.”
Jason Lea, NAILBA’s 2021 chairman, said that with market values at all-time highs and more funds held in retirement accounts than ever before, it’s a good time for advisors to talk with their clients “about taking some of the chips off the table and protecting some of their principal.”
Lea said annuity and life insurance ownership were at a low point prior February 2020.
“It took a pandemic to get that reversed,” he said. “We have a tremendous opportunity to talk with advisors on benefits of talking with clients about all forms of life insurance. The momentum is in our favor now. There are product challenges for sure. But our products are as competitive as they ever have been.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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