However, perspectives changed as respondents looked ahead to the next 12 months. While GLWBs were still the top choice, respondents predicted other features would gain in popularity and become “must haves” in the coming year, including a “choice of combination benefits” (25%), “alternate index strategies or indices” (11%) and “principal preservation income riders” (10%).
“This survey shows that the need for guaranteed income in retirement continues to be a top priority for consumers and the annuity professionals who advise them,” said Mark Fitzgerald, national sales manager for Saybrus Partners, Phoenix’s distribution subsidiary. “That’s just part of the story, however. More and more, consumers are looking to meet other needs, notably accumulation and chronic care benefits, and would like the ease of a combination annuity product that does it all.”
Despite the interest respondents showed in products that offer a “choice of combination benefits,” 44% of annuity professionals said that they would like annuity manufacturers to focus on developing “less complex product designs” in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, “better illustration tools” and “improved mobile application tools” were each selected by 18% of respondents as an area of focus for annuity manufacturers in the next year. Another 13% selected “multi-product platform solutions.”
Balancing need and complexity
“For both carriers and advisors, finding the right balance between products that can address multiple needs and products that are less complex will continue to be a challenge,” said Fitzgerald. “For carriers, that might mean developing better illustration tools. For IMOs and agents, it points to the critical role education and advice play in navigating the breadth and complexity of solutions found in the retirement marketplace.”
Looking at it from a client’s perspective, annuity professionals identified the primary needs they believe are driving the “must have” features for today’s annuities. Almost two thirds (62%) said it is the “need for guaranteed income in retirement,” another 23% said it is the “need to address multiple needs with one product” and 10% selected the “need to maximize a nest egg through accumulation products.”
When respondents were asked which feature and/or rider they would most like to add to products currently on the market, one third (33%) selected “accumulation features,” 28% selected “income guarantees,” 24% selected “death benefit protection” and 11% selected “other combination features (i.e.: supplemental medical funding or final expense funding).”
The survey of 102 independent marketing organization professionals, carriers, independent agents and vendors was conducted by Phoenix at the National Association for Fixed Annuities’ 2013 NAFA IMO Summit in Aspen, Colo., which was held Oct. 16-18.
The Phoenix Companies, Inc. (NYSE:PNX) helps financial professionals provide solutions, including income strategies and insurance protection, to families and individuals planning for and living in retirement. Headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, Phoenix has a history of keeping its promises since 1851. Saybrus Partners, a subsidiary, represents Phoenix’s products among key distributors including independent marketing organizations and brokerage general agencies. For more information, visit www.phoenixwm.com and www.saybruspartners.com.