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Soleares Research, LLC is a market research and consulting firm servicing the annuity and life insurance businesses. We provide, through our website, periodic articles that cover important industry trends; we also offer clients phone or on-site consultations, executive briefings and presentations. We pride ourselves on first-class customer service and responsiveness to our clients. We aim to be an indispensable resource to the marketplace.

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Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: May 08, 2006

With this commentary we’ll resume our coverage of first quarter earnings calls and show how some insurers, due to their scale and ability to offer cutting-edge ideas, have seen resurgence in their variable annuity sales, although we must add that competitive advantage can be short-lived, so these firms must continually innovate to keep pace with th


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: May 01, 2006

Last week we listened to first quarter earnings conference calls of five publicly-traded insurers who do business in the U.S. variable space, and for some of these companies, annuity sales improved, although surrenders – more often than not from “vintage” annuities – remain an issue...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Apr 24, 2006

While our primary concentration is on the variable insurance business, from time to time we will reflect on the equity-indexed annuity, or EIA, and now is a good time to do so. There are a couple of reasons for this: the first is that over the past several years, EIA sales have grown exponentially, the second is that this rapid success has caused


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Apr 17, 2006

Last week there was concern within the variable insurance business over a draft circular letter from the New York State Insurance Department that clarifies how standard non-forfeiture law applies to separate account contracts. The letter raises questions whether certain annuity benefits might not meet requirements of the law...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Apr 10, 2006

Over the first few months of the year we’ve been noticing rather specialized variable insurance funds coming out, some “non-correlative” with the market – in that they may take an inverse position against an index – others that include hedge fund-like strategies such as short-selling or the use of derivatives...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Apr 03, 2006

As The Soleares Report evolves, we’ll have plenty to report regarding variable insurance products and features because new things are constantly coming out. This continuous introduction of ideas is important to the health of the industry, and now we’re seeing more of this activity coming from insurers whose core business is tax-qualified plans...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Mar 27, 2006

In our quick look at spousal lifetime withdrawal benefit provisions last month, we commented on some features that were still in the filing stage. It turns out that a few of these were formally launched lately, a not surprising occurrence because we are entering the May VA prospectus update season...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Mar 20, 2006

We’re thinking that 2006 will be a time when many things will happen on the regulatory and compliance front, both positive and negative, for the VA business. If we look on the bright side of the situation, even though fresh new regulations and more legal actions may come along, there could also be opportunities to clear up misconceptions and ambig


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Mar 13, 2006

In the new variable funds filed in February we noticed some general trends continuing, among them the offering of new types of funds-of-funds (F-of-Fs), which to us is not surprising given their frequent use in connection with living benefit features. We also saw more international and emerging markets funds being registered, reflecting the incre


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Mar 06, 2006

We are trying to get our arms around a number of tax considerations regarding variable annuities that might end up impacting the business rather sooner than later. At least one reason for concern is that the IRS rarely issues clear guidance on how to apply its rules to specific situations...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Feb 27, 2006

The batch of new variable funds registered with the SEC in January was marked by types that emphasize diversification and risk management, just as we’ve been seeing lately. We continue to see filings of funds-of-funds of various types, alternative strategies and international or global funds...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Feb 13, 2006

In the second installment in a regular commentary of The Soleares Report, we are going to review variable annuity business fourth quarter reports and consider what happened in 2005 as a whole. In future weeks we’ll make further observations on the past year and try to identify important themes to consider...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Feb 06, 2006

It’s been well documented that lifetime withdrawal benefits were the primary sales driver in the variable annuity business in 2005, and should figure prominently in companies’ efforts this year. The most commonly added “tweak” of late has been spousal continuation, a provision that reveals much about the priorities of current VA holders...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jan 30, 2006

One of the more innovative variable insurance developments we’ve seen in recent years is a multi-faceted strategy whereby assets from a deferred annuity are moved to a variable life policy by using payments from a single-premium immediate annuity…


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jan 23, 2006

According to most data providers covering the variable annuity business, at least half of all assets are held in qualified plans, thus it’s important, when evaluating the health of the industry, to consider these programs. In this commentary we’ll endeavor to look at the types of plans and the insurers who are doing the majority of business in the


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jan 17, 2006

This commentary is the first in a regular series where we’ll look back at variable insurance funds filed with the SEC over the previous month. In these articles we will review as many new offerings as we can and endeavor to identify dominant trends in investment options, fees and expenses...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jan 09, 2006

Generally speaking, we think the path insurance is taking is towards ever more commoditization, with products built for specialized purposes. Such movement has been occurring in the annuity business for quite some time and lately, similar ideas are starting to migrate over to variable life...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Dec 19, 2005

One of the more significant developments in variable insurance over the past few years has been the emergence of various kinds of funds-of-funds as dominant in terms of gathering net new flows…


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Dec 12, 2005

In looking at third quarter results for the variable annuity business, we note that some companies with improving sales and market shares did not necessarily see their overall rankings change correspondingly; indeed, some kept the same positions, others actually moved down...


Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Dec 05, 2005

In approaching the annuity business, we must admit, at times, to conflicting feelings. For one thing, we believe in the value of these products, regardless of type: fixed, variable, index, deferred, immediate and all types beyond and between...we encourage people to buy them and use them, and that means use them for what they were intended to do,


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