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: Dec 08, 2015

In this report we’ll discuss deferred income annuities (DIAs), products that, in our view, were built to provide less risky forms of guaranteed income as compared to living benefits, and to answer longstanding objections to traditional income annuities, such as lack of flexibility and liquidity...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Nov 09, 2015

We just completed our third quarter review of variable annuity business results of selected stock-traded insurers and found that for all of them, sales fell sequentially during that time period. Market volatility was the most-often cited reason by companies for their sales declines; we think seasonality played a role as well...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jun 16, 2015

Not long ago, first quarter annuity industry sales figures were released by the major tracking firms and we thought results were about as expected – although we were thinking fixed annuities would do better...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: May 18, 2015

In our view, this May variable annuity prospectus update season hasn’t been all that eventful – although we must admit we are still sifting through all the filings. In this commentary we’ll discuss a few of the more interesting things we found through our research...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Apr 21, 2015

Last week we attended the annual LIMRA/LOMA/Society of Actuaries Retirement Industry Conference held in Washington, D.C., and in this commentary, as we have done in the past, we won’t try to completely recap the event, rather we’ll discuss thoughts and impressions we came away with from the three days...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Oct 06, 2014

In this report we’ll discuss variable annuity filing activity from the past few weeks. Of particular note was the registration of new contracts from Lincoln National, aimed at IRA rollover money, which will include a lifetime withdrawal benefit and just one sub-account – a volatility-control fund...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jun 23, 2014

Since the start of the year we have been steadily tracking modifications to variable annuity products and in this commentary we’ll share what we think are prevailing trends from around the industry...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: May 19, 2014

In the first quarter of this year variable annuity sales fell, on a sequential basis, for every member of our group of publicly-traded insurers we watch regularly, which makes us pretty sure that the industry experienced a similar result...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Dec 31, 2012

The year 2012 was a time when insurers made reductions to their variable annuity products: these moves included the trimming of guarantees, fee increases, closures of contracts and riders, installation of tighter investment restrictions, cuts to commissions, and even complete departures from the business. Such activity served to depress industry s

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Aug 27, 2012

Lately we’ve been seeing fresh product reductions taking place around the variable annuity business, and we think that the effectiveness of such moves will depend largely on how each insurer will look, competitively, after making their adjustments. These days most companies are not shy about undertaking multiple rounds of de-risking in an effort t

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jun 25, 2012

As the summer proceeds we expect to see more variable annuity product adjustments and tweaks coming through, mostly in response to recent moves by leading issuers. This is a time when few players will simply stay put…

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jun 18, 2012

The summer is usually a slow period for the variable annuity business, with sales dropping off, at least by a small margin. This year, however, it seems that activity has been picking up, most of it (not surprisingly in our view), related to product de-risking...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jan 09, 2012

It’s our sense that, unless there is a dramatic (and sustained) rebound in the financial markets near term, most variable annuity insurers will be in de-risking mode. For that reason we expect more of the occurrences we’ve become accustomed to of late: temporary fire sales, big moves up and down the sales leader board, and possibly even some compl

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Dec 12, 2011

In this report we’ll provide our usual highlights of recent variable fund filings, and comment on the announcement today from Sun Life Financial that it will discontinue sales of variable annuities in the U.S. To us, the insurer’s decision provides further evidence that this is a tricky time, one where industry players will be treading carefully..

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Dec 27, 2010

It’s become our custom with the last report of December to offer reflections on how the variable annuity business performed over the past year, and suggest issues to watch in the future. We admit that we do this a bit early, as full-year sales data won’t be released for awhile; even so, we like to get a start on the evaluation process. In future

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Nov 01, 2010

The number of variable annuity contracts designed for fee-based financial advisors has been growing of late, and in this commentary we’ll share some thoughts as to the why this is happening, and weigh in on other notable developments on the product front...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Aug 02, 2010

Lately we have found the kind of product adjustments and upgrades occurring around the variable annuity business to be rather interesting and revealing about the priorities of insurers, their distribution partners and clients. We imagine even those players who have stepped back from the heat of competition are watching the goings on quite carefull

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jul 21, 2010

Sometimes it takes an annuity insurer several attempts to get a new product up and running, especially if it is a first for the industry. Such has been the case with a long-term care benefit that Lincoln National has had in the works for awhile, and, by the looks of things, may debut this year...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jun 28, 2010

Judging by new variable annuities we’ve seen registered with the SEC this year, we get the impression that a good number of them were built to meet very specific needs and issues of distributors. It also appears that in this environment, insurers must have the ability to make quick adjustments to their products in response to shifting priorities..

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Dec 07, 2009

There remains a near-constant flow of changes and adjustments being made to products in the variable annuity space, due to a mix of competitive and risk-based concerns, and we don’t see any let-up to this activity over the near term however we think that the rate of future movement will depend on the performance of the financial markets...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jul 13, 2009

Because of the steady flow of tweaks and adjustments insurers have been making to their variable annuity offerings, it’s not easy to determine which changes are meaningful, and which are simply “noise.” In this commentary we’ll discuss some recent moves and attempt to put them in context with the current competitive landscape...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Sep 17, 2007

Even though there are many more lifetime withdrawal benefits on the variable annuity scene today, we maintain that Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefits (GMIBs), due to their unique attributes, are still highly valued by financial advisors, particularly in certain key distribution channels...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Apr 02, 2007

There’s little doubt that success in the variable annuity marketplace over the years has been largely dictated by product and distribution strength, competition depending on what’s currently in favor, whether it be the latest VA chassis, living or death benefit, underlying fund type or what have you. But recently insurers have become concerned ab

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Jan 29, 2007

Given that tax-free 1035 exchanges are widely acknowledged to be a large portion of annuity sales, we think it’s important for companies working in the marketplace to monitor how these exchanges are being perceived and treated by regulators, since shifts in policy may alter the course of VA sales and impact the overall health of the business...

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell Posted On: Dec 04, 2006

One topic we plan to tune into regularly in our reports is the use of variable annuities in qualified plans, a practice that has its critics, yet quite a few industry observers think this section of the market offers insurers an excellent chance for true “organic” sales growth in the years to come...

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