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Renewing One’s Labors

Posted By: Steven D. McDonnell | Posted On: Sep 07, 2018

I’m writing this post, the first on this blog in over a year, on a quiet afternoon at a café in my Astoria neighborhood where I like to have a coffee and think and write. The recent heat wave has let up, thankfully, and the place has a nice mix of local people, sipping and relaxing.

 I usually end up here about the time when the elementary school is letting out across the street. Such was the case today and everything follows a familiar pattern: the parents line up on the sidewalk, as do the yellow buses on the side street. The kids come out and for a while there’s a throng of people moving in different directions. The buses pull away and before long we’re back to peace and quiet.

I hope everyone’s summer was pleasant. Mine certainly was. I took a trip abroad and came back refreshed, energized and ready to renew my efforts with Soleares.

Around the industry there is cause for optimism. The DOL fiduciary rule is behind us and sales are picking up. Insurers are enhancing their products again – although doing so judiciously – partly due to relief from the rule and partly due to rising interest rates.

And recently we’ve been seeing other financial companies imitating or riffing off of concepts that originated in the annuity space. Not long ago a small ETF provider introduced a fund that employs a downside buffer similar to structured annuities.1 And a robo advisor has come out with a “retirement paycheck” to help investors create tax-efficient income streams somewhat reminiscent of what an annuity offers (without the lifetime guarantee). Yet another company seeks to offer annuities online via subscription.2

At present we don’t think either of these endeavors will pose a threat, rather they are evidence of “the sincerest form of flattery” in that other firms see value in what annuity carriers are offering. That said, insurers should remain on their toes and be ready to answer with innovations of their own in the future.

In closing, as for me, I plan to build on the positive vibes from this summer.  I intend to post on this blog more often over the rest of this year. And, I plan to add to my industry research, bit by bit, including fixed-index annuities. When I comment on FIAs I hope to do so in a unique way that complements the current coverage already done by other firms.

So I have my work cut out for me. As I move ahead, in the pages of this blog I will share my thoughts on my progress and I will welcome any feedback and suggestions.

1“These ETFs Save Investors a Trip to the Casino” posted August 15 on Bloomberg.

2“Personal Capital takes aim at retirement income” in the August 31 issue of Investment News.