Insurers ditch actively managed funds

Insurers aren't just getting mad, they're getting even. Performance guarantees attached to variable annuities forced them to take a hit when the stock market started to fall. Now, they're ditching actively managed funds for ETFs and index funds, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The move toward index funds is a boon to insurers and customers alike, Ramy Tadros, head of the North American insurance practice at Oliver Wyman told the Journal. Investors have been paying for more than what they got, as actively managed funds lost an average 40.5 percent, compared with index funds' average negative return of 39.1 percent, according to Morningstar. By dropping actively managed funds - and their expensive managers and research teams - variable annuities may become more appealing as the costs fall. The Journal cites research from NAVA that shows variable annuities charged an average 0.93 percent in investment management fees in 2007. With administrative fees, the average annual cost was 2.4 percent. Index funds, on the other hand, charge as little as 0.1 percent each year.

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