From the April 2010 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Annuity Sales Increase

Two reports released in late February by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) found that the sales of both fixed and variable annuities continued to recover in the fourth quarter of 2009, though they had yet to reach the levels attained in 2008.

Fourth quarter sales of fixed index annuities totaled $7.6 billion, representing a 3.2% increase over the previous quarter, according to IRI and Beacon Research, with total fixed index annuity sales for 2009 at $30.2 billion, posting a year-to-year increase of $3.5 billion. Total fixed annuity sales were $105.1 billion in 2009, the groups say, just 2% less than the record high in 2008.

"Fixed annuity sales in 2009 were second only to the record-setting prior year," said Jeremy Alexander, president and CEO of Beacon Research, in a statement. "Due to strong demand for secure retirement savings and income alternatives, 2009 results were achieved despite financial pressures on consumers and other challenges."

As for variable annuities, IRI reported that sales for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $31.9 billion, up slightly from $31 billion in the previous quarter. Total 2009 sales were $125.1 billion, compared to $154.8 billion in 2008.

The net assets of U.S. variable annuities posted a double-digit increase in year-to-year quarter comparisons for the first time in eight quarters, IRI said, advancing at a rate of 20.2%.

"The surge in variable annuity assets is a clear indicator that we are indeed on a solid road to recovery," said IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford in a statement.

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