Whose Money Is It Anyway?
To The Editor:
I read with interest the Jan. 14 article by Art MacPherson and Lisa Plotnick entitled “VA Owners Dont Annuitize, But Do Flock To SWPs.”
While I do agree that we do have a problem of selling more variable annuity clients on the merits of annuitization, Im puzzled by all the concern expressed by the authors about Systematic Withdrawal Plans being “a steady, uncontrolled drain on VA assets.”
I wish to ask the question: “Of whose assets do we speak?”
The authors seem to be looking at this through the eyes of asset retention managers, whose apparent function in life is to keep assets from being paid out in a manner of which they do not approve. While it may not be technically true, VA clients tend to view these as their own assets. Excuse me, but did the VA client not invest his money with the intent of ultimately having it paid back for his or his familys use?
Should he not have the right to withdraw the money in the manner he chooses, however foolish, consistent with the terms of the contract?
Should the industry not expect some rise and fall in assets under management due to economic cycles?
Finally, the tone of the article seems to suggest that if clients would just accept a life annuity settlement, then there would be no drain on these precious assets. Somehow, I thought any benefit stream would result in a draw down of assets. But, I guess that would be more “controlled.”
Yes, I do agree that it might be in everybodys best interest to encourage lifetime payments. However, in my own experience of working with clients, too many are not willing to give up the estate benefit for the promise of lifetime income. There is the suspicion that “the insurance company wants to keep the rest of my money if I die too soon.” Attitudes like those expressed merely fuel that suspicion.
Also, most of the clients have a degree of affluence that creates a desire to defer withdrawals to the greatest extent possible.
Milton Jones, CLU, ChFC
To The Editor:
I normally don’t respond to magazine articles that bother me. However, this time I decided to convey my point of view. While I realize your main objective was to convey certain information regarding the use of systematic withdrawal plans (in the January 14 issue), I was uncomfortable with the underlying tone and the absence of a complete perspective in this report.