Hasenauer Urges Annuity Industry To Offer More Services

By

New York

“The annuity industry cannot just be a deferred accumulation industry any more,” declared Judith Hasenauer at the annual meeting of the National Association for Variable Annuities, Reston. Va.

Going forward, the industry needs to offer lots of new products that can provide income benefits, and it also needs to offer ways to solve various financial needs that people have in retirement–needs for service, for example, and needs for protection for various risks not yet addressed, said Hasenauer.

A principal in Blazzard Grodd & Hasenauer, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., boutique law firm specializing in insurance, Hasenauer made the remarks following her induction into the NAVA Hall of Fame. The honor recognizes outstanding leaders in the VA field.

“Judith is the first woman to be named to the NAVA Hall of Fame,” points out Norse Blazzard, her partner and husband of 25+ years, who was named to the Hall of Fame in 1998. Blazzard and Hasenauer are regular co-contributors to National Underwriter.

The Hall of Fame award is one of several firsts for Hasenauer. She is the first practicing attorney to receive the CLU designation; she is the designer of the first template for calculating the unit values in variable products, and she is the originator of the Contingent Deferred Sales Charge, now widely used in VAs and also mutual funds.

She is also a person who, along with her husband, has been on the frontier of VA product development. In the late 1970s, for example, the two of them joined with other developers in crafting Spectrum, the first VA to offer no-load proprietary mutual funds and the precursor to todays VA designs. Later, Hasenauer drafted the incorporation papers for NAVA. And, as chair of NAVAs regulatory affairs committee, she has represented NAVA to the Securities and Exchange Commission, various insurance regulatory bodies, and the National Association of Securities Dealers.

When accepting her honor, she used her few minutes at the podium to do what she is well known for doing: spurring the industry to think future, do more, and go further.

NAVA and its member companies have led the effort to encourage people to save money for retirement, she pointed out.

But now, the industry and the association need to look at ways to solve problems faced by people who have been successful at doing the very thing theyve been encouraged to do, i.e., save. Upon retirement, savers dont always know how to use their savings as a source of retirement income, she explained.

In an interview with NU, Hasenauer said new income products and strategies would help address the longevity risk that Americans face. But when it comes to helping consumers decide which money to draw out first or how to invest retirement dollars once a person is retired, the industry should look to offering services, not just products, she said.

To make that work, compensation arrangements will need to be developed that pay advisors for providing services, not just products, she added.

Hasenauer is concerned that, over the past decade, the annuity industry has strayed too far from its basis. “Our basis is insurance, providing protection for risks like longevity, long-term care, assets, premature death, estates, and so on,” she said.

Focusing on how consumers can use annuities to accumulate money with tax deferral is only one part of what annuities do, she continued. “If the industry stops there, it will bypass its destiny.”

Instead, the industry should return to providing the service of needs analysis, she said, noting this was a fundamental of her CLU training.

Further, to play in the services arena, insurers and marketers need to embrace new alliances with partners who can help fill the service needs, she said. Some of the needs she mentioned include LTC funding, income in event of disability, and hedges against inflation.

The insurance industry could and should take a very active role in this marketplace, Hasenauer maintained. “Who better to provide assurance against risk than the insurance companies?”

But, to make services work effectively, “the industry will need new analytic, education and distribution tools,” she cautioned.

Regarding regulation, Hasenauer hopes to see less duplication in the regulations that apply to variable products. Complying with duplicate regulations is not only costly and time consuming for insurers, she said, it also takes up time that regulators could otherwise spend on making necessary improvements.

Whats next for Hasenauer? “Im in transition,” she said. “I plan to continue as a consultant to the variable industry. However, I also see myself as a role model for younger women who want to be successful.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 4, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.