NU Online News Service, July 7, 2004, 3:45 p.m. EDT

Many variable annuity issuers could end up emphasizing their investment assistance strategies.[@@]

Researchers at Financial Research Corp., Boston, come to that conclusion in a new report on VA product and marketing strategies.

Insurers developed VA contracts in response to requests from consumers for annuity products that would give holders more control over investment decisions. The insurers have focused mainly on picking money managers and developing attractive subaccount menus.

But, in the future, “asset allocation strategy will be at the forefront of VA investment design,” says Lisa Plotnick, an FRC variable annuity specialist who worked on the report.

Some insurers might make a point of deciding not to offer any guidance, but others may set themselves apart with structured asset allocation services, prepackaged “lifestyle funds” or other asset allocation strategies, Plotnick says.

Moves to adopt certain strategies, such as structured asset allocation services, could lead some insurers to use fewer subaccounts, Plotnick says.