Finally, finally, finally.
Yes, finally, a top executive in the business has stood up and said “Enough already!” about the bad buzz that variable annuities continue to get in some mainstream publications.
It was a bracing moment at the 16th Annual Conference for Life Insurance sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York earlier this month when Kip Condron, chairman and CEO of AXA Equitable, said, “It is time for us to stand up and be counted and say that variable annuities are designed for retirement.”
He continued, “The misunderstandings about VAs are wrong. We need to let people know the industry can provide guaranteed confidence in the ability to retire well.”
When I spoke to Kip after his session, he reiterated that he just couldn’t stand it anymore. When I said it sounded like that howl from Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network”–”I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”–we laughed, but he said that was exactly the way he felt.
As we all know, talk is cheap. So, AXA Equitable is putting its money where its mouth is by supporting an online resource aimed at helping consumers understand VAs and what they can do for them. Called the Variable Annuities Knowledge Center, the site at www.variableannuityfacts.org covers many areas of the VA world.
According to the site, “The Variable Knowledge Center is funded by Smarter Consumer Inc., a Delaware not-for-profit corporation committed to educating and informing the public about variable annuities.” AXA Equitable and its affiliated broker-dealer are listed as the founding supporters of Smarter Consumer Inc. It doesn’t strike me that other industry supporters would be turned away.
In his talk, Condron said the industry needs to talk straight to consumers and arm them with facts about what retiring costs today. For instance, people have misconceptions about longevity, he said, but the fact is that a 60-year-old couple has a 62% chance of one of them living to age 90.