Over half (58%) of recently polled advisors say they would like to learn more about options available with single premium immediate annuity products.

The finding came in a National Underwriter/New York Life telephone survey of 500 financial advisors that probed knowledge of retirement and retirement income planning issues.

Of the advisors surveyed, 34% said they feel “very familiar” with SPIA options, and 30% said they feel “somewhat” familiar. Fully 35% said they are not familiar with the options at all. The comfort level of agents was well ahead of that of brokers and of advisors at banks and financial planning firms.

The 329 advisors having less familiarity with SPIA options were asked a follow-up question, about whether they want to learn more about those options. Of those, 58% said yes, they want to know more. Even here, agents were in the lead, with 68% wanting to know more.

This strong interest tracks with the many changes in SPIA design in recent years, suggests Paul Pastaris, senior vice president-retirement income at New York Life Insurance Company, New York.

Today’s new generation SPIAs can flex with client needs, he indicates. For instance, many products now offer liquidity features, legacy features (death benefits), cash-back options and inflation features (cost-of-living adjustment options).

The old generation SPIAs did not have this kind of flexibility, Pastaris says. Customers would give their money to the insurance company to manage, and then the money was “locked up.” And, if the policyholder died the next day, the person’s estate would get none of it.

Today’s SPIAs overcome those objections, he continues.

Clients and advisors need to know these features are available and how they work, Pastaris says. The features help optimize retirement income, he adds, even as they enable clients to benefit from the risk pooling of insurance.