Securities brokers are interested in learning about ways to use insurance to help clients keep their assets.

The new interest of reps at national regional broker-dealer firms could increase opportunities for sales of variable life insurance, analysts at Cerulli Associates, Boston, suggest in a report on the role of annuities in the retirement income market.

The broker-dealers seem to be ready to shift toward an emphasis on income planning and annuitization, the analysts write.

Living benefits are already rising in importance with broker-dealer reps, and about half place high importance on estate planning services, the analysts write.

The analysts predict that strong support will be the key to increasing sales through independent broker-dealers, and they express skepticism about efforts to increase sales through life insurance agents.

Current sales of annuities through agents “will not be sustainable going forward due to the channel’s emphasis on tax-deferral rather than income,” Cerulli analysts write. “Of all the intermediary channels, the insurance broker-dealer channel is the least efficiently positioned to increase sales. The key to increasing prospects for annuities and variable life insurance through the insurance broker-dealer channel is to transition from product marketers to plan builders.”