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Longevity Risk and VAs

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“The longevity risk factor is an enormous one for this industry,” says Art Kopf, an industry veteran who is a senior marketing services representative for the independent broker/dealer Mutual Service Corp., in discussing retirement income planning. While many advisors eschew variable annuities, Kopf argues that “The only way to have guaranteed retirement income is through insurance,” and says advisors should be more open-minded when it comes to VAs, suggesting that variable annuity manufacturers will be cutting costs.

To help solve the thorny problem of retirement income, and admitting that “annuities won’t be the end-all for all people,” Kopf does expect that “one thing you’ll be seeing is some credible designations” on the retirement distribution side. “This is an area where you want a specialist.”

That may lead to a shift in the makeup of an advisor’s practice, he suggests. “I predict a trend,” he says, “toward more group practices” where one partner focuses on investments, another might be the “managed money guy,” and a third is the retirement distribution expert.

The Pension Protection Act will give people more flexibility in moving assets from qualified plans to IRAs, he says, “where they can take advantage of insurance products.”

He also notes that under the PPA, after 2009, certain hybrid annuity/long-term care products may become more appealing.