If you thought 2007 was a rough year for the industry in the mainstream media, I wouldn’t be counting on a reprieve in 2008.
All indications point toward even further increased scrutiny on the tactics unscrupulous advisors use to sell annuities to seniors. Dateline NBC has something in the works, which may or may not have hit the airwaves by the time this issue is out. More negative newspaper articles will follow. This will surely spark additional debate about what needs to be done to protect seniors from predatory sales practices employed by a very small percentage of advisors.
While I can only imagine at this point how disturbing a portrait a Dateline piece will paint of advisors who focus on seniors (there’s no story without examples of reprehensible conduct by advisors, caught on tape), the staff at Senior Market Advisor remains very much in favor of efforts to root out the industry’s bad seeds. No question there are abuses happening in the field, but the industry is taking steps to eradicate the opportunity for these abuses via the adoption of improved compliance and suitability standards. Regulators and carriers alike are implementing stricter standards intended to prevent a senior from being sold an annuity product that is unsuitable for him.
This may well be a tough year in the public eye, but that doesn’t prevent the future of annuities from looking bright. We know they are great products that have a rightful place in the financial plan of many seniors. Annuities are not going away, and with wave after wave of boomers hitting retirement, there’s no reason to think annuity sales can’t see exceptional growth in the coming two decades.
While it may cause ethical advisors headaches right now, the increased scrutiny will, in the long run, make the industry cleaner and stronger.