Your phone rings and a great client who gave you three referrals, informs you that he needs to take a $23,000 withdrawal. The tone of his voice is strained. He needs it now because something has come up. He asks if there will be any interest credited on those funds.

Or perhaps it’s the daughter of one of your clients calling. She is upset that her mother’s annuity won’t receive any interest credits this year because her mother passed away six weeks prior to contract anniversary.

These situations may occur with annuities that calculate interest credits once a year. Some new designs calculate to the date of withdrawal or death, and that is noteworthy if a client will be taking systematic income.

Choosing product designs and features, matching those with our client’s needs and keeping up with new product benefits are parts of our everyday life.

So, what’s the hot story with fixed annuities in today’s “Boomer growing” marketplace?

“There is an emotional need for feeling connected to and in control of retirement funds that is as important to clients today as the dollars and cents needed for income,” says Jack Marrion, research annuity expert.

The boomer profile of poor saving habits, coupled with demanding retirement needs and wants, adds up to a huge call to arms for financial professionals.

One factor is their desire to have guaranteed income for life without annuitization. Our clients are asking, “How do I do this?” Our industry has answered with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits on a number of new products where income is available without having to annuitize the contract. They maintain control and connection.

LeeAnn Xuereb, top marketing consultant, says, “So many of my agents tell me that because of these new unique designs, annuities are becoming more client and beneficiary-friendly.”

A second factor is annuities that are easier for our clients to understand. A key here is products with flexible benefits.

The last piece of our annuity puzzle is acquiring clients. Seminars and direct mail have suffered with increased regulatory scrutiny. Communication is weaker for fear of being misinterpreted. Increased costs partner with decreased effectiveness. And the “Do Not Call” damper lumbers on.

Yet something simple, client-friendly and outlandishly original has peeked through our landscape. This new approach meshes powerfully with the emotional needs of clients and the current economic condition.

A no-cost prospecting approach has clients asking if it would be OK to bring a couple of neighbors to their appointment. Instead of the agent asking for referrals, the client is requesting permission to give referrals.

Barb Cole is director of marketing relations for M&O Marketing, a leading independent field marketing organization, specializing in the senior market for almost thirty years. She can be reached at barbcole@mac.com.