The National Association for Fixed Annuities is on the front lines of industry battles over regulation, compliance, suitability, image and information. Executive Director Kim O’Brien responds to inaccurate and biased articles in the media and speaks at conferences, all in an effort to get the appropriate message in front of people, an issue that every panel member agreed was vital.
O’Brien says a phenomenon she’s seen recently is a wave of news stories about the benefits of income – singlepremium immediate – annuities. She responded to one of the stories by writing and informing the reporter that, “Fixed deferred annuities are SPIAs that haven’t been SPIA’d yet.” And they haven’t been SPIA’d, to use O’Brien’s unique phrasing, because the annuity owners have chosen not to take the income stream yet. A difference not readily apparent to the untrained eye or well sleuthed by mainstream reporters.
She points to a 2005 Gallup survey of nonqualified annuity holders as an example of the message being lost. In that survey, 94 percent of annuity owners were happy with their product. “So that belies everything you read in the mainstream media about happiness or suitability of sales,” O’Brien says. “Most of these sales are suitable with happy clientele. We need to work harder at getting our message out.”