In the course of our lives we are forced to make a variety of decisions. We will make these decisions from our own personal perspective of right and wrong. In our industry we face choices on a daily basis. These decisions have the effect of creating an image in the eyes of the public. Too often, this image is less than honorable and demeans our profession. If from the preceding you sense that I’m an idealist, you’re correct, but I’m also a realist. Let me share what I believe to be a significant cause of our problem.

I recently received a piece of mail from a national annuity marketing firm. It said that I had an opportunity to sell an annuity with a 10% bonus on premiums, an 8% commission, along with a 10-year surrender period. They also offered an agent deferred compensation plan with a certain amount of production…and oh, yes…a wonderful cruise to boot! To me this illustrates a fundamental reason for the problems we face as an industry. All of these features are geared toward the producer, not the consumer. I like the Schwab cartoon-like commercial which says something to the effect of, “Sure, someone is making money, but I think it might be my broker.”

A friend of mine came to me a while back, gleaming because he had sold an annuity to someone and made enough of a commission to buy his son a recent model truck. He told me all about how he put all of this person’s money into it and was quite proud. While he was extolling the wonderful business we are in, though he is part time, I’m thinking, “What about the client? Is anyone thinking about the client?” Obviously not in this case. This type of scenario repeats itself far too often. That’s why I am so adamant about client protection. I feel like it’s my job to rescue as many as I can from the hands of unscrupulous advisors.

In case you’re thinking that I’m against annuities or commission-based products, let me be perfectly clear, I’m not. As long as you are ethical, that’s fine. And if the best solution happens to be a commissioned offering, that’s okay as well. But a 10-year surrender period? Isn’t that getting a bit ridiculous?

I realize this is just one man’s opinion. What do you think?