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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > SEC

Riding the SEC rollercoaster

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It’s been nearly a week since the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-0 to define equity indexed annuities as securities and I have a question to ask: Are you strapped in tight for the SEC rollercoaster?

Who knows how this will play out? Authors of the 96-page SEC report came on strong and confident in their comments last week. Opponents have told me the paper has more holes in it than a pack of Swiss cheese.

Although talk of this initiative has been bandied about for at least the last two years, our industry has been abuzz since the SEC proposal hit the public. I’ve talked with industry insiders and found a myriad of emotions and opinions — everything from elation to frustration.

Mostly, though, I’ve been hearing a lot of questions as advisors, wholesalers and carriers try to get their arms around this proposal and figure out if it will go through, and what the impact will be to their bottom line and the way they do business. One thing I have heard on a consistent basis is that indexed annuities remain a viable product and should still be sold by advisors. As one industry insider put it: “For now, it’s business as usual.”

Senior Market Advisor‘s managing editor, Andy Stonehouse, wrote about the issue when the news broke last week. Per his findings, SEC commissioner Christopher Cox points to “abusive sales practices” as his motivation for pushing for this change regarding EIAs.

Our email’s been flooded and the phone’s been ringing off the hook from industry professionals looking for answers and possible strategies to combat the proposal. In the last few days, Web sites discussing the SEC’s plans for EIAs have cropped up, including

Jack Marrion, Senior Market Advisor‘s Annuity Advisor columnist, says securitizing annuities will “impose unnecessary costs and be anti-competitive.”

Danette Kennedy of Gorilla Compliance LLC told me she’s preparing a detailed critical analysis of the SEC report. In her early reading of it, Kennedy says she expects “an uphill battle for the SEC based on legal precedent and Supreme Court decisions on what can be regulated.”

But that’s only one side of the coin, and since releasing the report, Cox has been “unavailable for comment” when approached for additional details.

As opponents of the SEC’s decision arm themselves with counterproposals, many in the industry are left looking for answers. We want to be a conduit and sounding board for that dialogue. Let us know what you think – click here to post questions and voice your opinion. Will you be ready for the SEC effect if it does find the necessary traction?


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