As I write this, it’s been a couple of weeks since the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-0 to define equity indexed annuities as securities and I have noticed something pretty quickly: whichever side of this debate you’ve taken, you’re not taking it lying down.
Soon after the news hit, I posted a blog about the SEC’s proposal at www.SeniorMarketAdvisor.com.
I guess the subject matter hit a nerve. Nearly two dozen responses to the blog came back to our Web site. While the opinions varied, they were not meek in their tone. A few of the posts have been included in our Feedback section on page 20. You can read the rest of them online.
In reading the posts, I’m finding consistent themes: some blame industry lobbying groups for dropping the ball and not keeping them informed; others say advisors should buck up and get the necessary licensing and “quit their whining.”
For me, I’m staying as impartial as is possible, the Switzerland of this debate, trying to digest the information as it becomes available, using this platform of the publication and the Web site as a sounding board for you to provide and receive information on the subject.
As for the actual proposal, who knows how it will play out? Authors of the 96-page SEC report came on strong and confident in their initial comments, with SEC commissioner Christopher Cox pointing to “abusive sales practices” as his motivation for pushing for this change regarding EIAs.
Opponents have told me the paper has more holes in it than a pack of Swiss cheese. Jack Marrion, Senior Market Advisor’s Annuity Advisor columnist, says securitizing annuities will “impose unnecessary costs and be anti-competitive.”
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.”