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Life Health > Annuities > Variable Annuities

Financial advisors are losing faith in insurers

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Financial advisors are losing faith in insurers. That’s what a survey of Merrill Lynch advisors found, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the survey, conducted in February 2009 by Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch, over 70 percent of financial advisors said “they were concerned about the risks insurers have taken on with guaranteed-minimum variable annuities.” To add insult to injury, close to one-third doubted the insurers themselves understand the risks.

At the time of the survey, about two dozen insurers’ ratings had slipped, the Journal writes, “although most remain at least for now in categories denoting capitalization that is ‘strong’ to ‘very strong.’”

However, “[t]he ratings firms assigned a negative outlook to many of the insurers for the next 12 to 18 months and put some on watch for possible additional downgrade over the next few months.”

In the period between when the survey was conducted and when the survey results were published, insurers addressed some of the risks associated with their products, according to the Journal. Many insurers started limiting how aggressive their products were by cutting payouts and increasing the costs to new customers; others suspended guarantees pending regulatory approval of revised products. It’s too soon, however, to determine just how far this trend will go.


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