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SEC Rule 151A: Industry deserves credit for challenging a misguided threat

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Hopefully you’ve heard by now that a federal appeals court on Monday vacated SEC Rule 151A, effectively putting an end to a couple of intense years of worry among the indexed annuity marketing community.

Indexed annuities will remain properly classified as insurance products, and not as securities, which would have put IAs under the control of the Securities and Exchange Commission. That would have been a major game-changer for IA marketers and producers alike, who would have then had to carry a securities license to sell the popular products.

Here is an excerpt from Monday’s order: “Having determined that the SEC’s S. 2(b) analysis is lacking, we grant the petitions [assertion that] the SEC failed properly to consider the effect of the rule upon efficiency, competition, and capital formation… We therefore order that Rule 151A be vacated.”

This comes on the heels of the 8-4 vote on June 22 by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs as part of the House-Senate Conference Committee on the Financial Regulations Bill to approve the Harkin Amendment. The Harkin Amendment clarifies that fixed indexed annuities are NOT securities and should be regulated by state insurance regulators. This amendment was added to the Senate version of the Financial Regulatory Reform Bill.

While opponents – virtually all fixed indexed annuity agents, agencies, wholesalers and insurance companies — of Rule 151A celebrated the decision, they also stressed the need to remain vigilant toward the potential for similar proposals in the future.

That being said, it’s time to crank up the indexed annuity product development and sales efforts a few notches. It’s no secret that the uncertain environment the proposed rule created – even though it never took effect – dramatically slowed the pace of product development and marketing efforts for the past couple of years.

I applaud the industry’s well-thought-out and often coordinated response to this threat, not to mention the above and beyond efforts of companies like Old Mutual U.S. Life and American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company, key petitioners in a high-profile lawsuit challenging 151A.

The future of indexed annuities once again looks bright – as it should.

More blog entries from Brian Anderson.


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