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Annuity Assets Were Highest Ever in Q1: Morningstar

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Annuity sales hit a new high-water mark with results for the first quarter of 2011, when they logged in with assets reaching their highest level ever and posted double-digit increases over the same period in 2010.

According to data released on Thursday by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), sales industrywide of annuities for Q1 of 2011 were $58.1 billion. That’s an increase of 17% from Q1 of 2010 at $49.7 billion. Sales for Q1 were also up 5% over sales of $55.2 billion in Q4 of 2010. Assets held in variable annuities reached the highest level ever recorded by Morningstar, $1.6 trillion.

IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford said in a statement, “With the first wave of the 79 million baby boomers turning 65 this year, guaranteed retirement income strategies clearly are being relied upon in growing numbers. Recent IRI research shows that 92% of boomers who own annuities have a higher confidence in the financial stability of their retirement compared to those who do not.”

Sales of fixed annuities showed a 7% increase in Q1 2011 from Q4 2010, coming in at $18.9 billion compared with $17.6 billion. Year-over-year fixed annuity sales for the first quarter were also up 6%, from $17.9 billion in the first quarter of 2010.

Beacon President and CEO Jeremy Alexander said in a statement, “Fixed rate deferred annuity sales benefitted from a large bank channel increase by one carrier in particular. The quarter-to-quarter decline in income annuities was mainly seasonal. Indexed annuities may have lost sales to variable annuities, because VAs have more upside potential in a rising stock market. We think second-quarter results may be strong as well. But falling rates may dampen sales going forward.”

Q1 sales of variable annuities totaled $39.2 billion, adding 4% over Q4 sales of $37.6 billion. YOY quarterly VA sales increased by 23% over Q1 2010 sales of $31.8 billion.