New products introduced over the last week include the selection of MassMutual as provider of a Taft-Hartley retirement plan and a new TV app for stock, finance and market news in a joint Fidelity/Verizon venture.
In addition, a new report shows that updates in the VA market in Q3 increase benefits, but make few other changes.
Here are the latest developments of interest to advisors:
1) MassMutual Adds $23+ Million Taft-Hartley Retirement Plan
MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division has been selected as the new provider for the Labor Unions 401(k) Plan based in Southern California, it was announced November 17. The Taft-Hartley plan has more than $23 million in assets under management and serves over 3,500 union members employed in the hotel, food service, gaming, textile, laundry, manufacturing, and distribution industries.
MassMutual has been serving the Taft-Hartley retirement plan market for more than 50 years.
2) Fidelity and Verizon Deliver First Stock, Finance and Market News Application on FiOS TV
Fidelity Investments and Verizon (VZ) announced Tuesday a joint project to provide Verizon’s FiOS TV subscribers instant access to the Fidelity Market Monitor Application. Now available to Verizon’s 4 million FiOS TV customers, the new app gives them instant access, directly on their televisions, to rich market data including quotes, charts, watch lists and financial news.
Verizon is the first cable or satellite provider to offer the Fidelity Market Monitor Application, and at no addition charge for FiOS TV customers. FiOS TV subscribers can access the Fidelity Market Monitor Application with their TV remote control, search for quotes and information about stocks and mutual funds, and view the information on the right side of their TV screen, while watching TV programming.
Once they select their desired stock or mutual fund symbol, subscribers can use their remote to scroll through a full-price quote, a historical pricing chart, and related news stories. Equity quotes are delayed at least 15 minutes. Subscribers can add up to 25 stock or fund symbols to their personal watch list, which is color-sorted based on the daily movement of each stock or fund (red for negative, green for positive, and black for no change).
3) Third Quarter VA Product Changes Slow, But Benefits Trend Toward More Generous
The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) released a report Tuesday on product trend updates within the U.S. variable annuity market. Compiled by Morningstar, the report found that VA benefit activity for Q3 slowed significantly from the robust filings made during Q2.
In Q3, carriers made 40 material changes, down from 162 changes in Q2, and down from 106 changes in the same quarter last year. New filings focus heavily on new share classes and the Lifetime Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefit (GMWB) benefit, which traditionally garner about 64% of new sales flows.
Despite the slowing of Q3 changes, more than a third of filings represented either a new VA contract or a new benefit. Carriers continue to experiment with new benefit design, with the trend toward more generous offerings.
Benefit structures continued to be shaped to allow for risk control and segmentation of the target investor base.
Contrary to the continued move to more robust benefits, VA contract costs have remained steady. Total average expenses remain unchanged from 2010 levels, coming in at 2.49%, consistent with the five-year average of 2.49%.
The entire report and analysis can be found here.