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RIIA Launches Research Initiative to Mine Consumer Data

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The Retirement Income Industry Association (RIIA), Boston, has launched the RIIA Market Insight (RMI) initiative, a research program that brings together industry leaders, researchers and their collective data to create a 360-degree view of consumer households who buy and depend upon the industry’s products and services.

RIIA says it invites firms to join an advisory board to guide the RMI research and collaborate with board members and participating firms in the execution of the program.

Joining with RIIA as members of the RMI are the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Turner Consulting, LLC, Strategic Business Insights (SBI), Sagence Group, GDC Research, CANNEX, Ernst & Young and Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC).The first member of the RMI advisory board is the National Association for Fixed Annuities (NAFA), a national trade association dedicated to promoting the awareness and understanding of fixed annuities.

In other industry news:

BMO Financial Group, Toronto, Ont., has extended the BMO Retirement Institute’s presence into the United States. The BMO Retirement Institute provides insight and financial strategies for Americans planning for, or currently in, their retirement years.

The BMO Retirement Institute will examine topics related to retirement and issue reports on the financial and non-financial aspects of this milestone, the company says.

A new report from the institute concludes that the odds of being single at some point during retirement are high. Forty-three percent of Americans aged 65 years and older are single due to divorce, having never married, or the death of a partner.

The report notes that, as the cost of living for singles is 40% to 50% higher than for married individuals, singles are at greater risk of not having enough saved for retirement. The report also finds that married couples are more likely than their single counterparts to have a financial plan, to receive help in preparing their plan, and to have a more up-to-date financial plan.

The full report can found here.

Guggenheim Partners, New York, has appointed Henry R. Silverman as a senior advisor and vice chairman of its investment management business, effective March 16, 2012. Silverman will be based in the firm’s New York office and will advise Guggenheim’s investment management business on its strategic development and growth initiatives.

Silverman joins Guggenheim from Apollo Global Management, where he served as a director and vice chairman of the board and member of the Executive Committee, and as its chief operating officer from 2009 to 2011.

Lincoln Financial Group (NYSE:LNC), Radnor, Pa., has introduced the company’s first fixed indexed annuity product, Lincoln OptiChoice, available in the state of New York.

The product lets policyholders allocate their premium between a fixed account offering a set interest rate for one year, and an indexed account. The indexed account also offers a fixed interest rate and the opportunity for additional earnings. The additional earnings amount, determined by a pre-specified rate, will be credited to the account at the end of the one-year term depending on the performance of the S&P 500 Index.

The product additionally offers consumers several income options, including lifetime income payments; as well as a nursing home and terminal illness provision, with benefits available after the first contract anniversary.

Coffeehouse operator Caribou Coffee Company, Inc has selected McCready and Keene Inc., a One America company, as the exclusive service provider for its retirement plan. The 401(k) plan currently has 6,000 employees and more than $7.5 million in assets, which transferred on March 1, Caribou Coffee says.

McCready and Keene is an actuarial and retirement benefits consulting firm that focuses on designing, installing, and administering customized retirement plans. Based in Indianapolis, Ind., McCready and Keene provides trust programs that can use an open architecture investment platform for defined benefit, 401(k), 403(b), 457, employee stock ownership, money purchase pension, and profit sharing retirement plans.

ProAssurance Corporation, Birmingham, Ala. (NYSE: PRA), has declared a cash dividend $0.25 per common share, payable on April 12, 2012 to shareholders who own company stock as of March 29, 2012. The company’s dividend policy, announced on September 7, 2011, anticipates a total annual dividend of $1.00 per share, to be paid in equal quarterly installments. The company notes, however, that the decision to pay future cash dividends is subject to its board’s final determination after “a comprehensive review of the company’s financial performance, future expectations and other factors deemed relevant by the Board.”