Recently, LifeHealthPro.com broadcast a webinar entitled, “2012 Opportunities in Annuities.” Panelists included: Ryan Pinney, vice president of brokerage sales for Pinney Insurance Center in Roseville, Calif.; Alan Schuh, president of Alan Schuh & Associates LLC in Weston, Fla.; and Kirk Wilkerson, a Forest City, N.C.-based registered representative and investment advisor representative who offers securities and investment advisory services through AXA Advisors LLC. Moderating the event was Brian Anderson, editor of Life Insurance Selling, a publication of Summit Business Media, the parent company of LifeHealthPro.com.
The discussion ranged from product mix, annuity features like guarantees as well as sales and marketing. However, the panelists also talked about the case of Glenn Neasham, the California insurance agent recently convicted of felony theft for selling an annuity to an 83-year-old client. The consensus was that the case underscores the need for a more rigorous suitability review, particularly with senior clients.
Pinney said publicity about the case would make the issue “more top of mind with consumers” who are aware it via the Internet and other news reports. Therefore, advisors must be prepared to answer clients’ questions about the case, he said.
Pinney further stated that even though advisors are not medical professions, they might need to learn about the signs of dementia.
Schuh pointed out that he did not know all the particulars of the case. Yet he said it illustrates the need for more thorough fact-finding. He noted that when dealing with clients over age 75, he usually brings in another family member during the sales process. Yet he added that it would be very difficult for a non-medical person to detect the signs of dementia. “But if there are obvious signs the person is not understanding, you should back off,” he said.
Schuh also said the case could provide ammunition for more insurance industry oversight. “This does not bode well,” he said. “It’s another excuse for federal regulation of insurance.”
Wilkerson said annuities are an important financial tool, yet the case has “raised awareness” of proper due diligence and suitability requirements when dealing with seniors.
Listeners were asked to vote on what they saw as the outcome of the Neasham case. About a quarter24 percentsaid they would be more cautious, while 23 percent said it would have no impact on annuity sales.
For a replay of the webinar, go to LifeHealthPro.com.