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Variable annuities from Prudential Financial and Jackson National Life received top scores in a new survey of financial advisors, according to a new report.

Cogent Research, Cambridge, Mass., released this finding in a survey of 1,741 registered financial advisors, the survey examining advisor-sold products, preferences and trends across distribution channels. The study, “Advisor Brandscape 2012,” includes assessments of mutual, exchanged-traded fund and variable annuity providers, users and non-users of each carrier brand by product category.

The Cogent survey assigned a “star” designation to Prudential Financial, Newark, N.J., and Jackson National Life, Lansing, Mich., citing the companies’ “brand equity, commitment and ownership.” The insurers trail only RiverSource in terms of revenue earned per advisor.

While MetLife outscored Jackson National in market share among variable annuity users, MetLife’s plans to scale back its VA focus is “likely to reduce its consideration and market share in the future.”

Cogent’s ratings of various insurers is based on a CoRe Score the research firm created that combines brand equity and advisor commitment measures with ratings for advisor usage, share of assets and revenue generation to assess “company strength and momentum.

The components of the score include: (1) commitment, a combined measure based on loyalty and Cogent’s proprietary future investment/redemption metric, dubbed Advisor Investment Momentum; (2) Ownership, which combines share of assets and advisor usage/penetration; (3) revenue, which combines share of assets and total advisor assets under management in an estimate of average advisor assets with each provider; and (4) equity brand, which combines unaided consideration, aided brand awareness and impression into a single measure of brand strength and equity.

The report adds that, because of their recent decisions to exit or reduce exposure to the VA business, both Hartford Financial and John Hancock have fallen into Cogent’s “Drifters” category, having suffered dips in “unaided consideration, brand favorability and investment momentum.”

The report concludes that the “range of variable annuity product features and the extent of support offered by wholesalers present opportunities for variable annuity providers to positively differentiate their brands.”