Sen. Ben Nelson, NAIC CEO (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and Financial Services Agency of Japan (FSA) met to launch a new bilateral dialogue between insurance supervisors from the U.S. and Japan.

The two countries used the meeting in Tokyo to affirm their commitment to strengthen regulator-to-regulator cooperation and promote a more thorough understanding of one another’s supervisory approaches.

The U.S. delegation included Sen. Ben Nelson, NAIC CEO, Michael F. Consedine, NAIC vice president and Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, and Jim Donelon, NAIC immediate past president and Louisiana Insurance Commissioner.

Specific areas of discussion included the development of global capital standards, effective group supervision, valuation of liabilities and activities of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS). Both countries remain concerned about the potential for unintended consequences of imprudent, overly burdensome or inappropriate reforms. As such, they are committed to thoughtful and deliberate policy discussions focused on insurance-specific regulatory approaches. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held in the U.S. in the fall.

In other industry news:

The LOMA Secure Retirement Institute released the second course of the Fellow, Secure Retirement Institute (FSRI) designation program, Retirement Savings and Investments (SRI 121). 

Retirement Marketplace and Retirement Savings and Investments represent two of the three courses required to attain the FSRI Level 1 — Certificate in Retirement Essentials. The Certificate program provides foundational knowledge and is an integral part of the comprehensive, broad-based FSRI program.  The third course in the certificate series is scheduled for launch this summer. 

“We designed Retirement Savings and Investments specifically for employees who support retirement plans and products in companies serving the retirement marketplace,” said Katherine C. Milligan, FLMI, ACS, senior vice president of LOMA’s Education and Training Division. “The new course takes a close look at various retail and institutional financial products used to save and invest for retirement, including employer-sponsored retirement plans, nonqualified annuities, investments and IRAs.”

 

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) affirmed the rating of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life) as AA (very strong) and maintained the company’s stable outlook.

S&P’s AA rating is the third highest out of 21 possible ratings. S&P based its rating on Allianz Life’s operating results, market leadership standing in fixed index annuities and strong investment portfolio.

The rating from S&P applies to Allianz Life and Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York. Allianz Life also holds an A (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best, and a rating of A2 (Good) from Moody’s.

 

The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company added a new High Participation 1 Year S&P 500 Indexed Account option for its Accumulation Builder Choice Indexed Universal Life (IUL) product.

This new option is one of four indexed accounts available with Penn Mutual’s Accumulation Builder Choice IUL product, which offers market-based growth potential without the risk of participating directly in the stock market.  The indexed account options credit interest based on the performance of a market index (excluding dividends), up to a competitive cap.

The High Participation 1 Year S&P 500 Indexed Account provides the potential for enhanced interest based on a participation rate higher than 100 percent. As long as S&P 500 growth for the 12-month segment period is less than the account’s current cap, interest credited to the policy may be enhanced by the higher participation rate. For example, if the index account earned 6 percent for the stated time period,  the interest percentage actually credited to a policy with a participation rate in excess of 100 percent would be higher than 6 percent (up  to the stated cap). A guaranteed floor of 1 percent ensures policyholder accounts are credited with interest in the event of a negative change in the S&P 500 from the segment start date to the segment maturity date.

Policyholders might enjoy the option if they:

  • Desire growth tied to performance of a well-established Index like the S&P 500, widely regarded as the best single gauge of the large cap U.S. equities market;
  • Have concerns about fluctuations in index performance and are interested in lower account volatility;
  • Seek more upside potential with an interest enhancement.

Through a joint partnership, the College for Financial Planning (CFFP) and ExamFX are now offering the CFFP-ExamFX exam preparation program for financial planning professionals.

The partnership allows students who enroll in pre-licensing training through CFFP to apply the cost of their exam preparation toward a financial credential such as a CFP Certification or a professional designation.

Enrollees can apply pre-license training fees to any of CFFP’s education programs, including the CFP Certification Professional Education Program; Asset Management and Retirement Planning designation programs and Master of Science degree programs.

ExamFX offers training courses for the Series 63, 6, 7, 65, 66, 24 and 26 examinations.  

The College will begin enrolling for these new programs on April 7. For more information on this new CFFP-ExamFX partnership, visit the CFFP website.

 

Allison Gomes joined the Phoenix Companies Inc. (NYSE:PNX) as vice president, Corporate Finance.

Gomes reports to Bonnie Malley, executive vice president and chief financial officer, and will oversee a number of projects in Corporate Finance, including the company’s 2013 SEC filings.

Gomes previously served as an audit senior manager at the national office of Deloitte & Touche and was part of the Deloitte team working on the Phoenix account. She also provided her insurance expertise and perspectives to Deloitte’s accounting industry publications.

Gomes has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Boston College and is a Certified Public Accountant.

 

OTB Strategic Consulting Inc., (OTB) a business advisory firm, launched The FIRE System, an online 401(k) self-assessment tool for plan fiduciaries that quickly finds areas of non-compliance and provides solutions to correct them.

OTB developed the tool in conjunction with investment firm Akros Fiduciary Management.

The system provides boards of directors, CEOs, internal auditors and human resource executives, an independent review of any size traditional or safe harbor 401(k) plan’s fiduciary risk and compliance. It analyzes responses to questions with regards to possible areas of non-compliance with many common but crucial ERISA laws and regulations as overseen by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) including regulatory interpretations/opinions, court decisions and industry best practices.

This tool provides plan sponsors with a written report with a variety of reporting options from a basic risk level, evaluation and education to a more in-depth analysis with specific violations/solutions and a more advanced education to help plan sponsors and their fiduciaries become and continue to stay compliant in a time-efficient and cost-effective manner.  For convenience, the free report, along with educational materials, can be printed, downloaded or saved to download at a later date.