Annuities have many benefits — security, flexibility, tax efficiency — but few would argue that simplicity is one of them. A successful sale is also an education process, uniquely tailored to the client. The foundation of all of this, of course, is the language. You may not have been directly asked about dollar cost averaging lately, but that doesn’t mean your clients don’t need to know what it is.
How well can you define some of the terms that are foundational to this product line? Keep reading to test your knowledge.
Source: Insured Retirement Institute
Assumed Investment Return (AIR)
Variable annuity payments increase or decrease based on the net performance (returns after fees and expenses) of the underlying investments in relation to a benchmark assumed investment return. If the total investment return minus expenses exceeds the AIR, the payment increases. If the return minus expenses is less than the AIR, the payment decreases. If the return minus expenses equals the AIR, payments remain the same.
B-Share Variable Annuities
Variable annuity contracts characterized by deferred sales charges, which typically range from 5 percent to 7 percent in the first year, and subsequently decline to zero after five to seven years. B-shares are the most common form of annuity contracts sold.
Bonus Share (X-Share) Variable Annuities
A bonus amount, typically defined in the prospectus as a percentage of purchase payments, is allocated to the annuity accumulation value early in the contract period. This type of annuity typically has higher expenses to pay for the cost of the bonus.
Dollar Cost Averaging
A program for investing a fixed amount of money at set intervals with the goal of purchasing more shares at low values and fewer shares at high values. Variable annuity dollar cost averaging programs involve allocating a certain amount to one investment subaccount, such as a money market fund, and then having portions of that payment periodically transferred to other subaccounts. Dollar cost averaging does not guarantee a profit or prevent a loss in declining markets.
The formula that determines which portion of an annuity payment is considered taxable and which is a tax-free return of principal. For variable annuities, this formula is similar; however, due to the fluctuating nature of variable payouts, this is recalculated annually and is reported as an exclusion amount.
I-Share Variable Annuity
Also known as fee-based variable annuities in which an investor pays one fee to have the portfolio managed by an investment advisor. I-shares do not offer a sales commission to the advisor. However, the advisor assesses fees for the services, including the I-share contract, which is agreed upon by the client.
An annuity purchased with a single premium on which income payments begin within one year of the contract date. With fixed immediate annuities, the payment is based on a specified interest rate. With variable immediate annuities, payments are based on the value of the underlying investments. Payments are made for the life of the annuitant(s), for a specified period, or both (e.g., 10 years certain and life).
Market Value Adjustment (MVA)
A feature included in some annuity contracts that imposes an adjustment or fee upon the surrender of a fixed annuity or the fixed account of a variable annuity. The adjustment is based on the relationship of market interest rates at the time of surrender and the interest rate guaranteed in the annuity.
O-Share Variable Annuities
Annuity contracts that do not impose up-front sales charges, while, typically, possessing surrender charge periods similar to B-shares. Mortality and expense charges are assessed, and progressively decline throughout the surrender period.
A private annuity is an arrangement in which the client transfers property to an individual or entity in return for a promise of fixed periodic payments for the rest of the client’s life. In private annuities, the person or entity assuming the payment obligation is not in the business of selling annuities.
Systematic Withdrawal Plan
A distribution method that allows a variable annuity contract owner to periodically receive a specified amount as a partial withdrawal from the annuity contract value prior to the annuity starting date. Unlike lifetime annuity payments, systematic withdrawals continue until the contract value is exhausted. Systematic withdrawals are taxable to the extent they represent investment gain in the contract.
A measurement of the performance of the underlying funds in a variable annuity, similar to the share value of a stock. Each investment subaccount has a separate unit value. The unit value increases with positive investment performance in the subaccount and decreases with negative investment performance and with asset management and insurance charges.
A comprehensive charge levied by an investment manager or investment advisor to a client for providing a bundle of services, such as investment advice, investment research and brokerage services. Wrap fees allow an investment advisor to charge one straightforward fee to their clients, simplifying the process for both the advisor and the customer.