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Ameriprise Sees Stability in Annuity Block

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Executives at Ameriprise Financial Inc. say they believe their annuity operation is recovering from the affects of uncertainty about the U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule.

James Cracchiolo, the Minneapolis-based financial services company’s chief executive officer, said Wednesday that annuity sales fell off earlier because of financial advisors’ questions about how they ought to proceed.

“Now, some of that is starting to stabilize and starting to refresh,” Cracchiolo said, during a conference call with securities analysts that was streamed live on the web.

(Related: Annuity Players Continue to Fight Low Rates)

Overall annuity performance is at the lower end of the usual range, but now an increase in flows of cash into variable annuities without living benefits guarantees is compensating for lower sales of other products.

“The book remains very solid,” Cracchiolo said.

Ameriprise held the call to go over second-quarter earnings.

The company is reporting $393 million in net income for the quarter on $3 billion in  revenue, up from $335 million in net income on $2.9 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2016.

 The annuity operations posted $142 million in pretax operating earnings for the latest quarter on $627 million in net revenues, compared with $146 million in pretax operating earnings on $619 million in net revenues for the year-earlier quarter.

Variable annuity operating earnings rose 8%, to $127 million, and fixed annuity operating earnings fell 46%, to $15 million.

The variable annuity operations saw $1 billion in cash flow out. The variable annuity operation cash outflow was up from $512 million in the second quarter of 2016.

The fixed annuity cash outflow fell to $243 million, from $256 million.

In spite of the net cash outflow, higher investment earnings pushed total variable annuity account balances up to $77.4 billion at the end of the quarter, from $74.6 billion.

Total fixed annuity account balances fell to $9.6 billion, from $10.3 billion.  

— Read Ameriprise Adds $463M Employee Team From Merrill  on ThinkAdvisor


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