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Allianz Life Aims for 401(k) Annuitization Market: Retirement Rumblings

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What You Need to Know

  • Many carriers are hoping the Secure Act will produce new lifetime income option business.
  • Legal & General and LIMRA say second-half pension risk transfer activity should be strong.
  • Insurers in the market have developed a set of model buyout commitment agreements.

Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America is aiming for the new Secure Act 401(k) plan annuitization market with by launching the Allianz Lifetime Income+ Annuity.

The Secure Act includes provisions that now encourage sponsors of 401(k) plans and other defined contribution plans to add lifetime income annuity features.

The new Allianz Life annuity will help a plan participant turn retirement plan account assets into a stream of lifetime income.

Allianz Life has also hired Mike De Feo to lead a new defined contribution distribution team.

De Feo was previously head of the retirement and defined contribution investment-only business at Voya Financial’s Voya Investment Management arm.

Jackson

In the wake of its demerger from Prudential plc, Jackson announced a new fee-based annuity product, the Jackson Retirement Investment Annuity, which will be targeted toward independent RIAs. The annuity will cost 0.30% during the deferral period and 0.75% during the withdrawal period. Also, consumers will have access to 110 institutionally managed and priced subaccount options.

Equitable

Equitable, an arm of Equitable Holdings, is ramping up by adding customized managed accounts and a cash balance plan to the menu of retirement plan options it markets to small and medium-sized businesses.

Cash-balance plans give employers a way to offer defined benefit pension plans funded using a simple, one-year-at-a-time funding formula, rather than a formula based on the assumption that a worker will stay with the same employer for decades.

The customized managed accounts option will give employers a way to offer a broader range of investment options.

Equitable is working with Stadion Money Management to provide the customized managed accounts option.

Lincoln Financial Group

Lincoln has introduced the Lincoln PathBuilder Income powered by the YourPath program.

The program gives retirement plan sponsors a way to combine an annuitization option with a menu of plan investment options based on target-date investment portfolios.

A target-date portfolio is designed to shift assets toward lower-risk investments as participants near the anticipated retirement age.

Lincoln says the new program includes the tools an employer will need to show that it has met the Secure Act requirements for assessing an annuitization option provider.

Voya Financial

Voya Financial has introduced the Voya/RAM Focus Stable Value Fund, a fund designed for use in 401(k) plans and other defined contribution plans.

Voya’s Voya Investment Management team will manage the fund together with Ramirez Asset Management, an affiliate of Samuel A. Ramirez & Co.

Managers’ investment strategy will include an allocation of some assets to taxable municipal bonds.

AIG Retirement Services

AIG Retirement Services — an arm of AIG that serves tax-exempt and public-sector employers — has introduced a self-directed version of Retirement Pathfinder, a retirement planning tool.

Plan participants can use the tool to estimate how much they’ll spend after they retire and to develop a strategy for building that level of retirement income.

Deals

Prudential Financial’s international reinsurance business has assumed about $8.4 billion in pension risk from an unnamed United Kingdom pension plan through a reinsurance transaction.

Nationwide’s Nationwide Retirement Solutions unit has won a contract to serve the Indiana Public Employees’ deferred compensation 457 and 401(a) defined contribution retirement plans. The plans have about $1.7 billion in assets under management and more than 59,000 participants. The contract has a four-year initial term and a four-year renewal option.

Pacific Life says its new institutional division has recorded $2.3 billion in pension risk transfer sales, including $972 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Data

The Secure Retirement Institute reports that U.S. pension risk transfer activity fell to $4 billion in the first quarter of the year, down 13% from the total in the first quarter of 2020. Analysts there say that the U.S. deal pipeline looks strong, and that the United States could end up with a total of about $25 billion to $30 billion in pension risk transfer deals for the year.

Legal & General Group’s U.S. and global pension risk services teams are predicting that the United States will produce about $30 billion to $40 billion in pension risk transaction volume this year, up from $27 billion in 2020.

Milliman says big U.S. corporate pension plans had funded about 97.2% of the promised benefits at the end of June, up from 90.3% at the beginning of the year. Plans had $1.878 trillion in pension benefits obligations and assets with a market value of about $1.826 trillion.

Standards

A U.S. pension risk transfer working group has developed four versions of a standard buyout commitment agreement.

Working group members say use of the model agreements could speed up and simplify pension risk transfer transactions involving premium payments of about $250 million or more.

But the working group members are also emphasizing that use of the model agreements is voluntary, that parties can change the agreements, and that the companies involved in developing the models will consider proposals made using other commitment agreements.

The list of insurers that participated in the working group effort includes Legal & General Retirement America, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., Metropolitan Tower Life Insurance Co., New York Life Insurance Co., Pacific Life Insurance Co. and The Prudential Insurance Co. of America.

The working group also included representatives from Aon, Mercer and Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP.