As head of the individual retirement business at Equitable, Steve Scanlon is in charge of a group that oversees about 900,000 annuity contracts and $108 billion in annuity account value.
He oversees individual retirement product distribution at the unit, product development, capital management, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic relationships.
Some of the annuities under his purview could pay benefits well into the 2060s.
Via email, we asked Scanlon a set of VIP series questions that touch both on his professional knowledge and on what he does off the clock.
ThinkAdvisor: 1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now and why?
Steve Scanlon: We look closely at interest rates, volatility, and the overall market. We also overlay that with data from our customers on what they are worried about, such as having enough retirement income due to interest rates being so low; the impact of a market correction on their retirement portfolio; and taxes due to the regulatory and legislative changes that are being discussed.
2. How has it been changing recently (2021) and how do you expect it to change (2022)?
Taxes and inflation have been on the forefront of people’s minds this year. We expect that will continue going into next year. We expect inflation to be a real predator and taxes to increase. With both of those things, clients need to think about their portfolios differently.
3. What would you suggest advisors do now or consider doing in the future about it?
Advisors have always done a terrific job of understanding their clients’ needs and objectives. They are going to have to continue to look for creative ways that maybe fall outside their normal scope of business to answer some of these threats that we have from an investing and financial planning standpoint. A lot of advisors have not seen a down market yet, and it’s time to start looking for different ways to protect and grow client portfolios.
4. Who or what critical source of information do you track, or follow online, to keep up with this or other trends?
We work with a lot of investment companies that manage money for our clients inside of our products. We read a lot of their market overviews and thoughts on interest rates and volatility. We also track our portfolio performance and try to keep ahead of things our clients are telling us we should be looking at. Of course, Alliance Bernstein, majority owned by Equitable Holdings, is a terrific resource for us, and their team has helped educate our team on the latest in the capital markets.
5. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? Why/why not?