Close Close
ThinkAdvisor
Ellen Cooper, Chief Investment Officer of Lincoln Financial Group

Life Health > Annuities > Fixed Annuities

Life and Annuity Issuers Defend Guarantees at S&P Conference

X
Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

What You Need to Know

  • Ellen Cooper, the new Lincoln Financial CEO, pointed out that life insurers have come through a period of high claims unscathed.
  • Cooper and executives from other insurers emphasized the importance of guarantees for the customers.
  • They also acknowledged the need to design, price and manage guarantees carefully.

The CEOs of life insurance and annuity issuers told the financial world that they need to continue to offer long-term benefits guarantees because what they do — and what you do — matters.

Speaking at an online insurance conference organized by S&P Global Ratings, Ellen Cooper, who has been the CEO at Lincoln Financial for just seven days, said that Lincoln has changed its product sales mix, repriced many products, and changed or replaced other products in response to years of low interest rates and other headwinds.

But she also emphasized the value of the guarantees Lincoln’s life, disability and annuity products still provide for people trying to protect themselves against risk and prepare for retirement, and she talked about the resilience of Lincoln and its competitors.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, “we have all experienced excess claims,” Cooper said. “But we’ve maintained financial strength. There’s no question around the strength and stability of the life insurance industry, which I think is great.”

Anant Bhalla, the CEO of American Equity Investment Life, a major indexed annuity issuer, also emphasized the need to diversify and manage risk carefully — and to continue to offer guarantees.

“This industry has a really important role to play,” Bhalla said. “You can be a trillion-dollar bank, you can be a trillion-dollar asset manager, you can’t make a guarantee. Only this industry can.”

Paul Mahon, CEO of Great-West Lifeco, said the big life insurers and other big companies need to think about how to use their size and strength to help the world as a whole. He noted that, in the past two years, North America has faced social unrest, fears about the environment, the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain disruption and, now, the war in Ukraine.

“That’s calling on businesses like ours to really think about resilience, but also to lean in on social issues,” Mahon said.

Life insurers need to think about their own corporate purpose and how they can do more to help their customers, employees and communities, Mahon said.

Why It Matters

S&P Global Ratings issues borrower credit ratings and insurer financial ratings that determine how much capital companies can get, at what price, and what kinds of products life and annuity issuers can sell, at what price.

Its annual insurance conference attracts asset managers, regulators and other high-level insurance industry watchers from all over the world.

What CEOs and other speakers at the conference said may set the tone for how all players see the life and annuity sectors, and the kinds of solutions they are — or aren’t — offering clients for the rest of the year.

Pictured: Ellen Cooper. (Photo: Lincoln Financial)