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Fixed Annuity Sales Slump Since 2009

Fixed annuity sales in the first half of this year slumped 37 percent compared to the first half of 2009, erasing the meteoric rise in sales amid the flight to safety during the recession, according to LIMRA data released today.

The drop brings FA sales to $40.5 billion in the first half, compared to $64.2 billion in last year’s first half. This year’s first half total is also lower than $47.6 billion in 2008 but still higher than the $34.2 billion in 2007. This performance was the opposite of variable annuity sales, which plummeted during the recession. VA sales went from an all-time high of $89.6 billion in the first half of 2007 to $84.3 billion in 2008 and $62.6 billion in 2009, when VAs sold less than FAs for the first time since 1995.

Since last year, VAs found their footing, growing about 8.5 percent to $67.9 billion this year. Even so, it did not make up for the FA loss and the total market dropped to $108.4 billion, which is down about 17 percent since 2009 and off 21.6 percent compared to 2008, which was the total annuity market’s best first half ever.

“We aren’t surprised by the decrease in fixed annuity sales,” said Catherine Theroux, LIMRA spokeswoman. “In this low-interest rate environment, consumers are reluctant to lock into a long-term fixed annuity.”

The growth in VA sales reflect more confidence in equities markets but also a consumer drive for a return that exceeds CD rates but also the safety of the guaranteed minimum that most VAs now feature. This is the same dynamic that has helped indexed annuity sales boost sales within the fixed annuity segment, according to AnnuitySpecs.com data released on Sunday. Indexed sales were $8.3 billion the second quarter, which represented a 22.8 percent increase over the first quarter. Indexed sales were about where they were in the second quarter of 2009, showing a 0.1 percent drop.

Sheryl J. Moore, president and CEO of AnnuitySpecs.com, said she expects the upward trend to continue throughout this year. “With CD rates at 1 percent and fixed annuities crediting a mere 3.65 percent on average, it is no wonder that this was the second-highest quarter in terms of indexed annuity sales,” Moore said. “It is going to be another record year.”


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