Have the recent changes to VA products (increase in prices, decrease in benefits) and the market challenges affected your implementation of VAs? Any ones you stopped using in favor of others and why?
How do you evaluate insurers when weighing income guarantees--do you look at carriers’ risk-based capital ratios?
You should do a story on the challenges of mutual funds. How do you evaluate them? Does the advisor pick one because it outperformed the index by 100 or 200 basis points? I'm sick of hearing f'ing stupid wholesalers say their fund is GREAT because it outperformed by 500 basis points!!!!!! Yeah, but you're still down 33 f'ing percent you dipsh*t.
Anyways, regarding VA's, the increase in cost, at least for what I currently use, is minimal. As far as decreasing guarantees, it's pretty simple; I changed who I was writing. I have completely stopped writing the company I did the most with in 2008 and now write the vast majority of my business with a different one. There are essentially only 2 VA companies I write and the second doesn't get much business from me.
When evaluating different carriers, for me, it comes down to financial strength (as if you can even trust anyone anymore, but minimal exposure to bad assets and profitability helps), capital ratios, how they hedge, how their hedging worked in 2008, and guarantee(s) offered and features.
Too many people lump ALL insurance carriers in the same "world is ending, companies are failing boat". There are some insurance companies that were profitable in 2008, and others whose annuity divisions were if the whole company wasn't. That's who I would align with.
That's a place to start. Then you have to look at manager tenure, turnover, alpha, expenses, performance, trails, revenue sharing, free lunches, and finally how hot the wholesaler is. Put a lot of emphasis on the last two.