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Investors Welcome

Investors Welcome

Partners in peace. | Copyright Chung Sung Jun, Getty Images

The United States and Korea are the most investor-friendly markets in the world, while China is the least, according to a report released by Morningstar Tuesday. To come up with the list, the research shop analyzed the experiences of mutual fund investors in 25 countries. Those with high scores tend to have active fund regulation; a low investor tax burden; more disclosure; lower fund fees; a varied fund distribution system; and local news media that educates investors about fund choices, Morningstar said. The U.S. received the top grade for its low expenses and strong disclosure, although its sales and media grade was average. Korea ranked high for its improved sales practices. "China was one of a minority of markets where the disclosure of conflicts of interest by advisors was not common, coupled with relatively aggressive incentive structures," the report found.

They're Going to Need Help

Of course they will. | jinga80/iStock/Thinkstock

The most recent Merrill Edge Report substantiates the fact that Gen Xers (67 percent) and millennials (67 percent) should expect a more financially unstable retirement compared to their older counterparts. Forty percent of millennials will likely have to rely on financial support from loved ones to maintain a comfortable retirement because they currently are neglecting to save enough. Only 25 percent of other non-retirees expect to rely on the financial help of others by the time they leave the workforce.

Annuities Take a Hit

Going, going, gone.

Both fixed and variable annuity sales fell during first quarter, according to data from Beacon Research and Morningstar. The Insured Retirement Institute reported annuity sales overall hit $52.7 billion, almost a 7 percent decrease from the previous quarter and down 6 percent from a year ago. Fixed annuity sales, which reached $20.9 billion, dropped 7.5 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile variable annuity sales in the first quarter totaled $31.8 billion, a 5 percent annual decline. IRI President Cathy Weatherford chalked up the declines to the current interest rate environment and, in particular rates being down sharply in January. “It is logical to conclude that some consumers decided to defer their purchases,” she says, noting IRI expects pent-up demand will lead to solid future sales.

Diversity Standards Finalized

Still waiting on Dodd-Frank. | Copyright Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

To fulfill a requirement from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed in 2010, the new Office of Minority and Women Inclusion on Tuesday issued finalized standards for diversity policies at financial services firms. The standards provide a framework for firms to create and strengthen their commitment to diversity, workforce and employment practices, and practices to promote transparency of organizational diversity and inclusion within the entities’ U.S. operations. The policies are open for comment and won’t be approved for some time, highlighting Senator Elizabeth Warren’s complaint that the Securities and Exchange Commission still hasn’t finalized many of the Dodd-Frank rules. 

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