Volatility Shows Why Annuities Matter: Corebridge’s Pinsky – ThinkAdvisor

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Volatility Shows Why Annuities Matter: Corebridge’s Pinsky
Life Health > Annuities
By Allison Bell

Bryan Pinsky may be helping hundreds of thousands of U.S. retirement savers sleep a little better at night.
Pinsky is now the president of individual retirement at Corebridge Financial, the Houston-based company that owns American General, VALIC and other companies that once operated under the AIG Life & Retirement name.
Corebridge ranked third in terms of U.S. individual annuity sales in 2022, with about $20 billion, including $5.6 billion in variable annuity sales and $14.5 billion in fixed annuity sales, according to LIMRA’s 2022 U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey.
Pinsky, who has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, holds the chartered financial analyst designation and is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries. He started in insurance at Allstate, then moved to the annuity business at Prudential Financial in time to help clients, and their advisors, survive the Great Recession.
In 2008, during the worst days of the Great Recession, Pinsky urged advisors to steer nervous clients toward annuities and other products that might keep the clients from making rash decisions.
“Too often,” he said at the time, “clients fall prey to the emotions most commonly associated with investing: greed, fear and regret. … As a result, they end up selling low and buying high.”
Pinsky assumed his current position in 2021, about a year before AIG began separating from Corebridge by holding an initial public offering of Corebridge common stock.
He recently answered questions via email about current annuity market conditions. The answers have been edited.
THINKADVISOR: What market indicator are you watching most closely right now and why?
BRYAN PINSKY: I’m most closely watching the 10-year Treasury. The activity there has been incredible.
The rate on the 10-year [Treasury] more than doubled in 2022, and we have not seen a jump like that in over 40 years.
This increase has allowed annuity providers to raise crediting rates and the income levels for their products, with rates at their highest levels in decades.
As a result, sales for fixed annuities and fixed index annuities have been strong, and our industry has been working nonstop to meet the demand.
What forces out there are helping, and what forces are hurting clients?
The last 15 months of market volatility have been a perfect case study for the value of annuities. Nobody wants to live through markets like these, but the reality is that sometimes we do.
One key element in the value proposition for many annuities is the protection they seek to provide against down markets.
With market uncertainty where it is, now is an important moment for financial professionals to help clients address their concerns.
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One key here for advisors — and for their clients — is to recognize that it’s not too late to seek downside protection. It’s still a terrific moment to take action and consider making annuities an important part of retirement portfolios.
How should advisors respond to the volatility?
Moments like these — where interest rates are high and market volatility is pronounced — can make a compelling case for the value of annuities.
That said, we believe annuities always have a role to play in a diversified retirement portfolio. Our industry continues to suggest that financial professionals should think about allocations to annuities at 10% to 30% of a client’s retirement portfolio.
Annuities are only one part of a retirement portfolio — albeit an especially important one that can provide protection and peace of mind.
What are you focusing on right now?
During this time of strong demand, we’re focused on ensuring our systems and processes run seamlessly for our distribution partners and customers. We are continuing to make them simpler and more streamlined.
The last few years have required our industry to advance our technology, and these digital improvements have made annuities more accessible. At the same time, one of the hallmarks of our annuity platform is our product diversity.
Corebridge is the only top 10 annuity provider with a balanced mix of products across all major annuity categories, according to LIMRA. For our distribution partners, this product diversity is an important differentiator.
We can be their one-stop shop. That we’re able to develop and offer products across all the major categories offers a real convenience for our partners.
This versatility also requires a significant commitment from us — and a focus on planning, priorities and resources. Of course, we don’t know what’s around the corner with the markets, but conditions at some point will pivot.
We will continue to invest across our platform so we can stay nimble and cater to our partners, wherever their needs shift next.
What will your market look like five years from now?
Thinking about the next five years, one of the things I’m very excited about is the progress our industry has made in raising awareness.
Annuities are the only financial product that can provide protected lifetime income options, and our industry is communicating that message in an increasingly clear and compelling way.
We’ve accomplished so much already, and I believe over the next five years our industry will make annuities even more accessible and more mainstream.
Pictured: Bryan Pinsky. (Photo: Corebridge)
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