The clock is ticking for you to get your clients locked into guaranteed income products, as insurers continue to re-jig contracts, suspend sales or just get out of the business altogether.
Most recently, Sun Life announced that it was suspending third party sales of its SunWise Essential Series, effective May 11. The product will still be available through Sun Life advisors. The company says it will retool the product and plans to bring it back to the wider market later this year.
On April 23, Desjardins Financial Security announced it was suspending sales of “version 2” of its Helios GMWB product, effective April 27, 2012. DFS had already announced higher fees, effective April 1, 2012, and the termination of deposits to version 1 plans effective Dec. 30, 2011.
In making the announcement, the company cited—you guessed it—low interest rates and high regulatory capital requirements. These are the same reasons cited by Standard Life when it suspended sales of its Ideal Income Series earlier this month.
The trend has swept across nearly the entire industry.
“No surprise at all to me—and about time,” says Ian Whiting, CFP, CLU, in Vancouver. “While the product has some excellent applications for some clients, pricing and investment choices just didn’t stand up to long periods of stagnation and volatile markets.”
So far, only Empire Life has held firm, announcing no changes yet on its Class Plus product.
Canada Life hiked its fees on both new and existing policies for its Lifetime Income Benefit Option, effective April 1.
Industrial Alliance has limited its policyholders to fixed income investments in its Ecoflextra line.
Transamerica Life suspended new sales of its Five for Life product, effective January 25, and will no longer accept deposits to existing plans after December 31, 2012.
Manulife will be reducing the payout percentages from 5% to 4% on its IncomePlus and PensionBuilder products effective April 30.