Understanding the Risks of Annuities
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, has made waves by fining Prudential Annuities Distributors, Inc., the wing of the financial giant Prudential that’s in charge of selling and managing the company’s annuities, for failing to prevent a theft of $1.3 million from a senior customer’s variable annuity. Variable annuities, which we’ve written about elsewhere (/alameda-annuity-fraud-attorney-variable-annuities/ ), have come under additional scrutiny in 2016, as has the entire annuities market. Annuities, products once considered to be the definition of a solid investment, have shown themselves to be riskier investments than previously thought, especially the more exotic variations, such as indexed and variable annuities. This has led to a crackdown on the sale and management of these products, as well as a number of regulatory actions designed to curb the excesses of the industry.
This Prudential fine is one of those. According to FINRA, Prudential ignored numerous red flags indicating that a financial advisor was systematically transferring a client’s funds into his own third party account over the course of several years. Despite clear indicators of misconduct, Prudential allowed the transactions to go through. The broker was eventually caught be FINRA, stripped of his broker’s license, and convicted on felony charges.
New rules implemented by the Department of Labor have brought about significant changes in the way annuity brokers sell and manage policies. Under the new rules, brokers have a fiduciary duty to their clients, essentially compelling them to act in their client’s best interest. While some annuity sellers and companies are objecting strenuously to the new rules, consumers are unlikely to consider it overly onerous for their financial advisors to commit to not defrauding them for their own benefit.
As insurance agents and companies try to adjust to the annuity landscape, where their current and past actions are likely to be under regulatory scrutiny, it’s likely that more cases of annuity fraud, negligence, and misconduct will come to light. For seniors who’ve purchased indexed and variable annuities, or are thinking of doing so, now might be a good time to take a good hard look at the policy. While the language is often inscrutable and the logic ineffable, a good (independent) financial advisor or annuity fraud attorney should be able to help you make sense of the document.
Our Marin County annuity fraud attorneys have collected a list of some of the major annuity and life insurance providers:
- Aviva/Athene/Accordia Life Insurance Company
- Transamerica Life Insurance Company
- John Hancock Life Insurance Company
- Bankers Life Insurance and Casualty company
- Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
- Midland Life Insurance Company
- North American Company for Life and Health Insurance
- Pacific Life Insurance Company
- Prudential Life Insurance Company
- Genworth Life Insurance Company
- ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Company
- Lincoln Benefit Life Company
- Metlife/Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
- Unum Life Insurance Company of America
- Voya/Reliastar Life Insurance Company
If you feel that you or a loved one has been the victim of an improperly sold or administered annuity or life insurance policy, the Marin County annuity fraud attorneys at Evans Law Firm can help extricate you and your finances from these complicated financial instruments. We can be reached for a free initial consultation at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.