FINRA Cracking Down on Faulty Annuity Replacements
Cracking Down on Exploitation
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is looking closely at brokers guilty of churning their clients’ annuities. The churning (or replacements) resulted in heavy surrender charges, fees, and tax bills for the cheated clients. The San Francisco and California annuity and financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm Inc. represent clients who have suffered surrender charges and large tax liabilities as a result of improper annuity replacements or exchanges by commission-driven brokers. If you or a loved one has been a victim of securities fraud or financial elder abuse, or are headed toward a FINRA arbitration with your broker or financial advisor, call us at the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, and we can help. We handle securities fraud and financial elder abuse cases in San Francisco and throughout California.
Replacements and exchanges of variable annuities and whole life insurance policies are often examples of brokers “churning” or “twisting” client accounts and contracts. Since brokers receive commissions only on new sales, in churning the broker induces a client to replace or exchange an existing products for new ones. The broker then receives a commission on the “sale” of the new or replacement product. Some replacements qualify as so-called “1035 exchanges” where the IRS does not tax the surrender of the existing policy as long as that policy is exchanged for a similar one and the policyholder does not withdraw cash from the exchange. A 1035 exchange requires extra paperwork and can result in delays as far as commission payments are concerned and brokers often do not elect 1035 treatment so that their commission is paid sooner. Instead the agent “conceals” the replacement and the application is treated as a new purchase application.
In two recent enforcement cases, FINRA discovered that the clients had been put into new, unsuitable annuities with higher fees, had incurred large surrender charges on surrender of their existing policies, and had incurred tax liabilities because the brokers had not elected 1035 treatment for the exchanges. FINRA suspended the two brokers responsible and ordered one to disgorge nearly $186,000 in commissions he had been paid on the abusive transactions. Commissions on annuities and life insurance are always sizeable and are paid up front. In any insurance purchase you consider remember that it will take a long time for you to earn back your money paid out for commissions.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of securities fraud or financial elder abuse contact the San Francisco and California annuity and financial elder abuse attorneys at the Evans Law Firm today at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys have experience with complex securities cases, FINRA arbitrations, and mediations; and complicated financial contracts and large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial, FINRA arbitration, or toward an equitable settlement. We also handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, other types of qui tam and whistleblower cases, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.
Some of the leading providers of life insurance and annuities in California are listed below. We are not in any way suggesting that any of these carriers or distributors has done anything wrong. Rather, the list is provided solely as a reference for readers.
AIG/American General Life Insurance Company
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company
American General Life Insurance Company/AIG
American National Life Insurance Company
Ameriprise Financial/RiverSource Life Insurance Company
Athene Annuity and Life Company
Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company
Aviva Life Insurance Company
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company/AXA US
Bankers Life Insurance and Casualty Company
Brighthouse Financial, Inc./MetLife
Crump Life Insurance Services, Inc.
CUNA Mutual Group/CMFG Life Insurance Company
EquiTrust Life Insurance Company
Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company
Forethought Life Insurance Company/Global Atlantic Financial Group
Genworth Life Insurance Company
Global Atlantic Financial Group/Forethought Life Insurance Company
Guardian Life Insurance Company
Guggenheim Partners/Security Benefit Life Insurance Company
ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Company
Jackson National Life Insurance Company
John Hancock Life Insurance Company
Lincoln Benefit Life Company
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
Metlife/Metropolitan Life Insurance Company/Brighthouse Financial, Inc.
Nationwide Life Insurance Company
New York Life Insurance Company
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Pacific Life Insurance Company
Principal Financial Group
Prudential Life Insurance Company
Raymond James Insurance Group
RiverSource Life Insurance Company/Ameriprise Financial
Security Benefit Life Insurance Company/Guggenheim Partners
Symetra Life Insurance Company
Transamerica Life Insurance Company
Unum Life Insurance Company of America
Voya/Reliastar Life Insurance Company
World Financial Group Insurance Agency, Inc.
 Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in either case.