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ANNUITIES

Research Tools Helping Agents Comply With DOL Rules

Another annuity data provider has jumped into the widening pool of vendors delivering comparative tools to help advisors comply with new Department of Labor fiduciary regulations.

The latest offering, branded as Annuity-
Nexus, comes courtesy of Northfield, Ill.-based Beacon Annuity Solutions, the software and analytics arm of Beacon Research.

Beacon has been a longtime provider of fixed annuity data, but more recently indexed and variable annuity data as well.

“AnnuityNexus was designed to provide carrier-reviewed, detailed product comparison and disclosure reports to quickly and easily document annuity sales recommendations and exchanges in this post-DOL world,” said Beacon Annuity Solutions founder and CEO Jeremy Alexander.

The tool is highly configurable, allowing distributors to “define the firm-specific product shelf” for fixed rate, indexed and variable annuities, the company said in a news release.

 

More Data Platforms Serving the Market

AnnuityNexis is far from alone in gathering annuity data with an eye toward helping advisors navigate a fiduciary landscape.

Other data platforms — AssessBEST, Envestnet, eMoney Advisor, Riskalyze, RiXtrema, AssetMark and fi360, for example — have been launched or retooled recently to help advisors prove, document and comply with a best-
interest standard. INN Publisher Paul Feldman is a founder of AssessBEST.

As one of the early fixed annuity data collectors with research more than 20 years old, Beacon has amassed a significant database, Alexander said.

AnnuityNexus allows for annuity exchange comparisons between more than 2,700 products with product histories dating back to the original purchase date. The tool also lets advisors view rider information, the company said.

More than 250,000 financial advisors through 30 of the largest broker/dealers, independent marketing organizations and banks rely on the tool, the company said.

 

Stakes Raised for Data Vendors

The fiduciary rule, the first phase of which took effect last month, has raised the stakes for data vendors and service providers on which advisors and their broker/dealers rely.

Selling annuities and offering advice under the rule’s Best Interest Contract Exemption require significant disclosures and documentation, as well as a signed contract between advisor/agent and client.

But for advisors to document that their product recommendations were in the best interest of a client, advisors need access to historical and comparative data.

The data will prove critical should advisors need to prove in court that they provided a client with the best product or solution available at the time of sale.

Full implementation of the fiduciary rule is scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2018.  

Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. He can be reached at cyril.tuohy@innfeedback.com cyril.tuohy@innfeedback.com.


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