The VA challenge

Variable annuities

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From the smoothing of with-profits payouts to the hidden reserves within balance sheets, the European life industry is famously opaque to outsiders. But faced with sceptical consumers, together with government pressure to bolster private pension provision in a transparent way, the industry is now beginning to embrace a US success story.

In early 2006, multinational life and pensions provider Axa says that it will launch its first variable annuity (VA) product in Germany. Meanwhile, there are