New annuities are structured products in all but name

Insurers have borrowed liberally from banks’ playbooks, with the result that the biggest-selling insurance products of the past few years are almost indistinguishable from structured notes and certificates of deposit. By Yakob Peterseil

photo of steven mabry at axa
Steven Mabry, Axa

"It was too good to be true. I couldn't sell them quick enough," Dominick Paoloni of IPS Strategic Capital says as he remembers some of the first indexed annuities, which were rolled out by the Sun Life insurance company in 1996. The Denver-based financial adviser is now fond of saying most annuities are not worth the paper they are printed on, but those early products, which allowed holders to link their investments to equity markets for the first time while protecting them from downside risk

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