NAFA’s 2015 Annuity Distribution Summit - A Great Event!

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend NAFA’s Annuity Distribution Summit in Coral Gables, FL. This event, held annually, is designed to bring together individuals from independent marketing organizations (IMOs), banks, and broker/dealers, as well as carrier and industry representatives to network, share ideas and discuss the unique challenges of the independent distribution channel.

Keynote speaker, Todd Buchholz, a leading economist and an energizing speaker, opened this year’s event, held at the beautiful Biltmore Hotel near Miami, FL. The sessions that followed included cybersecurity, IMO compliance, and my favorite – an update on the DOL proposed fiduciary rule. I found this session particularly valuable. The presenters (Pam Heinrich, Chris Conroy and Jodi Hyde) were well versed in the intimate details of the proposed rule and the considerable challenges that the industry will face in implementation if it is passed.

A special thanks to NAFA for their continued efforts to lobby the DOL, urging them to carefully consider how the proposal in its most recent form will significantly affect the industry’s ability to comply with the final rule, yet still be able to offer retirement services to consumers at a reasonable cost.

Also worth noting, Eric Thomes, Senior VP of Sales at Allianz Life Insurance Company, was presented with the Bo Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award by NAFA during the event. This award is presented to individuals who demonstrate “…courage, spirit and determination that challenges the status quo, inspires other to achieve, contributes unselfishly to others, and works ethically and conscientiously to improve our industry and our marketplace”, according to NAFA. Congratulations, Eric!

All in all, this was a well-run, well-attended conference. Many thanks to NAFA, the presenters, and the attendees for making it a success!

"Where's the Risk Today?"

"We know the value a fixed annuity product can add to a well-rounded retirement portfolio. Annuities are gaining national attention and acceptance as a source of reliable, guaranteed income in a time of market uncertainty. More and more consumers are looking to fixed annuities for the level of protection they add to a retirement income strategy . . ."  - Excerpt from NAFA Annuity Outlook Magazine

Click here to read the entire article authored by our own Glenda Bean and Maureen James in the NAFA Annuity Outlook Magazine.

"Colo. Bans ‘Safe’ In Life And Annuity Advertising"

From - July 29, 2014

By Linda Koco

Snippet from article:

Several sources said that the model does not include the terms that Colorado just added to its don’t-use list. However, Colorado regulators may have found that piecemeal efforts to address problems associated with those words were unsuccessful, so they turned to a blanket prohibition, suggested Cailie Currin, president of Currin Compliance Services in Greenwich, N.Y.

“I will not be surprised if other states follow,” Currin wrote in an email. “It is clear that there are many troubling uses of these words in the marketplace today.”

Click here to read the full aricle.

NAFA “Cautionary Tales: Enforcement Actions from State Insurance Departments” has good advice

The November/December 2013 edition of NAFA’s Annuity Outlook publication has an easy to refer piece on advertising issues. General Counsel Pamela Heinrich consolidates several recent enforcement actions (several from the state of Utah) related to advertising materials into a short series of do’s and don’ts. The list could be taken from the recommendations we make on a daily basis for the ads we review.

So often we get push back from the creators saying that we are being overly rigid in our interpretations and in our concern over these issues. After these several enforcement actions, Ms. Heinrich advises as follows:


  • Exaggerate benefits, particularly by using absolute words like “all” or “unlimited.”
  • Rely on the rules of one state when the piece will be used in multiple states.
  • Exaggerate training or certifications, particularly in the context of senior citizens.


  • Be clear that a meeting will be with an insurance producer and that it is likely there will be a solicitation for an insurance product.
  • Disclose that an insurance product is involved in all marketing materials.
  • Identify all relevant parties—the carrier and/or the producer—making sure that the identification is consistent with the licensee’s names and addresses on file with the DOIs.
  • Disclose that workshops or similar events are part of the insurance sales process. Ms. Heinrich specifically warns against “bait and switch” at these events, including “meet and greet” events.

We think this is all excellent advice and, as does Ms. Heinrich, we encourage that these tips be kept in mind as marketing material and campaigns are created.

Reflections on my first NAFA IMO Summit

I am (briefly) back in the office after attending my first NAFA (National Association for Fixed Annuities) IMO Summit. Heading in, I really didn’t know what to expect. I read many of NAFA’s publications, I work with many NAFA members, but beyond that I wasn’t really sure. To the extent I had any expectations, they were that the organization might not be very compliance-friendly (and therefore not very me friendly!). I really could not have been more wrong.

First, everyone was very friendly to me personally. But beyond that – and (I guess) more important – the attendees I talked to were very interested in compliance. There was a range of resources devoted to compliance and a clear perspective that compliance can sometimes be a sales impediment. However, there was a consistent sense that times have changed to the point where compliance is necessary—helpful necessary or evil necessary, the jury may be out. I’ll take that. I can work with that. Actually, I love the challenge to show an organization that there is a place for compliance at the table that will not ruin everyone’s appetite.

In the line-up of presentations there were quite a few that had a compliance element. Another positive from my perspective. Most of all, I was thrilled with the number of questions and the dialog that began after my presentation on issues related to insurance producers charging fees as a part of their practice, in addition to selling insurance products that pay a commission. We had to stop due to time, but several folks came up to me afterwards with more questions and a desire to continue the discussion. For a compliance nerd going into a forum filled with marketing folks, I could not have been more pleased with the interest and the insight shown by many of the questions.

I am grateful to have had my attendance at the IMO Summit sponsored – another indication of the commitment to compliance. Being able to attend gave me the opportunity to dispel my pre-conceived notions and meet some great people who are affiliated with organizations that really are learning the importance of compliance and are genuinely open to discussions of what they need to do to protect what they have built. I can’t ask for more than that!