As the head of a company that manages more than $23 billion in annuities, Mr. Broad has plenty of ideas about successful marketing strategies. He outlined his views in a recent speech, excerpted here, to the National Association for Variable Annuities.
I believe that the retirement savings products we offer - whether fixed or variable annuities - are vital to our nation's future. They can and must be available from a broad spectrum of distribution sources.
For the consumer, that means being able to buy them through a variety of sources, including banks, financial planners, and brokerages. In short, I want variable annuities to become a common household savings product, available to every man and woman in America.
The reason is far from self-serving. It's because the products we offer are among the most efficient, long-term savings vehicles for millions of middle-class Americans.
The day is not far off when no fewer than 76 million individuals, who are now entering their 40s and 50s, will be entering their golden years.
The irony is that, just as modern health care has extended the life span of millions of Americans, the sheer magnitude of our aging population, coupled with an anemic national savings rate, portends serious economic consequences for our nation and its people.
We need to encourage savings and investment. One way to do this is by encouraging voluntary savings in products such as variable annuities.
Recently, the rapid growth of variable annuity sales has been temporarily stalled and we have seen a resurgence of fixed-rate products. But over the course of this decade, I still believe that variable annuity sales can reach a target level of $100 billion annually.
The key to this expansion will be rapidly expanding distribution. At SunAmerica, we believe that two of the fastest-growing channels will be independent financial planners and banks.
The recent Supreme Court decision in the Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co. case confirms that banks will begin to flex their muscles as a distribution channel.
Collectively, banks are linked to 82 million households. They currently produce more than 14% of U.S. mutual fund sales. Enjoying a scant 7% market share of variable annuity sales today, they could easily represent 20% of the variable market by 2000.
The Valic decision gives national banks the unquestioned right to act as agent, not principal, in the sale of variable annuities. But an unanswered question is whether banks will ultimately be allowed to issue annuities.
Last year, SunAmerica entered multiyear exclusive agreements with Chase Manhattan Bank and First Interstate Bancorp to develop "private label" variable annuity products for distribution through their sprawling retail branch systems. These two institutions alone represent more than 1,400 branches in 17 states. We expect approval from the SEC to sell these products shortly.
I, for one, do not believe that this is likely in the near term. And I further believe that, given the administrative systems, technology, and critical mass required for success, most banks would rather go into business with a major annuity partner.
As we look to the future of an exciting market, those of us in the variable annuity industry face an array of formidable challenges.
The bank distribution channel is touted as a potential gold mine for variable annuity manufacturers. Granted, banks are lining up to offer variable annuities, as a source of fee income for themselves and an alternative to CDs for their clients.
But banks themselves have issues over disclosure, investor suitability, marketing practices, and expanded regulation. In addition, many are inexperienced and will fail to sell packaged products.
As we seek to increase our distribution and market penetration, we in the annuity industry face fierce competition, pricing pressure, constant changes in product and distribution channels, paper-thin margins, and a tough regulatory environment.
Meeting these challenges is not a slam dunk. By the end of the decade, many of the companies jumping on today's bandwagon will be ancient history.