Indexed annuities sales have grown exponentially over the last couple of years as agents and brokers are recommending them as fixed income or guaranteed lifetime withdrawal components of investors’ portfolios. In fact, first quarter sales of indexed annuities hit $10.9 billion, which is up by approximately 39% from the year-ago period, according to investment news sources. Now, as broker-dealers unveil “uncapped indexed annuities,” a product that purports to give conservative clients a way to benefit from surging equity markets without limitations while protecting downside risk, investors are urged to remain wary in order to detect misrepresentations and avoid misunderstandings related to the product.
InvestmentNews reports broker-dealers are leading the pack in the world of equity indexed annuities, with sales reaching more than $38 billion in 2013, up over 13% from a little over $34 billion in 2012. Most of that growth is attributable to sales activity at large regional firms. At LPL Financial, the largest independent broker-dealer with 13,600 affiliated reps and advisers, sales of fixed annuities and equity indexed annuities have surged in the first quarter of 2014. Sales of variable annuities at the firm, meanwhile, decreased approximately 2% in the first quarter, down to about $198 million.
Edward Francis Scro, a former Registered Representative of the now un-registered financial advisory company NelsonReid, Inc., was permanently barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for making unsuitable recommendations to his elderly customers. According to FINRA’s findings, Mr. Scro, of Naples, Florida, advised his elderly customers, who needed a stable monthly income, to invest in risky, illiquid investments, sold primarily by Private Placement Memoranda (PPMs).