Variable Annuities The Subject Of High Scrutiny

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Variable Annuities The Subject Of High Scrutiny

Recently, two FINRA enforcement officials emphasized at an insurance industry conference that variable annuities, which offer lifetime guaranteed income to investors but can be complicated and expensive, are still the subject of high scrutiny.

“Variable annuities are just very frequently involved in our cases,” Russ Ryan, FINRA Senior Vice President and Deputy Chief of Enforcement, said Tuesday at an Insured Retirement Institute conference in the nation’s capital.

James Day, FINRA Associate Vice President and Enforcement Chief Counsel, stated that variable annuities “are at the sweet spot of complex products marketed to retirees and people about to retire.”

Both Ryan and Day noted FINRA’s enforcement action against MetLife, which the regulatory authority hit with a record $25 million penalty for misleading variable annuity sales. In that instance, FINRA found that MetLife financial advisors made misrepresentations and omissions of fact in 72% of 35,500 applications the firm approved between 2009 and 2014 to replace clients’ old variable annuities with new ones. These annuities were solicited as cheaper and more beneficial, when clients would have been better off keeping their old investments, said FINRA. A number of the issues revolved around training and supervision of the advisers in the sales, according to FINRA. The same issues are rearing their heads in other cases as well.

FINRA is poised to bring about 20 L-share cases, several of which focus on L-shares that are attached to long-term riders or living benefits.

If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of an investment or Ponzi scheme, please contact Richard Frankowski at 888-741-7503 to discuss your potential legal remedies or complete the contact form.

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