Regulators have agreed to delay plans to treat equity-indexed annuities like securities, but many bank-affiliated brokerages are already doing so.
For instance, at First Bank, in Creve Coeur, Missouri, the annuities cannot be sold by licensed bankers, but instead only by full-time financial consultants, according to Bruce Stava, the director of advisory sales at First Bank Wealth Management Group. And sales at the $10.8 billion-asset bank are put through scrutiny similar to that of securities transactions, he said.
The Securities and Exchange Commission agreed earlier this month to delay for two years a rule under which certain indexed annuities would be treated as securities rather than insurance products. The rule, which had been scheduled to take effect in January 2011, had been the focus of a legal battle between the commission and certain insurance and marketing companies.
Equity-indexed annuities earn interest that is linked to a stock index such as the Standard & Poor's 500 Composite Index. These types of annuities are touted as a way to participate in stock market gains while avoiding the risk of losing money should the market drop. These products are often characterized as falling somewhere between a fixed and a variable annuity.