By historic standards, 2012 started out about average for variable annuity issuers in terms of SEC filing activity, with a total of 59 annuity product changes in the first quarter com pared with 130 filings in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 49 in the first quarter of last year. Compared with the level of activity before the financial crisis, this indicates a relatively slow pace of innovation for the industry. This is not surprising given low interest rates and concerns about the risks that lifetime guaranteed withdrawal benefits and other retirement income guarantees present to the insurer.

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