The Massachusetts Securities Division has issued subpoenas to 15 banks and broker/dealers as part of an investigation into variable annuity to seniors. Some of the inquiries stem from customer complaints and others are part of an effort to learn more about variable annuity sales, reports the Boston Globe.

Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin's office filed an administrative complaint against Citizens Bank on Feb. 10, but in the meantime, the office has also made inquiries at the following banks: Sovereign, Bank of America, Century, BankNorth, Eastern, and Medford Co-Operative Bank.

The office has also subpoenaed Morgan Stanley, UBS AG, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia Securities, American Express Co., Advest, and Infinex Investment, a firm that provides financial services within banks throughout Massachusetts.

Galvin's office is concerned that, in order to collect commissions, registered representatives pressure individuals aged 75 and over to buy variable annuities when these investments are not appropriate. State regulators say variable annuities are not appropriate for seniors because they expose investors to higher market risk, have high fees and surrender charges and do not allow investors access to ready cash that they may need for nursing home and other expenses.

The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.

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