Honorable Mention

Brief or late-breaking items from MassMutual, Fidelity, New York Life, Raymond James, Allianz Life and Millennium Trust.

Pet project: MassMutual leverages America’s love of animals

Dogs, cats and other pets can help people to lower their blood pressure, reduce anxiety and improve their social lives, studies have shown. MassMutual hopes to prove that pets can also help people save for retirement.

The big mutual insurer is encouraging retirement plan savers to increase their contributions to their employer’s 401(k) or other retirement plan through a direct marketing campaign that leverages the popularity of pets. Americans spent more than $60 billion on pets in 2015, according to the American Pet Products Association. 

MassMutual’s pet campaign promotes the need for retirement savings by directing savers to RetireSmartPets.com. Visitors to the site are invited to post and share photos of their pets on social media, and are encouraged to increase their retirement plan contributions.

More than 1,700 photos of dogs, cats, rabbits, mice and horses have been uploaded and shared on social media. The photos also include a humming bird, chickens, parrots, turtles, a lizard and pet rocks.

The owner of the pet whose photo receives the most votes at the end of the year wins an Apple iPad. So far, the most popular pet is a chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy that resembles a stuffed toy, with more than 8,300 votes.

The email and direct mail campaign, which ran from March to May, is projected to generate $43 million in additional deposits in 2016. The campaign enjoyed MassMutual’s highest-ever response rate for those making additional savings.

Savers ages 18-34 had the highest response rate; retirement savers age 55 and older had the highest increase in salary contributions. The increase was attributable to both men and women.

Fidelity to offer another New York Life annuity   

New York Life’s Clear Income Fixed Annuity–FP Series, a fixed deferred annuity with a flexible guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit, will be made available on Fidelity’s direct-sale annuity platform, Fidelity announced this week.   

Fidelity already makes available New York Life’s single premium deferred annuities, deferred income annuities and single premium immediate annuities.

The New York Life Clear Income Fixed Annuity– FP Series features:  

Lifetime Income: Through access to a guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit amount beginning on a date they select, investors can avoid outliving their assets. Individuals (or couples for joint contracts) also benefit from knowing how much annual income they will receive, based on any date they select.

Flexibility: If a person’s situation changes and the need may arise to take some or all of the money sooner, individuals have access to the contract’s accumulation value.

Stability: Individuals have the security of a guaranteed rate of return and cash flow regardless of market fluctuations and downturns. 

Raymond James to partner with retirement plan advisors group

Raymond James Financial Services (RJFS), an independent broker/dealer, and Next Retirement Solutions, a team of plan consultants and advisors, will partner to establish a major retirement advisory program, according to Bill Counsman, Western regional director for RJFS.

Next Retirement Solutions (formerly Neuner Retirement Services) offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. NRS was born in 1994 as a group of corporate retirement plan consultants working for then-A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.  Through acquisitions, NRS became the lead institutional retirement consulting group for Wells Fargo Advisors, managing some $7 billion in retirement plan assets. In June 2016, NRS established its own legal entity and partnered with Raymond James.

The NRS management team includes Paul Neuner, partner, Kevin McFarland, partner, Dominic Repetti, partner, Neelab Naibkhyl, Timothy Cronin, Damon DeLillo, Michael Rozovics, Bob Ortbals, Denise Ruiz, and Aryn LaFerrara.

Paul Neuner began his career in institutional consulting in 1994 at A.G. Edwards, which ultimately became Wells Fargo. He is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary and Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist. He is a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with degrees in economics, international finance and Spanish.

McFarland has been with the team since 1999 when he began his career in the financial services industry and is an Accredited Asset Management Specialist, a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist and also won the Albert Gallatin award. Prior to becoming a financial industry professional he attended San Diego State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.

Repetti joined the NRS team in 1999 focusing his efforts in the corporate retirement plan marketplace. Prior to becoming a financial industry professional, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San Diego, and is an Accredited Asset Management Specialist and a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist.

Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., supports more than 3,600 independent financial advisors nationwide. Since 1974, it has provided investment and wealth planning services through Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Both entities are broker/dealers. The parent company, Raymond James Financial, Inc., has 6,800 financial advisors serving more than 2.8 million client accounts worth about $535 billion in more than 2,800 locations throughout the United States, Canada and overseas.  

Income from the riders on our FIAs tends to rise each year: Allianz Life

Almost nine in ten (86%) Americans want financial products that provide rising guaranteed income in retirement, according to a new Allianz Life survey. Almost eight in ten (77%) preferred a product with a lower starting income rate and upside potential to a fixed-payout product with a higher starting income rate.

This finding appears to contradict the conventional wisdom that retirees prefer fixed to inflation-adjusted immediate annuities. But it reinforces the idea that variable annuities with lifetime income benefits owe part of their appeal to the upside potential of the separate accounts.   

Half (50%) of the respondents to the Allianz Life survey believe it is “very” or “extremely important” for a product to offer the possibility for income increases over time.

More than two thirds (67%) said they received a pay raise at least half of the time during their working years. If faced with a frozen income, 53% said they would be “very worried or panicked” about meeting expenses.

Those surveyed expressed concern about inflation. Nearly three-tenths (28%) of those surveyed (and 41% of those earning less than $50,000) worried that they wouldn’t be able to pay for essentials like housing, food and medical care because of the rising cost of living.  

Recent research by Allianz Life showed that the guaranteed income riders on its fixed index annuities helped mitigate the effects of inflation and increased purchasing power over time. The research found that 93% of clients receiving income from index annuities received an increase and 67% received a payment increase every year.

Improvements at Millennium Trust announced

Millennium Trust Company, which provides custody solutions for institutions, advisors, and individuals, this week announced an increase in custodial accounts to 458,000 and growth in assets under custody to $18.9 billion during the second quarter of 2016.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based firm has also added two new platforms to its Millennium Alternative Investment Network (MAIN), bringing the total of participating companies to 11. The new platforms are 1000 Angels and Glide Capital.

1000 Angels is an investor network that allows its members “to build a venture portfolio of early-stage startups, free of management fees, carried interest, and large capital commitments,” according to a Millennium Trust release. Glide Capital offers access to multiple strategies within the private credit industry.  

Millennium Trust has also launched a centralized online portal intended to speed up the custody portion of the process of investing in alternative assets. The firm said it has improved the tracking the flow of documents and forms between investment sponsors, making an end-to-end, digital custody solution for complex, documentation-heavy, non-traditional assets closer to reality.

Additionally in the last quarter, Millennium Trust introduced a new online search tool to help individuals find unclaimed retirement funds held at Millennium Trust that they may have forgotten about when changing jobs.

“We have “procedures in place to search for missing account holders and we find the correct address for the majority of the individuals who are missing or non-responsive at the time their account is rolled over from a previous retirement plan to us,” said Terry Dunne, managing director of the Rollover Solutions Group in a release.

“We work closely with retirement plans, recordkeepers and advisors who are putting appropriate processes and procedures in place to fully comply with the DOL’s new fiduciary rule that takes effect next April,” added Dunne.

© 2016 RIJ Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.