First-quarter annuity sales top $56 billion

Total annuity sales in the first quarter of 2014 reached $56.1 billion, up 13.1 percent compared with the first quarter of last year, when sales totaled $49.6 billion, according to the Insured Retirement Institute.

The IRI first-quarter results, based on data reported by Beacon Research and Morningstar, reflected high levels of fixed annuity sales, which totaled $22.6 billion during the period.  This was an increase of 50.7 percent from nearly $15 billion in the first quarter of 2013 and down just 4.1 percent from the $23.5 billion reported in the previous quarter.

At the same time, though, variable annuity total sales totaled $33.5 billion in the first three months of the year, down 3.2 percent compared with the like quarter of last year, when sales reached $34.6 billion, and down 6.4 percent from $35.8 billion during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Beacon Research sales of indexed annuities in the first quarter were the second-highest on record, amounting $11.2 billion. That was an increase of 44.3 percent from nearly $7.8 billion during the first quarter of 2013 but a decline of 4.4 percent from the record high of nearly $11.8 billion set during the last quarter of 2013.

“For the first time since June of 2008, we have enjoyed nine months of higher year-over-year monthly sales,” said Beacon Research President Jeremy Alexander.

According to Morningstar, variable annuity net assets continue to reach new all-time highs, ending the first quarter of this year at $1.88 trillion. But variable annuity net sales were negative for the first quarter, coming in at an estimated -$1.1 billion.

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