The news this week that Hartford Financial Services Group has made a rather sudden exit from the annuities business is surely the kind of moment that prompts many folks in the retirement business to check their footing.

But is this most recent about-face on the part of a major carrier a harbinger of things to come or an isolated incident, especially as a challenged market continues to settle back into its foundations after nearly four years of struggles?

Wednesday's announcement that Hartford, whose net income last year fell by more than 60 percent, was opting to leave the annuities space and redouble its efforts in group benefits, mutual funds and property and casualty insurance, did come as serious shock for its individual advisors—many of whom were still signing sales agreements. Future Hartford annuities sales will be shuttered as of April 27.

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