VA Sales Catches

Lisa A. Tomaszewski, James Russo

,
Michael Sheehan

Physician's Money Digest, March31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 6

Onereason:

Physician-investors who sign up for avariable annuity (VA) are often lured bybells and whistles like tax deferment andno-loss guarantees. The VA salespersonoften glosses over the many drawbacks,one of which is the stiff surrender penaltyyou incur if you want to get at yourmoney early. Surrender penalties on VAscan start as high as 17%, and eventhough the penalty gradually decreaseseach year, it may not disappear for adecade or more. Although this makesVAs less than ideal investments for olderconsumers, who are more likely to needto access their cash, one out of every fivenew buyers of VAs are over age 60. Commissions that can go as highas 10% of the initial purchase make VAsjuicy investments for the seller, whetheror not they're appropriate for thebuyer. Big commissions can also lead tochurning (ie, switching clients from oneVA to another to earn a second hefty paycheckon the same money).