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The Phoenix Companies, Inc. (NYSE:PNX) reached a mid-year milestone of $1.5 billion in fixed indexed annuity funds under management, two and a half years after starting the business from scratch. A former variable annuity player, Phoenix shifted its focus to the middle market in 2009 and began building a fixed indexed annuity product line.
“We approached this business with a long-term view and not just for rapid sales growth,” said James D. Wehr, president and chief executive officer. “Our focus is on developing competitive and profitable products, establishing partnerships with strategically positioned Insurance Market Organizations (IMOs) and investing in technology infrastructure to meet the needs of these partners as well as our end clients.”
Opportunities for Growth in the Middle Market With Fixed Indexed Annuities
Phoenix saw opportunities for growth in fixed indexed annuities in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 market crisis, when middle market consumers were looking for products that had less downside risk and could provide acceptable levels of return even in a low interest rate environment. The demographic force of the Baby Boom generation was also expected to fuel growth in the retirement income sector for the next several decades.
“While the markets have recovered somewhat, today’s retirees and pre-retirees don’t necessarily want to get back into investing directly in stocks,” said Phil Polkinghorn, senior executive vice president and president, Business Development. “They continue to want products that provide a guaranteed retirement income stream and can offer the potential for better returns than strictly fixed rate vehicles.”
Product Innovation to Meet Changing Consumer Demands
In addition to basic retirement income needs, there is growing consumer demand for annuities that provide more flexibility and help in addressing other financial concerns. As a result, the fixed indexed annuity marketplace has changed significantly in the brief period of time since Phoenix entered it.