Fund firms selling into the variable annuity channel saw their sales fall modestly in the first quarter. All counted, VA sales in the first three months of the year fell 1.5 percent to $31.4 billion. Those sales were up 3 percent from a year ago. The figures, which are part of the first combined report if fixed annuity and variable annuity sales released by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), were covered by the WSJ Fund Track
Morningstar compiled the data for VA sales while Beacon Research put together the data covering fixed annuity sales. Sales of all annuities fell to $47.4 billion from $50.9 billion in the fourth quarter and $64.4 billion in 2009's first quarter. The biggest drop-off was in sales of fixed annuities.
The shift in the sales mix to VAs from fixed annuities is likely related to purchasers renewed confidence in the market compared to a year ago.
Frank O'Connor, director of insurance solutions at Morningstar, also pointed to strong sales of products with "robust living benefit guarantees," such as guaranteed-withdrawal benefits with step-ups and bonus credits.
Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief
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