Do All Advisors Have Access To Every Annuity Out There?

Question: I’ve met with a couple of agents and advisors and keep seeing some of the same companies.  Do all advisors have access to every annuity out there?  Roy from Charleston, South Carolina

Answer: This is an important question Roy, because a lot of annuity salespeople call themselves “independent”….but they might only recommend just a few of their favorite companies.  Let’s take a look at the 3 primary types of annuity sales people that you will run across, and each of their annuity inventory limitations.

Independent Agents

A true independent agent can represent the majority of annuity carriers out there.  That can literally mean hundreds of different carriers, and thousands of different annuity products.  Each carrier requires specific contracting paperwork from the agent, and will assign an agent/rep # for the agent to use to sell their specific product line.

Always make the independent agent act like an independent agent. Ask for the list of companies he or she represents, and require quotes from as many of them (at least 3 to 5) as needed to achieve your desired goals.

Wirehouse Brokers & Advisors

These advisors can offer all types of investments like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds along with annuities as well.  However, most of these firms require annuity companies to pay an annual fee to have their annuities run through the brokerage firm’s distribution system.  Having worked for many of the “name” firms for decades, I can tell you that their annuity shelf is very limited when compared to the companies an independent agent can offer.

If your beloved broker is showing you an annuity idea, I can pretty much guarantee that they are limited with their annuity inventory and in turn what they can show you.  It’s important to runs quotes through other advisors as well, just to make sure that you are covering all of the available bases.  If your broker has your best interest at heart, they will encourage you to shop for the best contractual guarantees available.

Captive Agents

Some of the larger insurance companies like Northwestern Mutual and New York Life primarily offer their products through their captive employee sales distribution system.  In other words, an agent for these types of companies typically offer the company line of products only.  That doesn’t mean that is bad thing, because a company like Northwestern Mutual has some great products in some specific focus areas.  For instance, they have a great longevity annuity that I cannot sell, but wish that I could.  (That’s a not so subtle hint for some VP at Nortwestern Mutual to call me!)

If you are working with a captive agent, then it is crucial to quote other companies just to make sure that you are achieving the highest contractual guarantees possible.

I advise all of my clients and potential clients to always look at a minimum of 3 different quotes from at least 3 different carriers. A true professional agent or advisor will not be scared of competition, and at the end of the day, should only want what’s best for the client…..even if that means they might not get the business.

Annuities are like any other product out there, you need to shop and do your homework on all options available before signing that application.

Originally published by, 8.29.13 –