Friday, February 26, 2010


Biden to announce retirement savings safeguards

The Obama administration on Friday is proposing regulations aimed at protecting workers' retirement savings... The safeguards would protect workers from conflicts of interest on the part of financial advisers who manage their 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, an administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proposal had not yet been formally announced.

The proposed regulations would require retirement investment advisers and money managers to either: base investment advice on objective computer models certified by independent experts; or refrain from steering workers into funds they are affiliated with or from which they are receiving a commission...

AP: Biden to announce retirement savings safeguards


Econ Briefing: New Tax Credits and Deductions for 2009; Imminent Bank Failures; 7 Year Note Auction...


Dodd punts on fiduciary requirement for brokers

Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., is expected to introduce new financial reform legislation next week that excludes applying a fiduciary standard to brokers offering investment advice.

The provision was circulated two weeks ago by Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., a Banking Committee member. Rather than classifying certain brokers as registered investment advisers, Mr. Johnson's proposal would require the Securities and Exchange Commission to conduct a study of regulatory standards for brokers and advisers, then propose rules on the issue...

Investment News: Dodd punts on fiduciary requirement for brokers


The Case for Annuities Grows as More Boomers Retire

As the Baby Boomers head into head into retirement, more and more of them will be facing a situation that a growing chunk of retirees are already grappling with: life in retirement without a pension.

What's worse is there have been numerous studies that have shown the Boomers have not saved enough to fund what will be potentially 25 to 30 years of a healthy and active retirement.

To help solve this problem, many in the investment world are taking a fresh look at annuities, and many financial planners — and even President Barack Obama's administration — are finding there's a lot there to like...

CNBC: The Case for Annuities Grows as More Boomers Retire


Editorial: Protect consumers from insurance fraud

The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday to protect consumers from insurance scams that often target the seriously ill and elderly.

Senate Bill 513 adds oversight provisions for life settlement transactions, in which an individual sells his life insurance policy to a third party for a cash sum, often to cover medical bills...

Post-Crescent: Editorial: Protect consumers from insurance fraud


AIG Ditches Payback Plan as Outlook Improves

American International Group Inc. and its federal overseers have decided to scrap a plan to use cash flows from life-insurance policies to repay $8.5 billion in debt to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, according to people familiar with the matter.

The decision, which comes as AIG prepares to report fourth-quarter results Friday, follows a market recovery over the past year that could improve the government-controlled insurer's chances of repaying its debts to U.S. taxpayers...

WSJ: AIG Ditches Payback Plan as Outlook Improves

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Advisor Blast: Prospecting for clients? Try beer; USAA Criticizes Prop 17; The 2014 HY Maturity Cliff...


International Blast: Asia leads the way; Japan past point of no return; China reported buying IMF gold; Greece makes bailout impossible...


Econ Blast: Housing a Leading Indicator; GGP Break-Up Plan; California Closer to Insolvency; NAR Forecasts No Recovery in '10...


The Credit Union Way

Client loyalty and service are front and center at not-for-profits: While banks have long groused that credit unions (CUs) are nothing but banks that don't pay taxes, advisors and program managers who have worked in both types of institutions say that there's something profoundly different when clients aren't just customers, but owners.

"A bank is a profit-making institution answerable to its shareholders," says Pete Snyder of Snyder Consulting Services in Roseville, Calif. "The delivery model is generally dog-eat-dog. Banks would do well to try to encourage more of a service culture."

A number of advisors and program managers who made the switch from banks to CUs swear by the customer loyalty that a true service culture provides. Michael Gradl, a program manager at Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa, Calif., says, "The relationship with members is just incredibly compelling, and the internal support is also amazing, because the employees at a CU have a real drive to make a difference in the members' lives..."

BIC: The Credit Union Way


Insurers pan president's proposed tax on investment income

The American Council of Life Insurers today blasted a newly floated tax proposal on unearned income — part of a series of suggested changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009.

President Barack Obama on Thursday will present a series of changes to his health insurance reform package, including a 2.9% tax on income from interest, dividends, royalties, rents — and annuities.

Single taxpayers with more than $200,000 in income and married couples making more than $250,000 and who file jointly would be affected...

Investment News: Insurers pan president's proposed tax on investment income


Annuities can limit longevity risk, expert says

By integrating annuities into financial plans, advisers can take precautions against their clients’ outliving their assets, according to a retirement income planning expert.

Farrell Dolan, principal of Farrell Dolan Associates, yesterday led a presentation entitled “Income Strategy for Advisers,” at the Insured Retirement Institute’s annual marketing conference in New York. There, he presented what he dubbed “The Four Box Strategy of Income Planning,” a model that divides retirees’ expenses into essential and discretionary categories and then splits up the assets to tackle both needs...

Investment News: Annuities can limit longevity risk, expert says


Annuities, Profits and the Fiduciary Standard

There’s a saying on Wall Street: “Structured products are never bought, only sold”. The same could be said of annuities.

Selling annuities is an extremely lucrative and virtually risk-free business, which is one of the reasons why insurance companies and some Wall Street firms are aggressively lobbying Congress not to require brokers and other purveyors of financial products to adhere to a so-called “fiduciary standard.” Under the proposed standard, brokers and insurance salesmen would be required to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own, likely forgoing high-commission annuities for other, more appropriate investments.

Not surprisingly, Morgan Stanley (MS) has voiced concerns that the fiduciary standard would cut into its business. Morgan Stanley has good reason to worry...

Seeking Alpha: Annuities, Profits and the Fiduciary Standard


Physicians and Dentists Have Special Financial Planning Issues

Physicians and dentists are some of the busiest and "stressed out" professionals around. Some of this stress comes from not having enough time to deal with relatively complex financial planning issues – such as a greater need for asset protection, retirement planning and insurance. Special financial planning issues are especially pronounced for physicians and dentists who run their own practices and are not employees of a medical group.

Here are some of the key issues I work on with my physician and dentist clients to help them sleep better at night...

AltPress: Physicians and Dentists Have Special Financial Planning Issues


USAA Life Insurance gains new leadership

USAA Life Insurance Co. has named J. Eric Smith as the company’s new president... In his new role, Smith will oversee product development, strategic marketing and member services. Smith was most recently president of Allstate Financial Services LLC, the unit of Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Corp. (NYSE: ALL) that sells health insurance, annuities, mutual and securities...

BizJournals: USAA Life Insurance gains new leadership

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Econ Blast: 11.3M US Properties with Negative Equity; Lending Falls at Epic Pace; Can America Learn from Chile Before It's Too Late?


Advisor Newsblast: Questions surround Fidelity's stance on adviser-sold 401(k) platform; Watchdog slams Finra's 'abysmal' record; Registered reps...


Will regulators kill off fledgling secondary market for death benefits?

State insurance regulators Monday voted in favor of a proposal that would allow carriers to terminate an annuity living or death benefit if a client sold the contract over the secondary market.

The management committee and full commission of the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission, a group that's affiliated with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, voted in favor of a uniform set of additional standards for guaranteed living and death benefits that are attached to individual deferred annuities...

Investment News: Will regulators kill off fledgling secondary market for death benefits?


Brokers push to put annuities into planning framework

In an attempt to pull further away from the transactional nature of annuity sales, brokerage executives are using tools to help their advisers fit product sales into a planning context.

“It’s a process — retirement income — and more detailed conversation is needed,” Ed O’Connor, managing director of UBS Financial Services Inc., said during a panel discussion Monday “Retirement income – Service or Product?” at the Insured Retirement Institute’s annual marketing conference in New York. “The conversation and the planning tools help you parse out what’s most important to clients...”

Investment News: Brokers push to put annuities into planning framework

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Advisor Briefing; Arizona Auto Insurance Customers to Pay Less; llstate is Dropping Mobile Home Insurance Along S.C. Coast; Credit Card Law Changes...


Econ Briefing: Nearly 20% of US Workers Underemployed; Is housing on the mend for real?; Fed's Yellen: Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy...


International Briefing: Goldman Issues Press Release On Greek Swaps; IMF Official Is Now In Athens; Trillion euro showdowns...


Colo. Family Sues Cryogenics Group

A Colorado family is fighting with a nonprofit cryogenics organization over custody of the head of a woman who died earlier this month and a trust she established, the Associated Press reports.

Mary Robbins, who died of cancer February 9, signed documents in 2006 giving Alcor Life Extension Foundation, in Scottsdale, Ariz., the right to preserve her head and brain using extreme cold in hopes that future technology might restore her health. The agreement included a $50,000 annuity to cover preservation costs...

Philanthropy: Colo. Family Sues Cryogenics Group

Monday, February 22, 2010


Insurer Reported Toyota Claims in 2004, Reuters Says

State Farm Life Insurance Co., the largest U.S. auto insurer, alerted regulators in 2004 about a trend of accidents involving Toyota Motor Corp.’s cars, three years earlier than it initially said, Reuters reported, citing the company.

The insurer said earlier this month it had contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in late 2007, Reuters said. After reviewing its records, the insurer found that it contacted safety regulators for the first time in 2004, according to the report, which cited an e-mail from State Farm spokesman Phil Supple...

Business Week: Insurer Reported Toyota Claims in 2004, Reuters Says


Adviser Briefing: Fund companies prepping bond investors for higher rates; VA asset leaders; High-quality junk bonds aren't junk at all...


International Briefing: Soros on the Doomed Euro; Debt Haunts Europe; Carbon Tax Could Save the World; Italy a Bigger Threat Than Greece...

Soros: Even if You Save Greece, The Euro Is Doomed - businessinsider
Debt Deals Haunt Europe; Investors Re-Examine Complex Financial Maneuvers Used to Hide Borrowings - online.wsj
A Simple Carbon Tax Would Cost Only $2.50 A Gallon And Could Save The World - businessinsider
Italy a Bigger Threat to EU than Greece; Italian Derivatives Draw Scrutiny... - globaleconomicanalysis
Fonciere Des Regions Reports Loss as Real-Estate Values Fall - businessweek

Greek (Dis)Information Update: No Greek Bond Offering This Week - zerohedge
Recreating Mercantilism In Europe, Europe's Deflationary Torture, And The L-Shaped Recession - zerohedge
Sun Hung Kai Wins Hong Kong's First Land Auction of the Year - businessweek
Climate Change and Open Science - online.wsj
Oil rises above $80 for first time in over a month Futures Movers - marketwatch

The Swedish banking crisis response or the bailout hustle? - creditwritedowns
Greece Gives EU 'Partial' Response on Swaps - online.wsj
Will AIG Force The US To Bail Out Greece? - businessinsider
Futures Traders Piling In To Crush The Euro, Becoming More Bearish Than Ever - businessinsider
Toyota Bragged About Saving $100 Million With 2007 Floormat Recall - consumerist

The Depression is Already Here for Some Members of Europe, and It Just Might Be Contagious! - zerohedge
Asian shares surge, as exporters boost Japan - marketwatch
Japan rallies as exporters, shippers advance - marketwatch
Thailand Economy Exits Yearlong Recession on Exports - businessweek


Econ Briefing: The New Poor; Blocking Health Insurance Rate Hikes; Hiding from the FDIC; If you thought yield curves were high now...


The Trillion Dollar Gap: Underfunded State Retirement Systems and the Road to Reform

$1 trillion. That’s the gap at the end of fiscal year 2008 between the $2.35 trillion states had set aside to pay for employees’ retirement benefits and the $3.35 trillion price tag of those promises.

Why does it matter? Because every dollar spent to reduce the unfunded retirement liability cannot be used for education, public safety and other needs. Ultimately, taxpayers could face higher taxes or cuts in essential public services.

A new report from the Pew Center on the States, The Trillion Dollar Gap: Underfunded State Retirement Systems and the Road to Reform, shows why states must take strong action now—or taxpayers will suffer later...

Pew: The Trillion Dollar Gap: Underfunded State Retirement Systems and the Road to Reform


Old Mutual May Sell U.S. Life Insurance Business, FT Reports

Old Mutual Plc has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. to consider a sale of its U.S. life insurance business and has found several possible buyers, the Financial Times said, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

Unrealized losses at the U.S. unit narrowed to $600 million at Sept. 30, 2009, from $2.3 billion as of Dec. 31, 2008, and the company said in November it expected to inject up to $300 million to boost its capital, the newspaper reported...

Bloomberg: Old Mutual May Sell U.S. Life Insurance Business, FT Reports


Savings Game: Consumer groups push 'fiduciary standard' for anyone giving investment advice

On the Web site of the brokerage firm Edward Jones, under the information and accolades about the company and its investment insights, you'll find the words "Revenue Sharing Information" near the left-hand corner of the home page.

If you click on the link to related pages and wade through the legalese, you'll learn that "product partners" paid Edward Jones $156 million in 2008, half the firm's profit for the year. (No figure had been posted for 2009 when I looked.)

"Product partners" are companies that pay Edward Jones when it sells their products, including mutual funds, college savings plans and annuities that account for virtually all of Edward Jones' sales in those areas. These payments, called revenue sharing, create a "potential conflict of interest" for Edward Jones and its financial advisers, the firm acknowledges on its Web site.

In plain English: When Edward Jones brokers recommend a product, you can't be sure it's because it's best for you or best for them...

Salt-Lake Tribune: Savings Game: Consumer groups push 'fiduciary standard' for anyone giving investment advice


Jury awards $272,000 to Delray Beach widow

Verdict: Financial adviser took advantage of woman in annuity deal

A financial planner has been ordered to pay a Delray Beach widow $272,000 for exploiting his relationship with her for his own financial gain... Following a seven-day trial, a civil jury on Feb. 10 found that Rafael Golan, owner of RS Golan Consulting Services in Delray Beach, breached his fiduciary duty and took advantage of Joyce Pogoda after her 79-year-old husband's death in 2006, according to Pogoda's attorneys, Cristina Pierson and John Hargrove.

It's the first time a Florida jury has heard a case under a state law addressing the exploitation of a vulnerable adult...

Sun-Sentinel: Jury awards $272,000 to Delray Beach widow

Friday, February 19, 2010


Econ Briefing: Jobless Claims, Inflation Jump; How States Cope; Foreclosure Stoppage Plans Have Failed; Elizabeth Warren on CRE...


Advisor Briefing: Manulife Wellness, Top 400 Taxpayers Paid 2% of All Taxes, White House OMB and New Taxes

Thursday, February 18, 2010


International Briefing: Credit Default Swaps Now Deteriorating Fastest For Europe; IMF Gold Sale; Greece Says Its Not Seeking EU Taxpayers' Money...


Seven Factors Influencing Auto-Insurance Rates

The Insurance Information Institute, a trade group for the insurance industry, said the average driver pays about $850 a year in insurance. Your bill can be influenced by several factors...

INN: Seven Factors Influencing Auto-Insurance Rates


Econ Briefing: Second Leg of Credit Crisis; Housing Affordability; Mystery of Chinese Treasury Holdings; FOMC Minutes...


Advisor Briefing: Advisers full speed ahead; Systemic Risk Council; Finra looks to fill holes at; Humana to Cut 1,500...


Fixed annuity sales slid in '09

Fixed annuity sales slid in the fourth quarter of 2009 — and dropped off slightly for the full year... All told, fixed annuity sales last year topped $105 billion, according to data from Beacon Research Publications Inc. and the Insured Retirement Institute. That tally is just 2% below the record high reported in 2008.

For the final quarter of 2009, fixed annuity sales totaled $20.4 billion, down 8% from the previous quarter...

Investment News: Fixed annuity sales slid in '09


RI Lawyer Solicits Terminally Ill To Sell Annuities

And now, another strange story from the biggest little state in union, Rhode Island. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that a RI estate attorney had solicited terminally ill patients to "serve as paid fronts" for purchases of variable annuities. The article caught my eye because I used to live in RI; the case involves a well-known charitable local attorney; and I've been an outspoken critic of variable annuities for some time...

Now back to our story. Attorney Joseph Caramadre, considered an "insurance expert" beat the insurance companies at their own game. For years, insurers have been hawking variable annuities (VAs) as a perfect mix of tax-deferred investing and insurance. While the investments inside VAs look a lot like mutual funds, they have a feature that allows heirs of annuity owners the ability to receive the initial investment back as a death benefit, should the owner of the contract die...

CBS News: RI Lawyer Solicits Terminally Ill To Sell Annuities

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Afternoon Briefs: Deficit Hawks Want New Recession; Secret to a Happy Retirement; CARD Act; Ten steps to a strong marketing plan...

Deficit Hawks Want New (or double dip) Recession - ritholtz
Home construction rebounds in January; permits increase 2.8% - Feb. 17, 2010 - money.cnn
U.S. Housing Starts Rise to Highest in Six Months - online.wsj
Secret to a happy retirement? Friends. - money.cnn
U.S. Jan. housing starts up 2.8% to 591,000 - marketwatch

CARD Act: Who's With It, Who's Not - consumerist
An Illogical Attack on the GOP - gregmankiw
ICI, kaChing in smack-down over mutual fund fees - investmentnews
9 Charts That Show Why Amazon Investors Have Nothing To Worry About - businessinsider
Treasurys ease on improved housing data - Feb. 17, 2010 - money.cnn

Ban on contingent commissions lifted for Aon, Marsh and Willis - ifawebnews
How Can Obama Be Taking A Stimulus Victory Lap, When We Don't Even Know Where The Money Went? - businessinsider
New York Times caught copying financial blogs - creditwritedowns
Turf War at the New York Times: Who Will Control the iPad? - businessinsider
Pressure Builds On NBC To Explain Why It's Ruining The Olympics - businessinsider

Tragedy of the Senate -- How will it end? Darrell Delamaide's Political Capital - marketwatch
CastleOak Securities Flips Switch on Fidessa Trading Platform - wallstreetandtech
Ten steps to a strong marketing plan in 2010 - producersweb
Tim Geithner's and Jamie Dimon's Lies Exposed - minyanville
Judge Rakoff: IRS letter about payment to NASD members will remain sealed - investmentnews

CNBC's Olick: Treasury Concerned about Next Wave of Foreclosures - calculatedriskblog
Top 9 Scams Of 2009 - consumerist


Advisor Briefing: Johnson Amendment; Cash4Gold; S&P500 Swing Analog; Claims Adjusters Busy; Why Affluent Clients Dump Advisers...


Econ Briefing: 5 million more foreclosures; Shadow inventory; More CRE Gloom; Capital One Says Credit-Card Delinquincies Rose...

Coming Soon: 5 Million More Foreclosures - ritholtz
Foreign demand for Teasury securities falls -
Obama to create fiscal commission to consider debt solutions - money.cnn
White House: Pace of Recovery Act spending to pick up - money.cnn
Shadow Inventory Of Troubled Mortgages - ritholtz

More gloom ahead in commercial real estate Outside the Box - marketwatch
Google Seeks to Ease Wireless Tensions - online.wsj
Failure of Liberal Governance - online.wsj
Krugman Says Inflation Is The Answer - globaleconomicanalysis
Gasparino: The Sellout - ritholtz

Hyperinflation As A Debt Repudiation Device? - zerohedge
Hussman Follow-Up On The Great $1.5 Trillion Unlegislated GSE Bail Out - zerohedge
Why Credit Matters to Employment and Sales - businessweek
Update: Texas vs. the Unionocracy of California - mjperry
Gold May Advance as Weaker Dollar Increases Investment Demand - businessweek

Capital One Says Credit-Card Delinquencies Rose in January - foxbusiness
Three Major Companies Quit Climate Change Coalition - foxbusiness
Distressed Sales: Sacramento as an Example - calculatedriskblog
Capital One Credit Card Charge-Offs Increase to 10.41% - calculatedriskblog
Bank of America Sues to Force Stuyvesant Town Foreclosure, Sale - businessweek

IL Pension Fund $61 Billion Underwater; State Borrows Money For 2010; CA $20 Billion in Hole Again - globaleconomicanalysis


International Briefing: Foreigners Cut Treasury Stakes; Japan Overtakes China as Largest Holder; The Greek Cockroach; HSBC May Be Involved in Tax Case


P&C Edges Out Life & Health In Customer Satisfaction Survey

The property and casualty insurance industry continued to edge out life and health insurers in a customer satisfaction survey, but overall satisfaction with p&c dropped slightly, according to a national survey... The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a quarterly index produced by the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based market research firm, found that despite p&c insurers edging out life and health insurers in the satisfaction index, p&c insurers took a 1 point hit, dropping to 80 in 2009.

Life insurers found themselves close behind p&c with an ACSI score of 79, an improvement of 1 point. Health insurers lagged behind with a score of 75, but gained 2 points from the previous year’s score...

P&C: P&C Edges Out Life & Health In Customer Satisfaction Survey


Tax Question Stalls AIG, MetLife Deal

The pending $15 billion sale of a large foreign life-insurance unit of American International Group Inc. to MetLife Inc. is being held up by a tax dispute that may require a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service, according to people familiar with the matter.

The tax issue could put the Department of the Treasury, as overseer of the Internal Revenue Service, in an awkward situation. The Treasury is supervising AIG while trying to recoup taxpayers' $120 billion-odd investment in AIG and related entities...

WSJ: Tax Question Stalls AIG, MetLife Deal

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Foremost Insurance Reminds of the Effects of Auto Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud is not a "victimless" crime, according to Foremost Insurance Group. Fraud doesn’t just affect insurance companies, unfortunately all customers are impacted. Fraudulent claims increase the loss and investigation expenses for an insurer and impacts the rates customers pay for insurance.

Insurance fraud is on the rise. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, 14% more questionable claims were referred to them in 2009 than the year before. "Foremost has seen similar insurance fraud trends in recent months,” said Doug Ashbridge – Director of Special Investigations for Foremost®. "We have zero tolerance for fraud in all forms and have aggressive programs in place to detect, resist and prosecute those who take advantage of the company and other customers,” Ashbridge said...

INN: Foremost Insurance Reminds of the Effects of Auto Insurance Fraud


Advisor Briefing: New Life to Financial Reform... Contingent Commissions... Bad Deal for America's Young Adults...


Breakfast Briefing Econ Edition: Foreclosures to Keep Pressuring House Prices... Predictions on Mortgage Rates... Killing American Oil & Gas Bans...


International Breakfast Briefing: Goldman Says "Something Brewing" in China on Currency... India shares struggle on stimulus...


Investors Recruit Terminally Ill To Outwit Insurers on Annuities

"Terminal Illness? $2,000 in CASH, Immediately Available."

That was the promise of an advertisement that appeared regularly in 2007 and 2008 in the Rhode Island Catholic, the official newspaper of the local diocese. The money, the ad said, was coming from a "compassionate organization" that wanted to provide "financial assistance" for those near death.

In reality, the ad was a recruiting pitch for a plan hatched by a prominent Rhode Island estate-planning lawyer, who believed he had discovered a way to use an investment product sold by insurance companies to make no-risk bets on the stock market...

WSJ: Investors Recruit Terminally Ill To Outwit Insurers on Annuities


IRS rules on variable annuity contracts issued to and distributed from DC plans

The IRS has privately ruled in IRS Letter Ruling 200951039 on a number of issues regarding the effects of Code Secs. 401(a)(9) and (11) and 417 on a proposed transaction in which variable annuity contracts will be issued to, and distributed from, defined contribution plans. Issues addressed include required minimum distribution requirements, election of payments in the form of a life annuity, and annuity payments under a qualified joint and survivor annuity...

CCH: IRS rules on variable annuity contracts issued to and distributed from DC plans

Friday, February 12, 2010


Obama Administration Promotes Fixed Annuities; Insurers Could Benefit

After The New York Times ran a story about the Obama administration promoting the use of fixed annuities to help middle-class savers in defined contribution (DC) plans manage longevity risk, research and advisory firm Aite Group took a look at what this will mean for insurers.

While the government promotion does not necessarily mean mandating that annuities be used, it does impact insurers’ DC plan design, sales and asset retention. Insurers with large books of DC business, Aite Group says, are best positioned to quickly integrate and implement a program of automatic—or “test-drive”—annuities to take advantage of a possible uptick in interest...

INN: Obama Administration Promotes Fixed Annuities; Insurers Could Benefit


Sun Life gains exposure in U.S., sees resurgence in Canadian operations

Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF) says its resurgent Canadian operations helped double its fourth-quarter profit while it worked aggressively to become better known in the key U.S. market.

The major insurance company's overall net income rose to $296 million or 52 cents per diluted share, up from $129 million or 23 cents a share in the fourth quarter of 2008...

AP: Sun Life gains exposure in U.S., sees resurgence in Canadian operations


Liberty Mutual sets Hub expansion

Liberty Mutual Group, one of Boston’s oldest corporate titans, will expand its operations in the Back Bay with a $300 million office tower and 600 additional employees, a sharp reversal of the city’s recent history of losing the headquarters of large employers that once dominated its landscape... Liberty Mutual sets Hub expansion


Advisor Breakfast Briefing: What advisers can learn from Toyota. Broker group to sue over insurance commission disclosure rule...


Econ Breakfast Briefing: New Jersey on Edge of Bankruptcy. What to expect from CRE crisis. Home Prices Fell 12% in 2009.


International Breakfast Briefing: Just How Ugly is Sovereign Default Truth? Germany's Recovery Stalled. Greece in ruins. Iran On The Brink.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Breakfast Briefing for Advisers: TFS Fund Backs Away; AllState Income; Do You Know Where Your Clients' Assets Are? 401(k) Matches Reinstated...


Breakfast Briefing Econ: Fed Now Backstopping $25T; CRE Woes; 10 Things Millionaires Won't Tell You; Freddie Mac to Buy Out Loans...


Breakfast Briefing International: Coming to America - Greek Sovereign Debt Crisis; Honda Airbag Recall Expands; India Rethinks China Ties in Power...


Investment Advisor Who Ran a $45 Million Ponzi Scheme Sentenced to Nine Years’ Imprisonment

Earlier this afternoon, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, Edward T. Stein, an investment advisor based in Roslyn, New York, was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment for securities fraud and wire fraud. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Jack B. Weinstein.

On June 22, 2009, Stein pled guilty to operating a Ponzi scheme by inducing investors to purchase interests in several funds and partnerships that he controlled between 1998 and the date of his arrest in April 2009. While Stein falsely assured investors that he would make investments on their behalf with the funds provided to him, he used millions of dollars for other purposes, including personal expenses, investments in his own name, and to pay redemptions to other individuals who had invested money with him. The scheme resulted in over $45 million in losses to approximately 100 investors...

FBI: Investment Advisor Who Ran a $45 Million Ponzi Scheme Sentenced to Nine Years’ Imprisonment


Prudential Swings To 4Q Profit But Shares Fall

Prudential Financial Inc.'s (PRU) financial-services business swung to a fourth-quarter profit on higher revenue, as year-earlier results were hurt by steep investment losses.

With its move into the black, Prudential joined Lincoln National Corp. (LNC), Genworth Financial Inc. (GNW) and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG) in posting improved results after the industry was battered at the end of 2008 by the volatile financial markets...

WSJ: Prudential Swings To 4Q Profit But Shares Fall


Another Wrinkle in the A.I.G. Bailout

The plot thickens again for the American International Group bailout. The rescued insurer is in discussions to sell its American Life Insurance, or Alico, unit to MetLife. But A.I.G. might get MetLife stock as part of the potential $15 billion deal. As a result, the government could end up owning stock in yet another company, bringing further delay and uncertainty to the bailout repayment effort.

In one of the iterations of the bailout, in which the government committed more than $180 billion, the New York Federal Reserve converted $9 billion of debt A.I.G. owed into a preferred equity interest in Alico...

NYT: Another Wrinkle in the A.I.G. Bailout

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Advisor Links: BofA Lobbying, Superbowl Team of Online Finance, Going the Extra Mile


International Links: How Will Oil React to Iran's 'Punch'? China Dumping Begins. Euro Zone Agrees to Bailout Greece.


Econ Links: Least Trusted Banks, CBRE says Retail Cap Rates Increased, Tax Revolt...


Hartford drops on concern about TARP repayment

Hartford Financial Services Group shares fell more than 5% Tuesday on concern the insurer may have to raise roughly $2 billion in new equity to repay money it got from the U.S. government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

Shares of rival insurer Lincoln Financial Group climbed almost 5% partly on optimism about its ability to repay TARP with less impact on current investors...

MarketWatch: Hartford drops on concern about TARP repayment


Life insurers, life settlement group spar over securitization

A new policy statement from a life insurers’ group, suggesting that the securitization of life settlements needs to be regulated, has sparked a sharp response from a life settlement trade group.

The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), representing nearly 300 companies providing life insurance, recommended that the securitization of life settlements “be prohibited by legislation or regulation.” ...

IFA Web News: Life insurers, life settlement group spar over securitization

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Advisor News: Tanging with Lincoln National, Fusion Advisor Network, Dirty Tricks at Mercury Insurance...


Econ News: How to Split the U.S., NFIB Report, Unemployment Taxes Up, Aig and Greece...


International News: Canada's Housing Bubble, Dismantle the Euro, Here Comes the Bund Crash...

Monday, February 08, 2010


Life insurance as an investment tool depends on individual

In the financial planning industry, very few questions have universal answers. With that in mind, one of the most common questions financial advisers hear is: “Should I use a life insurance policy as an investment vehicle?”

BizJournals: Life insurance as an investment tool depends on individual


Benmosche sees P&C unit, US life at AIG's core

American International Group Inc (AIG.N) Chief Executive Robert Benmosche envisions a smaller company in the future, with global property-casualty and U.S. life and annuity operations at its core, according to his comments in an internal company publication.

AIG, once the world's largest insurer, has to shrink because it must sell businesses to pay back the U.S. government as well as to become a more focused organization that is "not too big to fail," Benmosche said in a recent interview with Contact, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters...

Reuters: Benmosche sees P&C unit, US life at AIG's core


Hartford Remains a Premium Bet

THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE commission may be late to regulating key aspects of high-frequency trading, but it is catching up quickly. The agency recently proposed a rule banning naked access, or the ability of high-frequency traders to use their brokers' codes to trade directly with stock exchanges without undergoing pretrade oversight by the broker. Direct access confers a time advantage, but potentially could destabilize the system if a trader couldn't settle a trade...

Barrons: Hartford Remains a Premium Bet


Advisor Briefing: TD Ameritrade looks to RIAs, January Bond Strength Reverses...


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