October 2013: Annuity Statement Analysis

Account statements have traditionally been the most important means of communication between clients and their financial firms. For this Annuity Monitor Report, we assess statements received from 16 firms within our coverage group. Our focus is on the appearance, layout and content of each statement reviewed. Most account statements reviewed for this report were received from the second and third quarter of 2013.
 
A few of the key criteria analyzed are as follows:

  • Is the statement design attractive?
  • Does the layout make the information easy to follow and locate throughout the document?
  • Are pertinent contact values prominently displayed? Is a quarterly transaction history provided?

All firms do a good job of offering basic contract information in their statements, including contract number and product name. A majority of the firms (94%) also provide payment/contributions and withdrawals/surrenders information. In terms of the content’s organization, we noticed all covered firms utilize boldface section headings to denote the various sections, and some firms use bold font to highlight account values. With more than half of the firms providing clients with adequate account details in an organized fashion, grades were mostly in the B range, with only four firms receiving grades within the A range.

 

Most of the firms in this report (94%) utilize double-sided statements to provide details of the client’s annuity holdings. Of these firms, 14 of them present the information in a portrait format. Additionally, 50% of firms in this
Annuity Monitor Report provide some color in the statements to highlight either the firm’s logo or current asset allocation breakdowns on a pie chart.

 

For the current holdings information within the statements, a majority of the firms (15) offer the quarter-end units and unit values for the various investment options contained within variable accounts, with only a handful (3) providing the actual fund number. Of the 14
Annuity Monitor firms that provide an asset allocation value, 11 of them accompany the information with an investment allocation pie chart to better illustrate the account allocation breakdown.

 

Additional key findings include:

  • 69% of firms provide a Transaction History table on the statement, showing transaction date, transaction type and the units’ number and value.
  • Two firms highlight beneficiary information on the annuity statements.
  • 94% of firms offer double-sided annuity statements.
  • Five firms provide a Glossary section within the annuity statements.
  • Four firms promote their eDelivery service directly on the statement.