October 2017 – Visualizing the Future: Illustration Tool Ledgers

Illustration ledgers are a valuable way to demonstrate how annuities may fit into a portfolio, allowing clients and advisors to assess possible performance and plan retirement strategies before a sale. Ledgers are also significantly more customizable than most sales materials, letting advisors provide product promotion and educational insights along with personalized information. Due to the complex nature of annuities, dense and poorly designed ledgers may simply overwhelm clients, making definitions, product descriptions and clear organization particularly valuable. Firms should provide customizable, well-designed ledgers that illustrate hypothetical performance and educate clients on key contract features. This Annuity Monitor Report evaluates the illustration tool ledgers generated by tools on 13 coverage group firms’ advisor sites.

Annuity Monitor last looked at illustration tools in a November 2015 report that assessed all tool elements from findability to navigation, and we narrow the scope here to focus on ledgers. While three firms use in-house illustration tools, the other 10 firms in this report use the ForeSight illustration system, unifying tool navigation and features across all firms. Annuity Monitor Updates list minor enhancements over the past two years, but ForeSight has not changed its structure, and no tools have changed dramatically since the 2015 report. In contrast to the uniformity of the tools themselves, the ledgers they create display a variety of illustrated scenarios, marketing features, educational supplements and colorful enhancements. Leading firms distinguish themselves with detailed context, including product descriptions and discussions of fees and charges. While no firm offers a truly comprehensive ledger yet, this report documents a number of notable features that together help clients understand and visualize a potential annuity purchase.