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Robert W Pearce
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Mr. Pearce has tried, arbitrated and mediated numerous disputes involving complex securities, commodities, administrative, contract, commercial, business tort and employment law issues for over 30 years. He has represented hundreds of clients in Federal and state courts (trial and appellate) as... More
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The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A.
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The Investor's Rights Law Blog
    Dec 6, 2012 11:34 AM

    More and more insurers are offering annuity contract buyouts to owners of Variable Annuity ("VA") contracts with a guaranteed-minimum-withdrawal benefit ("GMWB"). It seems that some insurers recognize an opportunity to retain all of the excessive fees they received from legacy VA clients and coax them out of VA contracts with GMWB features and death benefits within offer of a slightly higher account value. You remember the broker's pitch for the purchase of these VA contracts: "if the value goes down, you are guaranteed income for life"; and "every year the amount of the death benefit increases for your beneficiaries."

    Why the change of heart? Well it's because many of the insurers recognize: we're in an extended period of low interest rates, and it's difficult for them to invest and make money; their VA contracts are underwater because the mutual fund sub-accounts performed poorly; and many VA contract owners can't or won't do the math! The insurers at Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., AXA Equitable Life Ins. Co., Transamerica Life Insurance Co. and Wells Fargo want you to give up your GMWB benefit in exchange for a slightly higher account value with no more guarantees. The only beneficiaries of this exchange will be the brokers who retained all of the excessive upfront commissions and generous trailing commissions and the insurers who will duck out of VA contracts with product features that have now become unprofitable for them.

    An annuity is a form of insurance that offers a series of payments for a period of time. VAs are typically higher in risk when compared to other types of annuities and depend on how the stock market is performing. Buyers have the option to allocate the cash invested into different types of assets such as mutual funds, indices, fixed income investments or bonds, and cash. Most VAs do not have principal protection, so investors can lose money if markets deteriorate. GMWB gives the VA policy owner the ability to protect their retirement investments against downside market risk by allowing the owner to withdraw a maximum percentage of their entire investment each year until the initial investment amount has been recouped.

    Neither the broker nor the insurer looked out for your interest when they sold you this overpriced and unsuitable VA product and they certainly are not looking out for your interest today with the exchange offer. Make sure you consider the excessive fees you paid for the benefits they want to take back as well as the likelihood of future account losses that will no longer be protected in making your decision.

    Have you suffered losses resulting from trading in your guaranteed-minimum-withdrawal benefit variable annuity? If so, call Robert Pearce at the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. for a free consultation.

    The most important of investors' rights is the right to be informed! This Investors' Rights blog post is by the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., located in Boca Raton, Florida. For over 30 years, Attorney Pearce has tried, arbitrated, and mediated hundreds of disputes involving complex securities, commodities and investment law issues. The lawyers at our law firm are devoted to protecting investors' rights throughout the United States and internationally! Please visit our website,, post a comment, call (800) 732-2889, or email Mr. Pearce at for answers to any of your questions about this blog post and/or any related matter.

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