Insurance agents selling fixed and indexed annuities have been operating in a gray area in many states for many years now. The definition of “investment adviser” under state securities law, remember, looks something like this:“Investment adviser” means any person who, for compensation, engages in the business of advising others, either directly or through publications or writings, as to the value of securities or as to the advisability of investing in, purchasing, or selling securities, or who, for compensation and as a part of a regular business, issues or promulgates analyses or reports concerning securities.” Right there, you can probably see how easy it would be for a state regulatory office to determine that an indexed annuity salesperson is in the business of advising others. . . as to the advisability of . . . selling securities. Therefore, he is not acting just as an insurance product salesman; he’s acting as an unregistered investment adviser if he tells people to liquidate mutual funds and put the proceeds into his safe-money product. While many states wait for someone to step out of line and then handle it on a case-by-case basis, the State of Tennessee has come right out and stipulated what an insurance agent can do versus what a securities representative can do. As we see from their bulletin “Licensing and/or Registration Requirements and Permitted Activities,” an “Insurance-Only Person” and a “Securities-Only Person” cannot engage in the same activities. The bulletin, at http://www.tn.gov/securities/documents/InfoPostWebREQUEST052213.pdf is something I encourage you to read regardless of your state. While you might be surprised to see what is prohibited for an “insurance-only person,” you might also be surprised to see the prohibitions for those who are considered “securities-only persons.” For example, a securities-only person may NOT “discuss the cost versus benefits of insurance in specific terms” and may NOT recommend specific allocations, in dollars or percentages, between insurance and securities investments. Probably more important, though, an insurance-only person may NOT discuss risks specific to the consumer’s individual securities portfolio and may NOT recommend the liquidation of specific investments/securities to fund the purchase of an annuity/insurance product.
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