Variable annuities outsold their fixed cousins in banks for the second month in a row in October, according to new data from Kehrer-LIMRA, although sales performance was nothing to write home about.

Banks sold $1.4 billion in variable annuities in October, the same as they did in September, while fixed annuity sales fell from $1.2 billion to $1.1 billion over the same period.

Fixed annuities, which once carried many bank brokerage programs, have been plagued by a low-interest environment that pits them too frequently against FDIC-insured bank CDs. Currently, fixed annuities and CDs are neck and neck at 1.63%, the same five-year average yield for one and effective five-year rate for the other. Not surprisingly, investors aren’t tripping over themselves trying to lock in such tepid performance.

“Competition is tough when variable annuities offer upside potential,” said Scott Stathis, managing director of Kehrer-LIMRA. “Even indexed CDs are eating fixed annuities’ lunch.”

Stathis suspects it’ll be well into the first quarter of next year before things pick up for annuities in general, but they typically see a spike in sales around tax season. “After that it’s anyone’s guess,” he said. “But I’d anticipate a slow but steady climb.”


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