Jackson National Life Insurance Co. is continuing to invest in what it touts as a big differentiator in the variable annuity space: flexible asset allocation for advisers.

The Lansing, Mich.-based company just launched an online portfolio construction tool—aptly named the Portfolio Construction Tool—that helps advisers assemble portfolios customized to their clients.

Some insurance companies push advisers into certain asset allocation models for variable annuities that feature living benefits. With its flagship variable annuity, dubbed Perspective II, Jackson National has positioned itself as an alternative.

“When someone invests in Jackson’s variable annuity, we do not dictate how the adviser and client ought to allocate their assets,” said Dan Starishevsky, senior vice president at Jackson National Life Distributors, the company’s Denver-based sales and marketing arm.

Insurers like to limit asset allocation choices within variable annuities in order to manage their risk. Understandably so—the market crash of 2008 and 2009 landed numerous providers in trouble when their investment returns couldn’t cover living benefits that were in effect. In reaction to the crash, many providers eliminated guarantees or raised their prices.

Jackson, which boasts $107 billion in assets, can provide more flexibility because of its successful hedging and risk management program, which allowed it to navigate the last market cycle, the company says. 

Perspective II variable annuities are typically coupled with one of Jackson’s Lifeguard Freedom suite of living benefits. There’s no forced asset allocation for investors who purchase the combination.

The online Portfolio Construction Tool helps advisers select sub-account options as they build portfolios customized to their clients’ needs and objectives. The platform aggregates historical performance information, sub-account analytics and educational materials.

Advisers can use a variety of filters to screen investment options by asset class, portfolio manager, investment style, expenses and performance. They can drill down into materials including fact sheets, brochures and videos.

The tool allows advisers to save and edit individual proposals and to create templates for future use. Once a proposal is completed, the tool generates a summary report for review with clients.

“Advisers are selling lots of products these days,” said Starishevsky. “I think any tool a company like Jackson can bring to the table that is both educational and facilitates ease of use will be well received.”

Jackson has been following the theme of customized retirement income solutions for a while. In October, it introduced LifeGuard Freedom Flex, touting it as the industry’s first customizable guaranteed-minimum-withdrawal benefit. 

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