This week, former TIAA managing director Tamiko Toland took to LinkedIn to announce the launch of a new consulting practice exclusively focused on helping the advisor industry better utilize annuities, both in the institutional retirement plan and retail advice settings.
“Whether the focus is product development, concept framing or ‘nerdy marketing,’ please reach out!” Toland wrote on LinkedIn, garnering dozens of congratulatory comments and kudos on the move.
As Toland’s peers and colleagues emphasized, it is an exciting time to be working on questions about guaranteed income and “decumulation,” and there is a pressing need for more collaboration and innovation among all manner of stakeholders — from annuity product manufacturers to retirement plan recordkeepers to retail-focused brokerage shops.
The collective hope is that industry experts like Toland can utilize an independent perspective to help bring all the pieces of an admittedly complex puzzle together, helping advisors and investors overcome a historical reluctance in using guaranteed income annuities while also allowing product providers to better tailor their offerings for the modern retirement planning marketplace.
In an interview with ThinkAdvisor, Toland said her new firm, Toland Consulting, would focus on the vision of expanding the in-plan annuity opportunity, “but there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done in the retail setting, too.”
Overall, Toland said, she is highly optimistic about the future of her nascent consultancy, and she hopes to put her diverse set of experiences to work to address what she sees as some challenging but wholly surmountable obstacles to broader annuity adoption.
THINKADVISOR: To begin with, what can you tell us about your motivation to launch the new consultancy now? What does it say about the state of the annuity marketplace?
TAMIKO TOLAND: One of the big reasons, as you know, is that there is just a ton of interest around incorporating lifetime income within retirement plans, and that interest is built on top of the discussions that are happening in the retail advice setting. There is a lot of interest on both sides.
This is a topic that many people in the financial services industry have been working on intensively — myself included — but there is still a lot of room for growth and for maturation.
In my view, this marketplace is still in its early days, which is why the consultancy model makes sense.
Part of the tension within the lifetime income movement is the realization that the old-school silo approach isn’t going to work when it comes to annuities achieving their full potential, so there is a lot of work to be done with respect to connecting the dots and breaking down barriers.
Are the rule changes coming out of the Secure 1.0 and 2.0 acts also driving renewed interest and momentum in this domain?
Yes, that’s right, and it also brings up the need to link the in-plan institutional annuity market with the retail side, because there is a lot of potential overlap there. Advisors who can help distribute annuities in both settings will have an advantage.
I think some advisors have failed to appreciate that, within retirement plans, there are attractive clients that have sophisticated needs, and they want more handholding, especially as they approach and enter retirement. Actually being involved in servicing retirement plan participants allows you to craft those relationships and win new business.
Advisors can serve these people within the plan, and then if a rollover is appropriate, that becomes a great option down the line. It’s all about providing access to income-oriented solutions and services, because today, the majority of plans still don’t offer lifetime income in any capacity.