U.S. Annuity Markets 2021

Acclimating to Industry Trends and Changing Demand

Evaluate. Plan. Act.

  • Understand the need for new fee-based annuity concepts as advisors and clients continue to move away from traditional variable annuities
  • Analyze registered index-linked annuities (RILAs) and fixed-indexed annuities (FIAs), as well as the potential impact to competing annuity concepts and benefits
  • Strategize for new distribution opportunities and platforms as VA sales continue to decline across traditional annuity users and channels
  • Uncover balancing demand for designing attractive annuity guarantees and unpredictable regulatory changes, specifically on the individual state level


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Report US Investment Consultants 2020 Detail

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Ryan Hanratty

Ryan Hanratty

Account Manager


This report examines the retail annuity industry, emphasizing annuity distribution, product development, product positioning, and asset management. Perspective is offered from multiple points of view, including investors, advisors, insurance companies, variable annuity (VA) sales professionals, and asset managers.

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Each report is lead authored by a senior Cerulli analyst with significant industry experience. The report incorporates qualitative and quantitative inputs, based on Cerulli’s proprietary research process. For more on our research process, click here.

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A Note from the Author

RILAs Represent the Annuity Industry’s Greatest Growth Opportunity

Donnie Ethier

Donnie Ethier

Senior Director

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Donnie Ethier

Donnie Ethier

Senior Director

Donnie Ethier is the head of Cerulli Associates’ Wealth Management practice. The Wealth Management practice is dedicated to helping clients proactively adapt to retail financial advice and planning trends, including the high-net-worth markets. Donnie oversees the practice’s annual research agenda and is a core contributor to consulting engagements, syndicated research, and the The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Advisor Edition.

Since joining Cerulli in 2012, Donnie has led several practices and research initiatives including the Wealth Management, High-Net-Worth, and Annuity practices. Prior to joining Cerulli, Donnie held roles at Sun Life Financial and Sun Life Financial Distributors for eight years focusing on market and distribution strategy, product development, competitive intelligence, and professional development.

Full biography here.

Registered index-linked annuities (RILAs) are a bright spot for the annuity industry, moderately offsetting the annuity industry’s spiraling sales over the past several years. According to Cerulli’s projections, RILA sales, including those that are built on variable and fixed annuity contracts, will collectively reach nearly $39 billion in 2021 and represent approximately 17% of total annuity sales. While Cerulli anticipates that sales of other annuity types will continue to rebound, if recent trends continue, RILA sales could potentially approach $50 billion by year-end 2026.

For some insurers, RILAs represent their flagship products, replacing traditional variable annuities (VAs) with living benefits. Several companies have made no secret of the fact that they are using the RILA to pivot away from risky guaranteed living benefits. As the annuity industry looks to expand beyond variable annuities, Cerulli expects RILAs will continue to inspire significant innovation both within, and outside of, the annuity industry.

In addition to exploring RILAs, our research, U.S. Annuity Markets 2021: Acclimating to Industry Trends and Changing Demand, provides an in-depth look at the U.S. annuity marketplace, covering distribution strategies, product development, advisor and intermediary channel trends, buying behaviors, and asset management opportunities. Access our findings to build your product and distribution plan for annuities.

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