Retirement Income Journal: “‘SIMON’ Makes Indexed Annuities Simpler”

Two Platforms Democratizing Structured Products

Retirement Income Journal’s Kerry Pechter writes that structured products in the last few years have been democratized by a couple of different digital players: SIMON and HALO. Both afford advisors and their clients unprecedented access to structured notes which aim to help an investor’s savings while generating equity-like returns. Structured notes have been around since the ’70s but, according to HALO’s website, this $3T market has heretofore only been available to wealthy investors and institutions.

Access has been improved by lowering minimums, sourcing multiple providers, and driving real client value. Unlike traditional structured notes, these next-gen risk management solutions require only a minimum investment of $1,000 as opposed to $1+ million (source: HALO). They also offer competitive pricing from multiple banks, which enables folks to make a purchase quickly, and the fees are reportedly clear and transparent.

HALO vs. SIMON

The primary difference between the structured note platforms are the audiences they serve: SIMON serves broker-dealer registered reps, and HALO serves RIAs. The latest news from SIMON is that they will now offer fixed indexed annuities alongside their structured products which, if you follow the logic makes good sense. As Pechter points out, the products share a lot of similarities. He says that both use derivatives to make guarded, time-limited bets on specific segments of the equity markets, and both, at times have come under fire for their complexity and opacity.

Adding Annuities to the Risk Management Mix

With the addition of index-linked annuities to its product suite, SIMON wants to further improve their platform of offerings to meet a greater array of client needs. HALO sees this as a natural progression as well. Founder Jason Barsema frames the need for annuities on the platform in language that alpine denizens will understand. He says, “I think of everything as ski slopes. Annuities are good for the ‘blue’ and ‘green’ trails. Structured notes are for the black diamond and double-black diamond trails.”

RetireOne founder and CEO David Stone agrees. “Expanding their offering with FIAs and structured annuities makes sense for both Halo and SIMON.” He says. “It will help them serve the needs of investors whose appetite for risk might demand a similar, but more conservative risk management solution than structured notes.”

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