Washington — NAVA Inc., the Association for Insured Retirement Solutions and IBM announced the availability of the first Common Reference Architecture Model for NAVA's Straight-through Processing (STP) Standards Initiative. STP is an industry-backed initiative establishing an automated standardized process that streamlines the sale of annuities.

The STP Initiative was created to help the industry meet the expected growth in the annuity market as the baby boomer generation enters retirement with more than $17 trillion in retirement assets. STP-compliant annuity sales processes will enable the annuity industry to effectively address this opportunity by allowing for seamless interoperability between distributors and insurance carriers, improving "in-good-order" business, ensuring transparency and enhancing the overall consumer experience. The STP Standards include automated processes to help ensure annuity sales suitability, as well as uniform processes for e-signatures, electronic forms, privacy policies and records management.

Developed jointly by IBM, Armonk, N.Y., and NAVA, Washington, the STP Common Reference Architecture Model, an extension of the STP process model, provides a framework for implementation of the NAVA STP Standards by annuity distributors and their insurance carrier partners. STP implementations are underway at a number of distributors, including Fidelity Investments, LPL Financial Services, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, National Planning Holdings, Pershing, Raymond James and Wachovia Securities.

In addition, the reference architecture provides a roadmap for technology vendors developing software and services for insurance and financial services companies based on the STP standards.

"This is the first time that any segment of the financial industry has undertaken a business process automation program of this size and magnitude," says Karla Norsworthy, VP, IBM Software Standards. "Customers are telling us that straight-through processing is the key to meeting critical annuity market, customer and regulatory requirements. By leveraging advanced technologies, IBM engineers have helped develop a reference platform that can dramatically accelerate STP adoption, helping prepare the industry to better meet the significant market opportunity ahead."

The STP Initiative leverages the power and efficiencies of advanced IT technologies to streamline annuity business processes. These include service-oriented architecture, as well as Web services, Web 2.0 technologies, wizard-driven dynamic electronic forms, business process management, and externalized rules and profiles. STP also builds on industry IT standards and specifications, such as XML, SCA and SDO, as the basis for defining and driving the STP processes.

"The existing manually intensive and paper-constrained annuity business processes are complex, inefficient and highly regulated," says Deborah Tucker, VP of NAVA. "STP is the first program of its kind to comprehensively address these issues by defining a streamlined annuity sales process that is all electronic and in compliance with federal and state regulations. The reference architecture is an important component in our ongoing effort to facilitate industry-wide implementation of STP-compliant technologies and services."

NAVA is currently working with a wide range of insurance carriers, annuity distributors and technology vendors to promote and encourage the implementation of the STP standards and the development of STP-compliant solutions. NAVA also is working with state and federal regulators to secure an understanding and acceptance of the standards.

Source:  NAVA

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