Washington, D.C. - NAVA has struck an alliance with Atlanta-based Financial Services Institute (FSI) to automate electronic annuity sales for independent broker-dealers. The alliance is the latest in a series of actions that play into NAVA's straight-through processing (STP) initiative, a comprehensive set of standards for managing new annuity business electronically. With the goal of reducing redundancies and costs, and increasing efficiencies across the industry, the STP standards, published in December 2006, address e-signatures, e-document management and regulatory acceptance, and includes built-in compliance capabilities to help prevent unsuitable sales. NAVA and the FSI, a membership association of broker-dealers that serve registered representatives who are independent contractors, will work together to augment the STP standards and enable broad adoption among FSI members. The group comprises 110 broker-dealer member firms with more than 130,000 independent registered representatives.NAVA reports that independent brokers represent a significant and fast-growing channel for the distribution of variable annuities - FSI members account for more than 36% of all annuity sales. Mike DeGeorge, NAVA's general counsel, told INN that one of the group's goals is to have broader participation from the independent channel. "FSI gives us access to a larger group of advisers," he says. "We have similar alliances with ACORD, and we've been working with the American Council of Life Insurers." DeGeorge says that NAVA already counts 19 of the top 20 insurers on its executive council, including Allianz Life, Hartford Life, Pacific Life, Principal Financial, Prudential Financial, Transamerica Life and Wachovia Securities. Major wire houses, such as UBS and Morgan Stanley, along with 10% of the bank channel, are also involved, DeGeorge adds. NAVA is also in the process of working with other trade associations as well as federal and state regulators to secure wide-spread acceptance and approval of STP."We want to let them know what we are doing and why we are moving to electronic commerce," DeGeorge says.The group is now working on implementation guides for the standards, model consent documents, and on suitability standards that provide common interpretations of regulatory requirements.This series of actions, reports DeGeorge, is designed to encourage more brokers, advisers and representatives to sign on. "Now it's paper intensive, time-consuming process," he says. "Reps feel it's a good product, but hard to sell because of all the paper. We want to make it easier for the consumer-make it less like buying a house with all the paper-retirement planning can be made very easy with this."  Source: NAVA  

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