Insurance operations, United States

"The United States is the world's largest retirement savings market. Each year, more of the 78 million baby boomers(1) reach retirement age, triggering a shift from savings accumulation to retirement income generation for more than US$10 trillion of accumulated wealth over the next decade."(2)

Mike Wells, President and Chief executive officer, Jackson National Life Insurance Company

“Jackson's strategy continues to focus on balancing volume and capital consumption for both variable and fixed annuities.”

2011 priorities

  • Continue to drive positive net retail flows
  • Innovate around our key variable annuity product
  • Further enhance operational efficiency

During 2010, the US financial services industry continued to face many challenges. The recovery witnessed in the first quarter reversed in the second quarter but was more visible again in the third and fourth quarters. At half year, the S&P 500 index was down 7.6 per cent, 10-year Treasury rates had dropped below three per cent, swap rates had declined to near historic lows, AA corporate spreads had increased slightly and volatility had risen to levels more consistent with the first half of 2009. By year-end, the S&P 500 index was up 12.8 per cent for the year. Rates on 10-year Treasuries, which continued to decline through the third quarter before increasing in the fourth quarter, finished the year at 3.3 per cent, down from 3.9 per cent at the end of 2009. Swap rates also declined through the third quarter before rebounding slightly in the fourth quarter, although they still were near historic lows at year-end. Corporate AA spreads and volatility both declined through the second half of the year to fall below year-end 2009 levels.

We believe these unstable market conditions continue to provide a competitive advantage to companies with strong financial strength ratings and a relatively consistent product set. Companies that were hardest hit by the market disruption over the last few years are in general still struggling to regain market share as customers and distributors continue to seek product providers that offer consistency, stability and financial strength. Jackson continues to benefit significantly from this flight to quality as its financial strength ratings from the four primary rating agencies have remained unchanged for more than eight years. Through its financial stability and innovative products that provide clear value to the consumer, Jackson has enhanced its reputation as a high-quality and reliable business partner, with sales increasing as more advisers have recognised the benefits of working with Jackson.

Jackson's strategy continues to focus on balancing volume and capital consumption for both variable and fixed annuities. Jackson continued to sell no institutional products during 2010, as available capital was directed to support higher-margin variable annuity sales.


  1. Source: US Census Bureau.
  2. Source: McKinsey.

Total IFRS operating profit*

“In 2010, for the fifth consecutive year, Jackson was rated as a 'World Class' service provider by Service Quality Measurement Group1.”

APE Sales

APE Sales: 2010 - £1,164m, +28% on 2009 - £912m

New business profit

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Financial performance AER CER
  • *Based on longer-term investment returns and excluding broker-dealer, fund management and Curian.
  • The Company has amended the presentation of IFRS operating profit for its US operations to remove the net equity hedge accounting effect (incorporating related amortisation of deferred acquisition costs) and include it in short-term fluctuations. 2009 amounts have been amended accordingly.
APE sales 1,164 912 28 924 26
NBP 761 664 15 673 13
NBP margin (% APE) 65% 73%   73%  
Total IFRS operating profit*† 833 618 35 626 33
Total EEV operating profit* 1,458 1,233 18 1,249 17

Initiatives in 2010

Continue to innovate around our key variable annuity product

Jackson continues to be innovative in its product offerings, implementing various changes in 2010 to increase sales, to comply with revised regulations or to enhance risk management flexibility and/or increase profitability.

In 2010, Jackson added two new optional lifetime guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits (GMWBs) to its variable annuity products. LifeGuard Freedom 6 Net GMWB, introduced in May, gives investors the opportunity to help offset their tax liability by increasing their available withdrawal amounts to generate more income. LifeGuard Freedom Flex, introduced in October, is the industry's first customisable guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit. Freedom Flex extends the menu-driven construction that Jackson offers in its variable annuity products, which gives investors the ability to build a personalised benefit based on their individual retirement planning objectives, while paying only for those options elected. Additionally, Jackson added six portfolios from American Funds and added BlackRock, managing two portfolios, to its variable annuity fund line-up during the year.

Continue to focus on improving efficiency of operations

Jackson continues to invest in its back office staffing and systems to provide world class customer service in an efficient and cost effective manner. In 2010, for the fifth consecutive year, Jackson was rated as a 'World Class' service provider by Service Quality Measurement Group1. Jackson was able to provide this level of service in 2010 while processing record retail sales and maintaining its ratio of statutory general expenses to average assets (one measure of efficiency) at the 2009 level of 44 basis points.

Expand retail operation

With consistent, high-quality wholesaling support and customer service, combined with stability in product offering, pricing and financial strength ratings and the ability to bring new products to market swiftly, Jackson continues to be an attractive business partner for its long-term distributors, as well as attract new distributors. During 2010, Jackson increased the number of licensed agents and registered representatives to more than 130,000.


  1. Source: Service Quality Measurement Group.


2013 Financial Objective

  • Deliver £200 million of net cash remittance to the Group

“Jackson ranked third in new variable annuity sales in the US in 2010 with a market share of 11 per cent, up from fourth and a market share of eight per cent in 20091.”

IFRS pre-tax operating profit for the long-term business was £833 million in 2010, up 35 per cent over the £618 million in 2009. This increase was primarily due to higher separate account fee income due to substantial positive net flows and the improved equity markets and higher spread income.

At 31 December 2010, Jackson had £31 billion in separate account assets, more than doubling the balance in the last 18 months. Separate account assets in 2010 averaged £9 billion higher than during 2009, reflecting the impact of sales and the higher average market levels. This growth resulted in variable annuity separate account fee income of £506 million in 2010, up 56 per cent over the £324 million in 2009.

Total spread income, including the expected return on shareholders' assets, of £817 million increased 31 per cent over the £622 million in 2009, primarily due to decreased crediting rates on fixed annuities and higher income on the growing general account assets. Jackson undertook various interest rate swap transactions during 2010 to more closely match the overall asset and liability duration, benefiting spread income in 2010 by £108 million.

Acquisition costs have increased in absolute terms compared to 2009 due to the significant increase in sales. However, acquisition costs as a percentage of APE has fallen from 76 per cent in 2009 to 73 per cent in 2010 as more advisors are electing to take asset based commissions which are paid over the life of the policy based on fund value. This asset based commission is not a deferrable acquisition cost and is expensed in the current period as an administration expense.

DAC amortisation of £334 million in 2010 compared to £223 million in 2009. 2010 includes £11 million additional amortisation as equity market returns fell below assumed rates (2009: £39 million benefit from improved equity markets). Excluding this effect, the underlying amortisation increased £61 million due to higher gross profits.

Administration expenses totalling £344 million in 2010 compared to £259 million in 2009, with the increase due primarily to higher asset based commissions which are excluded from acquisition costs.

With the improvement in the bond markets in 2010, and active management of the investment portfolio to reduce certain investment risks, Jackson realised net gains of £11 million in 2010 compared to net realised losses of £506 million in 2009. Jackson incurred losses, net of recoveries and reversals, on credit related sales of bonds of £89 million (2009: less than £1 million). Write downs were £124 million (£630 million in 2009), including £71 million on RMBS and £39 million on ABS. More than offsetting these losses were interest related gains of £224 million (2009: £125 million), primarily due to sales of lower rated CMBS and corporate debt.

Gross unrealised losses improved from £966 million at 31 December 2009 to £370 million at 31 December 2010. The net unrealised gain position has also improved significantly, from £4 million at 31 December 2009 to £1,210 million at 31 December 2010 due primarily to a decline in the US Treasury rates.

Jackson delivered record retail APE sales of £1,164 million in 2010, representing a 28 per cent increase over 2009. With no institutional sales in 2010, total APE sales were also £1,164 million, the highest total in the company's history. This achievement further demonstrates the resilience of Jackson's business model, as well as stability of our high-quality product offerings, exceptional wholesaling support and consistency demonstrated throughout the economic downturn.

While the equity markets rebounded in 2010, reaching two-year highs in December, and in light of continued volatility in US equity markets and historically low interest rates, customers continue to seek to mitigate equity risk while receiving an acceptable return through the purchase of variable annuities with guaranteed living benefits. Jackson is a beneficiary of this trend while being well placed to benefit from the huge wave of baby boomers starting to retire, as they increasingly use variable annuities to structure their retirement income.

In 2010, record variable annuity APE sales of £948 million were up 48 per cent from 2009. Jackson ranked third in new variable annuity sales in the US in 2010 with a market share of 11 per cent, up from fourth and a market share of eight per cent in 20091. With significant sales increases and continued low surrender rates, Jackson held steady with its ranking of second in variable annuity net flows in 20104.

Fixed annuity APE sales of £84 million were down 20 per cent from the prior year, as consumer demand for the products fell due to the continued low interest rate environment. Jackson's new business opportunities were balanced with the goals of capital and cash conservation. Jackson ranked eighth in sales of traditional deferred fixed annuities through the third quarter of 2010, with a market share of three per cent compared to 13th with a two per cent market share for the full year 20092.

Fixed index annuity (FIA) APE sales of £109 million in 2010 were down 24 per cent from 2009 as Jackson focused its marketing efforts on the higher margin variable annuity products. Jackson ranked sixth in sales of fixed index annuities through the first three quarters of 2010, with a market share of five per cent, down from fourth and a market share of eight per cent for the full year 20093.

Retail annuity net flows increased 38 per cent, benefiting from record sales and continued low levels of surrender activity.

Jackson achieved extraordinary EEV new business margins in 2009, partially as a result of our ability to take advantage of the extreme dislocation prevalent in the corporate bond market. While the recovery in the corporate bond market has led to somewhat lower EEV new business margins due to lower spreads in 2010, we continue to write new business at internal rates of return in excess of 20 per cent.

The exceptionally high EEV spread levels in 2009 included an allowance that crediting rates and spreads would normalise in the future.

EEV basis new business profits of £761 million were up 15 per cent on 2009, reflecting a 28 per cent increase in APE sales offset somewhat by lower new business margins. Total new business margin was 65 per cent, compared to 73 per cent achieved in 2009.

The variable annuity new business margin of 72 per cent in 2010 decreased somewhat from 81 per cent in 2009, as lower assumed separate account returns and lower assumed spreads on the guaranteed funds were partially offset by an increase in-the take-up rate on guaranteed benefits – particularly guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits.

The fixed index annuity new business margin decreased from 51 per cent in 2009 to 41 per cent in 2010 due to decreased spread assumptions and lower interest rates, offset somewhat by longer maturity contracts sold in 2010. These same interest rate and spread factors also caused the fixed annuity new business margin to normalise from 57 per cent to 34 per cent. For both products, the spread assumptions decreased due primarily to abnormally high investment yields during 2009.

Total EEV basis operating profit for the long-term business in 2010 was £1,458 million, compared to £1,233 million in 2009. In-force EEV profits of £697 million for 2010 were 22 per cent higher than 2009 profit of £569 million. During 2010, EEV basis operating profit benefited as a result of the interest rate swap transactions noted earlier. Including this benefit, experience variances and other items were £201 million higher in 2010 due primarily to favourable spread and persistency variances that were partially offset by lower expense and mortality variances.

In 2010, Jackson invested £300 million of free surplus to write £1,164 million of new business (2009: £326 million and £912 million, respectively). The reduction in capital consumption year-on-year was caused predominantly by the differing business mix in 2010, when Jackson wrote a higher proportion of variable annuity business, which consume lower levels of initial capital, while maintaining a disciplined approach to fixed and fixed index annuity pricing.


  1. Source: Morningstar
  2. Source: LIMRA
  3. Source: AnnuitySpecs
  4. Source: SimFund

Signature: Mike Wells

Mike Wells
Executive Director




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