The Name Game

Posted by: Lauren Young on October 12, 2006

Can a trade group by any other name smell even sweeter?

The National Association for Variable Annuities (NAVA) seems to think so. The group, which represents the $1.4 trillion annuity industry, will unveil its new identity—the Association for Insured Retirement Solutions—at its annual meeting in New York on Oct. 16 and 17.

In November, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America plans to become the American Association for Justice. These groups join organizations such as the National Soft Drink Association, which switched aliases to the American Beverage Association two years ago.

What’s the reason behind the name changes? “You can certainly shed some negativity by changing your name,” says Martyn Tipping, president of TippingSprung, a brand consultant in New York.

NAVA spokeswoman Deborah Tucker says the group wants to broaden its focus and incorporate other types of insurance products, including fixed annuities, under its umbrella. But it may also want to shatter the variable annuity industry’s stereotype for high fees—annual expenses are 2.37% on average—as well as shoddy performance.

Not all annuities are bad, and not all of the people who sell them are terrible people. It’s just that investors need to be very careful before they buy an annuity. I hope the Association for Insured Retirement Solutions lives up to its new name.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ben Steverman focuses on the latest moves in financial markets and emerging trends in stocks, bonds, and funds, always with an eye toward giving readers a better understanding of the sometimes confusing and often chaotic world of money. Standard & Poor’s senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt will also provide his take on companies’ finances and the markets. Voted one of the “Top 100 Finance Blogs” in 2007.

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