This is the first in our series on the biggest challenges carriers face when bringing new annuity products to market — and how to meet those challenges with ease. Read more in the series: 

U.S. annuity sales set an all-time record high in 2023 for the second straight year, with sales growing 23% to $385 billion, according to LIMRA. High interest rates, coupled with fears of an impending downturn, led consumers to annuities — particularly fixed annuities, which offer guaranteed payouts.  

For private equity-backed carriers venturing into the annuities market, speed to market is critical to take advantage of these market conditions. After all, they may not last. S&P Global projects a slight pullback in annuity sales in 2024. But for those who move fast enough, the opportunity is still there: S&P still anticipates annual volumes will be “well above” those from the years before the Federal Reserve began increasing interest rates.  

Why Speed to Market Matters 

Speed to market is imperative for carriers of any size, though when it comes to launching new products, newer entrants to the market may lack the experience of larger, more established competitors. For these new players, optimizing for what you can and can’t control is key.

For example, anyone launching a financial product has to consider what needs it serves for the consumers. Annuity consumers may be seeking a dependable return on their assets that they can rely on when they retire. Carriers can control how they design a product that meets those needs. 

But carriers can’t control market dynamics like interest rates. The more time passes between ideation and delivery, the more chance there is for those uncontrollable variables to change. Truncating time to market can help reduce that risk. Being able to identify a consumer’s need and quickly delivering a product to meet that need drastically increases the probability of success. 

The rapid rise of interest rates has pushed more consumers toward multi-year guaranteed annuities (MYGAs), which guarantee a fixed return on the principal for a set period of time. Higher interest rates have made these products more attractive. But there’s no guarantee of how long interest rates will stay high. MYGAs are the current wave, but carriers who are too slow to take advantage could lose out to faster-moving competitors gobbling up market share.

How to Accelerate Time to Market 

Established carriers may be able to handle every step of business development internally, but for smaller carriers, one way to speed up the process is by working with a partner early on in the ideation phase. Annuities are financial products, but they require technology to launch and service, and for many carriers, scalable technology is not a strong suit. The right partner with the right technology can help a carrier move quickly through all phases of a product launch. Smaller carriers may even hold a nimbleness advantage over established carriers, who may be hampered by the inertia of existing tech and processes. 

Relinquishing some control to an external partner can be scary, but putting trust in a partner early can lead to faster and better outcomes. A common mistake in product launches is spending too little time on ideation, design, and feasibility — testing an idea and pivoting when it’s not working.  

One solution is inviting a tech partner into these discussions early on, as well as everyone who will be involved in the success of a product, including finance, actuarial, sales, and marketing, to align on the best and fastest path to launch.

The ideal partner has the capacity to aid in all three major areas of a product launch, from building, to selling, to servicing. This includes the groundwork that allows a carrier to sell the product, from operations to case management, and a system of record for managing client data. 

One way Zinnia launches products quickly — in as little as five to six months — is by building an expansive list of platform capabilities that can be shared for product builds. It’s a little like building cars: Carmakers use a “platform strategy” to build distinct automobile models more quickly and cost-effectively by using common components. While these cars have different price points, interiors, and technology, many can share a common chassis (floor, drivetrain, and suspension). It allows carmakers to automate and de-risk a larger part of the manufacturing process, and speeds up build and delivery times by leveraging common capabilities. Constructing a platform strategy for an annuity product lays the foundation for accelerating the product development process and expedites delivery and scalability.


Market conditions may be ideal for a carrier looking to launch an annuity. But competitors in this space can’t count on those conditions lasting for long. The Federal Reserve has held interest rates steady in recent months, but cuts are on the horizon. Speed to market is key for capitalizing on the market while it stays favorable, and a technology partner with the right tools and know-how could be the key to achieving the needed velocity. 

About the Authors 

Jordan Teel leads Zinnia Distributor Solutions to support advisors with tools and infrastructure to facilitate clients’ insurance needs. Jordan is an experienced life insurance industry expert with knowledge across product, technology, marketing, sales, and distribution. Jordan began his career as a financial planner at Barnum Financial Group in Guildford, CT.  He went on to a decade-long career at MetLife (2006-2016) in various roles ranging from product consulting to product marketing to U.S. distribution, and finally served as Vice President, Divisional Sales Manager of MetLife’s distribution across 25 states. In 2016, Jordan transitioned to MetLife’s new business Brighthouse Financial (2016-2022), where he served as Head of Technology Delivery, Head of Strategic Initiative Management, and Head of Life Strategy Enablement. Jordan holds a BBA, Marketing Degree from James Madison University. He also earned a MBA, Global Management, from Franklin W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College. 

Myles Ma, CPFC is a senior reporter at Zinnia. Previously, he was an editor and reporter for, as well as a reporter for the Star-Ledger. As a journalist, his work has also appeared in USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, CBS News, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As a financial expert, his advice has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, and elsewhere. 

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