The State of Illinois Securities Department (“Department”) recently initiated enforcement proceedings against Thrivent Investment Management, Inc. (“Thrivent”) (CRD #18387) for allegedly violating the Illinois Securities Law of 1953 in connection with sales of unsuitable variable annuity (“VA”) products to certain of its clients who already held Thrivent VA’s.
Specifically, the Department alleges that Thrivent violated the Act by “… replacing its clients’ existing variable annuities for new variable annuities which required the clients to pay surrender charges and various fees.” According to the Department, possible violations of law in the case include (i) failure to maintain and enforce a supervisory system with adequate written procedures to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, (ii) failure to adequately review the sales and replacements of VA’s for suitability, (iii) failure to enforce its written procedures regarding documentation of sales and replacements of VA’s, and (iv) failure to adequately train its salespersons, registered representatives and principals.
Prior to 2012, Thrivent rolled out a new feature to its VA. This feature consisted of adding a Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit (“GLWB”) to the VA in return for a rider fee. During the time period of January 2011 – June 2012 and July 2013 – June 2014, Thrivent allegedly recommended that certain customers purchase new variable annuities with GLWB riders to replace existing variable annuities, without performing any analysis of whether the customers would economically benefit from the variable annuity switch. Some customers who were advised to switch allegedly would have received greater payments over the life of the policies if they had kept their original variable annuities in place.