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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – To provide members a guaranteed-rate investment choice during a period of market instability, UniTrust Financial Services, LLC will offer a fixed annuity-based platform sales program through a partnership with Talbot Financial Services, Inc. UniTrust is the credit union service organization for CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union, Department of Veteran Affairs Federal Credit Union, Arlington Virginia Federal Credit Union, Transportation Federal Credit Union, Genesis Federal Credit Union, Fairfax County Federal Credit Union, Fort Belvoir Federal Credit Union, Department of Labor Federal Credit Union and Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union. The partnership with Talbot enables the CUSO’s affiliated credit unions to offer their members access to annuity products through licensed branch employees at their local branches. Initially, members will have access to 3-year, 5-year and 7-year annuities at “competitive rates.” Talbot will train 25 credit union employees to offer initial consultations to access financial goals. The product is expected to roll out to credit unions by the end of September. Like bonds and certificates of deposits, annuities offer a guaranteed, fixed rate and investors don’t pay taxes on the money until a withdrawal is made. These features make them an “ideal product to dovetail on CDs,” said Chris Langley, UniTrust’s chief operating officer. “Members are increasingly proactive in what they’re asking for especially when the market is going the way it is,” Langley said. “Our prime motivators for offering such a product was it provides a clear path for some of the credit union’s highest performing products and enhancing member relationships,” in addition to increased revenue. Most annuities carry surrender charges that investors are required to pay if they cash out before a designated date. Those penalties can include fines as much as 25% of the annuity’s value and because annuities are generally treated as retirement vehicles, investors younger than 59 ?-years old pay a tax penalty for withdrawals. Kurt Opella, Talbot’s vice president said there are flexible options on early withdrawals without paying surrender fees. “The bulk of our training deals with getting to know the member and making sure they are being offered the right product for their needs,” Opella said. “Credit unions are more aware and savvy to the fact that dollars were leaving for other place and they are keen enough to know how important it is to retain their members.” Opella also said because varying demographics are revealing a growing change in financial needs, annuities with their guaranteed rates have become a prime choice for those transitions. Indeed, fixed annuities hit a record $29.5 billion in sales in the second quarter, up 72% from a year ago, according to Kenneth Kehrer Associates, a Princeton, N.J.-based consulting firm. While variable annuities, which move up and down with the markets, outsold fixed annuities in 2000, the investment was down from $37.2 billion in 2000 to $29.5 billion this year. -

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