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General Account BOLI Sales Dominate Market in 2016

By: David Shoemaker, Ken Derks | MAY 15TH, 2017

In 2016, bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) sales fell $804 million from 2015 to $3.244 billion, but the percentage of banks with BOLI policies increased to 62.2 percent, up from 60.5 percent the year before.

These are some of the findings from two separate reports on the BOLI market. The key reasons for the decline was in the purchase of both Hybrid Separate Account (HSA) and Variable Separate Account (VSA) products, where banks hold a portion of the investment risk. General Account (GA) products, where the cash surrender values (CSVs) are supported by the insurance company, dominated the BOLI market in 2016 with sales amounting to $2.948 billion or 90.9 percent of the total BOLI purchases that occurred last year, according to market research firm IBIS Associates. HSA sales amounted to only $149.3 million in 2016 with VSA sales trailing slightly behind at $147.2 million. VSA purchases declined by $347 million between 2015 and 2016 due to the lack of any large case sales. Larger banks tend to be the main purchasers of VSA products.

New Premium & Case Sales

The percentage of BOLI premiums invested in GA products has grown from 31.5 percent in 2012 to 90.9 percent in 2016. In contrast, HSA purchases have decreased in recent years. This is due to more GA product options, higher yields, and the high comfort level bankers have with the general credit-worthiness of GA carriers. VSA purchases have been somewhat erratic during the past few years and are still well below the volumes recorded earlier this decade. This is due to the lower current yields, the reduced number of carriers offering these products, and the increased complexity of the product when compared to GA or HSA products.

EA 2017 Site Headers BD 05 30 Chart New Premium

During the past five years, the number of individual BOLI sales has been relatively steady. The range during this period has been narrow with a low of 1,017 in 2015 and a high of 1,235 in 2013. The numbers below reflect the new BOLI cases that carriers have reported on their books.

EA 2017 Site Headers BD 05 30 Chart New Case Sales

Holdings by U.S. Banks

The CSV of BOLI policies held by banks stood at $161.8 billion as of December 31, 2016, reflecting a 3.6 percent increase from $156.2 billion as of December 31, 2015, according to the Equias Alliance/Michael White Bank-Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) Holdings Report™. The report revealed that:

  • Of the 5,913 banks in the survey, 3,680 or 62.2 percent reported holding BOLI assets as of December 31, 2016, and total BOLI CSV increased by $5.62 billion (3.6 percent) from $156.18 billion as of December 31, 2015, to $161.80 billion as of December 31, 2016.
  • With a balance of $72.46 billion (44.8 percent of all BOLI CSV) as of December 31, 2016, VSA BOLI continues to lead when measured by dollar amount. At the same time, only 464 or 7.9 percent of all banks hold VSA assets.
  • Nearly thirteen hundred (1,261) or 21.3 percent of all banks reported holding HSA assets as of December 31, 2016. These banks held $17.40 billion in HSA assets, representing 10.8 percent of total BOLI assets.
  • The type of BOLI assets most widely held by banks as of December 31, 2016 was GA policies. Of the 3,680 banks reporting BOLI assets, 3,537 (96.1 percent) of them held $71.94 billion in general account life insurance assets, representing 44.4 percent of total BOLI assets as of December 31, 2016.
BOLI Growth Continues

BOLI remains appealing to banks for several reasons:

  • It provides attractive tax-equivalent yields compared to alternative investments of a similar risk and duration;
  • The bank receives book value accounting so that changes in the market values of the underlying investment portfolio do not flow through to the bank.
  • The bank receives the life insurance proceeds tax-free upon the death of an insured employee; and
  • The bank can use the earnings to help offset and recover employee benefit costs, including non-qualified plans used to attract and retain key employees.
  • BOLI currently offers a net yield ranging from approximately 2.50 percent to 3.75 percent. For a bank in the 38 percent tax bracket, this translates into a tax equivalent yield of 4.03 percent to 6.05 percent. Thus, BOLI remains an attractive investment alternative for banks.

Equias Alliance offers securities through ProEquities, Inc. member FINRA & SIPC. Equias Alliance is independent of ProEquities, Inc.

David Shoemaker, CPA/PFS, CFP®, is a principal of Equias Alliance, which through consultants has assisted over 800 banks in the design of nonqualified benefit plans, performance based compensation and (BOLI). To learn more, contact David Shoemaker at 901-754-4924 or dshoemaker@equiasalliance.com.

Ken Derks is a principal of Equias Alliance, which through consultants has assisted over 800 banks in the design of nonqualified benefit plans, performance based compensation and (BOLI). To learn more, contact Ken Derks at 469-252-1037 or kderks@equiasalliance.com.

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