In October 1987, I was sold a retirement annuity product by an unqualified Investment Advisor employee of Huntington National Banks, Columbus, Ohio USA. This product was the Keyport Life Insurance Company "Keyport Advisor" 7-Year Annuity. The Keyport Life Insurance Company products were purchased by Sun Life Financial Services, Inc. (Toronto, Canada and Wellesley, MA USA) in 2001. Sun Life Financial Services, Wellesley MA continues to market and manage Keyport Annuity products.
I invested over $164,000 of retirement funds in the Keyport Advisor Annuity. I was promised (written and verbal by Huntington Banks and Keyport Life Insurance Company): (a) unlimited potential for aggressive growth; (b) a high degree of financial investment flexibility; and (c) highly competent financial investment services support.
Once receiving the Keyport Advisor Annuity contract, I found out that I could not cancel this contract for at least seven years without a large penalty ($11,340 to $1,600 penalty, depending upon years from purchase). Further, I found out that this product was commonly suggested by local bank investment officers to banking clients due to the higher than average sales commissions paid.
Over time, I realized that NO PROFESSIONAL FINANCIAL SERVICES ASSISTANCE of any kind was available from Huntington National Banks, Keyport Life Insurance Company, or Sun Life Financial Services. Approximately every 6 months, I was mailed prospectuses from 7-14 mutual fund, stock fund or money market fund products in which I could chose to invest.
Over several years, it became apparent that the only funds available were of very low quality and rating, and in many cases showed consistent losses over the period of my investment (1987-2003). Never, in seven years, were stock or mutual fund products made available that were listed among the 500 top performers in the US in any category. For example, the only money market fund available always paid less than similar money market funds available through local banks. Following the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy, Keyport continued to offer funds whose professional fund management staffs had been killed. Additionally, a service fee of over 1% was assessed to my accounts every year.
When I attempted to seek professional assistance from Keyport Life Insurance Company, I was treated rudely or ignored by the company customer service staff, and on several occasions was threatened by the legal staff of Keyport in writing for my efforts to remove my funds from the annuity without penalty. On several occasions, I was told by telephone customer service personnel employed by Keyport Life Insurance Company that they did not understand why any serious investor would purchase a Keyport Annuity product.
In my initial contract, I was allowed to transfer my funds among the few available stock, mutual fund and money market products at any time, without cost. When the stock market became increasingly volatile, I received a letter indicating that Keyport had decided to change the contract, such that money could be transferred only every 30 days. Thus, if another terrorist tragedy occurred, Keyport investors would be unable to remove their investment from stock-based products for up to 30 additional days. This change was made based a "fine print" sentence in the original contract indicating, in essence, that Keyport retained the "right to alter the contract of investors in any way they deemed suitable, without prior notification of investors".
While the stock market increased from approximately 5500 in 1987 to a high of over 12000, I realized a total investment gain of 8.74% in six years, or an average gain of 1.45% per year. When I finally withdrew my money following the sixth year, I was penalized over $1600. I estimate conservatively, based on the performances of other available products, that the Keyport Advisor Annuity cost me over $80,000 in potential investment gain.
Based on my experience, I strongly urge that no serious investor consider investment in Keyport annuity products. While there are many credible investment products on the market, the Keyport Annuity, now marketed and managed by Sun Life Financial Services, proved to be among the poorest possible. I further suggest that the advice of poorly trained and experienced investment employees of banks be ignored, as their actions may be more driven by commissions that by a thorough investigation of the historical performance of available investment products.