Editor's picks — 5/27-5/31

By Vanessa De La Rosa


This week's picks include the value of variable life insurance, an advisory code of conduct, a health care experiment in Oregon, a long list of apps for independent agents, a comparison between Tim Tebow and annuities, an exploration of "reform conservatism," and more. As always, feel free to note your own recommendations, opinions and comments below.

Separated at birth: Tim Tebow and annuities (MarketWatch)

"Let's look at some interesting similarities between football's most talked about quarterback and today's most controversial investment choice. "

Why is American health care so ridiculously expensive? (The Atlantic)

"It would be nice to say that high prices are a bug of our medical system. But they're a feature. They're part of a choice we've made. "

Estate plan funding for spouses (Forbes)

"Earlier in my career, I saw estate plans consisting of a set of documents drawn and signed, and that was it."

What is reform conservatism? (The New York Times)

"Is this a policy synthesis that would make the G.O.P. more effective at winning national elections? I think so, but that’s certainly debatable. Is it an agenda that the party is likely to actually embrace anytime soon? That’s much more doubtful."

The value of variable life insurance: Surrender charges and fair market value (LifeHealthPro.com)

"This opinion rejected the IRS’s reasoning that your clients would be required to include the (potentially large) stated value of a life insurance policy in income even if the policy features, coupled with market performance, would render the policy worthless."

50 top apps for independent agents (Insurance Journal)

"But when it comes to working on the go, nothing is as important as mobile device applications. But what apps do independent agents use most? What apps are the most useful in business and personal life?"

An advisory code of conduct (FinancialPlanning.com)

"If a code of conduct governs specific individuals, what happens when multiple professionals — a wealth manager, CPA, estate planning attorney and insurance professional — are working together on behalf of a common client? While each individual in this group has to meet the standards of their particular discipline, should there be a code of conduct that applies to all the members of this team, regardless of license or designation?"

Why pension funds are eating your 401(k)’s lunch (Fox Business)

"Employers may not want to encourage another generation of boomer-like workers who feel like they have to keep working forever because their 401(k) savings are inadequate."

Is the future of American health care in Oregon? (The Washington Post)

"This is a potentially transformational notion, based on a belief that the health-care system doesn’t decide or drive health, even that individuals don’t particularly drive their own health."

Top 50 annuities (Barron's)

"As part of an effort to lift sagging profits after years of challenging market conditions, firms are giving the oft-maligned annuity a makeover: an ultralow-cost, variable annuity that offers a broad array of alternative investments, including hedge funds, currency funds, managed futures, and other strategies."