In the Wall Street Journal article linked below, Senator Elizabeth Warren chooses to refer to the incentives offered to agents for selling certain types of annuities as “Kickbacks”. Really?! Is that what she meant to say because at an initial glance it seemed awfully irresponsible and uniformed to me? Wanting to make sure I did not misunderstand her, I thought I would look up the word Kickback to see if its connotation to me was way off. It wasn’t. Varying definitions of “kickback” use words like “bribery, coercion, illegal, collusion, secret, and dishonest”.
The awards offered by insurance companies to their agents for selling these legal products are no more kickbacks than the desk in the Senator’s office or the last airline ticket that she purchased using either the MRA or SOPOEA money that she is allotted as a Senator. The counter argument I’m sure would be that the desk and the flight are expenses being covered by her employer, The US Government. In reality they are simply non-compensation perks of the job and an important part of seeing to it that she does her job, and personally I have no problem with that.
The bottom line is that the annuities that the Senator targets in this piece are legal, and as such the employers that pay staff to sell them and reward them with extra incentives when they do a good job have every right to do so without government officials slandering the process. If, Senator Warren, you think these annuities are overpriced or ineffective and/or that they should be made illegal, then have at it. Find an existing law or propose a new one to ban them. But for as long as they are legal products, and as long as awarding employees for doing a great job is legal, please do not slander the practice by calling it a kickback. Doing so damages the very legal, very beneficial, Employee Engagement Industry that helps greatly improve this nations businesses every day.