Variable annuities are securities. Securities registration and licensing are required before an agent can even discuss them. Most don't find it worth the trouble.
To his credit, Goldstein actually understates the downsides of variable annuities, to wit:
- ". . . withdrawals from an annuity during the first 10 years of the contract can be assessed fees of as high as 8% . . ." Actually, surrender charges of 10% aren't uncommon.
- "their annual expense ratios can reach as high as 3%". I've seen annual fees, including riders & subaccount fees, as high as 4.5%.
Sadly, it is when the market is booming that people flock to variable annuities, dazzled by short term performance and oblivious to the fees. I do agree with Goldstein that there are less risky, more economical options.