Just a few years ago, variable annuities were so popular among insurance carriers issuing them and the wirehouses and other broker-dealer firms selling them, that some ended up getting slapped by FINRA and state regulators for pushing the products even to investors for whom they were inappropriate.

Now, in a turnaround, some major issuers of variable annuities (VAs) are pulling back, getting out of the business entirely, or in some cases even offering to buy policies back from clients who bought products with generous lifetime income riders.

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