Please help me understand 'Separate Accounts'
I recently started the process of looking over our entire retirement portfolio in an effort to actually balance things for our age group and risk comfort level. I had some fairly sound ideas of what I wanted to do.
During this process, I found out something interesting about my husband's current employer's 401k that neither of us realized. All the offerings are called 'Separate Accounts." The information on these on the internet is sparse and vague. I have learned this:
1) They aren't available to the public
2) They have no ticker symbol
3) It is a group of investments in stocks, much like a mutual fund
4) It is often (maybe always?) a product of an insurance company, but the funds are separate from the insurance company's profit or losses with regards to insurance.
5) It is at least some of the time not regulated by the SEC but by state regulations, and I am not sure when it is or isn't.
6) I have no idea if it is insured by a government entity in the same way that the FDIC insures banks.
7) I have no idea how the expense ratios compare to mutual funds.
I have also included a link below that has a brief description of these.
These don't seem like inherently bad investments, but I want some information from someone who has actually heard of these to give me some opinion/information. I consider myself to be fairly educated on at least the terms and options even if I haven't been on top of my funds, so this was a big shock to me. A very large chunk of our money is in these investments. It also sucks that since they are not publicly traded that you can't port them into a Morningstar portfolio to see your entire picture at once. These would have to be tracked separately.
Please let me know anything you can about them - from both an information standpoint and an editorial standpoint.
Thanks for reading this and responding!!
P.S. I am on vacation (fun way to spend a vacation, no?), and we are on to our next leg shortly (which is 6 days long) and I have very limited internet where I am going. I promise to get back to this upon my return, if not during my trip itself.
Here is a link that might be useful: PDF of a description of a Separate Account