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The separate account funds to which you allocate your variable annuity premiums are sometimes called subaccounts.
Each subaccount is managed by an investment specialist, or team of specialists, who make buy and sell decisions based on the subaccount's objective and their analysts' research.
If you're comparing different contracts to decide which to purchase, among the factors to consider are the variety of subaccounts each contract offers, the past performance of those subaccounts, the experience of the professional manager, and the fees.
In evaluating the past performance and other details of the subaccounts a contract offers, or those you select in the contract you choose, you can use the prospectus the annuity company provides for each subaccount. You may also be able to find independent research from firms such as Morningstar, Inc., Standard & Poor's, and Lipper. However, past performance is not indicative of future results.