Displaying items by tag: annuities

One of the best real-time measures of the population’s interest in a subject can be gleaned through Google search data. Since the start of the year, searches for the topic are up by 50% and continue to climb with rates. In fact, there is a 0.9 correlation between search volume and longer-term rates.


According to Standard Life, interest in the topic really accelerated once rates exceeded 4%. Currently, many annuities are offering returns in the 7% to 8% range which is leading to strong demand from retirees or those close to retirement who are looking for income. 


Recent months have seen rates continue inching higher, while inflation expectations have moderated. Higher real rates are also adding to the appeal of annuities given concerns about the economic outlook and costs.


Two more contributing factors behind annuity demand are pent-up demand and demographics. For more than a decade, rates were so low that annuities simply didn’t deliver sufficient returns for investors or retirees. Instead, monetary policy was designed to push them higher up the risk curve in order to generate yield. 


Demographics also can’t be ignored. Next year, 12,000 Americans will be reaching retirement age every day. And by 2031, 70 million Americans will be above retirement age. The population is even older in Europe and Japan and will likely be interested in boosting their income during retirement. 

Finsum: Google search data shows that interest in annuities has surged since the beginning of the year. It’s not a coincidence that this happened as long-term rates were breaking out to multi decade highs. 


Published in Wealth Management
Wednesday, 13 September 2023 15:58

Can Annuities Solve the Pension Problem?

For decades, Americans have relied on pensions to fund their lifestyles during retirement. This is no longer the case with pensions being phased out in most workplaces. Given today’s high interest rates, it’s worth investigating whether annuities are a sufficient replacement.


It’s already clear that many advisors and investors feel the same way given that demand has soared in the last couple of years given the combination of high rates and an uncertain economic outlook. Last year saw a record of $302.9 billion in sales which was a 47% increase from last year. Further, 2023 sales are projected to exceed this figure by a decent margin. Demographics also support continued strength in annuity sales. 2024 is expected to see the largest number of new retirees in history, and around 40% have expressed concern about having sufficient income especially given the jump in inflation. 


According to an industry study, 32% of those buying annuities do so to have a guaranteed income stream in retirement. 25% do so to provide protection against their assets losing value. According to the same study, 80% of prospective retirees are interested in annuities, while 82% of recent annuity buyers said they would recommend the product to a friend or family member. 

Finsum: Annuity sales are booming due to high rates and an uncertain economic outlook. With a wave of retirees coming, they will play an important role in plugging the gap left by the exodus of pensions.


Published in Wealth Management

In an article for SmartAsset, Patrick Villanova CEPF covers a recent note from Schwab which discusses why this is a favorable time to purchase an annuity. It’s not entirely a contrarian position given that annuity sales hit record highs during the first-half of 2023 which saw a 28% increase from strong sales in the first-half of 2022.


Annuity sales tend to spike during periods of economic uncertainty and attractive rates. The last time there was a similar spike in sales was during the 2008 financial crisis. Currently, there is considerable uncertainty about the economic and monetary outlook while rates are at their highest level in decades. These purchases would perform especially well if inflation and rates return back to levels that were commonly experienced over the past couple of decades, while they would underperform if current conditions persist. 


Currently, most fixed annuities are paying yielding between 6.5% and 7%, adjusting for various factors. In contrast, the yield on a high-quality corporate bond ETF is about 5%. However, the corporate bond ETF provides more upside in the event that bonds strengthen especially if rates normalize but have more downside if rates stay elevated or rise further. 

Finsum: Annuity sales are at record levels in 2023 and offer more yield than corporate bonds. Here’s why they continue to remain a good buy according to Schwab. 


Published in Wealth Management
Wednesday, 02 August 2023 03:14

Annuity Sales Hit Records

In an article for InvestmentNews, Emile Hallez reports on annuity sales reaching record levels in the first-half of 2023. Demand for these products is due to the highest interest rates in decades, coupled with economic uncertainty with factors like inflation and concerns of a recession. Overall, annuity sales reached $182.9 billion in 2023 which is a 28% increase from the first-half of 2022. 

One of the fastest-growing annuity categories is registered index-linked annuities (RLIA). These have gone from a fraction of the annuity market to becoming one of the most popular in 2023. In 2017, only 4 companies offered these products, while 17 do so currently with others planning their own offerings in the coming months. 

Interestingly, RLIA sales are up 8% compared to the first-half of 2022 but sales of traditional variable annuities are down 25%. RLIAs are different from variable annuities because they offer more protection with some also offering some sort of guaranteed income. 

Recent developments are supportive of continued inflows into these products especially given what’s happening in other asset classes. Equities have enjoyed a surprisingly robust performance, but it’s leading to concerns about valuation. Fixed-income also offers generous yield, but the asset class posted negative returns in 2022 and middling returns in 2023. Therefore, it’s likely that annuities continue to see record inflows in the second-half of the year. 

Finsum: The outlook for annuities is quite strong for the second-half of 2023 given high interest rates, an expensive stock market, and volatility in fixed income.


Published in Wealth Management
Wednesday, 02 August 2023 02:26

Follow the bouncing annuities

Your eyes don’t deceive you. Well, at least not this time.

In the second quarter of the year, there was a bounce of 12% year over year to $88.6 billion, reported limra.com. The catalyst: a tag team of unprecedented registered index linked annuity and fixed indexed annuity sales, according to preliminary results from LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey.

“Double-digit equity market increases and stable interest rates have prompted investors to seek out greater investment growth opportunity through RILAs and FIAs,” according to Todd Giesing, assistant vice president, LIMRA Annuity Research. Economic conditions continue to be favorable for the annuity market, he added.

-Last year, fueled by volatility in the equities markets and a spike in interest rates, there was a bump in annuities sales, according to winintel.com. Also in 2022, total U.S. annuity sales hit $310.6 billion -- a 23% increase over 2021. And, wait, there’s more. For you history buffs, it was a jump of 15% from the sales record hit in 2008.


Published in Eq: Total Market
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