The outlook for the financial markets and economy is quite murky given several uncertainties such as a slowing economy, high interest rates, inflation, trouble in the banking sector, and geopolitical risk. Adding to these woes has been the poor performance of bonds. Typically, they are a safe haven during periods of uncertainty and volatility. Yet, they have suffered losses and failed to provide sufficient diversification over the last couple of years.
Thus, many are looking at other asset classes to meet these needs such as fixed-indexed annuities. The rates on these annuities are tied to the performance of an index such as the S&P 500 with much less risk. They combine the security of a fixed annuity while having some upside like an index annuity.
Most fixed-indexed annuities are structured to provide 100% protection of the principal which is especially advantageous during a market downturn. In some ways, these are more secure than bank deposits given that there is a 100% financial reserve requirement for annuity issuers while banks have much lower reserve requirements on deposits.
However, there are some downsides to fixed-indexed annuities. Relative to bonds, there is much less liquidity, as most have some sort of limits on how much of the principal can be withdrawn without incurring a penalty. There are also higher fees than simply investing in a fixed income fund.
Finsum: Fixed-indexed annuities may be a better fit for many investors than traditional bonds especially in the current environment.