If there were ever a product built for steady retirement income, it is fixed annuities. With the big decline in fixed pensions, fixed annuities have become a must-have option for many retirees who need guaranteed income. They are the simplest annuity—principal and income are guaranteed, but rates are fixed. In other words, the insurance company is bearing the risk, so they get the upside, but the customer gets peace of mind. Therefore, the basic utility of annuities is to support everyday income in retirement. There are other uses too, especially in the current market environment. For example, “Right now, some fixed annuities make an attractive alternative to both bonds and CDs in a portfolio, due to the principal guarantees and interest rates offered”, says one financial advisor at Stack Financial Services.
FINSUM: The most important thing to remember is that annuities have utility in most portfolios, but they should only ever be just a portion of a portfolio. They suffer from illiquidity and are very susceptible to inflation, but they also have guarantees that no other asset class can offer.