Displaying items by tag: annuities
Indexed annuities are seemingly just one option from the vast annuities market available to advisors. That said, they fill a unique and interesting role. At their most basic level indexed annuities have payouts tied to the performance of specific indexes. This can be good because they can offer more income than fixed annuities, but they also come with caps that mean you don’t get to participate in anything close to the full upside of the market. If you want a little more potential return, buffered annuities are a good idea. They offer more upside on index returns in exchange for more risk on the part of investors. The “buffer” is essentially a contractual mitigation of losses. For example, if the market loses 30% in a given year, a 10% buffer means the annuity holder would on lose 20%.
FINSUM: These are essentially a more aggressive type of annuity that offers higher payouts and more risk than traditional fixed annuities. These are a good option for those who have the freedom to try to achieve more upside, or those who are afraid of inflation.
While yields have been rising over the last few weeks, the reality is that they are still near historic lows, and far below the level most retirees need in order to earn decent income, especially given how risky bonds currently appear. So, in this very difficult environment annuities have emerged as a good option, but how to take best advantage of them when rates are so low? There are a few options, but the best one is “laddering”, or buying multiple annuities over time in order to not commit your entire pot of capital at a time when rates are so low. Additionally, some annuities offer dividend payments on top of regular payouts, which can provide extra income.
FINSUM: One of the big worries right now is putting a big pot of money into annuities, only to see rates and payouts rise in a couple years. Hence laddering is good strategy.
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.
Annuities are a widely available and popular product, and they are heavily utilized by retirees whose main focus is income. Therefore, it would make sense that tax planning around that income would be more of a major consideration—especially because annuities have some peculiarities as it regards taxation—but in general it does not seem to be an explicit topic. One of the first things to remember is the difference between qualified and nonqualified annuities—the former being in retirement plans, the latter not. Both require mandatory withdrawals after age 72. It is critical to remember that only interest, not principal is taxable when withdrawing money from a nonqualified plan. This is a big danger zone that some retirees fall into. Two other important notes: annuity interest used to fund long-term care insurance can be used tax free; and spouses can assume ownership of an annuity in the event of the death of their spouse tax-free.
FINSUM: For advisors who readily deal in annuities, this info will be second nature. However, there are a lot of advisors who are just starting to get into annuities and this info will be quite useful.
In what is easily our favorite investing metaphor of the year, Kiplinger recently wrote an article that said annuities are the broccoli of investing—many people try to avoid them, but every retirement portfolio needs them. A recent study found that while most people buy auto, home, health, and life insurance, the large majority of people avoid buying insurance for one of their biggest fears—running out of money in retirement. This is exactly where annuities come in, as they are essentially insurance contacts that provide guaranteed income in retirement (depending on the type you choose). Deferred annuities are the most common option, as they defer payment for up to decades, and then start paying out upon retirement or an age threshold.
FINSUM: Advisors who are sell annuities already understand utilities, but many don’t fully grasp their use, especially given the negative aura they have had for many years. Most retirees’ portfolios can benefit from annuities.