Displaying items by tag: fixed index annuities
Fixed index annuities, like other annuities, have developed somewhat of a bad reputation for poor sales practices over the years. Many agents sell fixed index annuities by saying things like “7% annual gains, no downside”, which in reality is a gross misrepresentation of how income riders work. So why should one buy annuities, and how in turn should they be sold responsibly? The reality is that fixed index annuities are best bought for what they guarantee, not what they might offer. That means CD-like returns with full principal protection. Any upside gains are a bonus, but should not be the core reason for buying the annuity, or the principal way they are pitched.
FINSUM: This will obviously be second nature to those experienced with annuities, but there are plenty of advisors whose clients are starting to ask them about the product (given the environment), so this is just a reminder for those dealing with unfamiliar inbound requests.
The term “hybrid annuity” gets thrown around in casual conversation all the time, unfortunately including in sales pitches to clients. However, one would be better off calling it what it is—a fixed index annuity. “Hybrid annuity” gives a false sense of the product, lending the impression that there is full principal protection AND unlimited upside. The reality, of course is that while principal protection full exists, there is quite limited upside that is constrained by the annuity contract.
FINSUM: A contractually limited 4% max annual upside via an option contract on an index is not unlimited upside.
Many people who are thinking about annuities don’t realize that many of them are sellable products—they don’t necessarily have to be held forever (even if that is often the best strategy). So which annuities are sellable and which aren’t? In general, SPIAs (single premium immediate annuities), DIAs (deferred income annuities), and QLACs (qualified longevity annuity contracts) are not sellable; VAs (variable annuities), FIAs (fixed index annuities), and MYGA (multi-year guarantee annuities) are usually sellable. Each of those latter products have surrender charge time periods in them, so it may cost something, but it does mean money is not locked in them forever.
FINSUM: Since selling would usually not be the best idea, this is more of a peace of mind factor than anything else, in our opinion.
A lot of advisors and investors are looking at fixed annuities right now, especially fixed index annuities. Such products offer principal protection and lifetime income, both of which are in short supply given current market conditions. It is important to remember though, that FIAs were only built to beat CD returns by a small margin, they are not supposed to have huge upside. With that said, there are ways to maximize returns, such as using income riders. These are extra features which provide higher lifetime income payments are a future date of your choice. They need to be added when you buy the annuity, not later, and do have annual fees.
FINSUM: Income riders are most popular with fixed index annuities, but do show up in some variable annuities and SPIAs.
One of the most commonly asked client questions about annuities is “what is the best age to buy one?” The answer, as advisors know, is that there isn’t one; it depends on your financial goals and circumstances. That said, there are a couple things to bear in mind. Firstly, those in their mid-40s or younger should almost certainly not consider annuities (outside of some variable annuities) because they have the time to take additional risk (and get the additional growth) of direct exposure to the market. On the other end, annuity availability for those 80 and older declines rapidly. Accordingly, depending on circumstances, the sweet spot is likely in that range.
FINSUM: Annuities seem to be best bought for what they guarantee, not what they might offer, as downside protection and income protection are truly the name of the game.