That should have gotten your attention!
In my last post, I discussed some basics of annuities. Annuities can offer some protection for your savings which other investments, such as stocks or mutual funds do not. Keep in mind that the value of your account may still go down.
Lets talk about a few protections which you may get from an annuity.
GUARANTEED DEATH BENEFIT – The first one, common to most annuities, is the Guaranteed Death Benefit. What is means is that if you invested a sum of money into an annuity, your beneficiaries will receive at least that amount (minus any income or withdrawals taken).
For example, lets say that John puts $100,000 into a variable annuity. The market goes south, and the value of the annuity dips to $80,000, when John dies. If he has not taken income, his heirs will get the full $100,000. Now lets say that the market goes up, and the account grows to $120,000. When John dies, his heirs get $120,000. In this case, it would not matter if he has taken income – if the account value has grown from his original investment, his heirs get the account value.
GUARANTEED GROWTH – There are a lot of different insurance brokers who provide annuities, and not all of them offer this. Whichever provider you use, I would certainly recommend using a large, stable, reputable (Name Brand) company. The protection is only as good as the insurance company backing it.
I have become familiar with Jackson National Life, one of the largest annuity providers in the US. They have an AA rating in Financial Strength from Fitch & Standard & Poors, which is Very Strong. What that means to a client is that they should feel secure with the protections they are getting on their money. (Source: Jackson Life http://www.jackson.com/)
Jackson offers a Fixed Account Option on its annuities. The Fixed Option offers a 1 Year Interest Rate, which is reset each year, but is never less than 3% (Special Benefit Value). 3% actually looks pretty good right now, doesn’t it?
Lets say that John starts out at age 55 by investing his $100,000 in a Fixed Index Annuity. Assuming that the annuity value has grown by 3% per year, by age 65 (10 years) it will be worth $134,392 minimum. (Source: Jackson Ascender Plus Select Brochure, http://www.jackson.com/).
A Variable Annuity should provide more growth over time, however its performance is related to the stock market. The Standard & Poors Index, also referred to as the S & P 500 represents the largest 500 companies in the USA. It has been the measuring stick for comparing investment performance.
If John had been investing his $100,000 in a Variable Annuity using the S & P Index, Jackson lets you have a “win-win”. If the market goes up, the account will also go up. If the market goes down, the account value stays the same. This would have been particularly valuable in 2008 when the S & P declined by 42.9%. The value in John’s account would have been the same. Had John kept his money invested over the last 10 years, he would have $145,825 today. (Source: Jackson Ascender Plus Select Brochure, http://www.jackson.com/)
I will look at Guaranteed Income Options in another segment. I will also look at additional charges for these features (where they apply). Please keep in mind that an annuity is not for everyone. You should consult with your advisor to determine if an annuity is right for you.