Current events, commentary, and links to other resources on retirement income and annuities in the news.

Comparison of Two Retirement Plans

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Last year at about this time I got a call from Roger and it inspired me to make his situation the subject of a newsletter.  A few years prior he had put a plan into place based on advice from a CFP and had started to question the plan.  He found this website and wanted my opinion.  There wasn’t much I could do for him except cross my fingers and hope it all works out regardless of the limited potential he now has.

You can read that story here:  I Can’t Believe a CFP Designed This Plan

I was thinking about it because I am three weeks away from a client review for a couple that started about the same time as Roger and the two situations were roughly similar back in 2016.  The difference between the two plans will underscore the importance of blending safety and growth potential.  The events of the past year have made me grateful to have clients that are adequately protected but still able to capitalize with substantial profits.

So let me tell you about Lee and Barb.  I met them in early 2015 while spending the winter in Puerto Rico.  They were each 59 years old and had planned to retire in four years when they could collect social security.  With a combined $900K in two 401(k)s and a projected income need of $30,000 annually I determined that retirement was possible.  In order to hit the goal they had to protect assets but they also needed growth for discretionary spending and inflation protection.  The asset to income ratio was right on the line but there was no choice but to blend protection with growth potential.

If you remember back to early 2015 you might recall plenty of uncertainty in the markets and economy.  It was only two years after the S&P 500 had recovered from the calamity of 2008 so there was a mix of people who were relieved to have stayed in the market and those who got out at the wrong time and had been too scared and unsure of what to do.  It was the perfect time to add some assurance but keep open the possibility for continued growth.  That was about the same time Roger’s CFP had him put everything in cash and annuities.  If I only had a time machine…

Lee and Barb had their assets in a 50/50 mix between corporate bond funds and market index funds.  Aside from a short visit with a Ken Fisher rep the only other plan they’d seen was a recommendation to put $600K into a deferred index annuity with an income rider.  Boring, right?  That contract would have perfectly hit the income goal in four years so it was suitable but I felt they would be leaving too much potential on the table and I also knew that an annuity would work well with far less investment in the beginning.

The solution was simple and the reasoning obvious.  Swap the bond funds for and index annuity with no income rider and no fee for maximum growth.  It actually took less than half with $400K going into the annuity.  The remaining assets could float with the market and in four years, withdrawals would come from the annuity if market assets were down and just the opposite if the growth side had done better.  With a seven year annuity contract, in a worst case scenario, they could pull income via free withdrawal for three years until the contract was surrender free, at which point all assets would be rebalanced depending on portfolio weight at the time.

The first year was pretty weak on both sides.  The market was more or less flat with the annuity growing about 1% and the market doing about the same.  However, in early 2017 the market was well into another good run and the annuity came in for a 5% yield and the market investments were up about 15%.  Things were looking good for Lee and Barb and they considered taking some gains and protecting them but with no real need I didn’t think it was necessary.  The market continued to race forward and in 2018 the annuity had another modest return in the neighborhood of 5% or so but the market assets had grown to nearly $700,000 after an exceptional 2017.  Lee decided to retire early and Barb made a plan to follow him in a year, which was also earlier than planned.  In doing this they activated part of their long-term plan and shifted $200,000 to more stable blue chip stocks with a history of consistent dividends.  This would reduce risk a bit more and provide for some diversification and consistent income to take pressure off other parts of the plan.

It was a good call to go a little more conservative because the market had some losses in 2018 and they held steady with the rest of plan given no reason to overreact to the modest correction.  I’m excited to talk to them again in a few weeks.  If things hold the market side of the portfolio will be valued at more than $900,000 after a historically exceptional 2019 and the annuity is looking at a yield of close to 8% which will lock in a value of about $480,000.  Without a specific calculation I can tell that’s a blended yield of roughly 12% over four years.

I remember writing about Roger’s story last year and saying something about how I would have done things differently four years ago and it occurred to me that this was a great example of why it’s important to stay consistent.  Obviously it’s not the annuity that gave Lee and Barb all the great performance but it was the annuity and the overall strategy that allowed them the opportunity.

If you were to do things the same as Lee and Barb I can’t guarantee the same results over the next four years but I do know if you do it right you’ll see that happen at some point.  Any other annuity strategy would have cost too much to achieve the above results and some advisors would even have you put so much in there that you’d have no real growth to look forward to.

I’d rather see you succeed than me so my goal is simple.  Prove that you need to protect just enough for a backup plan while leaving plenty available for maximum potential and flexibility in the future.  With rates staying stubbornly low, it takes just a touch of creativity to find an alternative that doesn’t lock up your money for the long term.

Enjoy your weekend!

Bryan

800.438.5121

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Long Term Care and Annuities

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It’s a major selling point of many contracts and an easy sales pitch.  “You’ll get a long-term care enhancement if you need it so it’s a win/win!”  Insurance companies didn’t become the most stable financial institutions by giving things away so if you really want long-term care than you need to look at all the options.

This is not a product type I’ve put much emphasis on selling because I’ve already run the numbers and determined the cost is not worth it in most cases.  But the prospect of needing professional care later in life has pervaded the minds of all retirees if not because of marketing efforts from the insurance industry then because some have seen their parents go through a difficult situation.

First I’m going to talk about hybrid products that offer additional benefits for extended care situations.  Most commonly this is an index annuity with income rider.  In the best case, the contract reads that you can double your income for up to five years if you can’t perform two out of six activities of daily living (ADLs).  If you don’t know what those are, in simple terms, those are the six things you’d rather not have someone else do for you.

Index annuities with care enhancements are fine but you need to understand you are giving up a little in terms of growth, income, fees or all of the above in exchange for the protection.  The reason I say it’s not usually worth it is because all contracts I know of remove the care enhancement once the cash value of the contract goes to zero.  Income payments will continue but with lower growth and fees the enhanced benefit is gone for most people around age 80.  That’s exactly when you’d need it most so that explains why it might look pretty good.  Most people won’t ever get it.

No underwriting is required and you can use an IRA or cash to buy it because it comes attached to many of the popular products that sell the most.  The downside is the benefit comes as additional income so it’s all taxable, whereas true long-term care is tax-free.  But it is something if you don’t have the money for anything else.

If you really want the insurance then you need to look at other options so I’m going to explain briefly what’s available.  My first long-term care seminar was probably 15 years ago and the wholesaler said something that has stuck with me since.  In his words, “purchasing long-term care is a business decision.”  Would you rather spend your money on the care later or the insurance now?  I’m not trying to convince you one way or another, just asking you to think about it.  There is no right or wrong answer.

Below are your other options.  All provide for tax-free care benefits but must be funded using after-tax money and all require some form of medical underwriting to be issued.

Long-Term Care Insurance Policy

Most people who have these got ‘em well before retirement.  Policies can be issued as early as age 40 when premiums would be really low, but premiums can increase over time.  I’ve heard from several people who feel handcuffed by the rising costs over time and with so much invested already the decision to cancel is extremely difficult.  In light of that possibility, policies were created that guarantee a level premium payment over a specific period like ten years.  Once finished with the payment terms the policy remains in-force for life and no more payments are required.  This is a good option for anyone with extra cash in the years leading up to retirement.  It’s not cheap but this is a very effective way to provide for a future care situation.

There are some pitfalls that are important to consider.  The father of a person who I’ve been speaking with for the past few months had long-term care insurance when he entered a care facility.  His father passed away before the elimination period ended and never got a benefit after paying for the policy for several years.  Because of that experience, this gentleman is not too excited about the prospect of buying an expensive policy.  Like I said, it’s a business decision.

Permanent Life Insurance

If you are afraid of paying a hefty price for something you may not use then this can be a safer option with a far greater range of outcomes.  Most companies issuing permanent life insurance policies now allow for death benefits to be accelerated to pay for long-term care expenses.  Since it’s an insurance death benefit then it also comes out tax-free.  Ten year payment policies require no payments after ten years, come with a residual cash value that can be used for income later in life or a death benefit that passes to your heirs.  There are several options if you don’t exercise the care provision.  Money is not lost in either case and you earn a modest interest rate on your money over time.  For these policies I recommend whole life over indexed universal life because the cost is lower and the guarantees are much stronger.

True Long-Term Care Annuities

Yes, there are annuities that are specifically built to provide long-term care and many of you know about these already.  You can even use a highly appreciated annuity if it was purchased with after-tax funds.  I’ve known several people in the past that took advantage of the opportunity to transfer and provide insurance rather than paying income taxes on the appreciation of an old annuity contract.  The best contract currently on the market provides 2.5 times the premium amount in qualified care benefit.  That means if you put in $100K then you have a guaranteed $250K insurance benefit if you ever need.  And if you don’t, the contract can be annuitized for income later or the residual balance will be passed to your heirs.

All of the above are a decent option for anyone with extra cash flow or some money laying around that can help offset a potentially major cost late in retirement.  There are obviously several additional details involved in each but the material basics are mentioned.  This post literally could have turned into a separate report worthy of a dozen pages or more.  In my opinion, the life insurance is the best option because it doesn’t require a large sum in the beginning like the annuity and has level payments with more alternatives than the long-term care policy.

Again, it’s a business decision and a required consideration of any viable retirement plan.  If you would like clarification on any of the above information or have a story to share about your experience then please comment below or respond to my email.  Those of you with personal experience may be able to help someone else put the subject in perspective.

Have a great weekend…

Bryan

800.438.5121

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Why Would an Annuity Make Sense in 2019?

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Annuities barely get a passing thought when the market approaches record returns.  Short-term exuberance is addictive and very few people can remove emotion from investment decisions.  Well 2019 was a year that paid off for everyone who stuck with it.  Trade tensions have eased and the economy seems to keep growing steadily so it may continue for a while.  Then again, there’s some real political risk after Thursday night’s news from Iran but that’s an entirely different subject.

Yes, the market was great in 2019 but it was not easy to get there as many people were continually nervous along the way.  It seems as though pain is much easier to forget than I used to think because this time last year plenty of people were lamenting the end of a bull market and moderate portfolio losses through 2018.

I remember a year ago I told plenty of people to stick with the market after big losses but I’m not quite as confident this year since many of you have the opportunity to take some nice gains out of play.  2018 wasn’t great and 2019 was.  So what is the average of those two years?  After all, retirement planning is a long-term proposal so short-term gains or losses are not where you should focus.

I started thinking about this a couple weeks ago and sat down last night to run some numbers.  In a post about volatility a few weeks ago I brought up something a lot of people know.  It takes a larger gain to make up losses and since 2018 was negative that should decrease the actual yield after a stellar 2019.  And of course I wanted to test to see how an index annuity might have affected the outcome.  Now, two years is still too short-sighted but it’s a good exercise nonetheless and the difference will no doubt be more pronounced in the long run.

So I took the level of the S&P 500 at the beginning of 2018, 2019 and 2020 to test the value of different portfolio mixes to see what performed best.  In 2018 the index was down 7.7% and in 2019 it was back nearly 29%.  Starting with a direct investment in the S&P 500 the results are below.

As you can see, after the drop in asset value, rather than being up big the yield was good but a fair bit more muted.  The two year effective yield comes to 8.967%.  Not a bad average at all but far from knocking it out of the park.

Let’s see how the same thing would look with an index annuity and 50% participation rate…

Instead of risking it in the stock market, had you protected it with an index annuity it would have caused you to come up $4,396 short in portfolio value.  But it’s more about what you went through to get the respectable 6.931% effective yield.  A year ago most people couldn’t stomach the losses experienced and I don’t know exactly how many stayed in the market.  Plenty of others who had annuities were bummed to make little or nothing but no one lost money and there was much less stress involved.  Let’s take it one step further and see what a blended portfolio would have done with a 50/50 mix of annuity and stock market.

Half of the risk resulted in cutting losses as well and staying in position with a portion of assets to capture more gain, resulting in an improved yield of 7.954%.  That’s pretty good considering half the risk.  Since you all are in or near retirement then it makes sense to see how withdrawals would affect the outcome.  Remember, withdrawals from the market in down years will compound losses so it’s more necessary to protect assets in order to maintain growth potential.  Take a look at the final table below where I assume a 5% withdrawal for income in each scenario.

Please allow me to summarize the important points below:

  • Taking a withdrawal from market-based assets alone causes a total portfolio drawdown of $6,434, which includes the lost opportunity cost of the growth on the withdrawal. Over several years this will create an exponentially negative affect.
  • Using only an annuity gives you a higher starting base for the second year and results in a smaller difference of -$3,679 ending account value. Remember that without a withdrawal the difference between the two was more than $700 greater.  This gap will become tighter over several years and will quickly turn positive on the annuity side in times of extended or consistent market turmoil.
  • A balanced portfolio again reduces risk but also provides for more growth. The withdrawal was taken only from the annuity side, allowing the market assets time to recover and capture as much gain as possible.  This gives a growth advantage over the annuity-only strategy and further reduces the difference between balanced and market-only to just $1,434.  Over time this will also swing positive to the side of a balanced portfolio but it happens more quickly and the difference is far more dramatic over periods of high volatility.

What does this tell you?  Cutting risk in half more than offsets the limits of only a partial gain.  It’s simple and I don’t understand why more people don’t see it that way.  Of course the effects are compounded in a scenario where you may be taking systematic withdrawals.  Whether you need the income or not it makes sense for anyone who would rather spend retirement on hobbies and family rather than worrying about running out of money.

Stress is bad for your health so why worry about it?  Make the decision to blend your portfolio correctly and enjoy a higher standard of living because of it.

Not all annuities achieved double digits in 2019 but some did.  If you got every piece of the market or more than you probably don’t need my help or you just got lucky.  In reality, emotion caused many to enter or exit at the wrong time and lots of you even paid someone a handsome fee for the pleasure.  Get realistic and give me a call if you’d like to see the no risk, no fee approach to growing your money.

 

Happy New Year!

 

Bryan

800.438.5121

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Final Wisdom: Annuities and 2019

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It has been an interesting year and quite the opposite from how last year ended.  In December 2018, the market was down and interest rates were up.  Now the market is up and interest rates are back down.  Since most of you are checked out for the holidays I decided to skip the heavy content and give you a recap of the most valuable advice I can offer.  This will essentially sum up what I consider to be the foundation for making good decisions and creating a successful retirement plan.

 

Pursue Maximum Potential:

Whether you are just trying to protect and grow your money or looking for some lifetime income payments, go for the option that gives you the most.  It may sound simple but you’d be surprised at how many people leave money on the table by not looking around a bit.  Income annuities are easy to figure out.  I can get top of the market payouts in about 15 minutes.  Growth annuities can be a little more difficult to identify as there are many factors that affect the potential.  It takes experience and disclosure of all material details to identify the most efficient opportunities available.

Avoid Fees:

This is the monster in the closet.  Fees can be charged against any type of investment or retirement product and it can make a big difference in the bottom line.  Several weeks ago I showed you how fees erode your assets over time which makes it harder to achieve success.  It’s not just the fee you pay but the lost opportunity for growth on money that’s gone.  The best strategies minimize or even eliminate fees to give you the greatest chance for success.

Stay Flexible:

Maintaining control over your assets is the key to taking advantage of new opportunities in the future.  Being able to make changes throughout retirement will give you an advantage over other strategies in terms of market performance, interest rates changes, inflation, longevity and legacy.  No one likes to turn over control of their money so don’t.  Stay flexible and you will profit and succeed because of it.

Timing is critical:

Most people can’t successfully time the market.  Proof is only in hindsight anyway.  While you should be selling while others are buying or buying when others are selling, too many people still get lost in exuberance or panic and follow the crowd.  It’s quite true that fear and greed drive the majority of financial decisions.  So forget the market and make your decisions based on timing that is specific to what you need.  Set a timeline for the years leading up to and into retirement.  Make moves when you need to do something.  I think when is more important than how much.  Regardless of what happens with markets or interest rates, make a plan based on your needs.  If you’re still nervous then please see the point above about staying flexible.

Tackle one issue at a time:

Some people approach retirement while trying to deal with every single issue at the same time.  It’s one of the greatest obstacles you’ll face.  Social security, asset protection, market risk, annuities, long-term care, health insurance, RMDs, legacy etc.  If you try to do it all at once then rarely will it all get done correctly.  I can’t say which one is most important for you but deal with things one at a time.  Make a list with the most important things coming at the top and check them all off as you move down the list.  It will save you time and produce better results.

Get on the same page as your spouse:

This is one thing I don’t always hear directly from an individual.  But an educated assumption tells me lots of people stall out because a husband and wife don’t agree on the path forward.  Well I’m not a marriage counselor so I can’t tell you exactly how to handle it but to some extent I’m guessing a compromise will sort it out.  Some couples have one person who makes all the decisions and others work on big decisions together.  However it works for you is fine, just make sure you don’t spend too much time chasing something your spouse won’t approve.

Don’t forget your priorities:

In regards to tackling one issue at a time, keep your priorities on the forefront at all times.  Too often I see someone lose sight of the reasons for making a move and get stuck on the complexities of one part of a plan.  Always remember why you’re doing it and keep everything in the context of your goals.  Focusing on contractual details too long may lead you to something that doesn’t work as well.  Details are important but not at the cost of losing sight of the reasons you started looking in the first place.  Believe me, it happens.

Don’t follow the crowd:

This is entirely up to you.  Most asset managers don’t beat the market.  Most retirement plans have underperformed as well.  Traditional retirement advice is fine in theory but success takes a creative approach.  Computer simulations and Monte Carlo tests will reduce your portfolio to a dot on a scatter plot.  The real world works a bit differently so keep the traditional advice in mind but I recommend taking a slightly more creative approach to getting there.

 

If I had the time to write a book then I could probably tell you some funny stories about each of the above points.  Meeting all of you is definitely the best part of my job because I get to learn something from every encounter I have.  There are some great stories out there and I want each of you know that in here you are part of a large group of successful, intelligent and good people.  My position is a blessing and I don’t take it for granted.

If I left something out that you feel is important then please send me an email or make a comment below.  I want to thank you all for a fulfilling 2019 and as we finish this year and prepare for the next, no matter what plans you have, please remember I’m here to help.

 

Have a Merry Christmas!

 

Bryan

800.438.5121

Make an appointment for the New Year

 

Good, Better or Best Way to Use an Annuity?

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There are all sorts of good things a person can do with annuities.  Some annuities work better than others, depending on your goals.  But there really is only one BEST way to use annuities that will help solve nearly all the problems in retirement.  I’m not trying to convince everyone to like the products.  Each person is entitled to an opinion but if you signed up on my website and continue to read this weekly post then you might as well hear me out.

For some people it takes time for the solution to sink in.  Others quickly notice the difference between standard application and a creative strategy that produces superior results.  Most often, people who have purchased an annuity in the past finally understand exactly how an annuity fits in a portfolio and recognize the benefits of my approach right away.

Last week, one such person sent me an email to that effect.  Dan signed up on the website last Thursday and by Friday evening sent me a note to thank me for giving a clear explanation of the products and helping him avoid an additional and unsuitable product.  With his permission I have posted the email below…

Greetings, Bryan;

I Googled the 222 and your three segment videos came up.  Listened to all three of them and decided that since I’m 72 years old, 10 years is too long to wait.  In 2015, I signed on to $ 250,000 or so of Security Benefit, “Secure Income Annuity”, in three contracts including one IRA.  I’m satisfied with this arrangement, guess I need to be at this point.

So, my wife and I have approximately $ 90,000 in 401-k’s; I still work part time and mine is parked in Money Market for the most part until after the next 10%+ correction when I would normally place it back into the S&P equivalent, Fidelity FXAIX.  A local purveyor of insurance products and nice evening dinner explained the Allianz 222 without mentioning it by name until we went for an interview.  She knew just how to sign us right up that afternoon.  It all seemed a little too quick so I requested the brochure which she turned over somewhat reluctantly.

What you are saying is so true.  If in addition to performance and stability, you want to retain discretion over your investment, a simple limited duration fixed index annuity is a great tool.  This is especially true for folks who just want to be able to expect decent income but are not interested in picking and watching their way through.  My 401-k has been successful because I study when to move it all the time but only make up to a couple moves a year at this point.  I have trading and hedging strategies for my Schwab based investments in the market.  Don’t do anything with bonds.

I wish to thank you for the straight scoop on these investments.  They surely have a place in the portfolio of retail investors such as myself.  And, as you say, I know there is a right way to handle them.  If I were 10 years younger, I would surely be wanting to have the half hour of your time.

You helped clarify my suspicions regarding appropriateness of this product for me at this time.

Thank you so much.

 

My broad reaction to a message like this is to feel good about spreading a positive message about annuities.  Only buy what’s right for you and stay away from the products that don’t work for your situation.  Dan is happy with what he’s got, has a good strategy for growth investment but someone tried to sell him another contract that didn’t apply to his situation.  I’m glad that he found me and was able to avoid throwing some money at a contract that wouldn’t benefit him.

To speak in specifics I can tell you that Dan seems to be the type of guy who is good at figuring things out.  I can look at the wording and overall message and tell you that he knows exactly what I’m trying to help people accomplish.  Going piece by piece through his message will give you several indications of how best to approach investment and income planning in retirement.  Securing what you need will open up opportunities for greater long-term growth, but you should maintain a calculated approach when taking on risk.

Most importantly I want to remind everybody that my top priority is to help people make good decisions.  I’ll make a living from those whose timing and ideology matches mine.  But for the rest of you I am always available to lend a critical eye to what you are considering.

If Dan and I had met ten years ago we likely could have done some pretty good things together.  But he’s done just fine on his own and there are plenty of you out there that might look back in ten years and say the same as him.

Christmas is approaching and I wish you all the best!

For access to all past newsletters click here…

Bryan

800.438.5121

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2019 Annuity Index Performance Comparison

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In many cases, once a person decides he or she likes the idea of using an index annuity they always want to find the best annuity for maximum performance.  As much as I tell people the strategy is more important than the product, there are plenty of people who dig a deep hole by comparing options and talking to several agents.

Aside from a handful of products, most annuity contracts are similar.  Surrender terms, free withdrawals and rider options for a fee can be easily compared but the growth potential is different in almost every contract.  And it’s the growth potential that may give you the difference that sets one apart from another.

I have the list of products I like.  It’s based on my experience of working with several companies and performance and rate adjustments first-hand over several years.  But I’m not limited to using those contracts and every now and then a new client wants to try something different, either to verify my recommendations or potentially find a better option.  It’s what many smart consumers do so I will always do my best to accommodate.

This happened recently with a person I’ve been talking to throughout the year.  She is working on a retirement plan and has decided to use an index annuity but is waiting for the right time.  She asked about several companies in addition to the recommendation I made and it seemed like a good time to explain how this can work for everyone else.

Below I’m going to give you performance figures for indices that can be found inside several of the top selling contracts.  Since 2019 has been a great year in the market then it’s a good chance to look at how these popular index options compare against each other and the stock market in general.  Since most general explanations of index annuities use the S&P 500 I will disregard that for this example since so everyone can see that a variety of additional options and opportunities exist.

Let me first offer two disclaimers:

  • Each of these index returns will be limited by a cap, participation rate or spread and in some cases a combination of two out of three. Since those are changing constantly I’m not going to go into details of the actual contract yield.  Let’s just see how each index performs.
  • Most index annuities offer annual resets, meaning that’s how often you lock in gains. Some of the below options exist on a two or three year reset so there’s an extended period of time to either achieve more growth or have it wiped out by a downturn in the market.

Below you will see first the company, then the contract surrender term options and then the available index with annual performance from the past 12 months.

 

Midland National – 8 and 10 year surrender options

S&P MARC 5% Excess Return Index 13.49% annual yield

 

Great American – 5 and 7 year surrender options

S&P 500 Low Volatility Daily Risk Control 10% Index 8.13% annual yield

 

Nationwide – 5, 7, 9 and 12 year surrender options

JP Morgan Mozaic II Index 6.58% annual yield

 

Allianz – 7 and 10 year surrender options

Bloomberg US Dynamic Balanced Index 10.31% annual yield

PIMCO Tactical Balanced Index 8.06% annual yield

Blackrock iBLD Claria Index 9.86% annual yield

 

Lincoln National – 5, 7 and 10 year surrender options

Fidelity AIM Dividend Index 8.63% annual yield

 

Athene Annuity – 7 and 10 year surrender options

BNP Paribas Multi-Asset Diversified Index 10.47% annual yield

Morningstar Dividend Yield Focus Target Index 4.7% annual yield

Janus SG Market Consensus Index II -10.02% annual yield

 

Fidelity and Guaranty – 7 and 10 year surrender options

Barclays Trailblazer Sector 5 Index 12.94% annual yield

 

The above indices represent some of the more popular options that are most aggressively pushed by other agents and marketing organizations.  The annuities themselves may not have much difference but the performance potential will be tied to the index options you have.  Going back to my disclaimers, each of these will be limited by cap, participation, spread or even a reset that goes longer than one year.

If you want to shop based on index alone then this is a good start.  There is a subscription database available for an annual membership of around $800 if you want to invest some money in it but even I have yet to find that worth the subscription price.

Why?  Because true product selection goes a little deeper.  I put a lot of weight on interactions I have with certain companies.  A client-friendly user interface with excellent customer service and solid renewal rates is what makes your experience with annuity enjoyable and profitable.  If one contract does well then it’s likely that another will also.  So why not stick with the strategy that works and a company that treats you like you just gave them a big chunk of hard-earned money.

My reputation is on the line as well so I’ll never recommend anything but what I know works.

 

Bryan

800.438.5121

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The True Cost of Volatility

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Gains in the stock market are great but losses create stress. It’s high times on Wall Street right now and any painful experiences of the past are distant memories for most people. Even so, volatility is the top concern for a majority of people who are exploring the possibility of using annuities in retirement.

Most people think about volatility in terms of losing money. There’s more to it than that. Losing money is temporary but there’s a long term affect that can cause more damage and reduce the probability of success in retirement. Volatility also reduces long term yield so the more you have the less your assets grow over time.

It may seem obvious but have you ever really looked at the numbers? I mean, everyone is likely familiar with the idea that a 50% loss in one year requires a 100% gain in the next year to break even. As bad as that loss would be, the worst part is that bad luck followed by great fortune only gets you back to the starting point so you would have gone nowhere over a two year period.

I’m going to share with you a basic exercise to drive this point home. I’ve been doing this with people since the beginning of my career and it’s a simple way to show you how more volatility reduces the final yield. Refer to the table below to see several examples of a two-year time period with alternating returns. Add the yield from each year together and divide by two. Every example averages 10%.

Curiously, as more variability is introduced to the yields, the result drags down the ending account value. The highest value comes from a steady 10% each year and the lowest value comes from 30% growth followed by a 10% loss. The explanation lies in the difference between arithmetic and geometric average. Basically, one provides an average of the yields and the other gives the actual yield on investment.

Managing risk properly leads to greater yields over time by reducing volatility to improve performance. It matters even more in retirement because systematic withdrawals compound losses and limit gains. If you want to visit the archives you can look at something I wrote in 2011 about Reverse Dollar Cost Averaging. The game changes when you retire and start living off your assets. Your strategy needs to change so you can play the new game effectively.

In my last post I showed you how the opportunity cost of management fees drag down performance. Volatility makes it even worse. I had promised to offer the solution but felt it necessary to include this as well since the eroding effects of volatility can cause even more damage.

Next time I’ll put down some hard numbers that show clearly the benefits of reducing fees and managing risk properly. It’s all about making the most out of what you have. If anyone feels like jumping the gun then give me a call and I’ll show you how it works before sending it to anyone else.

Until next time…

Bryan
800.438.5121
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How Fees Affect Investment Performance

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Volatility is probably the biggest concern of most people I meet, but fees may be just as bad for total performance.  Paying fees for any type of investment or manager is palatable for some and not for others.  There are several ways a fee can erode investment gains but the highest cost may not be what you think it is.  Since I’m a proponent of no fees if at all possible it might help to explain exactly why that’s the case.

I want you to get the highest yield possible.  It’s as simple as that.  Most people don’t follow the analysis to the point where they can see just how much fees end up costing over time.  It’s the concept of lost opportunity cost.  If you were able to save or recapture the fee, how would that amount of money grown over time?  Compounded annually the total loss is exponentially larger than the annual fee itself.

Let’s take a look out how this works.  Below are some tables that show a sample investment of $100,000 growing over the past 20 years, ending December 31, 2018.  The yields are pulled from the S&P 500 and include dividends.  This would closely represent what you could get with a low-cost index fund.

As you can see, the investment nearly triples after all the ups and downs that equates to a little more than 5.5% rate of return.  Now the yield would be higher or lower given a different starting and ending time so I don’t want any comments from anyone who wants to argue about performance.  I just calculated this off publicly available data.

In the next chart I’m going to add a 1% annual fee to the same yields to see how it would affect the total.  This is a fairly reasonable combined fee when you add mutual fund or management fees.  Some are even much higher so you can decide for yourself whether you are in a better or worse position than this.

The 1% fee may not seem like a lot.  It’s just $1000 dollars per year, right?  But when you factor in the lost opportunity cost of that extracted amount it decreases the total performance by more than $50,000!  A dollar paid in fees is gone and cannot grow with the rest of the money.  On $1M portfolio this would amount to over half a million dollars!

What’s interesting is that if you add up all the annual fees the manager would have made $25,943 but the true cost was more than twice that amount.  That lost opportunity cost.

This is a quick exercise to show you why any fee you pay has to return more value than the cost.  For instance, if you pay total fees of 1% then the manager or fund should be returning better yields than the market.  Otherwise you may as well just open an online brokerage account and buy some cheap index funds.

Along with volatility, fees can really hold you back from achieving suitable investment returns.  Next week I’m going to show you how to reduce both without losing yield.

Have a great weekend!

Bryan

800.438.5121

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Case Study: Wealth Accumulation with Annuities

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I talk a lot about how my strategies are different so this week I’m going to show you a real-life example.  Not all recommendations were my idea in the beginning.  I learn as much from my clients as they learn from me.  As cheesy as it may sound, teamwork is the key to financial success in retirement.

Frequently this year I have been mentioning a new idea for conserving assets while maintaining growth potential through retirement.  Annuities dramatically reduce the probability of failure and that’s been shown with academic studies and economic analysis by people who don’t even sell the products.  There is no debate as it has been proven over and over again.

What I consider to be the best retirement strategy available has grown from seeds planted by many different clients over the past 17 years.  During a recent review of one couple’s plan I was pleased to see just how well the plan had worked so far.  And this strategy is one of the most important seeds that was planted several years ago.

Neal and Barb are a wonderful couple in their mid-70s.  They are the kind of people that make me feel better about the world.  We met a little over five years ago as they were trying to plan for a very specific financial request.  Aside from a nice lifestyle, Neal and Barb have a family cabin on a lake in the mountains as a meeting place for all the children and grandchildren.  The goal is to provide funds to pay for maintenance and expenses for the cabin in perpetuity so the whole family can enjoy this meeting place for years to come.

Neal correctly assumed that his Roth IRA would provide the best shell for accumulating assets since there are no distribution requirements and it has the best tax treatment one can get.  He didn’t want to take risk so he was interested to see if annuities could provide a solution.  Most of their assets were inside traditional IRAs and at the time each Roth had a relatively modest account value.

Together we chose to use an index annuity with flexible premium option so funds could be added.  These guys live within their means and when each turned 70 had RMDs from the traditional accounts that they didn’t need.  So, each year Neal and Barb diligently added additional funds to each Roth contract.

After skipping the first year, they essentially made consistent Roth contributions each year.  Both accounts started at a relatively small combined value of about $46,000.  As of today both accounts have a combined value of over $134,000 and it’s going to be a fair bit higher as they are positioned for a nice additional interest credit at contract anniversary in the next couple months.  So, they’ve almost tripled what they started with and in only five years. 

Calculating the interest is difficult as you need specific dates of investment to produce the actual return.  I did this since I can look at the account and the actual yield on each contract is just over 4%.  For a conservative investment I consider that to be very reasonable.  There are other options available with risk if you’d like more yield but that’s a personal decision.

I’ve told a lot of people that you can do accumulate plenty in a Roth IRA by starting contributions in retirement.  A couple of weeks ago someone almost shuttered when I mentioned the idea.  But if Neal and Barb did it with just annual contributions in five years then imagine how it would look over 20 years. And larger amounts can be added via transfer or Roth conversion so there really is no limit to what can be accomplished.

Now I’m not here to say that everyone needs to adopt a strategy like Neal and Barb, but it does shed light on something that I think all people can use.  Flexibility with assets in retirement cannot be understated.  There’s nothing wrong with playing offense in retirement.  Safety first with the ability to move funds between investment options will greatly reduce risk and also provide for the type of long-term yields that will have you increasing wealth in retirement.

Consistency and discipline is all it takes.  Every one of you already possesses both qualities, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.  Aside from that, all it takes is the right products to put yourself in position.

Have a great weekend!

Bryan

800.438.5121

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What if an Insurance Company Goes Bankrupt?

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Tons of people ask this question and those who don’t are probably thinking about it.  Annuities are supposed to be safe so what happens if a company fails?  Most people understand that every state has a guaranty fund for insurance contracts but there’s a lot that needs to happen before that even comes into play.  Aside from any insurance that may be available in your state there are several layers of protection that annuities provide.

Insurance companies operate quite differently than banks in that they have a 1:1 asset to liability ratio.  Banks are much more highly leveraged with the victims of the 2008 financial crisis being so thinly capitalized that some were in the neighborhood of 1:36.  That means if a mere 3% of their liabilities were in default it would wipe out all of their assets.  Foreclosures began to happen and it didn’t take long for the water to recede and several banks to be figuratively seen as swimming with no trunks.

On top of a very conservative leverage ratio, insurance companies are required to hold a certain amount of cash in reserves to prevent short-term funding issues related with the normal business cycle.  Banks need the FDIC and I wouldn’t put any money in there if they didn’t have it.  An insurance company’s first line of defense is that they insure themselves.

A little fun fact:  New York Life has more in company reserves than does the FDIC.  That’s right!  One single mutual insurance company has more liquid cash available than the corporation built to protect the entire banking industry.

An insurance company has a general account and a separate account.  When you buy an annuity, your money is used to purchase a block of conservative assets held in the general account.  The separate account holds riskier investments.  If the company fails it’s typically not because of problems with the general account.  Most often it’s because of failed investment in the separate account.

When AIG ran into trouble with collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) in 2008, many aggressive agents urged annuity holders to surrender their contracts and go with a more stable insurer.  That turned out to be a phony pitch.  The company itself and state regulators sent letters to contract owners warning them of the scam and stating officially that annuities were not in danger.  The general account had not been compromised but some separate investments had.  AIG annuities were never affected.

Also, I think there’s some misunderstanding about what it takes for a company to actually fail.  First, the company is put under state receivership if cash outflows exceed cash inflows or if the operating surplus turns negative.  It doesn’t mean the company failed it just means that its financial strength has been compromised.  In the same sense, you’re not bankrupt just because you only make the minimum payment on a credit card.

The insurance commissioner in the company’s state of domicile will take over control of a company when certain conditions of financial distress have been met.  The first step would be for the state to sell off underperforming assets.  Any losses incurred would be subsidized by company reserves.  Stable parts of the business will remain on the books if the company is to be rehabilitated or sold to another company for profit that would further help to recoup losses from the bad investments. It’s a long process that obviously requires more detail but through it all, annuity payments and insurance claims are all paid.

When people ask what would happen if a company goes bankrupt my quick response is that they are likely to see another insurance company buy the block of business.  Their annuity would then be backed by another carrier because annuity pools are usually a profitable part of the business.  This happened in the mid-90s when Conseco was put in receivership.  Don’t quote me but I think it was Metlife who purchased the annuity business so everyone with a Conseco annuity got a new cover page and correspondence sent from a different company.

The worst case I recall of insurance company failure was Executive Life of New York (ELNY) in 1990.  The process of rehabilitation and liquidation took state regulators 23 years to complete.  It wasn’t until 2013 that a final settlement was reached.  Throughout that time, annuity payments were made, contracts were cashed out and claims were paid as the regulators managed investments, sold pieces of the business and slowly worked through company reserves.  It might have been a pain in the butt for some but everyone got their money.

In 2013, regulators took all remaining reserves, funds from all the state guaranty associations and several large contributions from the insurance industry and formed the Guaranteed Annuity Benefits Association (GABC).  GABC is a non-profit company that holds a series of zero-coupon treasuries for the purpose of making good on all remaining lifetime payments and liabilities for the former ELNY.

That’s a rare example but through it all you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who has lost money in an annuity, unless you’re talking about a variable annuity.  Those are risk-based funds held in the company’s separate account, but that’s beside the point.

To sum it all up, there are four components to the safety of an annuity.  First, insurance companies back every liability, dollar for dollar, with an income producing asset.  Second, additional reserves insulate the company from the ups and downs of the regular business cycle.  Third, profitable asset classes, like annuities, can be sold to other carriers in times of financial distress.  And finally, if all else fails and once everything has been liquidated the guaranty associations from several states steps in to soak up remaining liabilities.

It’s the kind of thing that happens so infrequently that I’m telling you about the one great example from nearly 30 years ago.  How many banks have gone down since then?  How many billions of dollars have been lost in mutual funds, real estate and bonds since then?  And if you take my advice to go short-term with a solid company then you’ll never even get close enough to sniff this kind of trouble.  It takes years to unwind an insurance company and an annuity gives you more collateral than you can get with any other asset.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to limit their investment to the maximum coverage offered by a state guaranty fund.  But proper due diligence will show that annuities provide far more protection than even a money market fund.  Have you ever read the fine print in that contract?  You’d be surprised to learn just how much risk you’re taking by sitting in other assets that seem to hold value.

If you rely entirely on a state guaranty fund for safety then you haven’t done your homework.  It’s fine for a backstop but there are plenty of lines of defense before it gets to that point.

There are several points in this paper where greater detail can be provided.  My intention is to make it readable, provoke thought and provide a base of knowledge for understanding why annuities are truly the safest asset you can own.

Call me next week or comment below if you have an issue with my assessment. Or, you can Make an appointment…

Thanks!

Bryan

800.438.5121

Why I Like Annuities

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There may seem to be an obvious explanation but then again maybe not.  It’s not at all because of how much money can be made, although more than one person has declined to do business with me simply because each thought I would be making too much money on the deal.  Being able to make a living justifies the effort but the reason I like annuities goes much deeper.

Many of you know I went on an elk hunt a couple weeks ago.  It’s been quite a while since I really took a break and this is the time of year I like the most.  Getting the mules out on the trail and exploring a beautiful and remote part of this state is about my favorite thing to do.  If I can fill the freezer it’s all the better.  My wife lives on organic food and there’s nothing cleaner than grass-fed elk meat from the Rocky Mountains.  Annual success gives me all the hall passes I could ever want.

It can be hard to leave for extended periods of time because this business is a one-man show.  Nothing gets done when I’m not here so most of the time I take a vacation, the computer comes with me and I leave my calendar open and keep working.  But that’s not possible with elk hunting when I need to stay out of sight, downwind and quiet at all times.  Talking on the phone is forbidden.

If you are ever able to get deep into the mountains and high in elevation you’ll often find a pretty decent cell signal in some of the more isolated areas of the country.  Each morning we would start the climb out of camp and after the first 1000 feet of elevation I’d be able to check my email as the sun came up.  Then the phone would be turned off and I’d check it one more time before dropping back down to camp for the night.

Buggs Bunny at sunrise, during a quick email session

If anyone needed something I’d be able to quickly answer questions or just let them know I’d take care of it in a few days.  Aside from those emails and a few text messages I was cut-off from the outside world.  I watched no TV and read no news.  When we got out of the woods I learned that I had been gone at a pretty good time.  The DC soap opera was running hot and economic indicators had continued to trend toward the negative.

None of that mattered and that’s why I like annuities.  In spite of all the accusations, finger pointing and negative reports not a single one of my clients was negatively affected.  While I was never as available as usual, nobody was in a worse position than before I left.  Monthly income payments continued to flow and account balances were protected regardless of all the noise and drama.

Isn’t that more or less what you all want?  There are all sorts of ways to use annuities and the greatest benefit is that annuities are probably the most consistent asset available.  I’ve not seen even one fail to deliver on a promise, no matter how bad things may seem.  Annuities do what they are supposed to do so I and my clients don’t have to talk about the negative.  We talk about why we are both glad they don’t have to worry about the same issues as lots of other people.

Baby Mule patiently waiting for me to hit ‘send’

I like annuities because my business is protected just like a client’s portfolio.  In turn I get to spend more time testing creative strategies to find ways of getting more yield.  I like annuities because I spend zero time putting out fires.  It’s a much more positive experience and in my opinion leads to greater health and happiness.  Whether that works for you is a personal decision.

As you all continue to search for the right approach to retirement, always keep in mind the most important benefit of annuities.  Regardless of politics or economics, annuities are safe and allow you to focus on your passions and hobbies in retirement.  Contract details and all options aside, consider what you’d rather spend your time doing.  Those who don’t care for financial stress might find the annuity to be a pretty reasonable choice.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend…

Bryan

800.438.5121

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How to Get out of an Annuity

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Much of the work I do and the strategies I have created are based on debunking popular myths about annuities.  Not all contracts do what Ken Fisher warns against and most people trashing the products are only trying to sell magazines or another financial product.  Everything has a negative side so you have to keep an open mind and consider the motivations behind any source.

Several weeks ago I wrote about liquidity being one of the biggest myths about annuities.  Sure, some of them have restrictions and I’ve consistently advised you to avoid lofty promises and focus on fundamentals.  Doing so will uncover the contracts that give you no more than the benefits you need and a simple plan free of complexity.

There’s more to the liquidity issue, so much more in fact that looking at it from a different angle might reveal a conservative strategy with excellent long-term growth potential.  In case you didn’t know, I like to tinker with numbers.  Playing with ideas and testing scenarios for me is just like a kid who is addicted to video games.  But I like to think that the results are much more productive.

The idea behind this comes from several sources.  I learn something from everyone I meet and each experience gives me the opportunity to serve the next person.  People who have worked with me for years get the added payback in the form of improved ideas and strategies.  Staying on the cutting edge and being able to pivot and change over time is probably the most important aspect to consider when planning for retirement.

The biggest inspiration for all of my ideas comes from the people who call to say they bought an annuity that isn’t working out.  Either the performance isn’t that great or in the worst case the contract has components with a purpose that was not properly disclosed to the purchaser.  Situations like these give rise to the sentiment that someone feels “stuck with an annuity.”

Unless you buy something completely dysfunctional, no one should ever feel stuck with an annuity.  The 10% free withdrawal gives you more than enough to draw spending money or to even ladder your investment out to other opportunities.  It may not seem like a lot but have you sat down with the numbers to see what it actually looks like?  I have, and you may be surprised at the results.

For years I have been dealing with people who expect rates to rise.  Never mind the economics required for an inflationary environment, rates are low, have been higher in the past so it stands to reason they are going higher again, right?  Maybe, but that’s no reason to be sitting around earning nothing.  If you accept a long-term rate lower than what you’d like, you can take the free withdrawal and ladder into the rising rates.  The result is a higher long-term average than what you’d get by waiting for a mythical interest rate.  And in the past, many have found out that the low starting rate was better than anything in the later years because rates kept dropping.

That idea is nothing new.  Other people have been talking about that for a while but like everything else I took it a step further.  Several months ago I realized that most retirees are taking on more risk than they’ve ever had.  It has nothing to do with asset allocation but it has everything to do with retiring right now with more assets than you’ve ever had and a stock market that is at its highest point ever.  The implications of having more assets exposed is also greater because you are also thinking about not just growing but living off of those assets.  The game has changed completely and the stakes never higher.

So, everybody wants a better yield but nobody wants to take risk.  Here’s an idea: instead of laddering into higher rates, protect some money with an annuity and use the free withdrawal to ladder incrementally back into the market.  It takes a substantial amount of risk away from a portfolio now but also proves that dollar-cost-averaging back into the market creates some excellent returns.  What’s interesting is that I’ve run the free withdrawal reinvestment scenario across several time periods and results are similarly impressive in all examples. 

In good market periods you would have done better by leaving it all at risk and in bad market periods you would have consistently purchased at depressed values, which would enhance your yield.  In either case you will see yields that far exceed what any annuity can do alone and it’s exactly the kind of performance that everyone has been saying they want.

All annuities offer protection, even the ones I don’t recommend buying.  If you feel stuck with a contract, don’t just sit there and do nothing about it.  Of course if you use an annuity that performs well then the whole idea could be a good way to move forward into retirement while protecting all you’ve earned without sacrificing future potential.

I definitely have numbers to support this theory.  It’s something I’ve kicked around for about six months now and it’s been tested in hundreds of different scenarios.  But I can’t give away all my work for free so if you’d like to see what it can do then drop me a line and we can run it with your parameters.

Enjoy your weekend!

Bryan

800.438.5121

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Making the Decision to Buy Annuities

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There are a lot of times when a person doesn’t make a financial move they should have.  Every single person I talk to has a story about a missed opportunity.  That’s not as bad as when someone makes a financial move they should not.  In the world of annuities that happens too often and that’s the reason why so many negative opinions of annuities exist.  If everyone made the right moves for the right reasons there would be no good or bad financial products.  But we are human so that’s never going to happen.

About a week ago one couple came to me after just getting a new annuity contract and realizing it was nothing like what they thought.  The salesperson didn’t disclose all the information and after looking at the contract and reading one of my reports they realized they were in for a long, low-yielding ride.  All these guys asked for was protection from market risk and a relatively short time period with some liquidity if needed.  Now they are facing a 30 day free look period and trying to decide if they should change plans.

I showed them the opposite type of contract that was exactly what they said they wanted.  No bonus but much better growth potential and a time frame that was far less than a lifetime commitment.  I ended up getting a lot of resistance that the previous salesperson surely never got.  At the end of it I decided the best thing for these guys is probably a money market fund.  For all I know they’ll keep that junky contract and join the ranks of people that hate annuities.

It really made me wonder why they ever bought an annuity in the first place.  It’s the perfect example of people doing something they should not.  As often as this happens it doesn’t happen nearly as often as people not doing something they should.  Prime time for asset protection is right about now.  With the market coming within inches of its all-time high once again I suppose the only thing not cooperating is interest rates.

Playing the interest rate game is more or less the secret to planning a successful retirement.  It’s also the basis for the recommendations I make.  If nothing seems quite good enough then consider the fact that several major economies in the world have negative interest rates.  As bad as your options seem there’s a chance it could get even worse.  With certain economic indicators starting to trend toward a recession there’s a strong argument that it’s more of a likelihood than a chance.

I’ve learned a lot from a close friend in Manhattan.  He’s sharp guy who made a lot of money as an institutional swap trader on Wall Street.  If anyone knows interest rates it’s this guy.  He’s a professional at analyzing trends, reading charts and forecasting models.  He has taught me a lot and given me the foundation for much of what I try to tell you all.  This unique relationship is the reason why I do things a fair bit differently than most advisors.

I run my ideas by him to see if they pass the test.  His critique and suggestions allow me to polish these ideas into what you see.  If things change I’ll adjust so you can take advantage of those changes and stay ahead of the curve.  Listen to me when I tell you not to do something.  Give me time to explain it if you don’t understand.  I’m here to help and I put more work in than most of you realize.  The goal is not to sell an annuity to every person.  The goal is to first keep you from making mistakes.

Making the decision to buy annuities needs to be first based on avoiding what doesn’t work.  Understanding why one thing doesn’t work gives you a base of knowledge that will help you find what does work.  I’m going to continue doing things my way because it’s what I believe.  Pay close attention and at the very least you’ll avoid the potholes.

I’ll only be in the office for a few days next week before I head to the mountains for a fall elk hunt.  If you’d like to chat about it then make an appointment and I’ll give you a call.

Enjoy your weekend!

Bryan

800.438.5121

Make an appointment now…

The Best of Annuity Straight Talk Newsletters

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Three or four unfinished drafts are sitting in the newsletter folder and most of the time I can’t decide what I plan to send out for the week.  Recent stories and misguided objections gave birth to this weekly exercise just about a year ago.  Since then hundreds regularly read this email and many of those have identified with a problem others are having.  Some are prospecting for ideas well ahead of retirement and others are clients who have worked with me for years.

Over the next few weeks I’ve got a steady string of clients who have finally taken me up on an offer to come visit Montana.  I say the same thing to a lot of people.  When you have the free time and extra money, why not come see Glacier Park for a nice summer trip.  The offer is on the table and Carl from Florida is the first to arrive.  Last night we grilled elk burgers and he told me he really likes reading the weekly updates.

Without a solid plan for this week I came up with an idea on the spot to do something that has been in the works for a long time.  Because dozens of new people come in every week I’ve wanted to somehow recap everything to get all people on the same page.  If this is the first newsletter you’ve read you may not have the context of all the others.  So below is a link to each of the best weekly posts I’ve sent, judged by total views and viewer comments, either on the site or by email response.

This will more or less outline my whole philosophy in regards to using annuities in retirement.  It works for some but not others and some people like it while others don’t.  The entire point of what I’m doing is to first make sure you don’t make any mistakes.  Annuities only have a bad name because people often use them the wrong way.

Check out the ones you like and skip the ones you don’t.  I’m going to start with the simple stuff and build up to some of the more complex ideas I’ve shared.  Here we go…

Index Annuities Explained on One Page

Most people are made aware if index annuities from a sales pitch of a popular and perhaps complicated contract.  To build a house you can’t start with the shingles.  You need a solid foundation first and this one helped a lot of people clear the air and come back to basics.

How Commissions Affect Annuity Sales

Why do so many agents sell the same contract?  There’s a reason you see more products than others.  This one partially lifts the veil on the sales side of this business so you can understand exactly the most popular contracts are sold so frequently, and in my opinion sold in error all too often.  You need to know who has a stake in your deal so you know for sure whether they have your best interests in mind.

When and How to Retire

Earlier this year I got a requests from one reader who asked if I’d write something that addressed his situation.  Like many of you, he wanted to make plans early but because of TSP transfer rules he is too young to move his assets.  So he has to work a few more years and wait to put retirement plans in place.  It’s not too uncommon for people to be barred from moving money when under 59 ½ so this one gives a little advice on what to do in addition to just being patient.

I Didn’t Sell My Dad an Annuity

Earlier this year I went to visit my Dad for about a week.  Sports has always been a big part of my life and we spent a lot of time watching my nephews play basketball.  It was some good father/son time and brought back a lot of memories of how my parents supported me when I was playing.  One of the reasons for the visit is that he needed some retirement advice.  Here is where I explained to you all that my goal is not to sell every single person an annuity.

How to Really Maximize Social Security

A cornerstone of most retirement plans, advice on how to maximize what you get from the system is one way many advisors attract clients.  But there’s no real secret, it just takes some number crunching to figure it out.  As with most things I disagree with the establishment on this one and I’m right.  Here’s a look at how to really settle the question once and for all.

The Reality of Roth Conversions

Tax-free income is a dream for just about anyone.  But if your goal is maybe to pay the least amount of taxes over time then a Roth conversion may not be the answer for you.  In this one I offer some explanation as to why this strategy only works in some very specific situations.

How to Beat a Guaranteed Income Contract

Most advisors are pitching guaranteed lifetime income because that’s what the industry wants us all to sell.  But in reality that approach is not appropriate for most people.  In certain situations a guaranteed income contract works the best but for most people the flexible approach offers more benefit.  It’s not something you see at the standard dinner seminar and started right here at AST.

Why People Don’t Buy Annuities

There are a lot of reasons why people fail to act on a good plan that meets all their objectives.  You may identify with one or more of the reasons on this list.  Is it information overload or disagreement with a spouse?  This one lists all the reasons why some people have a hard time making the leap.

The Case for Annuities in a Retirement Portfolio

Here is where I explain exactly why index annuities give you a substantial advantage over all other safe assets available.  Bonds, CDs and other cash instruments don’t give you the full benefit needed if market volatility is a concern in retirement.  If you want to know exactly how to protect assets, produce income and increase wealth in retirement then this is essential reading.

And Finally…

Why I Call it the Flex Strategy

This was my big idea several years ago.  The evolution of this strategy shows exactly how to get the most out of an annuity and even your total portfolio as a result.  There are several benefits that prove exactly why this is the most efficient approach to managing assets in retirement.

After about a year this has become a great way to communicate with all of those who have signed up on this website.  Feedback has been great and it surely helps to have current information rather than stock, standard retirement advice.  Things change and it takes new ideas to keep you in front and in position to make the most out of your retirement plans.

As always if you have any specific requests or ideas for one of the next newsletter just send me an email or comment below.

Have a great weekend…

Bryan

800.438.5121

Make an appointment now…

The Relevance of Index Annuities Today

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Last week I wrote about the wild year we are having in terms of not only what we see on the news but also how that has been affecting retirement portfolios.  The title if you recall is “A Wild 2019 and How Annuities Fit.”  More than one person commented that I failed to tell everyone how annuities fit but there’s a reason I did that.

It’s mostly because how annuities fit is up to you.  Most of you don’t really need me to spell it out every single time but here it is once more.  Index annuities lock in gains once a year and never lose money when the market is down.  In times of low interest rates you also have the potential for yields you can’t get anywhere else and enough liquidity to draw income as needed or ladder out to other investments if you find a better opportunity.

I can tell you all about the key benefits of index annuities but I’ve done that before and I think most of you know that.  Everyone seems to want to limit market volatility and portfolio losses.  Whether you realize it or not, interest rate risk can be just as big a threat to your assets.  The answer is sitting right here in front of you and for one reason or another many people can’t put the pieces together.

The problem comes from polarizing opinions.  Frequently I hear people say, “this is certainly a unique approach.”  Yes, my recommendations are different and nothing like the mainstream.  In a meeting this week one gentleman said to me, “I had no idea annuities could be this flexible.”  That’s someone who gets it.

Why are index annuities relevant today?  It’s because they are the most flexible safe asset.  Protection, growth and opportunity.  Aside from traditional advice on annuities I’ve explained several alternate uses and proved how those strategies can be more profitable.  The point of it all is to show you reasons why you may want to use an annuity, not why you have to use an annuity.

This isn’t a fear-based approach.  I’m not going to scare you into thinking that you might run out of money or talk about the likelihood and cost of needing long-term care.  While those are viable concerns they come from a defensive mindset.  I want you to play offense and learn ways to grow your money safely so that those concerns are an afterthought.

More than one client has recently told me that they are not even watching the stock market.  Why worry about something that has no effect on you?  That’s in stark contrast to many I know that worry about it every day or those who want to make just a little more from a market that has been frothy at the top for two years.  It’s not as if you don’t make money with an annuity and I have several indices that prove you can grow even in times when the broader market is having trouble.

Index annuities are relevant today because they provide a solution to the uncertainty in the economy.  Low interest rates and market volatility are the two major factors that affect retirement investing.  There’s one solution that will give you more certainty in both areas.  If you’re afraid to give it a shot then you just don’t have all the information yet.  Send me a note or comment below and I’ll send you some info that gets you started on the right path.

All my best,

Bryan

800.438.5121

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A Wild 2019 and How Annuities Fit

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This year so far has certainly had its share of ups and downs.  In some ways it could be viewed as a microcosm of the issues one might face throughout all the years of retirement.  It’s summer time and I stepped away from writing for a few weeks because I figured no one would notice.  The weather has been nice and most Friday afternoons I decided to get out of town and refresh myself.  The bug to get back to writing hit me and it made sense to do something of a recap of the year. 

And what a year it has been.  Political and economic uncertainty have been prevalent.  The stock market has been up and down with almost no consensus as to whether the bull market will continue or if we should expect a serious correction.  Interest rates that started to rise last year settled back down to some of the lowest levels ever while the Fed is trying to prematurely prevent a recession.

At the beginning of this year lots of people were hurting, or at least very concerned.  The market was down sharply to end 2018 and the damage to portfolios had everyone frozen.  No one likes to move money after a big loss, preferring instead to sell only for top dollar.  Whether that actually happens is a different matter altogether.  But the market came back… and then dropped again but came back, and then this week happened.

Through it all I have become more confident in the recommendations I make.  That’s because fundamentals always hold true and if you plan based on those you’ll be just fine.  Throughout this year I know people who have lost money and people who haven’t, those who worry and those who don’t.  I’ve created new strategies that enhance the potential of a protected portfolio and through it all discovered even more benefits for using annuities in retirement.

People say all the time that my approach is much different than anything else they’ve seen.  Of course it is.  How can you expect to do better if your strategy is not different?  I’d pick a different line of work if I had to be as boring as everyone else. If I didn’t have a solid rebuttal to the asset management proponents then I’d throw in the towel.  But here I am trying to convince people to see things through a different lens.

Aside from the market being all over the place, this year has seen some whacky interest rate moves.  For years all the armchair economists have been telling me that rates are going to go sky high.  That started to happen a bit last year but very few took advantage.  A few months back I hinted that rates might drop.  Not many people read that newsletter because I guess it wasn’t interesting enough.  Can anyone tell me where treasury yields are compared to earlier this year?

I watch Bloomberg for my financial news.  It’s not very political and offers a diverse, global perspective that gives me an idea of what concerns institutional investors have.  If the big boys and girls are worried about something than maybe you should be too.  Of all the research and reading I do, information specific to annuities takes about 10% of my time.  The other 90% of my time is spent understanding the broader world of financial markets and economies.  Last weekend I took the family on a camping trip in Canada.  I spent five minutes fueling up my truck and an hour looking over maps to be sure I could make the most of our time.

Strategies are more important than products.  It’s better to be flexible than stagnant.  Things have been up and down this year but everyone is alright for the time being.  Through it all I’ve been saying the same thing over and over again.  Some listen and others don’t.  If things change I’ll pivot on my recommendations and those who work with me will be able to do the same.  For those people we set things up right and there will be no issue with altering a plan because we built every single one to do it.

The old saying still holds true.  Fear and greed drive most financial decisions.  It’s contrary to the rational thought and objective analysis it takes to make solid plans.  I’m not a psychologist and don’t know how to pull people away from emotional tendencies so the best thing I can offer is consistency.  Take the best deal you have today but reserve the option to make changes over time.

If you’re up for a rational conversation then leave a comment below or give me a call. And if you’d like to know specifically how annuities fit, please follow the link to my second post on this subject titled “The Relevance of Index Annuities Today.”

Have a nice weekend!

Bryan

800.438.5121  

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Index Annuity Performance from the Past Year

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At times it seems as though everyone talks about yield as if they are able to get the highest possible growth from every asset they own.  I’ll admit that may just be my perspective because it often comes in the context of my recommendation to use an annuity to reduce risk without sacrificing growth potential.  It’s in situations like these where people tend to over analyze the growth prospects of the annuity and think the opportunity may be too good to be true; or that it’s not quite good enough.

The past year perfectly illustrates the value of index annuities, especially in terms of retirees who don’t want or can’t afford to lose money.  There are two reasons; first, interest rates went up and came back down and second, the S&P 500 dumped last fall and climbed back to reach a record high as of Friday, July 12.

I’ll get back to why these two points are critical for retirees but first I want to talk about how two contracts performed over the past year.  Each of these contracts reset and locked gains in the past week.  It is fresh in my mind after talking to both clients about allocating index options for the next year so I will focus on these two alone.

As of this writing, the S&P 500 is up about 6.2% which is a nice result from the year if you consider what the annual chart looks like.  Neither contract beat the market but considering how the S&P 500 got here, the ride to the end result was much less stressful and more beneficial in terms of most retirement applications.  I’ll explain each very generally since a detailed report for either would be extremely long.  It’s the overall idea that’s important anyway.

The first contract from Midland National was split evenly between four indices.  The DJIA, S&P 500, Euro Stoxx 50 and the Hang Seng all returned positive growth for the year but the US-based indices did much better in the rebound than did the European or Chinese markets.  The equal blend of the four was meant to offer some sort of global diversification in yield potential.  While the international exchanges muted the returns a bit, the long-term potential of such a strategy suggests the type of balance that is appropriate for consistent returns for the year.  All in all, the 4.1% blended yield across the entire contract is what I would consider to be quite reasonable given all the political and economic turmoil and uncertainty.

The second contract from Great American Life did a fair bit better being divided among three different indices.  Half of the funds were allocated to the S&P 500 while the remaining half was split between the S&P US Real Estate and SPDR Gold Shares indices.  Real estate across the US stayed strong and the rally in Gold over the past six months brought the total contract yield to nearly 5.2% for the year.  I recall that a year ago there was plenty of market uncertainty so initially we allocated to a couple indices that could move in a positive direction regardless of the stock market.  Several different economic indicators are needed to explain why either gold or real estate can move inversely to the stock market but that’s worthy of a white paper all its own.  Suffice it to say, yield on the contract is very acceptable and creates optimism for this annuity to work out as illustrated from the beginning.

As I said before, yield is only a small part of the equation.  Growth is nice but far from the only reason to use an index annuity in retirement planning.  I mentioned in the second paragraph I would dive into the two most valuable features of index annuities and how that was illustrated by the events of the past year. 

Rates rose meaningfully for the first time in several years.  This caused a decrease in bond values that was erased over the past few months as treasury rates fell back to some of the lowest levels since 2015.  It represents the type of short-term risk to portfolio values that many don’t consider.  Aside from this, rates in general have stayed low, regardless of 2018 increases and it is still hard to identify opportunities with an acceptable combination of safety and yield.

Although US stock markets rebounded to finish the past year solidly positive, you can’t discount the affect that October and December 2018 had on the psyche of the average individual with assets exposed to daily fluctuations.  Just because it is back up does not mean it’s going to stay up.  Each of the annuities I mentioned locked in the gains made last year and will never lose value.  If the market corrects all funds are protected but if it keeps going both will continue to grow.

Both interest rate and market risk are compounded during retirement because consistent withdrawals are needed to fund a stable lifestyle.  Interest and dividends are not enough to cover the income gap for most people with the typical stocks and bonds portfolio.  If consistent withdrawals are taken when rates are rising and markets are falling you will be liquidating assets below top value which, over time, will have an exponentially negative effect on total portfolio value.  These two events happened in conjunction last fall when rates spiked to a five-year high in December on the heels of a 15% decline in the S&P 500.

To have an asset with enough liquidity free of interest rate risk is the solution to maintaining maximum growth potential while using a portfolio for income in retirement.  The numbers prove it and the long-term effect is dramatically more positive than any other strategy.

As a disclaimer, I need to remind anyone who has an objection that I could write an entire paper on any of the paragraphs above.  There are far too many contingencies to explain them all without making this post 20 pages.  I don’t have the time to do that every week so if you’d like an explanation of the details I’ll reserve that for individual meetings so I can show you exactly how it can benefit your situation.

All my best,

Bryan

800.438.5121

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Even Advisors Ask for My Advice

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In some ways I consider it a waste of time but it happens often enough that I’ve realized it validates the information I provide.  This website and all the newsletters are meant to help consumers but there are plenty of advisors as well who are looking for answers to the same questions.  And it makes sense because this site was created more than ten years ago mostly because the science of asset distribution in retirement was and still is unresolved.

Academics study the problem.  Insurance and asset management companies create new products and funds as a solution and most advisors just sell the products.  Target date funds, dividend stocks, bonds, annuities and various strategies that mix all of the above into a mess of options and ideas.  If you think it’s hard to figure out then imagine what it might be like for an advisor who is responsible for making the recommendation.

I only bring this up because about one third of my advertising budget is spent on other advisors who sign up to read my reports.  It’s important to understand because some of the people giving advice are just as lost as you might be.  Many great things are learned from seeing what’s hiding in plain sight.  This has been happening for years and I only just realized it.  Advisors ask me for advice because many of them need answers to the same questions as you.

I don’t mind helping out anyone who asks.  About a month ago an advisor who reads this letter asked if I’d help him find one of the annuities that I talk about.  He was retiring and had just sold his business to a younger guy so was creating his own plan.  He had been following this site for a few years and decided this approach is best.  He didn’t need me to sell him one, preferring to keep the commission for himself, I assume.  That’s fine with me so I took it as a compliment and put him in touch with a couple of companies and told him which products I typically recommend.

A more egregious example from a few years ago came from an advisor who posed as a customer.  We went through several meetings and got to the point where he was ready to put my plan into action.  He took the questionnaires and promised to return them with all the info so I could complete the applications.  To make a long story short, after not hearing from him I eventually was able to contact him.  He admitted being new to retirement planning and just wanted me to help with a case he couldn’t figure out.

In addition to this example are three different cases where I was able to determine that someone else had taken one of my reports, personalized the cover and passed themselves off as representatives of my company.  I don’t have representatives and I don’t share names from my list because I refuse to put my name on someone else’s recommendation.

Not all examples of advisors using this information are negative and I don’t mind lifting up another professional in the industry with a new idea every now and then.  Most who call only want to know if I’ll give them free leads and some want to know if I want a regional partner.  Once in a while a nasty comment comes in from some advisor I offended by unintentionally poking holes in his approach.  As much as it may seem like there’s too much information there is actually a lack of creativity that produces new ideas and strategies.

A couple of past newsletters partially illustrate the source of the problem.  One has to do with there being more salesmen than advisors and the other has to do with how commissions affect annuity sales.  You can read either or both by clicking below.

The Difference between Sales and Advice

How Commissions Affect Annuity Sales

Most information you find will give you a dictionary-like definition or represent nothing more than someone’s opinion.  It all relates to pushing available products and collecting assets.  But there is a better approach available and just as many advisors are trying to find it as you.  As always I am here to help anyone who asks and if you really like the guy you’re working with then send him my way and I’ll teach him a thing or two.

Enjoy your weekend…

Bryan

800.438.5121

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The Myth of Annuities and Liquidity

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The thought of not having access to retirement assets is one of the biggest issues people have with annuities.  I think it’s funny when investment advisors, who have no intention of every giving up management of a person’s assets, claim that if you buy an annuity you will lose control of your money forever.  As much as annuity salespeople can be misleading, other professionals in the industry who want to sell you something else can be every bit as misguided in their claims.

The truth is that annuities have more liquidity than any other safe investment, except for cash in the bank. And it’s the ability to access money that gives the right annuity a strategic advantage when managing a retirement portfolio.

When mentioning the 10% free withdrawal people often mention they may need more and don’t want to give up control.  Many of these people having been saving and investing for 30 years or more and have never touched their money so 10% is more than they’ve ever pulled before.  That’s not always accurate considering some people kick-off retirement with a major purchase and need full liquidity.  But for anyone talking about general retirement planning, if you need more than 10% of your portfolio consistently then you haven’t saved enough.

So taking up to 10% annually from your safe assets should be more than adequate if a portfolio is structured correctly.  Almost everyone underestimates the value and flexibility that can add to a retirement strategy.  In addition to access providing the opportunity to draw income for anyone who doesn’t opt for the lifetime income stream, free withdrawals can be used to rebalance a portfolio or ladder funds out to other investments as opportunities arise.

Protecting enough to sustain consistent retirement spending is important.  Continued growth of assets is also important to protect against inflation and provide for unexpected emergencies in the coming years.  Low interest rates and uncertain financial markets make it difficult to find the right balance between safety and growth.

That’s the exact justification for the strategies I propose.  Several years ago I started comparing income producing annuities.  Most were paying between 4% and 6% of premium as income.  Since that is well under the free withdrawal amount in most annuities I started looking at short-term deferred contracts that offer the same level of safety only without the lifetime income guarantee.  I realized that you can always take the deferred product and use the funds to buy an income product later.  Why not take the short-term deal now and wait for a longer commitment when rates are higher in the future?

This is a simple explanation of how you can use the free withdrawal to your advantage.  The idea is to keep your powder dry, so to speak.  In the absence of the absolute best option, take the best option available but be able to make changes as conditions improve to give you more advantage.  Using this as the basis for my annuity recommendations has led to the discovery of more sophisticated strategies that make the traditional approach obsolete.

I’m not here to tell you what to do with your money, rather to share ideas so you can make confident decisions for yourself.  Don’t underestimate the advantage provided by a 10% free withdrawal.  Most contracts I recommend span from five to eight years in total term.  By maximizing free withdrawals you can get a substantial portion of your money into other investments before that point in time when you can move it all.  As I say all the time, if the annuity is the worst thing in your portfolio  then your other investments are in great shape and you can move your annuity money in that direction with the available withdrawal.  But if the markets hit the crapper you’ll be darn glad to have an asset that doesn’t lose value.  Maybe then you can even use the withdrawal to buy into the market when there’s good value.  Ooh… there’s a new idea!

Regardless of what you do, don’t let ignorant comments limit your scope of understanding.  It may lead you to make decisions you regret.  I’ve seen it go both ways.  There are not only people that spend far too much on the wrong annuity but also people who have far too much risk to survive volatile times.

An annuity would never work for a professional gambler or someone who flips houses.  But for solving general concerns related to retirement planning, the right annuity inside your portfolio really is one of the best options available.  If liquidity was a concern before this will hopefully convince you that it’s all relative and if you have saved enough for retirement, the 10% annual withdrawal is well more than you need. 

If you end up using an annuity in retirement, I want to make sure you do it the right way.

Bryan

800.438.5121

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How Technology Benefits Retirement Planning

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It’s never more evident than when you talk to kids growing up today.  Younger generations take for granted easy access to information that can still seem like magic for anyone who remembers a rotary telephone.  I appreciate the convenience it adds to my life while trying to make sure it doesn’t run my life.

Technology is a blessing and a curse at the same time.  While almost everything we need is instantly accessible it also means we are always connected and rarely have full privacy unless we just walk away from it.  Most of us are not likely to adopt the use of technology like current teenagers have but we are all using it to enhance life and broaden our scope of understanding on certain subjects.

I started in this business at the very beginning of the evolution.  Digital processing eliminated stacks of paper and file cabinets.  Everything got smaller and faster, resulting in cost reductions and simpler transactions.  I’ve seen both sides of it and have to say that the new way of doing business is not only more convenient but also much more effective.

In my opinion, the two greatest benefits of this new age of communication are information and time.  An answer to any question you have is immediately available and takes much less effort to find what you need.  What before required you to have full trust in an individual is possible now if you trust yourself to make decisions and sort through all that’s available.

I started this website because I had questions about some products a wholesaler wanted me to sell.  I did some research and crunched some numbers to figure out which parts were worthwhile and which were not.  I came to some interesting conclusions and decided to catalog the results and information.  It turned into a website with the primary purpose of documenting the research I was doing.  I put an 800 number on it and was actually surprised when someone called with questions.

That’s not at all why I initially did it but over time it has turned into my primary business because a lot of people want a second opinion.  And that’s where the information age lends a serious benefit to you.  The right answer for you is out there and you can find it from the comfort of your favorite chair with a cup of coffee in hand.  You don’t have to believe anyone in a strip mall office.  You can do it all yourself without leaving home.

My mentors in this business are a successful group of guys in Missoula, MT who started decades before I did.  They know the old way of doing business in the days where information and communication was limited.  Automated changes were not embraced but accepted mostly out of necessity.  I get it, a required 300 word legal disclaimer at the bottom of every email is somewhat overbearing and a little less personal than a hand-written note on office stationary.

If you walk into the conference room at their office and start asking questions about retirement planning the options they have are somewhat limited.  They have a variable annuity from Guardian Life, a couple fixed annuities from Jackson National and from what I’ve recently heard they are now pushing some new structured annuities from Brighthouse (Met Life).

The limited options speak to another problem I have with the industry that relates to captive sales agreements and it’s a separate issue I’ll acknowledge but set aside.   But they are not unlike most other professionals you are likely to meet who claim to have the best options and ideas when in reality what they have is limited to what a broker/dealer or marketing organization tells them to sell.  The science of asset distribution is still very new and many agents are recommending what’s easy rather than stepping out of a comfort zone to see if more is possible.  Technology has allowed me to take ideas from an insurance company board room and apply new strategies to the products based on traditional fundamentals.

It’s understandable that my age comes up a lot in meetings.  I’m younger than all of you so it’s common for someone to question my experience.  My typical response is to remind anyone who asks that the 60 year old agent wants to retire as well and won’t be around when you really need him.  Aside from that I reminded someone this week that in terms of the information age I’m really old because I’ve been on the edge of it since the beginning.  My learning curve was steeper because more information came available every day.  I consumed it and continue to do so. 

Pressure to compete against other agents and proposals, along with access to a significant amount of information has allowed me to not only find best products but also the new strategies and ideas that work.  I urge you to not take that for granted and suggest you leverage my experience for your benefit.

Anyone who talked to me this week knows that I stumbled upon a really good idea.   After doing some simulations to validate the strategy I shared it with a few people who I thought could benefit specifically.  It’s a rough idea that hasn’t been polished into actual advice yet but I was able to share it right away with people all over the country.  It’s one more step in the evolution of retirement science and when the next one comes I’ll be ready.

Stay flexible so you can take advantage of that as well… have a great weekend!

Bryan

800.438.5121

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Does Anyone Have Too Much Money to Use an Annuity?

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It’s a great question that I got a few weeks ago during a meeting and it stumped me for just a second.  Dianne and Fred have saved more than enough for retirement and their income needs are modest in comparison to the total portfolio value.  They are also young, both under the age of 60, so traditional products don’t have the same value as they would for a couple age 65 or older.

I took the common approach and first showed them what a traditional income product would cost and the benefit of doing it that way.  Some people like the idea of consistency and guaranteed income annuities are convenient and worry-free.  But the cost is prohibitively expensive in many cases so alternative strategies need to be explored as well.

For Dianne and Fred, retirement spending needs amount to roughly 3% of their total portfolio value.  At that level a traditional income annuity would be affordable but given their young age I don’t feel it’s the best option for them.  So I took them through several other strategies for producing retirement income that included use of bonds, growth and dividend stocks.  Each has benefits and disadvantages so we spent a lot of time talking about the potential for every scenario.

One option I showed had them staying 100% invested in the stock market.  For anyone with higher spending needs this will show potential disaster in times with serious market volatility.  But Dianne and Fred saw that their portfolio would have survived some of the most volatile periods in past market cycles.  This is when Fred asked if there was ever a time when someone has too much money to use an annuity.

My answer is simple.  Yes, there are plenty of times when a traditional income annuity is not necessary.  But there are always other reasons to use annuities.  In situations like this when someone has more than enough for a comfortable retirement it’s more about risk tolerance than anything else.  Lots of people have enough assets to weather any market downturn but seeing a portfolio cut in half might not be all too settling, even if a long-term simulation shows portfolio recovery.

Dianne and Fred are investigating the use of annuities in retirement because they want to reduce volatility.  That’s exactly what a deferred annuity can do.  Bonds are the traditional choice for people that don’t buy annuities but an annuity has a decided advantage when consistent withdrawals are part of a retirement plan. 

Annuities are meant for reducing risk in retirement.  Insulating a portfolio from market losses allows you to maintain more of your principal balance and increases long-term growth potential.  When the market drops it takes less time to recover if your whole portfolio didn’t take a hit.  That means you get to move forward and start growing sooner.

Lots of people who have more than enough money and still use annuities.  I would honestly say that many of my clients don’t even need annuities but choose to use them for one strategic advantage or another.  Guaranteed income products are fine but there is usually a better way.  If you have saved enough for retirement and don’t like the idea of a lifetime commitment or fees that erode your investments then you may want to look at an alternative use for annuities no matter how much money you have.

If asset protection, liquidity and growth are of concern to you then a simple alternative may provide what you want. Feel free to call, email or get on my calendar below.

Bryan

800.438.5121

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