Annuities - A Little-Known Retirement Secret

| September 16, 2022

You’re probably familiar with the classic retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions. But did you know there is a financial product out there that is customizable and can be tailored to your specific risks and financial goals?

An annuity is an insurance-based financial product that takes in payments from individuals and pays them back usually over a long period of time in a flow of payments or a lump sum when a certain event occurs, such as a specific time, age, or if an illness occurs. The insurance company can accept payments over time or in one lump sum as well. The money in it is invested by the financial institution and grows until the date that the payments are to be distributed to the beneficiary or account owner.

An annuity can provide regular payments from a fixed-rate, variable, or indexed annuity.

Fixed-rate annuities often take the form of a singular lump sum that is structured to provide you a set amount of income periodically. It’s not exposed to any market risk, its payout rates are fixed, and its principal value does not grow or decline.

Variable annuities are market-exposed annuities. These annuities have more risk involved and their payout amounts usually factor in the portfolio performance. The amount invested in a variable annuity can grow or decline.

Index annuities are market-exposed annuities but track a diversified index of stocks or equities. These types of annuities are a middle ground between some of the riskier assets that go into a variable annuity and the risk-averse, non-market-exposed fixed annuity.

Though annuities may seem complicated, the basic idea is simple. An insurance company receives a fixed or variable income stream for a predetermined period, or for life, in exchange for money in return.

With your retirement accounts, such as your 401(k)s, IRAs, or Roth IRAs, there are annual contribution limits and age restrictions that are meant to have your money used in a specific way regardless of your unique circumstance. With an annuity, the main benefit is that it is structured to be tailored to your unique needs.

It’s important to know that any guarantees, like interest or market protection, are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.