Annuities

Missing the Shot You Didn’t Take


Annuities

I can never resist talking basketball in the spring, especially around the NCAA tournament and the final stretches of the NBA season. 

 

For anyone who knows me, my recreational basketball skill set is focused on offense, not defense. Specifically, my game is played between the two 3-point lines. I usually don’t leave a game thinking I should have taken a shot but didn’t. A lot of coaches tell players that they will never make the shot that they don’t take. 

 

Recently, one of my best wholesalers posed a question to the rest of our sales team. He asked how often clients wish they had bought something a year ago but didn’t have the faith to make the decision. 

 

Think about how many people wish they had bought a few years ago. And, think about how many had wished they sold it while it was at an all-time high. That’s always the case – clients always wish they had done something a year ago.

 

So here’s my question: What will you wish you had done this year when you look back at your business next year? 

 

One Possible Answer

Pension risk transfer is an opportunity to drive revenue in your practice for 2018 and beyond. However, many are reluctant to pursue this market because it has a long gestation period before you receive revenue or commission. I think there are several reasons to evolve your financial planning practice to include pension risk transfers:

 

  • Current tax law allows companies to make deductible contributions to their 2017 pension shortage at the higher tax rate of 35 percent. This equates to a 14 percent discount for applying contributions to the pension shortage in 2018.
  • With our recent strategic partnership, Ash Brokerage can provide fee income to financial advisors before product is placed and while the company completes the termination process. 
  • More and more large companies are taking advantage of shifting pension risk to insurance companies. Small and midsized companies tend to follow larger corporations, and most pension assets rest with small businesses. 
  • Bond yields will likely change dramatically over the next 36 months, putting pressure on the fixed income portion of the investment portfolio. The same can be said for the recent volatility in the equity markets. It makes it difficult for plan sponsors to manage the risk for investment yields. 
  • Life expectancies continue to increase for older workers. That puts more obligation on the plan assets to provide lifetime income to the plan participants. That translates into more risk for the plan sponsor. 

 

Economic and tax climates make it a great time to talk about pension risk transfers. If you don’t begin integrating it into your practice today, you will likely look back a year from now and say that you wished that you done so. Don’t be wishing you had done something a year ago that is now costing you business. Take a good look at pension risk transfers as a larger part of your business. 

 

Winning Strategy

Don’t look back a year from now and wish you had added pension risk transfers to your business. The climate is ripe to take advantage of a business opportunity that might not come by again. 

Policy Review - 10 Ideas For Existing Life Insurance

Craving More?

Register for our April 19 webinar where we talk how pension risk transfers can be an effective tool for defined benefit plan sponsors seeking solutions for rising costs and longevity risk.

Register Now

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

Retirement Pension Risk Transfer Practice Management

How You Can Find More Clients with Pension Risk Transfer


Annuities

Our sales team talks with a lot of advisors over the course of our travels. Most conversations center around the need to grow the advisor’s business. 

 

As I’ve discussed before, part of The Go-Giver philosophy is the Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. Deploying this law through pension risk transfer sales can help you drive your firm’s revenue and increase the number of people you serve. 

 

Pension risk transfers will be a significant market over the next decade. For advisors, it’s a great way to meet new prospective clients through a business contact. It opens the door to a group of employees with the approval of the employee’s human resource department or company’s leadership. What a great introduction to new people! 

 

Companies of all sizes have pension liabilities that are at risk of hurting the enterprise. Pension plans carry longevity risk for the plan sponsors, interest rate risk for the pension fund managers and investment committee, and cost increases that concern C-suite leaders. When working on pension risk transfers, you can reduce or eliminate several problems for the employer:

 

  • Reduce a liability that shows up on the balance sheet (if not fully funded)
  • Avoid the increasing cost of administering the pension plan in the future
  • Shift the risk of employees living longer than funds can support payments
  • Eliminate the risk of interest rate fluctuations and equity market volatility 

 

There are several reasons that an employer would want a retirement income specialist in their office to talk with their employees about options on pension risk transfer decisions:

 

 

Pension risk transfers create a win-win-win scenario for the advisor, the employer and the employees. The employees gain the advantage of talking to a retirement expert on-site, which is viewed as an added benefit at no cost to the employer. The employer gains the ability to transfer their risk to an insurance carrier, and eliminate or reduce the risks to their balance sheet and cost structure of maintaining a pension plan. The advisor wins by helping more people and serving them better, which is the basis of the Law of Compensation.

 

Winning Strategy

Help more people and help them with their most complex problem – retirement. You can do both by working in the pension risk transfer market. 

Policy Review - 10 Ideas For Existing Life Insurance

Craving More?

Register for our April 19 webinar where we talk how pension risk transfers can be an effective tool for defined benefit plan sponsors seeking solutions for rising costs and longevity risk.

Register Now

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

Pension Risk Transfer IRA Annuities Retirement

Cost in Absence of Value


Annuities

Throughout my sales career, several mentors told me the catch phrase, “Cost is only an issue in the absence of value.” Of course, I usually hear that and think about it from my perspective. 

 

It’s always important to add value to your business and personal relationships. But, when you talk about the added benefits of guaranteed income, you have to offset the cost with value. In many cases, the value of guaranteed income far outpaces the cost associated with the purchase of the vehicle to provide the guarantee. 

 

Now, it’s important to convey the same message to clients and not just sales teams. Specifically, we need to talk to company CEOs and human resource directors about the risk of their pension plans. 

 

Cost of Pension Plans

Today, billions of dollars sit in defined pension plans that have been frozen by employers. Those pension plans are no longer helping recruit new talent to the company or retaining existing employees. More worrisome are the expected increases to costs: 

  • The cost of administering a fully funded pension plan is guaranteed to increase by 25 percent by the end of 2019, due to the cost of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBCG) premiums*
  • For plans that are not fully funded, the cost of maintenance might increase as much as 33 percent by the end of 2019* 

 

Those are real increases and real dollars that will be spent on an employee benefit that is not being leveraged to the full extent. So, the question is: Why would a company have a benefit that is going to increase in cost but doesn’t provide any benefit?

 

I doubt any CEO would invest in a new plant or machinery that didn’t have a suitable return. Especially with human capital, companies are reluctant to invest in additional funds without a plan to grow production through that investment. They shouldn’t do the same thing for an expensive employee benefit that is not providing value. 

 

The cost of additional contributions is expensive. Life expectancies have increased and returns are much lower than many old plan assumptions. Both of those result in funding shortages for a lot of defined benefit plans. Currently, CEOs are faced with making large contributions to bring the plan up to proper funding status. Since many are not willing to do that, they are left with the same problem year in and year out: an underfunded pension plan not benefiting the organization. Well, it’s about to create more of a drain due to the cost increases from the PBGC premiums. 

 

Value of Transfers

Myths exist around pension risk transfer business. Many believe that a company has to write a huge check to cover their shortage. Instead, in many cases, it makes sense to stagger the plan termination over a period of several years. Cash flow and capital requirements might make it easier to have a 5-10 year strategy instead of a one-time contribution. 

 

Another myth is that lump-sum distributions don’t help. In reality, lump-sum distributions can make a difference in the amount of shortage. Having educational meetings with employees can help the engagement level of lump-sum distributions. That’s where a good income specialist can benefit the employee base. Retirement remains the most complicated problem most Americans will face; our industry needs to be face-to-face with as many people as possible.

 

Winning Strategy

Take the cost of the least valuable employee benefit off the table for companies. In doing so, you can help a greater number of people retire more securely. 

Policy Review - 10 Ideas For Existing Life Insurance

Craving More?

Register for our April 19 webinar where we talk how pension risk transfers can be an effective tool for defined benefit plan sponsors seeking solutions for rising costs and longevity risk.

Register Now

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

 

*Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Premium Rates, March 2018: https://www.pbgc.gov/prac/prem/premium-rates

Pension Risk Transfer Retirement Financial Planning

Tax Control and Longevity Risk: Retirement Strategies Worth a Conversation


Annuities

As I have talked with clients and advisors over the last six weeks, there is renewed optimism revolving around our economy. I share the same view and have shared it for some time. I listened to a chief economist for an insurance carrier the last week of January. They had been lobbying for tax cuts for several years. It seems like the additional cash flow to corporations helps everyone’s view and, possibly, company financials. 

 

Risks of the Unknown

Tax control is really important in retirement planning. So much of our clients’ savings is tied to qualified plans, either in company-provided retirement plans or individually owned IRAs. Many of these IRAs are funded with former employer-owned retirement plans as well. So, the tax status of these funds makes it difficult to plan for tax control at retirement. Generally, Roth options were not available in qualified plans until recently, so the majority of assets in these plans become fully taxable. 

 

That’s why proper use of nonqualified assets can come into play. It’s important to consider taxes when making the plan. Even more important is the fact that longevity will put additional pressure on the taxation of the income as we age. Many income riders provide guaranteed income, but the income becomes fully taxable when the account value reaches zero. As longevity risks increase, nonqualified income can offset the impact of taxes later in life. 

 

Once we hit life expectancy, the need for medical coverage and long-term care increases. With means-tested medical premiums, it will become critical to make sure we provide clients the lowest possible premium for their health care. The use of nonqualified income can reduce the tax burden on income and lower the means-tested income levels. 

 

Take Control

You can control taxes and address longevity in multiple ways. Look toward innovate planning techniques and tools to help the client protect their income and tax advantage of tax benefits and thresholds to maximize net income. Below are some ideas you should consider when evaluating tax control and opportunities with your clients:

 

  • Look to convert Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs in the lower tax rate environment. This current tax payment allows the client to access funds tax free later with more distribution control (no required distributions at age 70 ½). The tax-free access can help keep them under a certain threshold for means-tested premiums or benefits. 
  • Consider using Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) to the shift some longevity risks. HECM lines of credit give clients tax-free access to large sums of capital based on the value of their home. New rules allow the client to stay in their home through nonrecourse loans, irrespective of the future value of the home. 
  • Use nonqualified single premium annuities to maximize Social Security income payments by pushing the election date to age 70. Over 20 years, this can increase Social Security income by $122,000.
  • Hedge longevity risks with nonqualified deferred income annuities. The exclusion ratio of DIAs can provide tax relief while supplying income later in life. 

 

There are many more ways to control taxes while addressing longevity. Take a look at how guaranteed income and HECM options allow you to have a more meaningful conversation with your clients. With more options, the client can rest easier knowing you have their best interests in mind. 

 

Winning Strategy

You have to consider the tax effects now (and in the future) of the decisions that your clients make for retirement. Down the line, tax control becomes important as you rely more on rider income. And, as means testing becomes more prevalent, tax thresholds will be a critical success factor to any retirement plan. 

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

Retirement Tax Control Home Equity Conversion Mortgages Longevity

4 Reasons You Should Focus on Retirement Income Planning


Annuities

Over the next several decades, retirement income planning will only grow. Planners have so much opportunity to concentrate on income planning as a core competency. I spend a lot of time talking about Americans’ behavior over the last 20 years and why income planning will be paramount for the next 20. Here are four reasons:

 

  • Our savings rate continues to decline. In December 2017, our savings rate dropped to 2.4 percent.1 If you look at the past 20-year trend, you will see a steady decline in savings, with the exception of high inflation periods or around the dot-com bubble and financial crisis. This has left most people ill-equipped for their retirement. Therefore, we will be asked to create more income from fewer assets than ever before in our careers. We have to get our clients to think differently, and the planning community will have to act differently to accomplish this. 

 

  • We continue to misuse social programs. As I travel around the country, I always talk to clients who want to get their hands on their Social Security as soon as possible. They fear that the program will be bankrupt in the 2030s. There are some fixes to Social Security that will likely be addressed in future Congresses. For now, the bigger problem is the fact that we completely misuse the system. More than 50 percent of Americans take Social Security retirement early.2 That makes your benefit smaller, and you lose the valuable 8 percent growth of your income between full retirement age and age 70. For some people, that equates to a 76 percent reduction in income. Only 2 percent of men and 4 percent of women take Social Security at age 70, so there is a lot of education that needs to happen in order to secure more guaranteed income.2 With just a 20-year time frame, the difference could be as much as $122,000 in additional income. That makes a big difference for the typical retiree. 

 

  • Employers remained focus on shifting defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans. That’s good for many employees – low cost investing, multiple subaccounts to choose, tax deferral and matching employer contributions. But, the loss of guaranteed income creates a gap that needs to be filled. When I sit in a plan sponsor’s office, I see a litany of risk-tolerance tests, return sheets and asset allocation brochures. But, when I ask the sponsor to tell me how their participants are going to turn these assets into income, their faces turn blank. Turning assets into dependable income is a priority and makes a baseline for many Americans to be able to buy the things they are accustomed to buying. 

 

  • In many minds, longevity grows as the most troubling risk for retirees. The uncertainty around how long you will need income remains a fear for many Americans. Providing a plan to address this allows the client piece of mind and, if done properly, enhances the systematic withdrawal strategy. We are living longer at times at the expense of our quality of life. Clients need to plan to make sure they have not only lifetime income but also a plan if a long-term care emergency happens. The odds continue to increase that we will have a care event as we age. Shifting longevity risks for lifetime income and long-term care make sense in many cases. And, the shift of those risks is generally done for pennies on the dollar. 

 

Income planning should be thought of as a great spot to be in as a financial planner. There are large numbers of people retiring and needing planning for many decades to come. Our past behaviors create a reason to change our clients’ perspectives and create value for them. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the growth opportunities in this space. 

 

Winning Strategy

Income is the ultimate outcome for many retirees. You can’t spend assets but you can spend income. Add retirement income planning to your discussions, and you’ll add value to the client experience. 

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

 

1Bureau of Economic Analysis, “Personal Income and Outlays, December 2017”: https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/pi/pinewsrelease.htm

 

2The Motley Fool, “When Does the Average American Start Collecting Social Security?” April 19, 2016: https://www.fool.com/retirement/general/2016/04/19/when-does-the-average-american-start-collecting-so.aspx

 

 

Retirement Income Financial Planning Practice Enhancement