Annuities

Guaranteed Income and Success


Annuities

Over the past four and a half years, my firm has been working on a software tool to help Americans think and act differently in preparation for retirement. JourneyGuide  helps identify how a client will meet their spending needs on an after-tax, after-inflation basis. It’s fast, accurate, and it allows you to work with your client not just for your client. 

 

Important findings have been coming out of the software for some time. I find the most important aspect revolves around guaranteed income and the positive effects it has on the portfolio. 

 

Earlier this year, we released a study on Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts (QLACs) which proves they improve the probability of success in retirement portfolios.1 After a QLAC was added, many of the scenarios we tested increased to more than 90 percent probability of having $1 in the portfolio at age 95. What surprised me the most was that the largest improvements were for younger ages (ages 55-60) and more conservative clients. We often think of the traditional income annuity buyer as being 65-plus. This study clearly shows that placing an annuity with younger ages is beneficial. 

 

Any Guaranteed Income is Good

However, it’s not just deferred (QLAC) or immediate income annuities that improve outcomes. The power of guaranteed income is demonstrated case after case. The ability to provide income that the client will always receive is a powerful story. Purchasing the income and allowing the rest of the portfolio to generate less accomplishes two things:

  • It takes pressure of the portfolio to sustain a high withdrawal strategy 
  • It allows the portfolio to be invested with a long-term focus instead of short-term gains for income

 

These findings work regardless of income now or income later. The ability to take pressure off the portfolio allows the client to invest longer term, which might provide additional tax relief in the form of long-term capital gains versus ordinary income. Guaranteed income can be found in Social Security, defined benefit income payments or commercially purchased annuities. Those are the only vehicles that support mortality credits and provide income for as long as the client lives. 

 

Winning Strategy

Go to www.journeyguideplanning.com and request your free demonstration of JourneyGuide. I think you will find the tool can change how your clients think and act in retirement. 

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,” on Amazon.

 

1Ash Brokerage, “QLACS Improve Probability of Retirement Success,” 2018: https://goo.gl/Vw9Htz

QLAC Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts Guaranteed Income Retirement Planning Annuities

Why Fee-Only Isn’t Always the Best Interest


Annuities

Recently, several industry publications have looked at the distribution of fee-based products. These are annuity products with no commission. In theory, the design allows a fee-only planner to place products while adhering to their business model, charging an advisory fee for all assets under management. I caution advisors – and consumers alike – to be weary of the false promises around fee-only product development. 

 

While I remain a huge proponent of consumer value, the distribution of these products remains in its infancy, with many faults in the initial distribution strategies. Recently, we have seen firms that offer a subscription-like service for those fee-only planners. The pricing is based on the planner’s assets under management and provides access to a suite of annuities with no commission earned on the amount purchased. 

 

Two things are most concerning:

  • The structure. What’s not fully disclosed or understood is how much money the subscription firms are receiving from the carriers in order to have the products on their platform. Like any distributor, the firms focusing on those fee-only advisors earn an allowance based on the amount of the annuity purchased … similar to a commission. So these firms earn revenue twice – by charging the planners and taking a portion of the sales from the carriers. 

 

  • The impact on the end-client. The net client value is suspect, at best. We ran a quote for a fee-only product and compared it to a commissioned-based product. On a $100,000 single-premium immediate annuity for a 65-year-old male with a life-only payout, the increase in income was $21 per month. On a $500 monthly income that is a sizable increase, to be clear. However, net of the 1 percent fee that the advisor will charge, the client loses $748 annually.

 

Don’t misunderstand me. I think the value of guaranteed income is extremely important. However, clients must be aware that the net benefit must be an increase in their net income above fees and expenses. In many cases, it seems to be in the best interest of the client to take the annuity purchased out of a fee-only or assets-under-management model and purchase a fully commissionable product. The net growth in income would be higher versus sticking to a rigid, fee-only business model. 

 

Winning Strategy

Look at the value of both fee-based and commission-based product selections. Don’t be locked into your business model so much that it hurts your client. 

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,” on Amazon.

Fee-Only Annuities Retirement Planning

Why June Should Be Client Value Month


Annuities

OK, so June is officially Annuity Awareness Month. If you’re anything like me, you get excited about the opportunity to spotlight our business and how annuities fit into the planning process. However, I’m not sure Annuity Awareness Month is the appropriate title. Instead, I think it should be Client Value Month. 

 

Let’s talk about the meaning of value in retirement income planning. 

 

  • Value goes beyond products. Anyone can find products through a variety of online resources. In many cases, those products are less expensive. What separates you from an online financial grocery store? Advice, wisdom and client engagement. 

 

  • Value is defined by the client, not you. Too often, I see websites and marketing material focused on the advisor’s credentials, experience or area of expertise. The focus needs to be on what you do for your clients. 

 

 

  • Value is understanding the client’s vision. Everyone has a different vision of retirement – start early, travel, leave a legacy, maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s the vision that you have to meet. It’s the future the client wants to attain. You can deliver that future efficiently and effectively.

 

  • Value is creating confidence. In many cases, annuities make the overall retirement portfolio more predictable. In doing so, you increase the probability of your client having a certain level of income to meet their vision of a great retirement. 

 

Winning Strategy

Focus your attention on your client’s goals and their vision of a great retirement. That will lead you to the placement of safety and guaranteed income where annuities fit. But, start with the value and not the product. 

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About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,” on Amazon. 

 

1Nationwide Retirement Institute, Social Security 4th Annual Consumer Survey, September 2017: https://nationwidefinancial.com/media/pdf/NFM-16735AO.pdf

Retirement Annuities Client Value

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. 

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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.”

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Asset Location Over Allocation


Annuities

As I travel back from a business trip in Portland, I’m reminded how important location is on an airplane. Flying four and a half hours in the middle seat is not fun, especially when you don’t sleep on an airliner like me. 

 

Over the past few years, the location of assets has become more important in the financial planning arena. The biggest reason is the continued shift to income versus accumulation. During distribution, income is more important than the rate of return, which is largely driven by the allocation of assets. Let’s look at an example where location can improve your chances of success. 

 

Average Couple, Average Approach

A typical American couple approaches your firm. They have done a nice job of creating a nest egg for their retirement and would like to receive $50,000 a year in retirement income. They anticipate receiving $20,000 of annual Social Security income. So, they need to take $30,000 a year from their accumulated assets of $750,000. In other words, they will need to sustain a 4 percent withdrawal strategy from their assets under management. 

 

While the 4 percent rule worked during higher interest rate periods, most economists believe the safe withdrawal rate is around 2.8 percent to 3.5 percent. Without a doubt, this couple is in jeopardy of a significant failure in retirement, especially if they were to have a significant drop in asset value early in their retirement years. This is where asset location can make a huge difference over asset allocation. Because allocation doesn’t fully protect the clients from a loss in their account – it might make the ride smoother or reduce their losses and gains, but it will not provide protection from losses. 

 

What worked for clients during the accumulation phase will not work for them during the distribution phase. In fact, in many cases, the strategies that clients used to accumulate assets will hurt them in retirement.

 

New Approach, Better Outcomes

Let’s look at using different products to sure up their retirement income.

  • First, the couple buys a single premium immediate annuity (SPIA) to secure $9,000 of annual income. In today’s interest rate environment, that will cost just under $170,000 of the account value. The SPIA’s income is protected for both the couples’ lives, and if they both die before using up the $170,000, their beneficiaries get the balance of the unused funds. 
  • Next, the couple purchases a fixed indexed annuity (FIA). The $100,000 FIA generates $5,000 of guaranteed annual income. The clients remain in control of the assets and can change the annuity if something happens. 
  • Their remaining $480,000 is invested in their asset allocation strategy according to their risk tolerance. The assets only need to create $16,000 of annual income off the $480,000 in assets. That means that the use of two additional products reduces the withdrawal percentage to 3.3 percent. Most would agree the 3.3 percent is a significant improvement to the withdrawal percentage and increases the probability of success. 

 

The result is that the clients begin their retirement with the same $50,000 of targeted income: 

  • $20,000 from Social Security 
  • $16,000 from the systematic withdrawal strategy
  • $9,000 from the SPIA
  • $5,000 front the FIA

 

Notice that between Social Security and the annuities that $34,000 of their $50,000 annual income is guaranteed for the rest of their lives. That’s makes a powerful impact on their retirement income strategy.

 

Check out our one-page sales idea on this concept, and I think you will see that the location of assets is far more important than the allocation of the assets. The location strategy provides more consistent income with less volatility in income. Your clients will appreciate the guarantees and the unique location of their assets. 

 

Winning Strategy

Asset location is more important than allocation during the income phase. Look at using alternative income-producing assets to reduce pressure on assets and provide a more secure retirement income. 

 

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.”

Asset Allocation Retirement Income Annuities Social Security