Knowledge is power


In previous posts, I have mentioned the need to understand our clients’ behaviors, desires and objectives in order to be a valuable ally in their planning process. It seems advisors aren’t always on the same page with consumers, however.

A recent LIMRA study asked consumers and advisors what the top three concerns were in retirement planning. Of course, advisors and consumers agree that running out of money and creating a retirement income plan were very important. Unfortunately, advisors underestimated other components that their clients highly prioritized. Clients placed a high value on protecting portfolio principal – they actually valued this 50 percent more than the advisors surveyed. I found this gap alarming as it indicates we might not be addressing our customers' true wishes.

Recently, the Federal Reserve began talking about the "complacency bubble" where clients have become comfortable with risk. In reality, maybe advisors have become comfortable with the recent run in the equity markets, but our clients remain fearful of a major correction. It's worth a conversation with our clients to make sure they remain at the same risk tolerance they are willing to take.

Taking gains off the table may be an appropriate tactic in today's market environment. Fixed indexed annuities provide a tool to sweep gains in qualified accounts while remaining attached to an equity index.

The other large gap that the study revealed centered on minimizing taxes. Again, consumers valued this 50 percent more than advisors. With increased tax brackets, higher federal entitlement taxes and alternative minimum tax for high wage earners, the impact of tax deferral has never been more important.

Carriers seem to be focused more on accumulation-driven product design as they try to remove risk from their product portfolios. But for consumers worried about taxes, annuities remain a valuable tool in the planning process. Non-qualified assets gain tax-deferred status during the accumulation phase, while guaranteeing a lifetime income during the payout phase. More importantly, annuities provide tax-efficient distribution during retirement.

Annuities can provide lift and calm consumer concerns in many retirement planning strategies. Shielding growth from current taxation allows for quicker accumulation. Leveraging the many distribution options creates a better take-home income stream in many cases. And, the guarantees and safety of annuities can help clients feel secure. Look at how an annuity might fit into your clients’ retirement plans.

Don't Blink


Don’t blink ... time is flying by!

June was Annuity Awareness Month, and we have completed the first half of 2014. Wow, where has the time gone?   We have seen the markets roller-coastering and the bond market bouncing around.  The S&P is up around 6.2% and the ten-year treasury started at 3% and has been floating around the 2.6% range before hitting a low of 2.4%.

This a great time to step back and look at where we're going. Most of us have kids, grandkids and clients ready to enjoy the summer and head away for some family vacations.  What a great time to make sure we have things in order.

You may be asking yourself, "What does it mean to have things in order?"  Is it choosing a vacation destination or how we will get there?  Or is it about the car being up on maintenance so we can make the trip with ease?  Like most people, we make sure we have things in order before we head off on the road.  So let's give the following financial aspects a second look to make sure we have them checked off, too:

  • Do I have beneficiaries listed for all my assets? (Insurance, 401k, IRA, Annuities or Mutual Funds)
  • Have we protected the ones we care about?   (Have we forgotten someone or need to make an adjustment)
  • Have we just been declined for Insurance or LTC?   (Illness, results of lab work or family history open a can of worms)
  • Is our will up-to-date or advance medical directive in order?

Things happen in the blink of an eye; it feels like we just started the new year and now it's half over.

So, as you touch base with your clients, or see them before they head off for their next family vacation, remember to ask a few questions to make sure they didn’t blink and forget to protect the ones they love most.  It's easy using a fixed index annuity with today’s riders.  It’s not all about rates or caps or spreads - it’s about the right solution for the right situation.

Your dedicated team at Ash Brokerage is here to assist you. Give us a call to learn more!

It Doesn't Pay To Delay


Not all retirement products are created equal. Often times, CDs are thought of as the only option to provide security and guaranteed growth in your clients’ retirement portfolios. However, fixed or indexed deferred annuities can offer security, guaranteed growth and tax benefits, which make them a lucrative option to help your clients meet all of their retirement goals.   

Don’t let your clients wait on the sidelines thinking annuity rates are too low. If you factor in the power of tax deferral, as well as benefits such as enhanced guaranteed lifetime income and/or an enhanced death benefit, annuities are going to outperform and will be the clear choice!

For more, check out the example in this flyer from Integrity, one of our insurance carrier partners.

Encouragement in Today's Environment


State of the Nation: Your success is not contingent on a product or a rate!

Sometimes as advisors we can become discouraged with market conditions, especially when our livelihoods could be disrupted by things out of our control. As we continue to see a significant number of pricing decreases from carriers, along with the pressures of our current rate environment, you might be wondering how to keep these challenges in perspective.

First, don’t buy into the mindset that guaranteed products are no longer competitive. Your clients still need your help and expertise to provide better, safe returns on their money. Our solutions remain one of the best alternatives for clients seeking safety, higher rates of return and guaranteed income. According to, there is still a large amount of funds – $13 trillion – earning less than 25 basis points in banks and institutions. And as of last week, the national average for a five-year CD was .79 percent.

Second, in the United States today, there are 20 million more people ages 50 to 74 than there were 10 years ago. That means there are one-third more prime annuity prospects. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half of the Americans in that age group have more than $100,000 in investable assets, and more than one-third have more than $250,000.


Both of these scream annuity opportunity from the rooftops!

Recently released numbers from the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute show total annuity sales improved 11 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared to the first quarter of 2013, totaling $57.7 billion.

The sales were driven largely by fixed annuities, which experienced a 43 percent increase in the first quarter, reaching $23.5 billion. Indexed annuity sales also rose 43 percent in the first quarter, totaling $11.3 billion. This proves the opportunity is there, and your clients are responding!

To help your clients succeed, I truly believe the stars are aligned between the intersection of opportunity and strategic partnerships available here at Ash Brokerage. You should call us today to take advantage of both. 

Three overlooked retirement risks


The American College’s Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP)® curriculum includes a list of 27 risks that retirees face.  Here are three risks that are incredibly important but often overlooked.

1. Forced retirement risk

Your client plans to work until age 66 in order to retire with full Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, a health, family or employment issue forces them to retire at 61. Are they financially prepared to support the lifestyle to which they've grown accustomed?

This happens more often than you would think. According to a recent Gallup® poll, the average American retirement age is 62.

2. Loss of spouse risk

What happens to the family income upon the death of a spouse?  It is imperative to evaluate survivor benefits in pensions and Social Security.

What may feel like a comfortable retirement can become downright terrifying upon the death of a spouse. Income sources are often halved, yet lifestyle costs for the widow(er) remain very similar to those of a couple. The last thing they need to be concerned with is how to replace lost income after the death of their spouse.

3. Legacy risk

Retirement income planning is all about balance. Balancing competing interests is the name of the game.

Think of your financially successful clients and prospects who want to maximize both their retirement income and their legacy assets while minimizing market risk. For them, using income guarantees can result in a more efficient allocation for income (generating the highest guaranteed income with the least amount of assets) allowing the remaining assets to be managed to achieve their legacy goals.

If your clients don’t have the benefit of a crystal ball, shifting these uncontrollable significant risks to an insurance solution is sound advice. We can help you develop a plan to address these risks.


Give us a call, tell us about your client’s situation and let us go to work for you.