Guaranteed Income and Success


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 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:

QLAC Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts Guaranteed Income Retirement Planning Annuities

The Hidden Impact of QLACs


Soon after Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts (QLACs) were created in 2014, we put them to the test in a vigorous study. And, we’ve repeated that study every year since. 


Here’s what we’ve learned: While QLACs continue to offer an incentive for pushing required minimum distributions (RMDs) out to age 85 and one month, there are other benefits to consider. In every year that we’ve done the study, a few key takeaways have remained consistent. 


  • QLACs improve retirement outcomes. In our 2018 study, we applied QLACs to four different traditional asset allocation strategies in four different age groups, using market projections from 35 investment advisors. Amazingly, a QLAC improved the probability of success in 100 percent of the scenarios we tested.1 In our earlier studies, when we used past performance of the S&P 500 and Barclay’s Aggregate Bond Index, QLACs improved the probability of success in 95 percent of scenarios. Regardless of projected or past performance, the placement of a QLAC has proven to be a great enhancement in nearly every asset allocation plan. 


  • Younger, more conservative clients benefit the most. In our analysis, the largest improvements have been in younger and more conservative client scenarios. We see significant improvements when a QLAC is placed at age 55 or 60 with an asset allocation of conservative and moderate-conservative. Too often, we look at QLACs as a tool to simply push RMDs down the road. But guaranteed income, i.e., not running out of money in retirement, is the bigger story. We often overlook the benefits of guaranteed income in portfolios and this study proves the positive impact.


  • Guaranteed income changes the conversation. If you’re not already looking at the value of QLACs – or other guaranteed income products – then you’re doing yourself a disservice. With our JourneyGuide™  software, we’ve discovered that guaranteed income not only changes the mathematical outcome of retirement, but it also changes your client relationships. With a tool like JourneyGuide, you can have meaningful, interactive planning sessions to show clients the positive impacts that small changes can have on their portfolios. In many instances, the implementation of guaranteed income allows the client to be more aggressive with their other assets. This adds advisor gamma to the relationship that would otherwise be lost. 


Winning Strategy

The hidden value of QLACs is guaranteed income. We’ve proven that regardless of allocation, the impact of guaranteed income is significant – even more so with younger investors. I encourage everyone to look at your younger clients and begin placing guaranteed future income in their portfolios. That will, in turn, allow you to have a conversation around their remaining assets or capture more assets and invest them more aggressively to maximize long-term growth potential. 

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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. 


1Ash Brokerage, “2018 Study: QLACS Improve Probability of Retirement Success,” March 2018:

QLAC Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract Retirement JourneyGuide

RMD, QLAC, IRA, DIA – What does it all mean? Action!


If your practice is anything like mine, activity is a critical component in driving revenue-generating opportunities. The IRS and U.S. Treasury put new required minimum distribution (RMD) regulations into place effective July 1, 2014, and in doing so, gave us an opportunity to increase activity that will drive sales in the fourth quarter of 2014 and into 2015.

These new regulations implement suggestions made in 2010, in response to the Obama administration’s request for information on lifetime income options. The new regulations allow an individual retirement account (IRA) owner to use a portion of their qualified money to purchase a qualified longevity annuity contract (QLAC), and have that portion exempt from RMD calculations.

A QLAC in our language is a deferred immediate annuity (DIA). It’s very important to note that a QLAC must be a DIA fixed contract issued from a carrier – no private annuities are allowed. In addition, fixed indexed annuities and variable annuities don’t meet the regulations.

Now you have a great reason to contact clients who aren’t using their RMDs and show them a way to continue to defer taxes on a portion of their qualified assets. These recent changes to IRS rules have many benefits: 

  • Your clients may defer 25% of their qualified assets, up to a maximum of $125,000
  • DIAs are the least expensive way to purchase a guaranteed future income stream, and purchasing today allows your clients to take advantage of today’s mortality credits. For example: a 70-year-old male  purchasing a $100,000 DIA from an A++ carrier today could guarantee themselves a $30,698.76 annual income beginning at age 85 (life with cash refund)
  • Income can be deferred up to age 85, and as a result, taxes are too
  • A number of death benefit options are now eligible, including return of premium


While DIAs are available today, the first QLAC-friendly contract is expected to be released at the beginning of November, with more expected to follow. Now is a great time to reach out to your clients who don’t enjoy taking RMDs – schedule a meeting to discuss this new opportunity. Activity will lead to sales, even if it doesn’t involve utilizing this concept.

Our Ash Brokerage annuity team is stacked with industry experts who are very much up to speed with these new regulations. According to LIMRA, DIAs were the fastest growing annuity segment in 2013, and they are expected to capture significantly more market share in the years ahead. We’d love to hear from you to discuss this new opportunity and be the trusted partner who helps you incorporate QLACs into your practice. Call us today – your clients are depending on you, and you can depend on us. 

QLAC Annuities DIA Deferred Immediate Annuity

Create a secure income during retirement


What is a DIA?

A Delayed or Deferred-Income Annuity is designed to provide a stream of income beginning at a future date. It can help your clients pre-fund their retirement by creating a customized stream of income payments. Clients choose when payments begin, and they may also have the ability to change the date should the need arise.  

Who is best suited for this product?

  • Individuals who are still working and want to create their own “pension-like” retirement income
  • Individuals with money in 401(k) accounts sitting at former employers
  • Retirees looking to protect their retirement plans should they live beyond their life expectancy

How do DIAs work?

DIAs are financial products that help make sure your clients cannot outlive their assets. Your clients can purchase a DIA annuity before or after they retire, and as soon as they reach a pre-determined date, they can receive a guaranteed monthly income for the rest of their life – no matter how long they live.

Your dedicated team at Ash Brokerage is here to assist you, so you should call us today for a DIA illustration! 

DIA Delayed Income Annuity Deferred Income Annuity Annuities

The best ‘worst case’ alternative


“The best ‘worst case’ alternative” – that’s how a large variable annuity producer recently described and positioned fixed-index annuities with income riders. It’s not the most ringing of endorsements – a glass-half-empty view – but it’s still extremely significant and impactful. 

I would argue that a more accurate description may be, “the best ‘most probable outcome’ alternative” – a glass-almost-full view.  

Whether you see the glass as half empty or half full, making the right choice between VA and FIA income riders can mean the difference between having a client whose objectives and expectations have been met OR having a client who may have to settle for less than expected – or worse.  

There are three steps to making a good decision:

  1. Collect all of the available facts
  2. Consider possible and probable factors that may influence those facts
  3. Take action … or not (Inaction is also a decision)

Positive or negative, whatever happens after the decision is made won’t change the fact that you made the best possible decision. 

So, if we just look at the income rider portion of the VA or FIA choice, what are the facts you should consider to help your client make a good decision?

  • FIA rollup percentages are routinely greater than those of VAs
  • FIA payout percentages, on the income values, are higher than VAs
  • If a FIA gives your client a higher, guaranteed income value AND pays a greater guaranteed percentage on that value, your client gets greater guaranteed lifetime income from a FIA!   

Next, what other factors should you consider in your decision process?

  • Performance – VAs were designed to be performance engines. With a VA, it is argued that if the returns out-perform the rollups, the client benefits with higher-than-guaranteed income. That is true, but:

    • How likely is that to happen? With an assumed VA fee of 3.5 percent to overcome and a guaranteed rollup of 6 percent, how likely is it that a 9.5 percent return will be realized in a VA to actually increase the guaranteed income payout? Also, even though high returns can occur in a VA in any given year, the total return of the VA must overcome fees and exceed the rollup over the entire deferral period, not just in a given year!

    • The same thing can be said of FIAs. Though it’s less likely to occur in a FIA than in a VA, it does happen. Case in point, I recently received policy statements on two clients whose five-year FIA performance has out-performed their rollup values.  

  • Increasing income opportunity once income is elected – If your client considers income important now, won’t it be even more important in the future – perhaps even critical? Increasingly, FIAs are offering clients income checks that increase and lock in as the selected indexes perform. While VAs may claim to offer opportunity here, evidence that this actually happens is not readily available.

  • Protection of the accumulated account value – While it is critical for our clients to plan, the best-laid plans don’t always work out or reach fruition. If everything goes well (glass half full) and the market cooperates, your choice of either a VA or FIA with an income rider may not be that critical – they’ll both perform, the income riders will kick in and perhaps the VA will even provide a little extra income due to long-term, solid subaccount performance. 

BUT … (glass half empty) if circumstances are such that your client can’t wait the planned number of years to take income, and they need access to their account values NOW, poor market performance in the VA could result in a diminished account value or even one less than the original contract deposit. This would not happen in a FIA.

In summary, a FIA provides greater guaranteed income – that can be structured to increase – as well as an account value protected from negative market performance. A VA could potentially provide a somewhat higher guaranteed income and a fluctuating account value.

So, what’s your decision? A FIA? A VA? A combination of both?

Annuities FIA VA Fixed Variable Annuity