Annuities

The First Five Minutes: How to Set a Positive Tone for Your Entire Year


Annuities

No matter the sport, there are a few critical points in every game when coaches focus on motivating their team. Obviously, finishing the game strong is a must – you have to execute down the stretch and perform in pressure situations. 

 

However, coaches also talk about the first five minutes of each half as being critical to success. The first five minutes set the tone, allow the team to put pressure on the opponent, and energize (or take out) the crowd.

 

As we begin 2018, I think the first five minutes of your year are important for the same reasons. You have to set the tone for your clients, relieve them of the pressures of retirement income planning, and take out some of the risks of retirement, namely longevity issues. Each has a specific purpose in helping your clients feel more confident in their long-term retirement strategy. And, by focusing on your clients’ needs, you add tremendous value to their lives. 

 

  • What are some events that might derail your clients’ retirement today?
  • If you could reduce that risk, how much value would your client feel you delivered?

 

Set the Tone

Could a correction happen in 2018 or 2019? Are your clients going to be able to time the market to avoid an eventual correction? With today’s rising equity markets, it’s hard to take investments out of the market. 

 

We have a tendency to maximize the returns for our clients each and every year. However, as they age, return is less important to many as their focus turns to income versus accumulation. Our clients fear they will not have enough income in retirement, and our response is mistakenly to accumulate more assets. In reality, we have to protect their asset base and help them generate more income. 

 

Lock in Gains

Our clients have accumulated trillions of dollars of assets in qualified plans, including their personal IRAs. The current tax law allows for qualified transfers from one IRA to another rollover IRA with no current tax as long as it meets the transfer criteria, i.e., direct trustee-to-trustee transfer. 

 

By using conservative vehicles to sweep gains from their account, the client can take investment risk off the table while earning a competitive, conservative return. In many cases, the client can still earn indexing credits tied to their favorite equity or blended allocation index up to 5 or 6 percent (current pricing as of this blog). If the client sweeps the gain from their mutual fund or accumulation-based variable annuity, they have “locked in” the gains from the previous bull run.

 

If the markets continue to increase, they can participate in some of the equity returns up to the stated maximum cap or participation rate. But, they will not lose the gains they have been building. 

 

Your clients will enjoy knowing that if a market correction comes in 2018, you have protected their gains and positioned them for success. A 20 percent correction may take years to recover, and many of our trailing baby boomer clients (age 50-59) cannot afford a dip in their assets just prior to retirement.  

 

Winning Strategy

Locking in gains from the recent long bull run allows you to set a positive tone for your clients in 2018. It takes pressure off their decision of when to exit the stock market by still being able to participate in equity indexing, and you can maintain positive momentum for income in the event of a market correction. 

 

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 Longevity Annuities

How You Can Find Safety in Guaranteed Income


Annuities

Our headquarters is at the heart of Fort Wayne, Indiana, a city that was severely hurt by the downturn of the automobile and manufacturing sectors. But today, it’s seeing a resurgence, especially downtown. Our building, the Ash Skyline Plaza, is about 18 months old, and 15-story complex, Skyline Tower, is being built adjacent to us – just across the rooftop park. 

 

I can see all the construction activity from my office – many times, I have to turn and look away so I can concentrate. There’s nothing like a portable toilet flying up on a crane to make you lose your train of thought. 

 

But, I admire those workers. They’re on site before I arrive and still there long after I leave, even on the weekends. It’s tough work, for sure. And, it’s dangerous, plain and simple. But the crew members all wear safety harnesses, hard hats and boots to protect themselves. It’s part of their everyday habits. 

 

That makes me think … 

 

What safety habits are you instilling in your clients?

 

As they build their portfolios and retirement income, your clients are taking risks. Many of those risks are associated with longevity or outliving their income: 

  • Market returns
  • Sequence of returns
  • Inflation
  • Long-term care events
  • Legacy planning constraints 
  • Taxes

 

Regardless of what happens with all those risks, the safety harness is income. As long as a client has income, they will likely feel more comfortable, regardless of what risks arise. Now, those risks still have to be addressed. But, if your client can feel confident that their income is secure from market drops and inflation, you have a good chance at addressing the other risks. 

 

We have to instill safe habits when it comes to retirement income planning. Nearly everyone can benefit from having guaranteed income as part of their retirement plan. Whether it’s from defined benefit plans, Social Security or insurance company annuities, guaranteed income shifts the risks of longevity. However, only one of those sources has embedded inflation protection, so you must address inflation with your client. Income serves as a great safety harness for those taking investment risks. 

 

Winning Strategy

Focus on the risks that longevity creates for your clients. If you address their fears and concerns, you are likely to win a client for life, as well as many quality referrals. 

 

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 Guaranteed Income Longevity

Avoiding Derailment


Annuities

Let me ask you something …

 

What’s the one thing that can completely derail a near-retiree’s plan?

 

Many answers might come to mind. But, I’m willing to bet most of them revolve around the reliability of market returns. Think of your clients’ journey like a train on a long-distance trip – if you’re not careful, you could derail them just before their destination. 

 

Starting Up

As your clients travel through their working years, they sit in the conductor’s seat. Most don’t have a lot of disposable income in the early years – anything they make goes to pay the bills, and not much is left for long-term savings. As they work through their careers, they begin earning more money and committing more to their retirement. The locomotive starts to build steam and momentum. 

 

Slowing Down

Market corrections are inevitable. Your clients’ trains will have to slow down every now and then. But, that’s OK – most plans account for slow-downs, and there’s usually plenty of time to pick up speed. Once assured that the difficulties are behind, you can increase speed and head back on track. Sometimes, you even need to switch to a more aggressive line to make up lost time. 

 

Picking Up Speed

When we continue along a journey with little to no problems, it’s easy to forget about the fundamentals of steering a train. You can easily go too fast around a corner. If you’re not careful, the momentum that you built can work against you. After years of picking up speed, your locomotive and the cars behind it can derail and spin out of control, completely stopping you in your tracks.  

 

Avoiding Derailment

That’s what happens when we have a late-accumulation market correction. All the cars – retirement income, emergency funds, health care payments, long-term care plans – they all go off track of what we planned. The momentum your client has built for 30-plus years is ruined. But, it could all be avoided if we steer them the right way. 

 

You have a lot of clients with their eyes firmly focused on their final destination – retirement. Unfortunately, that means they sometimes take their eyes off the track they’re headed down. You can really make a difference for those clients now and during the distribution phase. You can help conduct the train and get it safely down the tracks. 

 

Winning Strategies

Ash Brokerage answers the complex questions you and your clients have in preparation for retirement. Begin by talking to your clients about the need to be more conservative and avoid the risks that can derail retirement at the end of their journey.  

 

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 Financial Planning Market Risk

Making the Comeback Count


Annuities

Everyone loves a comeback. How many time have you watched a sporting event where the losing team suddenly comes from behind? It doesn’t matter the sport – at that point, nearly everyone cheers for the underdogs. 

 

As thrilling as it is, many comebacks end in disappointment. The losing team expends so much energy and effort, they don’t have enough in their tanks to win.

 

 Seems familiar, doesn’t it? 

 

Are you preparing your clients for a retirement comeback but a shortfall in the end?

 

Sometimes, we have to help clients make a comeback – they didn’t save enough during their working years to get the income they were hoping for. You have to come to their rescue so they can “catch up.” Even if they did save enough, we too often focus on just getting them to the goal line. Great – now, it’s time to finish the game.

 

Unfortunately, many people get seven to 10 years into retirement and realize that they have fallen short in their plan. Inflation begins to take a toll on their spending. Most notably, the cost of health care increases at a rate much faster than other goods and services, and puts pressure on them to make adjustments. By planning ahead – looking beyond just “catching up” or making it to retirement – you can help position both guaranteed income and inflation protection. 

 

Winning the Game

One of the easiest ways mitigate inflation is to push Social Security to age 70. Social Security typically has an inflation component that increases the income annually, even if at a slower rate than other inflation indices. Other income sources provide guaranteed options to increase the monthly income by 1-5 percent annually. And, other riders allow the income to increase by changes in the underlying crediting method. Either way, by increasing the client’s income, you have have helped push them closer to the top of winning their income game – longevity and inflation. 

 

Winning Strategy

Don’t be like the teams that get behind early and spend too much energy coming back, only to lose in the end. Make sure your clients complete the comeback with inflation protection in addition to guaranteed 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.”

Annuities Retirement Longevity Inflation

Safety in Numbers: 3 Reasons to Stop Running with the Crowd


Annuities

When we have a market correction – and we will have one sooner or later – many investors will run to banks and place their assets in money market accounts or certificates of deposit. While those are traditional safe havens for many people, they tend to only be temporary. Once the markets start rising again, investors leave their safe havens to take on more risk. 

 

We need to rethink why we do those transactions and if it’s worth the effort to complete the run to safety. Instead, why not think about proper allocation for a risk tolerance that probably can’t stomach the full amount risk that’s being taken. 

 

As the old saying goes …

 

You never know how much risk to take until you take too much.

 

Rethinking Risk Strategies

A temporary shift in risk management does very little for clients in the long run. There are several reasons, but here are three. 

 

  • Money markets and CDs earn historically low interest rates compared to instruments like annuities. Today, the average annuity is earning 200 to 250 bps more for A-rated carriers on a five-year product. Now, liquidity is not equal as bank accounts are generally liquid while CDs have some type of penalty if not held to maturity. Annuities provide liquidity in emergencies and limited free withdrawals. Remember, we are talking about rethinking allocations to avoid the temporary run toward safety. In a new allocation strategy, liquidity would likely come from other assets first. 

 

  • Taxation favors annuities. Even during the high tax rates and high inflation/return periods of the late ’70s and early ’80s, tax-deferred assets outperformed their taxable counterparts. Not only in return, but mainly in real return – after tax, inflation and fees. 

 

  • There is a common misconception that money market accounts can’t lose money. In fact, they do fluctuate in value and can go below their targeted one dollar valuation. With many annuities, the client receives a guarantee of principal plus a minimum interest rate return. 

 

So, safety can come in many forms. The most popular are bank instruments, which serve a great purpose. However, the numbers point toward a better solution: better nominal and real rates of return, lower tax rates, and more stable values. Add in the fact that charges are not paid upfront and only when you do not hold the asset to maturity. This makes the purchase efficient from a cost perspective, an effective way to increase yields on conservative vehicles, and provide confidence to the client by showing them a more stable valuation of their conservative asset selection.  

 

Winning Strategies

Don’t follow the leader or the crowd when the market corrects. Rethink your current allocation strategies and look at the real returns to help clients protect their wealth the most efficient way possible. 

 

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.”

Annuities Market Risk Market Correction