An annuity comes in many forms, but a simple definition is that an annuity is a contract that converts a sum of money into a series of periodic payments for an agreed upon period of time. An annuity can be thought of as a financial vehicle that converts a pool of money into a stream of income. Annuities are most useful in addressing the financial planning needs of people in or approaching retirement. Annuities are unique in the financial world because they can provide protection against the risk or outliving one’s assets (longevity risk) by guaranteeing income payments in perpetuity or any other selected amount of time. Annuities can be viewed as a type of personal pension plan. Social Security is similar to an annuity in that money contributed over the course of one’s working years is converted into a series of periodic payments that provide income during retirement.

Questioning the Need for Bonds in Retirement

Conventional financial wisdom says that bonds should comprise an increasing percentage of a portfolio as the owner ages and heads into retirement.

In theory, a retiree’s need for income and a reduced tolerance for risk are the main drivers of the larger allocation to bonds.

A key consideration, though, is...

Morningstar Research Quantifies the Value of Financial Planning for Retirement

New retirement income research from Morningstar provides a framework for quantifying the value of effective financial planning for retirement. Morningstar’s retirement research team uses the concept of “Gamma” to refer to the extra retirement income that can be attributed to better financial planning and decisions. The researchers concluded that retirees can generate roughly 29 percent more income using a “Gamma-efficient” retirement income strategy. This 29...

Are Inflation Adjusted Annuities Worth the Cost?

Inflation protection for fixed annuities would seem to be a sensible consideration given the fact that central banks around the world are doing everything they can to reflate in the wake of an historic deleveraging.

After all, the worst possible place to be if and when inflation does kick-in is on the receiving end of nominal (not adjusted for inflation) fixed payments, and most fixed annuities fit this description perfectly.

While the inflation protection makes sense in theory, it turns-out that inflation-protected annuities may not be so sensible in practice...

Research Highlights Fixed SPIAs

Retirement researcher Wade Pfau published a research paper titled “An Efficient Frontier for Retirement Income .” Pfau’s paper analyzes the relative merits of equities, bonds, fixed single premium immediate annuities (SPIA), inflation -adjusted SPIAs and variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits ( GLWB ). Each of these allocation options are examined in the context of achieving retirement spending goals. Pfau creates an efficient frontier for a...

Who Provides Longevity Insurance

The U.S. longevity insurance market has been developing for almost a decade, and yet there are...