Immediate Annuity

An annuity with payouts that commence shortly (within months) after the annuity has been purchased. Immediate annuities are purchased with a single (lump sum) premium payment. Immediate annuity payments can be either fixed or variable. The payout period can be a certain amount of time such as 10 years, or can be guaranteed for the duration of the annuitant’s life (a life annuity). With an immediate annuity: 1) money goes in immediately as a single premium payment; 2) the money can be invested at a guaranteed rate or a variable rate, and; 3) payments from the annuity start right away.

Annuity Duration

Duration is a measure of the time associated with cash flows or payments from a bond. Duration measures the amount of time (in years from the purchase date) required for a bond owner to receive interest and principal payments that are equal to the cost of the bond.

Long duration bonds have payments that are spread-out over a relatively long period of time (e...

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...

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...

Mark Warshawsky on the Retirement Income Market

Mark J. Warshawsky is Director of Retirement Research at Towers Watson.

Dr. Warshawsky served as assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury Department from 2004-2006 and he has held senior level economic research positions at the Federal Reserve Board, the Internal Revenue Service and...