Indexed Annuity

When an annuity’s capital appreciation potential is tied to the performance of an index, it is referred to as an indexed annuity (IA). Indexed annuities are also commonly referred to as equity indexed annuities (EIA) or fixed indexed annuities (FIA). Generally, the annuity’s losses are limited while a portion of its gains are tied to the individual equity index’s returns. Some common indexes include the S&P, DIJA and the NASDAQ. With an indexed annuity: 1) the money can go in as a single premium payment or a series of payments; 2) the money is invested at a variable rate although there is a guaranteed minimum rate of return that provides a floor, and; 3) payments begin at a future date and are at a fixed rate that is based on market performance and is supported by the guaranteed minimum rate.

No Time for Guarantees

The concept is seductive: a financial product that provides upside exposure in the event that equity markets trend up and to the right while also providing a floor of protection in case the bottom falls-out from under markets again.

Sort of like having your cake and eating it too. Very tempting in light of the massive financial uncertainty that has existed for the past several years.

Products playing into this “upside plus protection” theme include (but are not limited to) variable annuities with guaranteed...

Lack of Dividends Make Equity Indexed Annuities a Tough Sell

Dividends contributed five percent of the 7.9 percent total return from stocks over the 200 year period from 1802 through 2002.

Dividend paying stocks in the S&P 500 produced an average return of 8.92 percent since 1972.  Over that same roughly 40 year period, non-dividend paying stocks in the same index returned 1.83 percent.

Most equity indexed annuities only count market price gains in their reference index when crediting indexed...

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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...

Structured Product Risks are a Hot Topic

Structured products are hot. U.S. sales rose 46 percent in 2010 to $49.5 billion. The appeal is understandable in the wake of the financial crisis. As folks in the indexed annuity business know, a floor of principal protection or "guaranteed" income combined with some upside potential is an easier sell in the current environment. Structured products also happen to be a hot topic with regulators. For example, FINRA just issued a warning to investors about structured products with principal...