You understand what an annuity is, how it works, and what the advantages are, but do you know how to implement it into your portfolio?
In this eighth and final installment of our “Annuities – Why Ever Use Them” series, we’re sharing how to use an annuity as part of your retirement portfolio.
You can watch the video on this topic above. To listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…
A quick summary
Before we dive into how you can incorporate an annuity into your portfolio, there are some things to be aware of. We’ve already covered these points in detail in other articles within this series, so do visit our blog to find more information about anything covered below.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Our focus for the “Annuities – Why Ever Use Them” series is on fixed index annuities only.
- We prefer fixed index annuities over variable annuities because you can lose money in a variable annuity.
- Fixed index annuities protect your principal, so your investment is guarded against market volatility.
- Fixed index annuities are linked to an index, such as the S&P 500 – they earn interest depending on how the index performs.
- You can choose from a range of strategies for how you want to receive interest, for example a cap or a participation rate strategy.
- If you use a cap strategy set at 5%, for example, and your index earns 10% over an annual point-to-point reset, your annuity will earn a maximum of 5% interest.
- If you use a participation strategy set at 50% and your index earns 10% over the reset period, you’ll earn 50% of the index’s 10% growth (5% interest on your annuity).
- There are liquidity restrictions, so we recommend using an annuity as part of a more diverse portfolio.
- Most annuities allow you penalty-free access to 7-10% of your money in any given year.
- Annuities often have a surrender charge that applies for a set number of years.
Why choose a fixed index annuity?
Most people use an annuity as part of their retirement portfolio for two reasons. First, a fixed index annuity gives you complete safety and still grows your investment at a good rate of return. A fixed index annuity is not affected by market downturns and is protected against risk. So, if your main concern is safety, an annuity would be a good option for your portfolio.
The second reason is income planning. There are a few ways to get guaranteed income in retirement, including taking a pension and Social Security. A fixed index annuity is a straightforward addition you can make to your guaranteed income sources that lasts for the rest of your lifetime.
Implementing an annuity in your portfolio
We’re going to use an example to demonstrate how to build an annuity into your retirement portfolio. In this example, we’re going to be using hypothetical figures and a fictional retiree, Mary. Please bear in mind that while these figures are representative of fixed index annuities, these are not accurate rates.
Mary is 60 years old and has $1 million of IRA/401k savings. She wants to retire in 7 years time, at the traditional retirement age of 67. She’s calculated how much she spends on her essential needs, wants, and legacy money each month, and discovered that she needs $4,000 of guaranteed income a month to cover her essential needs alone.
Social Security will give Mary $3,000 a month. She doesn’t have any other forms of guaranteed income, so Mary is looking for a way to get an extra $1,000 a month.
What is your risk tolerance?
One thing we talk to all of our clients about is risk. Knowing what your risk tolerance is can help you make decisions about your portfolio that you’re comfortable with. So, before we can advise Mary about finding that additional $1,000 per month, we need to understand how much risk she’s willing to take.
There are a few different ways that you can make a return and manage risk. Banks, for example, have essentially no risk, but the rate of return is very low. Money markets in general are well below 1% currently. So, while there is no risk, there is also hardly any return.
However, if you look at the stock market, this is the complete opposite. There is potential for incredible returns, but also huge losses. Annuities, on the other hand, give a good rate of return, but there are liquidity issues. Your total investment won’t be easily accessible to you. This is something to be aware of in case liquidity is a concern for you.
Let’s go back to Mary. To find out Mary’s risk tolerance, we’d have a conversation with her about how much she’s prepared to lose. Take her $1 million, for example. If we’re talking in percentages, a 10% gain or loss might be something Mary is willing to accept. But if we convert that into dollars, a $100,000 loss may be too much for Mary. In this case, we would keep discussing figures until we land on a percentage that Mary is comfortable with.
Once you understand how much risk you’re prepared to take, then you can decide how to build a portfolio that suits you.
How to construct your portfolio
Mary’s risk tolerance helps her decide that she wants to invest 50% of her $1 million in the stock market and 50% in a fixed index annuity. This gives her roughly $550,000 of liquidity. Mary still needs that extra $1,000 of guaranteed income a month, so she puts $150,000 into an income-based annuity. At age 67, this will start providing her with a lifetime monthly payout of $1,000. Now, she has complete peace of mind that her essential income needs will be covered when she reaches retirement age.
In terms of Mary’s portfolio, she still has $850,000 left. So, to achieve that 50/50 split, Mary could invest $350,000 into another fixed index annuity. She’s got the guaranteed income coming from her first annuity, the second one will be to give her that risk-free growth that she wants. The remaining $500,000 will go towards the stock market as she wishes.
So, where will Mary’s portfolio get her by the time she retires? If the $350,000 in her annuity earns 4%, it will grow to around $480,000. Meanwhile, if the $500,000 that she invested in stock market earns 7%, it will have grown to over $1 million.
The final piece to this portfolio is her remaining annuity, which will start generating $1,000 a month of guaranteed income to add to the Social Security payments of $3,000.
However, one thing that we need to consider is inflation. Mary’s expenses are now $6,500 a month. So that original $4,000 of guaranteed income no longer completely covers her essential income needs. But, thanks to Mary’s growing investment portfolio, she can afford to withdraw from her accounts to cover that extra cost.
Inflation and other costs can drastically impact your retirement plan, but we can use our system to adjust numbers and show you exactly how your funds could play out in different scenarios. We can illustrate what happens to your money if you want to withdraw more at the beginning of your retirement than you do later on, or if you want to purchase a second home, for example.
Overall, Mary’s retirement plan shows that her funds last throughout her retirement, and well into her 90s. Constructing a portfolio that’s safe, liquid, and has income, can give you this same security and peace of mind that you don’t need to worry about your retirement finances. But, please remember, this is based on an illustration only.
If you want to learn more about using an annuity as part of your portfolio, please do reach out to us by booking a complimentary 15-minute call. We can give you individualized advice about annuities and constructing a portfolio that’s right for you.