Annuities are a popular investment option for individuals planning their retirement. They can provide financial security without having to work another day in your life.
However, different types of annuities are best suited for different financial circumstances and goals.
One in-demand option is the indexed annuity. This hybrid annuity type relies on the linked market index for growth potential and provides principal protection from a stock market crash. Yet, like all financial products, it comes with risks as well.
Learn more about the risks and rewards of indexed annuities below to see if they’re the right option for your retirement plan.
What Is an Indexed Annuity?
Indexed annuities are considered complex financial instruments, so you shouldn’t sign a contract if you’re unsure how they work.
An indexed annuity shares characteristics of both fixed and variable annuities. This means the risks and returns vary but are not the most volatile of annuity options.
Indexed annuities allow individuals to choose an investment that corresponds to a market index, such as the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Individuals also put money into a fixed account alongside their indices, which provide fixed rates and minimums set by the annuity provider.
You can also choose between equity-indexed annuities (EIAs) and registered index-linked annuities (RILAs). Both annuity types perform per the selected market index, but only EIAs have a guaranteed minimum rate of return.
What Is the Rate of Return?
In simple terms, the rate of return (RoR) is the net gain or loss of an investment’s initial cost.
The return of an indexed annuity depends on its performance. However, the rate of return often doesn’t match the positive rate of the index it’s linked to, potentially giving you a much lower return.
With that in mind, several factors influence the rate of return for an indexed annuity. These factors include:
- Participation rates
- Asset fees
- Interest caps
Credit investors use different methods to determine trends in the index throughout the period of the annuity. These methods vary according to the annuity type and impact the interest calculation.
The complexity and variance of these methods also make it difficult to compare different annuity types and can lead to low returns when the market index is down.
The Risks of Indexed Annuities
Indexed annuities come with a greater risk than fixed annuities but have the potential for a greater return. Alternatively, they come with less risk and less return potential than variable annuities. Your comfort with the risks associated with this type of investment will determine if an indexed annuity is right for you.
It’s important to look out for commission sales. High commission sales and other fees can be misleading. But doing your research can help you understand what you’re getting based on what you’re paying for before committing to a particular annuity.
Many indexed annuities also have an interest cap, which means you won’t get the full value of your gain. The terms of your contract will help you determine if these risks are worth the rewards for your financial goals.
The Rewards of Indexed Annuities
One of the biggest rewards of any annuity is the consistent stream of income that gives you financial freedom throughout your retirement.
Since indexed annuities follow the market, you have a greater chance of being rewarded with steady gains than you would with variable annuities, which are selected by a manager. This protects you from a high risk of failure.
Despite the risks, indexed annuities have the potential for greater growth than the set income that comes with fixed annuities. They also come with additional security. These two features combined make indexed annuities a popular product for retirement financial planning.
The Bottom Line
Indexed annuities are an ideal long-term investment for growing a stable retirement fund. In return for premium payments made now, you get to enjoy the financial freedom you deserve later on.
Keep in mind that returns are based on the performance of the market as a whole. And as always, you should meet with a financial advisor to weigh the risks and rewards of your retirement options before making a decision. You want to protect your money when you need it the most.
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