We must own up to our play on words this week. One of the more recent popular income riders strategies is referred to as the “stacking” strategy. Of course we found our title quite witty while most of you are probably thinking – these guys really need to get out more.
However, most of us given the choice of having the odds of success stacked in our favor will undoubtedly at least consider benefiting from those odds. Does that mean this stacker strategy is superior to the traditional roll-up strategies that have been standard on most hybrid style annuities for the last six or seven years? Well, yes and no. What you have available with a stacking income rider is typically better income potential but you give up some of your contractual **guarantees in the trade-off. The income rider with a stacker works by providing a smaller roll-up growth **guarantee – typically three to four percent (instead of six to eight percent) and then stacking on the index growth for that period. Based upon historical illustrations the growth potential typically exceeds that of the traditional **guaranteed riders. However, they are based on probability and potential instead of absolute **guarantees. [continued below video…]
Video: Annuity Guys, Dick & Eric, explain some newer income rider strategies.
Guarantees, including optional benefits, are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer, and may contain limitations, including surrender charges, which may affect policy values. During this segment, Dick and Eric are referring to Fixed Annuities unless otherwise specified.
The ongoing low rate environment has squeezed insurance companies and limited their ability to provide greater income benefits without incurring crippling long-term liabilities in today’s depressed rate environment. To combat this, they created a stacker strategy which partially relieves the insurance company of the need to reserve as much money for an income rider liability by creating an opportunity to give that benefit only when the client has growth from the index – so they can pay as they go, sharing the profits with you.
Should everyone start to elect the stacker strategy on their annuity income riders? Not necessarily! The strength of annuities are their contractual **guarantees and if you like the idea of being able to own a “set-it and forget-it” style of annuity – knowing that it will roll-up to increase your future income on a **guaranteed level each year, then you will probably want to stick with a more traditional style income rider.
Are these just the two primary income rider strategies to choose from? No, again.
Another option is what we have termed “enhanced” income riders which offer minimal or no growth income **guarantees. However, you may be surprised to learn that these enhanced income riders have the potential to provide even greater income than the stacked income rider. While again not the ideal option for those requiring absolute **guarantees, they provide excellent potential for higher income based upon historical performance and some even offer an opportunity for increasing income for an inflation hedge.
As you evaluate your retirement, don’t feel as if you can only choose one of these strategies – often times the best results come from balancing multiple income strategies.