What makes a Hybrid Annuity different from a Fixed Annuity? Answer: index strategies, an income rider, and the contractual **guarantees associated with the income rider.
What makes a Hybrid or Index Annuity better than a standard fixed annuity with an income rider? Answer: the opportunity to participate in the potential upside of index gains that can exceed the interest earned by a fixed interest only annuity.
The **guarantees may not be “sexy” but they form the foundation of why someone should consider a hybrid annuity. We all like the “potential” to do better — Dick and Eric tackle the moving parts of a Hybrid Annuity in this weeks second segment of this two-part series.
**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.
Enjoy our short Fog Lifter video…
“The Power of Indexing and Contractual Income Guarantees”
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Are Hybrid Annuities too Complicated?
A common complaint leveled at hybrid annuities is that they are too complicated and have too many moving parts. The Annuity Guys®, Dick and Eric, discuss why many folks in the media and investment world like to hobby-horse this point while missing the real reasons why these financial products work so well as a foundational allocation in thousands of retirement portfolios. The secret is “the non-moving parts otherwise known as contractual **guarantees.”
Contractual Guarantees – absolute **guarantees, no-moving parts.
Hybrid/Fixed Index Annuities – allow for upside potential of specified moving parts in addition to absolute contractual **guarantees.
Income Rider – addendum to an annuity contract **guaranteeing a future lifetime income plus additional benefits in some income riders (this is a contractual **guarantee).
Features, Benefits, and Facts:
- Annuity Owner Remains in majority control of the annuity’s cash account value during the surrender term and has 100% control after the surrender term.
- Full account value of the cash account passes on to heirs with no surrender or penalty charge.
- Guaranteed growth in deferral **guaranteeing a minimum future income. Example: Initial Premium $100,000 + 5% bonus **guaranteed growth of 7.2 percent deferred for ten years = $210,000 income account value producing a of $12,600 per year at age 70 with a single life payout.
- Payout percentages from the income account are based on age and a single or joint income need. Example: age seventy single payout 6 percent or joint payout 5.5 percent
- Fees for riders can be based on the cash or income account value and are charged to the cash account. Fees typically range from half of one percent (.5%) to one and a quarter percent (1.25%). This does not reduce the **guaranteed growth of the income account.
- May have a death benefit allowing the income account if it is larger than the cash account to be distributed to heirs over a five-year period.
- May have an increasing income as an inflation hedge.
- May have a Long Term Care Benefit.
Index Strategy Moving Parts:
(Index examples: *S&P 500, *Dow Jones Industrial, *Trader Vic (Commodities), *Barclays Capital Aggregate US Bond, and literally any third-party index may be specified as a measure for crediting interest).
Annuity Guys® Video Transcript:
Eric: Today, we’re going to talk about hybrid annuities. Do they have too many moving parts? Sounds like a flashback to maybe a previous episode.
Dick: Like one last week that we said ‘are they too complicated?’
Eric: This time, we talked about at the very end, all the moving parts. Now we’re going to get a little bit more detail as to, do they have too many moving parts?
Dick: That’s a good question, and I think that some folks would say, yes, it’s too complicated. There are too many moving parts. I think that you have to really weigh over who’s saying it and why they’re saying it; what their motive is.
Eric: Yeah. The first thing we should start out is where we started last week, in saying, why does somebody buy an annuity to begin with? It’s contractual to **guarantees.
Dick: Right. Exactly!
Eric: Safety, security, predictability. That’s why we like the hybrid annuities, is for those contractual **guarantees.
Dick: The moving parts, as we discussed last week folks, the moving parts are those things that are in addition to the contractual **guarantees; so those are the potential of the annuity. If you can be satisfied, and this is what we do with our clients, we help them to see where the contractual **guarantees actually do meet all of their concerns and their objections. Then if they can get some additional potential on top of that, then that’s a win-win.
Eric: Right. Let’s start with the base here. Typically, we’ve got this fixed indexed annuity as the base.
Dick: Right. That’s our chassis.
Eric: That’s our chassis. What then goes into making a fixed indexed annuity a hybrid annuity?
Dick: Typically, it will be an income **guarantee, and that income **guarantee will give a lot of different benefits, primarily knowing what your income is going to be at some point in the future that will help to offset inflation and know that you’ve got some type of increasing income at some point in time.
Eric: Right. We talk about that income rider quite a bit because of what it offers. It’s one of those things that’s attractive to people because they remain in majority control. We’ll go into detail in the article about what majority control means. It’s also a way of taking assets and being able to pass it on to a beneficiary or heirs.
Dick: Yes. It’s not like the immediate annuity where you give the lump sum away. There’s a count value.
Eric: Too often, people want the annuity, but they don’t want to give up that control.
Eric: That’s what that hybrid aspect brings to this chassis.
Dick: It does.
Eric: Payout percentages, as good, better than . . .
Dick: Payout percentages, as compared to an immediate annuity, if you’re starting an immediate annuity today and you’re starting a hybrid annuity today, the payout percentage will typically be a little bit less. The beauty of it is, the immediate annuity pretty much has to be started within 12 months of the time that you’ve signed up or been approved for your immediate annuity. However, with a hybrid annuity, the idea of deferral says that it’s going to pay out a lot more at some point in time.
Eric: Right. If you’re just looking for the most money you can get right now and you don’t care about anything else, then look at an immediate annuity.
Eric: If you’re wanting flexibility plus those **guarantees, that’s where the hybrid comes in.
Dick: Not only that, but there situations where the immediate annuity isn’t that much more.
Dick: Folks are more interested in that account value, if they don’t use it all up, going on to the heirs.
Eric: Right. That’s been one of the biggest reasons people are drawn toward the hybrids. The income rider tends to be the first piece that we highlight. Is it a moving part?
Dick: No. That’s what’s good about the income rider, is that it is a contractual **guarantee. That is part of that chassis that is **guaranteed.
Eric: I would say, if you’re looking at a fixed indexed annuity, what makes it a hybrid is, again, is adding that income rider component, that **guarantee of income in deferral. Basically, you’re building that account base in deferral.
Dick: Another aspect that lends itself to the hybrid aspect of the annuity is the idea that you can get some upside potential without the downside risk. You’ve got a little bit of that variable annuity# flair to it with that. That’s where the confusion tends to come in.
Eric: Yeah. We’ve talked about this before, too. People will call up and we’ll talk to them and say, “I’m interested in a variable annuity#.” In the mindset of somebody, the variable aspect is because it has the potential of having varying rates of return.
Dick: Right, some increased potential.
Eric: Right. In this case, an indexed annuity has varying rates of potential, sometimes based off of, basically, those indexed components.
Dick: In the early days, Eric, of indexed annuities and what we now call hybrid annuities a lot, they were sold and people purchased them, or wanted them, based on these indexes that did have all of this fluctuation and movement in them. The reason for it was because it did protect the downside, it did give them upside, and the fact of the matter is, there have been many time periods when this type of an annuity has out-performed the stock market, but it was never intended to do that in the first place.
Eric: We’ll tell you right now, if your intent is to go out there and beat the market, don’t buy one.
Dick: Don’t buy one.
Eric: That’s not the purpose for a hybrid annuity.
Dick: It’s possible that you can do it.
Eric: Over a period of time.
Dick: But it’s not the reason. It’s not the purpose.
Eric: Right. Because what you’re trying to do with a hybrid is limit your downside.
Eric: You’re taking away that downside risk of being in the market because your principal is protected.
Dick: Exactly. Eric, we’re not doing a very good job of getting to our list here.
Eric: I was going to say, we’re going to get to the second point here very soon. It’s talking about some of the moving parts that are truly involved in the indexing components.
Eric: Dick’s done an excellent job of laying out an article here, so if you haven’t had enough time to watch us, you’ll see below, or in the links below.
Dick: Read it more in-depth.
Eric: We’ve got some additional details. Caps.
Dick: Caps, okay. My cap’s hanging right there. Let’s tie the caps into; first of all, what’s an index? Most of you folks understand that when we talk about an index, this could be any type of index. It could be an index . . . let’s use the popular ones.
Eric: S&P, NASDAQ.
Dick: Dow Jones, The Trader Vic’s. You could use a gold index. You could use a bond index; any degree of creativity.
Eric: Exactly. The index could be literally the temperature outside each day. It’s a benchmark on which you can measure something. The most popular ones are those that are tied to the stock market.
Dick: They do buy call options on these indexes, so that is the purpose, why we choose an index. When we look at the caps, folks, if the market goes up 10% in a given year, and your cap is 3% or 4%, which is about where caps are now. We have some exceptions, where caps are higher, but somewhere in that 3% to 4% range, market goes up 10%, how much are they going to get, Eric?
Eric: If the cap’s 3%, you’re going to get 3%. That’s the limiting factor. You have no downside risk. If the market’s down 10%; 0. You’ll hear a lot of people talk, “Zero is your hero,” because you don’t have that backslide in case you had multiple down years. You don’t have to worry about recovering from a backslide. The worst that’s going to happen is that you stay on a level plane.
Dick: Right. One of the things that we didn’t really touch on, which I will just drop back to for a second here and then move on, that is one the income rider. Typically, that will have somewhere in the neighborhood of maybe a 7% **guarantee; 6%, 7%, we’ve even seen 8% for some time periods, which was a **guarantee. Even though you might have a 3% cap on the indexing for your cash account, your index account could be significantly higher.
Eric: That’s why that income rider is so popular, because while it’s in deferral, you can get those **guaranteed growth periods.
Dick: Right. If we move into the spread?
Eric: Personally, I’m a big fan of the spread; and that’s not peanut butter and jelly, necessarily. I like spreads because with a standard fee, you have typically a percentage that’s pulled out every quarter, of your account, period after period. Let’s just use a round number.
Dick: You’re referring to the income rider.
Eric: Income rider fees.
Dick: Right. Okay.
Eric: You could have fees for other things, but the income rider fee, which is what makes a hybrid annuity really a hybrid, is having that income rider. There’s typically a fee associated. If that fee is ½%, that ½% is going to be pulled out on a regular interval, ir-regardless of whether or not you’re getting a gain.
Dick: Whether you had any interest earnings or not.
Eric: That’s correct. Spreads on the other hand, are typically higher than fees. A fee may be 50 basis points, ½%. You may see a spread of 1½% to 2%. The deal with the spread is the company only takes their portion if you have a gain. You’re giving up the first portion of any kind of gain that you could receive.
Dick: Right. Your account value cannot go backwards if you’re not earning with a spread.
Eric: That’s right. If you had 12 consecutive, or 10 consecutive, years of getting 0 return, whatever you put in principle-wise, would be **guaranteed to be that same level.
Dick: Right. I think that the spread has a definite place, and it should be considered in the overall picture. As we’ve experienced with certain annuities that don’t have a spread, their contractual **guarantees are so much higher for the income. Since that’s the client’s primary objective, then it makes sense to go with the fee over the spread, using that particular annuity. You have to weigh it against all those factors.
Eric: Exactly. Typically, you’ll see the spread number being higher. It’s just attractive when you’re looking at predictability, that you know that you’re not going to have any kind of negative impact just because you don’t have a return.
Dick: Another idea of using the spread is when the market has . . . when you’re using it in indexing, and maybe you’re doing an average of a year’s worth of indexing, and they will say, “If your average growth of the index for the year was 10%, you’re going to have a 3% spread.” That means that first 3% of that 10%, you don’t get. On the other hand, if that year there was a 5% negative growth, or 10% negative growth, then your 3% spread would not be applicable, because there’s no earnings, no growth there.
Eric: Right. Where we typically see the spreads are on something that have more upside potential a lot of the time.
Dick: Right. Did I actually do the math where I said, “If you’re up 10% and you have a 3% spread, you would have 7% gain”? Let’s move on and talk about participation.
Eric: That’s the easiest thing, in the sense of it’s taking a percentage of the growth and you get a participation percentage, typically. Back in the good old days, it might have been 50%. If the gain was 10% of the market, you would get ½.
Dick: I was always a fan of participation, but because of the financial crisis we’ve been through, the Great Recession, we’ve seen all that pare back to where participation rights are now down around 25%. The market goes up, let’s use that 10%, it’s easy to figure. If the market goes up 10% and I get 25%, what did I earn?
Dick: 2 ½%, okay.
Eric: I got my calculator in my pocket.
Dick: You’re good, Eric. Okay. We already touched on the average a little bit, in using the spread, so maybe we’ll move on to the next one. This one’s very interesting. This one, I see messed with a little bit. When I say messed with, folks, I see you messed with a little bit, unfortunately, from advisors that overstate this particular strategy.
Eric: Are we talking about the monthly sum?
Dick: Monthly sum. The monthly average.
Eric: Look at the potential.
Dick: It does have good potential. It just doesn’t usually work out, Eric.
Eric: 2% a month. There’s 12 months in a year.
Dick: If I get 2% each month, and I add those together, that means I’ve got 24% potential. If the market goes up 24%, and it does at 2% a year, I get all 24%. Is that correct?
Eric: 2% a month.
Dick: A month, yeah, keep me straight.
Eric: For the whole year, I’ll get 24%. That’s my potential in a given year.
Dick: What’s the worst thing that can happen in that year? If you’re going up 2% every month, what’s the worst thing that could happen maybe in that 10th or 11th month?
Eric: That’s where the market loses 20% in one month.
Dick: That couldn’t wipe it all out, could it?
Eric: Yes, it can.
Dick: It can?
Eric: There’s no downside protection.
Dick: Folks, that’s the problem. The monthly sum and the monthly average has a cap on the upside, but it has no cap on the downside. The companies have figured out that, yes, there are some years where you really do capture and you get those big, big returns, and it feels good and it looks good. There are times to actually use this strategy.
Eric: Now is probably one of them, actually.
Dick: It very well could be.
Eric: I always call it the homerun versus the single. We talk about annual point being the single. You get lots of singles, but the monthly sum is truly going for the homerun. We have seen returns out there in the 14%, 15%, 18% range.
Dick: Right. More often than not, what do we see? A big 0. We may see a client go for 3, 4, or 6 years before seeing any interest crediting to their account, and that’s pretty tough for people. They’re not going backwards.
Eric: Right, and we should qualify that. While you’ve got not downside protection on the month within the index, that doesn’t apply to the account value. The account value, the worst it’s going to do, again, is 0. Even if your index finishes down on the year, what will be applied to your account is basically 0 gain.
Dick: Okay. Now we come to a very interesting one, Eric, called the blend.
Eric: The blend, the blender.
Dick: We put it in the blender. We’ll do one of these. Here we go. Let’s make this real simple. A blend is like a balanced portfolio: You put 50% in stocks and you put 50% in bonds. However in this case, what we’re doing is we’re putting 50% in some popular index. It’s not really going in the index, as we’ve discussed many times. It’s using it as a measure. We’re putting 50% in towards an index and we’re putting 50% into . . . I’m just using 50%, folks. It could be 30% or 40%, but it all equals 100%. 50% into a fixed rate of interest. We’re just saying ½ the account goes into fixed rate of interest, ½ the account goes into stocks.
Eric: Right. Then you dump them both in the blender.
Dick: Right. Exactly. There’s no cap on the 50% where the stocks are at.
Eric: Which is what makes it attractive to [inaudible: 16:08]. You’ve got unlimited upside potential on the blend side. They all have limiting factors.
Dick: It’s tricky.
Eric: What’s in that fixed rate bucket is typically, right now it’s at 1% or 2%. The best that 50% is going to do is 2%
Dick: Yeah, 2% or 1½%.
Eric: You can get 10% or 20% over here, but it has to be then blended with that fixed rate bucket.
Dick: Typically, you could take, in a year where you had the market up 10% and you had a 2% bucket and you had a 10% bucket, and they were both equal in this case. You put in the blender, you stirred it all up, what are you going to come out with?
Dick: About 6%. Boy, you are good. Folks, we’ve done the math for you on these. When you’re on this website, we’ve got some formulas, and we broke it down in simple terms so that you can read it slowly and get a good understanding of what we’re talking about.
Eric: We try to give you at least a cursory idea of what to expect when you’re seeing some of these terms flown about.
Dick: We’ve probably . . . hopefully, we have not. Hopefully, we haven’t thoroughly confused you. What we really want you to take away from this is that these are the moving parts that give you greater potential. These are not the specific reasons, for most of you, why you would actually buy or choose to allocate to a hybrid annuity.
Eric: If you’re buying for these bells and whistles, the fit’s probably not right. If you’re buying for the base chassis, and you can live with that **guarantee from the income rider and from the annuity aspect and the income side, or the estate planning side, whatever that need is, if this fits your need and you can just understand that there’s the potential for a little bit more extra.
Dick: This is where a good advisor comes in, because they can look at the potential, they can look at what’s going on in the economy in general. Folks, they can help you make a good decision on which way to go in this indexing. Even if the indexing really produced nothing and you had good contractual **guarantees, which is what you should have your sights set on, you’ll be satisfied.
Eric: Exactly. Buy for the basics, and be happy with the extras.
Dick: Right. Exactly.
Eric: Hope we’ve broken down and explained to you the ‘says who’ portion.
Dick: Yes, ‘says who’. Look behind the veil a little bit and see who’s telling you that they’re too complicated, because maybe from that person it is too complicated. For someone who understands a hybrid annuity and what it does for the client, it can be very effective as a good retirement financial tool.
Eric: Thanks for tuning us in today.
Dick: Thank you.