Nov 23: Best from the blogosphere

November 23, 2020

An old idea makes a comeback – annuities

An investment idea for retirees that you don’t hear about as often as you used to seems to be making a comeback.

A recent article in Investment Executive suggests that today’s volatile markets and uncertain economy may be perfect conditions for some of us to consider buying annuities.

An annuity is a product you purchase with all or part of your retirement savings. Once purchased, the annuity pays you a monthly amount for the rest of your life – a guaranteed amount that doesn’t change, even if markets decline. They were much more common decades ago when interest rates were high.

“Annuities are one of the best ways to plan for retirement if you are worried about volatility in the market, feel you will run out of money before you die and do not want to manage the investments,” states Markham, Ont. financial planner Ahilan Balachandran in the Investment Executive article.

He does point out that the current low-interest rate environment is not generally favourable for annuity purchases, since you basically “lock in” at a low interest rate. Annuities provide higher payouts when interest rates are higher, he explains in the article.

But it’s not all about interest rates, points out another financial expert.

“After 35 years of being in the business of selling annuities, I conclude that rates are not the primary consideration for a person to purchase an annuity,” states White Rock, B.C. annuity broker John Beaton in the article. “People are not as worried about interest rates as they are about establishing a lifetime stream of income.”

He tells Investment Executive that annuities offer “peace of mind” for retirees.

“Some people understand that a time will come when they will suffer from diminished capacity to handle their affairs. Not having to worry about how things will be paid is more important,” Beaton tells the magazine.

And Burlington, Ont. investment advisor Jim Ruta says while interest rates may be low, there are other reasons to think of an annuity.

Now that markets are so uncertain, he states in the article, “you can guarantee yourself a multiple of what interest rates are with an annuity.”

This is a somewhat complex topic. We tend to confuse retirement savings with wealth generation – for many of us, our retirement savings are the biggest chunk of cash we have. It’s never easy to think about trading some or all of that nest egg for the security of a monthly, set income.

But an annuity is a way to “pensionize” some of your savings. You saved all this money to provide future income, an annuity allows you to get a monthly pension – for life – from your savings. If you invest your retirement savings and draw it down each year, there’s a risk you can outlive that lump sum amount. That risk disappears if you have purchased an annuity.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) offers you a wide variety of annuity choices when the time comes to convert savings to an income stream. The SPP pensions page has details on SPP’s annuity options.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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