June 13, 2022

U.S. study suggests annuity holders “feel more on track” in retirement

A new U.S. study has found that Americans who have annuities feel more “on track” and have a more positive outlook on retirement than those who don’t have annuities in their portfolios.

The study, conducted by Athene, a “leading provider of savings products,” was reported on in a recent article posted on Yahoo! Finance.

The study found that 75 per cent of those with annuities felt “on track” for retirement, versus a figure of 26 per cent for those without them, the report notes. The Athene study also found that 55 per cent of Americans worry they will run out of money in retirement, the article states.

An annuity (available to Saskatchewan Pension Plan members as a retirement option) is a financial product. In return for converting some or all of your savings into an annuity, you will receive a monthly lifetime pension for the rest of your life. And the higher rate of interest we’re experiencing is actually good news for those considering an annuity, since the higher the rate at the time of purchase, the larger your monthly annuity payment will be.

The study, which found that soon-to-be retired Americans worry about such things as inflation and market volatility, also found that not all respondents fully understand annuities. Twenty three per cent said they did not know what an annuity was, the article reports. However, 71 per cent said they would prefer to get regular monthly payments from their retirement savings versus “a lump sum,” which was preferred by just 29 per cent of respondents.

As well, only 22 per cent were aware that annuities “offer protection in down markets,” since once an annuity is selected, your monthly payment remains the same regardless of any market downturns, the article adds.

Getting a professional’s input is also seen as an important factor for those choosing an annuity, the article notes.

“In addition to ownership, working with a financial professional can also bring greater awareness of what an annuity is. Thirty-six per cent of adults who have never worked with a financial professional say they do not know what an annuity is, compared to the eight per cent of adults currently working with a financial professional who stated the same,” the article states.

“As market volatility and inflation continue to rise, it’s crucial for financial professionals and retirement savers alike to debunk the myths and truly understand the benefits and functionality of annuities,” states Adam Politzer, Senior Vice President of Product Actuary at Athene, in the article.

Those of us who have workplace pensions tend to either have a defined benefit plan, where you get a lifetime monthly payment based on a formula that looks at your earnings and years of employment, or some sort of capital accumulation plan where you save during your working years and then convert the savings to income on retirement.

The payout from a defined benefit plan is basically the same as annuity – retirees get a monthly payment for as long as they live, and there are options for survivors, including a lifetime pension based on some or all of the member’s pension.

In our own case, for example, we both plan to choose lifetime annuities from SPP, with 100 per cent of the payment going to whoever is the last standing. This is the same option we both chose for our workplace pensions, and as the article says, annuities feel more like getting a paycheque than getting one big payment a year might be. It also means we will have less “lump sum” money to manage overall – we think running the investments might feel more difficult once we are in our 80s and hopefully beyond.

With SPP, you can choose from a variety of annuities to convert some or all of your savings into monthly income when you retire. It’s pretty unique for any voluntary savings plan to offer an annuity option right within the plan – just another reason why so many Canadians are looking to SPP to play a part in their retirement savings program.

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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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