Submitted by Steve Selengut
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The Real Scoop on Annuities - Part One
Insurance companies are big time financial institutions, and they once claimed possession of the largest and safest investment portfolios on the planet. Then, their role vis-à-vis Wall Street was clearly that of a giant customer for the securities the investment banks brought to market and which the securities firms distributed. Their real estate holdings were religious in size and quality. They were direct lenders to corporations, their owner-policyholders, and to other institutions. They were the Trustees who managed the private employee pension plans of the world.
Insurance companies sold life insurance policies and annuity contracts that contained guaranteed benefits that depended on their ability to invest safely and soundly. They sold investment management services that built upon their legendary reputation as an industry built upon guarantees, trust, and the financial integrity of their investment portfolios. They were not known for the production of unusually high rates of return, but they were one of only three entities allowed to utter the sacred g-word, and the only one that marketed products that protected people from the financial vagaries of life and death. It was a simpler world then, one less prone to the conflicts of interest, scandals, and financial disruptions that exist on the modern Wall Street. Today, it's difficult to distinguish one financial institution from another as they compete for the ever-growing pool of investment dollars. Insurance companies, now publicly owned, have become an integral part of an industry that seems uninterested in protecting anything other than their obscenely paid leaders.
The time-honored distinction of the annuity contract was the guaranteed retirement benefit it provided. The "you will never outlive your income" boast could not be uttered by any other financial entity! The annuity contract itself was never intended to be an investment product, although the disciplined savings of the deferred variety was certainly given well-deserved emphasis. This was the original old age and disability retirement program--- a contributory, but trustee directed, investment account that anyone could have for a few bucks a week. Like bank savings accounts and federal government securities, risk of loss was not a factor, and the guarantee was a benefit well worth the lower than market yield. Over a hundred years, the concept became generic: Annuity = Guarantee--- safe, solid, and virtually risk free. Equities were nowhere to be seen; derivatives had yet to come of age; neither seemed necessary. The guarantee was enough--- it still is, but annuities are best suited to the healthy poor.
Annuities were developed for the protection of the indigent--- people without the assets needed to generate enough income to sustain them in retirement. An annuity is a series of identical payments made over a specific period of time. Any departure from a plain vanilla, one-life, annuity reduces the payout because of additional time, cash back, or life contingencies. In its purist form, a fixed amount is paid to the annuitant until his or her death. Any leftover funds belong to the company, and the company continues to pay those who live longer than predicted by the actuarial tables--- a simple concept, actuarially pure, easy to deal with, and with no surprises (until the government decreed that men are required to live as long as women).
Annuitants would never outlive their income, but absolutely nothing would be passed on to their heirs; a dismal prospect for the kids, but a valuable benefit for the retiree. The annuity was a last resort scenario for those who didn't have the financial resources to support themselves. I don't know about you, but this sure sounds like a great way to fund a Social Security program! The companies make enough money on the plain vanilla variety to pay their salespeople between 8% and 12%. Typically, they lock-up the money for eight to twelve years with large penalties and pocket most of the additional income that their actual investment and expense experience produces--- but for those who can't fund their own retirements, this is entirely acceptable. A mandatory, fixed annuity based Social Security really needs to be considered to replace the counter-productive system in effect today--- there would be no need for the commissions.
Enter the modern day Variable Annuity oxymoron, sold by an industry that has lost touch with its noble roots, if not the realities of the stock market.
Annuities Part Two: http://retirementreadyincomeprograms.com/Inv/index.cfm/5665
Retirement Ready Income Programs
2971 Maritime Forest Drive
Johns Island, SC 29455
Phone (800) 245-0494 • Fax (843) 243-8509
Contact Steve directly for additional information: 800-245-0494
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|Please read this disclaimer:|
Steve Selengut is registered as an investment adviser representative. His assessments and opinions are purely his own. None of the information presented here should be construed as an endorsement of any business entity; the information is only intended to be educational and thought provoking.
Risk Management: Income, 401k, and IRA Programs
Take a free tour of a professional investment managers' private SEP IRA program during ten years surrounding the financial crisis:
In developing the investment plan, personal financial goals, objectives, time frames, and future income requirements should all be considered. A first step would be to assure that small portfolios (under $50,000) are at least 50% income focused.
At the $100,000 level, between 30% and 40% income focused is fine, but above age 50, the income focus allocation needs to be no less than 40%... and it could increase in 10% increments every five years.
The "Income Bucket" of the Asset Allocation is itself a portfolio risk minimization tool, and when combined with an "Equity Bucket" that includes only Investment Grade Value Stocks, it becomes a very powerful risk regulator over the life of the portfolio.
Other Risk Minimizers include: "Working Capital Model" based Asset Allocation, fundamental quality based selection criteria, diversification and income production rules, and profit taking guidelines for all securities,
Dealing with changes in the Investment Environment productively involves a market/interest rate/economic cycle appreciation, as has evolved in the Market Cycle Investment Management (MCIM) methodology. Investors must formulate realistic expectations about investment securities--- by class and by type. This will help them deal more effectively with short term events, disruptions and dislocations.
Over the past twenty years, the market has transitioned into a "passive", more products than ever before, environment on the equity side... while income purpose investing has actually become much easier in the right vehicles. MCIM relies on income closed end funds to power our programs.
To illustrate just how powerful the combination of highest quality equities plus long term closed end funds has been during this time... we have provided an audio PowerPoint that illustrates the development of a Self Directed IRA portfolio from 2004 through 2014.
Throughout the years surrounding the "Financial Crisis", Annual income nearly tripled from $8,400 to $23,400 and Working Capital grew 80% $198,000 to $356,000.
Total income is 6.5% of capital and more than covers the RMD.
Managing income purpose securities requires price volatility understanding and disciplined income reinvestment protocals. "Total realized return" (emphasis on the realized) and compound earnings growth are the key elements. All forms of income secuities are liquid when dealt with in Closed End Funds.
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|Please read this disclaimer:|
Steve Selengut is registered as an investment advisor representative. His assessments and opinions are purely his own and do not represent the views of any other entity. None of his commentary is or should be considered either investment advice or a solicitation of business. Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be or should be construed as an endorsement of any entity or organization. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or investments mentioned are any more than illustrations --- they are never recommendations, and others will most certainly disagree with the thoughts presented in the article.