Retirement Income Market Expands

Widening age spectrum offers opportunities for advisors

The market for retirement income products is expanding as more people look for opportunities to replace income in retirement, according to a report released Tuesday by the Financial Research Corporation.

There are two components to the growing market, according to the report. First, more people are postponing retirement, pushing the age at which they need income producing products into their 70s. Second, some products are designed to appeal to younger investors. The FRC notes that as the age spectrum widens, "the line between retirement accumulation products and retirement income products is blurring."

"Advisors looked at retirement as accumulation and distribution, but clients see it differently," Matt Schott, vice president and retirement income practice leader for FRC, told AdvisorOne. "Retirement is about income, and spreading out the need. It's like saving for college; you build assets and have a continuum of need over a number of years. Clients need to think in income terms – how much are they replacing? It's happening in fits and starts but we're seeing that mind shift."

Leslie Prescott, author of the report, said in a statement that the most successful products are those that "have been designed to provide the investor with a blend among features that they find important, such as access, control, and dependable income levels.”

"If you look at Morningstar's definition of retirement income products, they mean what we call target-date lineup funds. A lot of products are designed with no particular income management features. Many of the funds we studied are the future of retirement income products," she told AdvisorOne, adding that managed payout funds and target date funds are substitutes for or complements to annuities.

"In the insurance market, or for advisors with very conservative clients, fixed index annuities with income riders are a big area of focus for manufacturers."

Prescott noted that some products may look more successful, but the difference can be superficial.

"It depends on how you define 'most successful,'" she said. For example, "variable annuities with income benefits are a clear winner, but they haven't grown their market share. Income annuities on a sales basis don't look that great, but on a net basis are a lot more comparable."

"There's no one single product to fit every client," Prescott said. "Solving for retirement income means putting products together. Advisors believe clients need steady income flow in retirement, sometimes with guarantees, sometimes with fixed income. Advisors need to know what products are out there and how they fit in their clients' portfolios. They can't completely discount one product."

"The wave of retirement is just beginning. The opportunity will only grow," Prescott noted.

"Clients have a comfort level knowing where their income is coming from," Schott concluded. "There's an opportunity for the industry and for advisors to gain a better understanding about how clients feel about the use of principal. Some clients struggle more with drawing down principal regularly. Some clients don't take guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits every month. Clients need that floor," he added.

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