Most Americans want to have a guaranteed monthly income in retirement, but only a minority of the population has a favorable impression of annuities.
This odd disconnect has been highlighted in numerous surveys over the years. And it persists to this day, despite the insurance industry’s best efforts to overcome consumers’ negative views about its products.
For fresh evidence of the dichotomy, look no further than a February report from TIAA-CREF: “Lifetime Income Survey.” Conducted by KRC Research, the survey polled 1,000 adults, age 18 years and older, about their views on lifetime income.
The report shows that 84 percent of Americans want a guaranteed monthly income in retirement, but only 28 percent view annuities in a favorable light. An additional 12 percent and 39 percent of the survey respondents have either an unfavorable impression or are neutral about the products.
The survey notes, however, that nearly half (46 percent) of Americans fear exhausting their savings in retirement. Yet more than 6 in 10 Americans (65 percent) are not familiar with annuities.
“These results highlight the opportunity for many Americans to learn about the benefits annuities can offer,” the survey states. “The results also reveal the critical need for education and financial advice to help Americans who are clear about what they want from a retirement plan.”
Nearly half (48 percent) of the respondents are clear on this point: that having a guaranteed income to cover living costs should be the primary objective of their retirement plan. This is up from 34 percent in 2014.
Despite the strong sentiment, only 14 percent of those polled say they have purchased an annuity. And 44 percent are not certain whether their current retirement plan lets them receive a guaranteed monthly stipend in retirement.
The survey also observes that:
Just over a third (34 percent) of Americans think they’ll need to replace more than 75 percent of pre-retirement income (experts generally recommend replacing 70 percent to 90 percent of pre-retirement income); and
Fewer than 4 in 10 (38 percent) have explored how their savings will convert to a monthly income in retirement. Fewer still (31 percent) have sought advice on how to do so.
The charts on the next page contrast the high value that survey respondents place on guaranteed retirement income with their neutral or less than favorable impression of annuities.