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Annuity ownership increases retirement confidence

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Owning an annuity contributes to increased confidence in retirement security. This is according to an article titled  “A Key to Retirement Security,” which is based on a study that looked at annuity knowledge, attitudes and ownership that appears in the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute Review, Improving Retirement One Step at a Time, showing that annuity owners across all wealth segments have greater confidence in their ability to live the retirement lifestyle they want, when compared to individuals in households that don’t have an annuity.

In addition, individuals who are familiar with annuities tend to have a more positive attitude about them, and they’re more likely to own one.

So how much do annuity owners really understand about their investment? While many annuity owners aren’t familiar with each of the benefits and restrictions of their annuity, a majority of owners know exactly what they own and are aware of the product’s important benefits and features, according to the LIMRA report.

Positive attitudes about annuities are related to greater annuity literacy, and the depth of knowledge consumers have about annuities can shape their opinion of how good or bad an investment they are. A clear understanding of the strong relationship between knowledge, attitude and ownership can help the industry bring annuities to more consumers, says the report. In addition, the report authors recommend that insurance companies and advisors better promote the key benefits and features annuities offer consumers.

“It is crucial that advisors understand and provide correct information about the product and show, in a simple way, how annuities can address consumers’ financial goals and fit into their portfolio,” according to the report, which adds that it’s essential to convey this information about annuities because:

  • The average investment in annuities is arguably one of the highest one-time financial transactions consumers may make;
  • Unlike most other financial products, some annuities come with early surrender penalties that make it difficult to retract the annuity purchase if the buyer decides he or she wants to make a change; and
  • Annuities are meant to be long-term investments, whether intended for growth on a tax-deferred basis or to provide income generation for future decades.

“It is important that the retirement industry debunks the myths consumers may hear from the press or advisors who may not “like” annuities. This lack of annuity knowledge (including misinformation) keeps households unaware of the key benefits and, in some situations, perpetuates the misconceptions. The value of annuities should be transparent to investors, with clear expectations of when and how they should be used,” the report says.

Advisors and brokers can take an active role in increasing demand for annuities. For instance, by providing tools and illustrations and exhibiting a positive attitude may motivate many individuals to take a second look at annuities. In addition, the industry can educate the press and public of the benefits of annuities through social media.