This year, fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) celebrated their 20th anniversary, initially introduced to consumers as a key product that would help them plan for a financially secure, reliable retirement. They were created as a reaction to the economic volatility that affected the bond and stock markets in 1994.  However, there’s still some confusion about FIAs, which can potentially make conversations with prospective investors challenging.

There’s no shortage of information available on the Internet on the various types of annuities. Consumers who research annuities on their own can find a wealth of articles arguing for – and against – annuities purchase. It can be daunting for individuals to sort through the information and get to the real story on annuities in general and fixed indexed annuities in particular. They need to depend on their brokers for reliable information.

The Indexed Annuities Leadership Council (IALC) offers five facts consumers need to know about FIA benefits and why this type of annuity can be a great investment. These five facts can help get the conversation started. 

1. FIAs are worth the conversation. Says IALC, FIAs offer the opportunity for growth through a steady, guaranteed lifetime income stream while the principal is protected from the uncertainty of market volatility.

2. FIAs are secure. Much of the bad press about annuities centers on the dangers of this type of investment. However, unlike most other products even customary savings vehicles like a 401(k), for instance, FIAs are designed to help investors moderate risk. At their most basic level, FIAs are intended to protect an individual’s principal investment – while providing the potential for upside growth because they’re tied to certain market indexes.

3. FIAs can provide lifetime income. Many retirees are accustomed to receiving weekly paychecks, and it’s very difficult – and unsettling – for them to get used to no longer receiving that reliable income stream after they stop working. FIAs enable retirees to continue that steady, guaranteed income throughout their later years, and provisions can be added to the annuity that will allow individuals to make regular, planned withdrawals without penalties.

4. FIAs are flexible. One of the most valuable attributes of an FIA is that this type of investment can be designed to meet the unique needs of each individual. By adding certain optional provisions, an FIA can be custom built so it meets the investment income goals of each policy holder. For instance, an FIA can allow easy access to funds if an individual suffers a disability or needs nursing care.  

5. FIAs provide balance. The old adage that warns “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” rings true for investment portfolios. An FIA works best when it’s included in a well-balanced portfolio and an investor doesn’t rely on it as the sole source of post-retirement income. Because it’s a solid investment that provides guaranteed income, an FIA can enable retirees to look into other holdings because they can remain confident that their principal is safe.