Today, you can find a wide array of online retirement tools, calculators and research available for both consumers and brokers. Becoming familiar with these valuable resources can help brokers better understand the benefits of the products they sell, but also establish brokers as trusted, knowledgeable advisors who have a solid handle on how annuities can improve each client’s financial health with tailored information. Savvy brokers can use a variety of online tools to determine the suitability of annuities for their clients, to offer clients for their self-education and as a sales tool to demonstrate how an annuity could affect their post-retirement cash flow.

Here is a sampling of online resources. This list is by no means comprehensive but provided as examples of the types of online information available for retirement planning in general, and for deepening the understanding of annuities and their potential benefits in particular.

Retirement calculators: Available from a wide assortment of sources, online retirement calculators are an invaluable tool for both brokers and their clients. Retirement planning calculators are available from bankrate.com, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and AARP, for instance. CNN Money offers a retirement calculator that helps clients gauge their retirement readiness – and determine if they have enough to retire. These are essential tools that provide basic information to help clients get a comprehensive look at their financials and can help brokers determine what’s needed to create a plan for secure retirement. Retirement calculators also can work as a sales tool to give brokers a jumping-off point to start discussions on how an annuity could improve each client’s post-retirement financial situation.

Organizations. Many organizations provide impartial information on retirement and on annuities as well. For example, The National Organization of Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Associations (NOLHGA), a voluntary association comprised of the life and health insurance guaranty associations of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, offers plenty of information for policyholders and annuity owners, including how the Insurance Safety Net works.  The National Association for Fixed Annuities (NAFA), which is exclusively dedicated to promoting the awareness and understanding of fixed income and deferred annuities, offers information and resources.

Research. Nothing can support broker efforts to convey the benefits of annuities better than unbiased research, and there are plenty of research reports available online. Some research reports talk about the value of annuities for a specific group or demographic, while others take a more general approach.

How Retirees Manage Retirement Savings for Retirement Income,” from TIAA-CREF Institute, examines the factors that encouraged TIAA-CREF participants to convert retirement savings to income during retirement years and looks at the effects on those who purchased an annuity compared with those who didn’t – and why annuity owners made the decision to buy. “Annuitants are more likely to have experienced an increased standard of living in retirement and a lifestyle that has exceeded preretirement expectations,” says the report.

Annuities and Retirement Happiness, a report from Towers Watson, looks at data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey to gauge retirement satisfaction of annuity owners compared with retirees without annuities. The report found that annuity owners report higher satisfaction than their non-annuity-owning counterparts.

More online resources are available to help brokers inform, educate and consult with their clients on their retirement readiness and determine the optimum investments that will support a satisfying and financially secure retirement.