How many of you have seen the national television ad where a financial advisor looks straight into the camera and says he would never sell an annuity to a client? Not only does he say he’ll never sell an annuity, but he also goes on to provide this rationale: Annuities are “confusing” and could subject a client to “tax problems.”
I’ve seen this ad run numerous times over the past few months, and it’s gotten me thinking. Common annuity misperceptions such as these are rife in the industry among prospective clients. That’s because many clients have seen ads in the media, just like this one, that make an annuity sound like an unsafe financial venture forced upon unsuspecting clients by predatory salespeople.
You and I both know this is untrue, since annuities are designed to reduce risk. Regardless of how clients have made these inaccurate perceptions of annuities, it’s our job, as agents and advisors, to correct them and point out where annuities offer advantages for a client. Here are a few common misconceptions you may hear from clients and thoughts on how to educate them about the value annuities can provide.
1: Annuities are confusing.
While the thought of purchasing an annuity may be new to your clients, annuities have been around for decades with the same straightforward structure. Any annuity — regardless if it’s fixed, indexed or variable — is built to provide some measure of safety to a client.
However, that safety comes with a time commitment. To protect the financial integrity of the insurance carrier providing the safety, annuities have surrender charge penalties for accessing money ahead of the scheduled time. Typically, the longer the time commitment that your client is willing to make, the greater earnings potential that the annuity carrier can provide. Therefore, it’s important to tailor the choice of timing for an annuity based on a client’s goals and needs.
2: Annuities don’t do what a client would like them to do.
Overcoming this misconception requires you to set expectations with a client about the merits of different types of annuities, and how an annuity can protect his or her hard-earned dollars.
Consider highlighting these nuances:
Fixed annuities have a declared interest rate, and some have an interest rate that is fully guaranteed for the entire surrender charge period — similar to a bank CD.
Indexed annuities provide interest credits based on a market index. There is usually a minimum and maximum interest credit, where the minimum provides protection against the index’s decrease.
Variable annuities have subaccounts much like mutual funds. They provide protection against loss via their death benefit feature, plus they often provide further guarantees through a guaranteed lifetime income rider.
3: Annuities come with high fees.