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Old 04-04-2008, 01:27 PM   #21
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Think of your investments like your house. Do you ever lose sleep when your house declines in value? Most people say no. It is because you don't need to or plan to sell...
kcowan.. I perceive a big difference.
The money I paid for the house is almost an annuity in that its output is a fixed monthly amount of housing.

OTOH, yearly investment returns (variable) and yearly expenses (now more variable than I had thought) can have more volatility. I worry about disconnection there.
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Old 04-04-2008, 01:52 PM   #22
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Well you know I was. Even though I've gotten some nasty hate mail from posters around here, no one has yet come up with a decent argument as to why lifetime income for part of your money isn't a good idea.
To answer your very valid concern, this would be a very good reason to research the insurance company selected. IF the insurance company went belly up, there are safety features in effect to help pass along policies to other insurance companies, but the bottom line answer is, just like a bank or mutual fund going belly up, your assets are kept in a separate fund and you would get back whatever the value of your portfolio was at the time.
I think someone such as yourself follows the market closely enough that you would see the insurance company's share price dropping and you could move the money elsewhere or just take it out of the account.
I'd say if there's anything we are learning of late, is that the government steps in to save large corporations from disaster.
What happens if your bank where you buy your CD's goes belly up? Insurance companies are larger than banks.

I don't think my anti-annuity posts would qualify as hate mail but I'll give you some reasons to not buy a SPIA.
  1. They are bad investments with high fees. They payment is based on your expected mortality. From what I've seen, you have to live about 10 or more years past your mortality table expected lifespan to break even with high quality corporate bonds. Do you feel lucky?
  2. The payout is fixed and based on the interest rate at the time of purchase. Laddered bonds will mature and can be reinvested. With interest rates at historic lows for our lifetimes, this doesn't seem like a good time to lock up money for the rest of your life.
  3. You can't get your money back. Develop a degenerative condition and you won't be able to cash in the annuity for your nursing home care. Those "lifetime" payments might have looked good when you were planning to live to 150 (like most forum members) but won't cover a very large part of your assisted living/nursing care. But I know it won't happen to you.
  4. If you throw a "little" of your portfolio in a SPIA, you're still going to have to live with the gut churning pain you'll experience with the rest of your portfolio. So, the initial belief that it will calm your nerves will be short lived from the people I've known that have bought a SPIA with a "small" part of their portfolio. The only answer is to put all of it in one which is what the insurance companies want anyway. People who buy one are usually solicited reguarly to put more money into an annuity.
  5. Inflation will eat your lunch if you really do live forever. Figure that the actual purchasing power of your annuity will drop by 50% every 20 years (conservative). What seemed like a lot of steady money when you were 65 is pretty little to live on at 85. You don't think you'll live that long? If so, please reread my first point.
  6. You could buy an inflation adjusted annuity. That's even more fees and "limitations" with a significantly lower initial payout.
  7. What do you think they insurance company is going to do with your money? After paying their agent's hefty sales commission, flying his sales manager to Hawaii for a "sales conference" and building that much needed expansion to their office building, the insurance company invests in a diversified portfolio of bonds and stocks. Maybe we could all do the same and take our own trip to Hawaii? I hear Nords will give personal surfing lessons to members of this forum.
Now I have learned that the people who have already committed to buying an immediate annuity will only find fault with my points. If anyone is like that here, please go on with your plans. I only hope to influence those that have not already succumbed to the siren's song trumpeted by the financial media and the legions of annuity salespeople.

Now, I know some people on this forum have also bought indexed annuities and various other "sophisticated" products. I find no redeeming value in these (sold to my father and FIL and produced terrible returns versus just buying the S&P). All of my above comments apply to these except you pay even more in fees for very little potential benefit.

For those that I have not swayed, all I can do is offer you my heart felt thanks. I own the insurance companies that sell the worst (IMHO) of the annuity products in my index mutual funds. You making what I am convinced is a terrible investment helps build my own wealth.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:05 PM   #23
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Hmmm - the pucker factor improves - and sometimes you even brag a little after having weathered one of the minor cycles in retirement(2000 - 2003, down 16.5% during one quarter)

And then there is the Norwegian widow who is always bouncing 'the core budget' against current yield of 'the portfolio'. Dividends and interest being almost as good as real money.

Finally - to buck everybody up - Pssst Wellesley, current yield 4.2% on the Vanguard website.

heh heh heh - Just because I look a lot doesn't I have to lose sleep or do anything!
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:06 PM   #24
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2B....couldn't agree with you more. I think SPIA's and indexed annuities are terrible products.
I hope you weren't answering my reference to VA's with living benefits with your answer.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:18 PM   #25
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To answer your very valid concern, this would be a very good reason to research the insurance company selected. IF the insurance company went belly up, there are safety features in effect to help pass along policies to other insurance companies, but the bottom line answer is, just like a bank or mutual fund going belly up, your assets are kept in a separate fund and you would get back whatever the value of your portfolio was at the time.
I think someone such as yourself follows the market closely enough that you would see the insurance company's share price dropping and you could move the money elsewhere or just take it out of the account.
I'd say if there's anything we are learning of late, is that the government steps in to save large corporations from disaster.
What happens if your bank where you buy your CD's goes belly up? Insurance companies are larger than banks.
What our resident (Edited by Moderator) annuity salesman doesn't bother to tell you about this rosy, horse excrement-smeared vision is:

1) State guaranty funds are thinly funded if at all and would be cold comfort at best if your insurer went belly up. The only thing backing the state funds is assessments levied on other insurers in the state. In contrast, the FDIC has the explicit guarantee of the feddle gummint. There is a world of difference here that is not to be glossed over.
2) The VA assets would be segregated, but the guarantees (which according to our salescritter is the whole reason you would buy one of these policies) is not. The guarantee comes from the insurer's balance sheet. If they blow up, guess who is screwed?
3) The suggestion that the policyholder could jump out of the product if they thought things wre going pear-shaped is ludicrous. First of all, doing so would incur large penalties and you would lose that all-important guarantee (supposedly the reason for buying these things). Secondly, I had a hard enough time judging creditworthiness of these companies when I did it for a living and was an insider. You think Joe Consumer can do it by reading headlines? Please.

Flog these crappy, overpriced policies all you want (until the mods do their job and rein you in), but don't pee on my head and tell me its raining.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:27 PM   #26
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want2....First off let me say that I really enjoy conversing with you. I find your posts to be well thought out and objective.
I guess the reason why this topic hits home with me so heavily is that my mother is currently in this boat. I think she has enough money to live the rest of her life on, but each and every day she calls me in a fit, worried that she's gonna run out of money. Her REITS and preferred stocks, which have done quite well for years, have taken a beating lately. Her rental property is half empty and the repairs she had to do last year caused her to have zero earnings last year, causing her to continually take money out of her investment account at the worst time possible. And yet she tells me that 7% guaranteed for life isn't enough income for her. My own mother doesn't see it. Believe me, I understand why people are hesitant, but it's also the reason I think people need to be educated.
I really enjoy conversing with you, too. I don't really have anything against annuities at all, and in fact was planning to get an inflation adjusted immediate lifetime annuity upon retiring, until a few months ago. The only reason I no longer plan to get one, is that I got that windfall and changed my financial plan at that point. I am a firm believer in not having all one's eggs in one basket, and so I would never recommend more than 25%-33% of one's portfolio in an immediate lifetime annuity. I think the question of whether or not to buy such an annuity is really very individual and depends so much on age, risk tolerance, and financial plan. For example, an annuity very well might be right for your mother and allow her to sleep at night, and yet not a good decision at all for one of the Young Dreamers.

I didn't mean to be flip about asking you if you meant annuities... I had forgotten who was on which side of that discussion.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:43 PM   #27
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2B....couldn't agree with you more. I think SPIA's and indexed annuities are terrible products.
I hope you weren't answering my reference to VA's with living benefits with your answer.
Anything with the word "annuity" in anyway connected with it should be considered negatively commented on by my prior post.

As an alternative, I'd prefer someone buy with a "small portion of their portfolio" preferred stocks in a diverse collection of companies rather than any form of annuity. There are yields available that can be over 8% for highly rated companies. They can always be sold based on the current interest rates and credit quality of the company. They will also "mature" in most cases so the principle will likely be returned at some point in the distant future.

There are also leveraged closed end mutual funds that pay up to 12 or 13%. There is obviously additional risk associated with the leverage but they are highly liquid but prone to wild fluxuations in value. Unlike a SPIA, they will have a "value" if you change your mind.

You have to be pretty old to qualify for more than an 8% payout from an annuity. In the case of preferreds, you will always have the principle but it will fluxuate in value.

Any form of "variable annuity" product is covered up with fine print hiding limitations and a mountain of fees. The insurance companies seem to be in a competition to see who can claim the title of having the most complicated product.

For certain very well off individuals, I can see a reason to own a substantial amount of annuities since they are considered "retirement funds" that are excluded from bankruptcy and legal judgements (in most cases). If you find this applying to you, please ask yourself what you are doing that puts you at so much legal risk.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:45 PM   #28
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What our resident (Edited by Moderator) annuity salesman doesn't bother to tell you about this rosy, horse excrement-smeared vision is:

1) State guaranty funds are thinly funded if at all and would be cold comfort at best if your insurer went belly up. The only thing backing the state funds is assessments levied on other insurers in the state. In contrast, the FDIC has the explicit guarantee of the feddle gummint. There is a world of difference here that is not to be glossed over.
2) The VA assets would be segregated, but the guarantees (which according to our salescritter is the whole reason you would buy one of these policies) is not. The guarantee comes from the insurer's balance sheet. If they blow up, guess who is screwed?
3) The suggestion that the policyholder could jump out of the product if they thought things wre going pear-shaped is ludicrous. First of all, doing so would incur large penalties and you would lose that all-important guarantee (supposedly the reason for buying these things). Secondly, I had a hard enough time judging creditworthiness of these companies when I did it for a living and was an insider. You think Joe Consumer can do it by reading headlines? Please.

Flog these crappy, overpriced policies all you want (until the mods do their job and rein you in), but don't pee on my head and tell me its raining.
(Edited by Moderator) I said the very thing you are saying in my response. Nice job of painting an unrealistic picture. If not for you scummy hedge fund guys, stocks wouldn't have to worry about being shorted into oblivion. Pat yourself on the back for making the worlds economy just a bit more uneasy, and blaming it on other products.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:48 PM   #29
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What our resident sleazebag annuity salesman doesn't bother to tell you about this rosy, horse excrement-smeared vision is:

1) State guaranty funds are thinly funded if at all and would be cold comfort at best if your insurer went belly up. The only thing backing the state funds is assessments levied on other insurers in the state. In contrast, the FDIC has the explicit guarantee of the feddle gummint. There is a world of difference here that is not to be glossed over.
2) The VA assets would be segregated, but the guarantees (which according to our salescritter is the whole reason you would buy one of these policies) is not. The guarantee comes from the insurer's balance sheet. If they blow up, guess who is screwed?
3) The suggestion that the policyholder could jump out of the product if they thought things wre going pear-shaped is ludicrous. First of all, doing so would incur large penalties and you would lose that all-important guarantee (supposedly the reason for buying these things). Secondly, I had a hard enough time judging creditworthiness of these companies when I did it for a living and was an insider. You think Joe Consumer can do it by reading headlines? Please.

Flog these crappy, overpriced policies all you want (until the mods do their job and rein you in), but don't pee on my head and tell me its raining.
So now tell me how you really feel.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:51 PM   #30
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Anything with the word "annuity" in anyway connected with it should be considered negatively commented on by my prior post.

As an alternative, I'd prefer someone buy with a "small portion of their portfolio" preferred stocks in a diverse collection of companies rather than any form of annuity. There are yields available that can be over 8% for highly rated companies. They can always be sold based on the current interest rates and credit quality of the company. They will also "mature" in most cases so the principle will likely be returned at some point in the distant future.

There are also leveraged closed end mutual funds that pay up to 12 or 13%. There is obviously additional risk associated with the leverage but they are highly liquid but prone to wild fluxuations in value. Unlike a SPIA, they will have a "value" if you change your mind.

You have to be pretty old to qualify for more than an 8% payout from an annuity. In the case of preferreds, you will always have the principle but it will fluxuate in value.

Any form of "variable annuity" product is covered up with fine print hiding limitations and a mountain of fees. The insurance companies seem to be in a competition to see who can claim the title of having the most complicated product.

For certain very well off individuals, I can see a reason to own a substantial amount of annuities since they are considered "retirement funds" that are excluded from bankruptcy and legal judgements (in most cases). If you find this applying to you, please ask yourself what you are doing that puts you at so much legal risk.
I used to think just as you do now....until my mother's account was hit by names such as Enron preferred, Countrywide preferred and a litany of REITS.
BTW, I keep noticing people responding with reference to SPIA's. I agree that an immediate annuity is not necessary nor worth doing, unless you are trying to hide assets or prevent being sued. Even then, the new laws have lookback rules in place.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:55 PM   #31
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BTW, I keep noticing people responding with reference to SPIA's. I agree that an immediate annuity is not necessary nor worth doing, unless you are trying to hide assets or prevent being sued. Even then, the new laws have lookback rules in place.
Oops! I thought you meant SPIA's. I know absolutely nothing about VA's, so I'll quietly bow out now... have a nice discussion, everyone.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:06 PM   #32
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Anything with the word "annuity" in anyway connected with it should be considered negatively commented on by my prior post.
Well, Social Security and pensions are annuties, but I'm not sure most folks would consider them a negative............

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As an alternative, I'd prefer someone buy with a "small portion of their portfolio" preferred stocks in a diverse collection of companies rather than any form of annuity. There are yields available that can be over 8% for highly rated companies. They can always be sold based on the current interest rates and credit quality of the company. They will also "mature" in most cases so the principle will likely be returned at some point in the distant future.
Those 8% yields are fraught with peril. Take a look at the wondrous things that companies "back" their preferred with, it's enough to make your hair stand on end in many cases.........

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There are also leveraged closed end mutual funds that pay up to 12 or 13%. There is obviously additional risk associated with the leverage but they are highly liquid but prone to wild fluxuations in value. Unlike a SPIA, they will have a "value" if you change your mind.
There's a LOT of risk in those.........

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Any form of "variable annuity" product is covered up with fine print hiding limitations and a mountain of fees. The insurance companies seem to be in a competition to see who can claim the title of having the most complicated product.
If that is the case, then why do Fido and Vanguard offer them? :confused::confused:
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:08 PM   #33
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I used to think just as you do now....until my mother's account was hit by names such as Enron preferred, Countrywide preferred and a litany of REITS.
BTW, I keep noticing people responding with reference to SPIA's. I agree that an immediate annuity is not necessary nor worth doing, unless you are trying to hide assets or prevent being sued. Even then, the new laws have lookback rules in place.
Any portfolio needs to be widely diversified with no single holding determining the overall success. I'll be the annuity companies owned a good double handful of Enron stock, bonds and preferreds. What's the difference?

I own the Countrywide preferreds but I bought them when they paid over 10%. They are bound to be big winners when (and if) the BOA merger goes through. They are a very small part of my portfolio so a default won't hurt much. I don't think the FED will let Countrywide go down. They will make the BOA deal go through.

Also, it's usually bad form to call someone an "idiot."
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:10 PM   #34
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I don't think anything is worth losing sleep. Not everybody has the constitution to be in the market, but more than likely you need to figure out how to learn enough to set yourself up to sleep peacefully, or just get an autopilot, like a life cycle fund. It almost sound like your ER was not planned in advance.
Not necessarily. I think I did a decent job of planning for retirement, but I too feel uneasy at times about the market. Even if I had it all my money in a target or life cycle fund, I would still worry. Some of us are just worriers. But I don't worry enough to work forever. I'll take my chances.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:13 PM   #35
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There is a lot of valuable information here from smart folks on both sides of the annuity question. Most members of this forum are bright and experienced enough to decide what's best for themselves, given a decent discussion. No need to get emotional and personal.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:19 PM   #36
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(Edited by Moderator). I said the very thing you are saying in my response. Nice job of painting an unrealistic picture. If not for you scummy hedge fund guys, stocks wouldn't have to worry about being shorted into oblivion. Pat yourself on the back for making the worlds economy just a bit more uneasy, and blaming it on other products.
(Edited by Moderator)

I responded item by item to the misleading or downright wrong things in your post. There are risks in every financial product and it would be foolish to ignore them or not bother to investigate them, especially when we are discussing an allegedly safe product.

I'm sorry your mom got smacked around with her yield-chasing portfolio. She is not the only one. Maybe you could sell some annuities to a few suckers and help her out with those fat commissions.

Drop dead.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:19 PM   #37
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FD, SS and pensions may be annuities but people don't have salespeople pushing them and taking commisions out of them, at least as far as I know.
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:24 PM   #38
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Hey douchebag:

I responded item by item to the misleading or downright wrong things in your post. There are risks in every financial product and it would be foolish to ignore them or not bother to investigate them, especially when we are discussing an allegedly safe product.

I'm sorry your mom got smacked around with her yield-chasing portfolio. She is not the only one. Maybe you could sell some annuities to a few suckers and help her out with those fat commissions.

Drop dead.
Great, so now we know your problem isn't with reading, it's just with comprehension. Perhaps someone within your hedgie can explain my post to you?
BTW, shouldn't you be off naked shorting stocks or somesuch?
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:28 PM   #39
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Great, so now we know your problem isn't with reading, it's just with comprehension. Perhaps someone within your hedgie can explain my post to you?
BTW, shouldn't you be off naked shorting stocks or somesuch?
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:30 PM   #40
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FD, SS and pensions may be annuities but people don't have salespeople pushing them and taking commisions out of them, at least as far as I know.
You think there's not a ton of pork being dragged out of social security? In fact, the major reason social security is at risk is because the funds have been misappropriated. As to pensions, they are regularly being investigated for malfeasance.
So, once again, if I understand your concern, it's not whether or not the product does as it's designed to, but whether or not someone is getting a commission from it?
The only real concern that I find with VA's, is to whether or not the insurance company can maintain enough of a profit to stay in business, and that's the very thing many of you complain about.
I once heard a VA wholesaler state, "Yes, we make a profit, and you want us to, so we can be in business to pay you your lifetime income". Kind'a makes sense, doesn't it?
Would you really rather buy an investment that cuts things so close, that they may in a tough market go belly up?
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