Nearly Half—48%—of Investors Own an Annuity

And nearly two-thirds, 63%, of advisers recommend annuities to clients who need income.

The acceptance and use of annuities—and the tremendous appetite for the guaranteed income that they offer—are more widely accepted than many retirement plan advisers and investors realize, Jackson National Life found in a study conducted for the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), “The Language of Retirement 2017: Advisor and Consumer Attitudes Toward Income in Retirement.”

According to the study, based on a survey of 400 advisers and 1,300 investors—300 of whom own an annuity and/or work with an adviser—35% of consumers are familiar with annuities and believe they are useful, and another 37% are open to learning more about them—a combined 72%. A combined 48% of investors either currently own (42%) or previously owned (6%) an annuity.

By comparison, fewer investors own or used to own two very popular investment options: exchange-traded funds (ETFs) (31%) or target-date funds (TDFs) (21%).

When investors are asked about the attributes of annuities—but not the products by name—90% said they are receptive to the idea of guaranteed lifetime income, even if it means relinquishing control of the principle or paying higher costs, Jackson learned—suggesting that there is a great disconnect between what investors think they know about annuities and what advisers can teach them about them. For example, only 46% of consumers know that an annuity can provide guaranteed lifetime income.

In the report, Jackson says: “It turns out many consumers believe guaranteed lifetime income is worth the trade-offs of lower liquidity and higher cost, and they often express a higher preference for such a solution than for other, non-guaranteed approaches. This is a clear opportunity for financial professionals to educate consumers [about annuities]. Such strong consumer interest in guaranteed lifetime income should help advisers feel confident in recommending annuity-based solutions to their clients. In fact, 63% of advisers say they recommend annuities to their clients who need income.”

NEXT: Why advisers recommend annuities

To hear advisers talk about annuities, interest in them is growing among the investing public; 84% of the advisers Jackson surveyed said they have had one or more clients ask about annuities in the past 12 months, and 44% said such inquiries are on the rise. Eighty percent of advisers said that guaranteed lifetime income features have had a positive impact for their clients, and 33% said the guarantees are the most impactful feature of annuities.

It is no wonder, then, that advisers are increasingly considering recommending annuities to their clients, as 32% of advisers have witnessed three or more of their retiree clients exhaust their financial resources. Another 22% have had one or two clients blow through their savings. Fifty-two percent of advisers believe that at least some of their clients who do not own annuities will run out of money in retirement.

Asked why their clients depleted their savings, 62% of advisers said it was due to overspending, and another 43% said it was due to health care costs. Nearly as many, 41%, said it was due to long-term care costs.

In conclusion, Jackson says that, “Consumers of all ages are receptive to financial products that can provide guaranteed lifetime income, i.e. annuities, and the youngest are almost universally willing to pay more for it. Advisers understand and support the product, recognizing that in its absence, their clients are more likely to exhaust their financial resources at some point during their retirement years. Annuities are the only financial product that can provide the guaranteed lifetime income consumers say they want—and advisers know they need.

“Consumers are more likely to say they value the benefits an annuity can provide than they say they like annuities themselves. The challenge for the industry and for consumers will be overcoming this bias.”