The Case for Indexed Annuities

These products may offer better returns than traditional fixed-income investments. But there are trade-offs.

annuities and rainbows pipes
(Image credit: Illustration by Chris Gash)

One of the many drawbacks of record-low interest rates is that they have made creating an income stream in retirement significantly more complicated. Retirees and near-retirees can no longer rely on certificates of deposit and U.S. Treasuries to provide reliable, risk-free income. Interest rates are so low that these investments no longer keep up with inflation, which means investors effectively lose money over time. Likewise, the traditional 60-40 portfolio—60% stocks and mutual funds and 40% government bonds—has fallen out of favor with some analysts because of the abysmal returns from the bond portion.

That creates a conundrum for older investors who are reluctant to increase their exposure to an uncertain and volatile stock market. But the financial services industry—specifically, the insurance industry—has an antidote: annuities that provide higher returns than you’ll earn from CDs or government bonds, with limits on how much you can lose in a market downturn.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.