The aging of the U.S. population, rising health care costs and the decline of traditional defined benefit plans highlight the need for steady and reliable income sources. That's where annuities fit in, according to Carolyn Johnson, president of annuities at Voya Financial (VOYA) - Get Voya Financial, Inc. Report .
"Working Americans are facing a 'DIY retirement'," said Johnson. "Annuities can help individuals replace their paycheck by generating a steady stream of guaranteed retirement income."
In Johnson's view, the annuities landscape has been shifting as a result of consumer needs, market realities and the regulatory backdrop. She said the low-interest rate environment, market volatility and new regulations have brought forth a slew of product innovations, as new technologies transform the market.
"Our annuities business continues to invest in digital solutions to simplify our systems, create a differentiated experience for advisors and intermediaries, and generally make it easy to do business," said Johnson.
As for the bad rap annuities often get, especially when it comes to fees, Johnson said the industry needs to "debunk the myths" and better educate consumer about the benefits of annuities.
"There is also a lot of misinformation about annuities out there," said Johnson. "Depending on your age, tolerance for risk and retirement goals, annuities are great products to help accumulate assets prior to retirement and provide a dependable stream of income in retirement. Annuities are important products to consider in any holistic retirement plan."
Aside from the cost, the other argument against annuities has traditionally been a lack of liquidity, or the inability for annuity owners to sell quickly without incurring a major penalty. Johnson said the charges for exiting an annuity depends on how long it was held and are generally not exorbitant.