Variable annuities, extremely popular retirement investing vehicles, have taken a beating in this bear market. Companies like Hartford (Stock Quote: HIG) and Principal Financial (Stock Quote: PFG) have suffered tremendous losses. The underlying investments of variable annuities—known as mutual fund subaccounts—have lost value right along with the broader market. The one saving grace to owners of variable annuities have been what are known as guaranteed minimum income benefit or guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit riders.
Despite their beating, variable annuities could still be a viable alternative in your retirement planning if you buy them for the right reasons. Following is an excerpt from TheStreet.com Ratings Consumer Guide to Variable Annuities that discusses some questions you should ask yourself about whether or not a variable annuity is right for you.
Now that you are familiar with how variable annuities work, including their inherent advantages, disadvantages, tax considerations, and mutual fund considerations, you are in a much better position to determine whether or not they’re right for you. Keep in mind though, it is usually a good idea to consult a professional such as a Certified Financial Planner before making any major moves in retirement planning.
You should consider variable annuities if:
1. You can make a long-term financial commitment for retirement, and you are confident that you won’t need access to your money before you retire.
2. You have already fully funded any company-sponsored retirement plans or IRAs for which you are eligible.
3. You can take full advantage of tax-deferred growth of your investments. This is especially appropriate if you are in—or entering—a high marginal tax bracket and are at least six years away from retirement.