by P.E. KelleyMr. Kelley is managing editor of this magazine. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Within its sheer size and scope, the Covid-19 Pandemic impacted so much more than the health of people worldwide. As it spread, and as we responded to its insidious affect, it also gave rise to revelation about the way we live, work and manage our lives, such as how the mandate for isolation provided the opportunity to consider the effectiveness of remote employees.
It opened the eyes of many who began to think about their own mortality, sparking an exodus from work altogether. Conversely, it also caused others to reassess their financial position, as many considered returning to work, having realized an existential scare of income inadequacy in retirement. Anecdotally, we witnessed what can be described as a ‘new urgency’ in the challenge of building adequate retirement income streams, throwing into sharp relief our existing protocols and methodologies of valuation.
Tina Haley is Senior Vice President & Head of Product, Individual Retirement, at Corebridge Financial. She spoke with Advisor Magazine about a reawakening to the challenges of income adequacy in retirement, post-Covid, as many of our clients begin to look deeper into their overall preparedness, with a new appreciation for the value of guarantees.
PEK: Research from multiple sources, including Corebridge Financial, has simultaneously begun to identify shifting attitudes toward financial security, manifested in core focal points such as a reassessment of retirement readiness, the costs and burden of debt and the elusive pursuit of well-being. What’s happening in the minds of Americans today that signals a change in traditional planning approaches?
TH: The last several years have been a harsh reminder of the uncertainties that are part of life.
From a personal finance perspective, many Americans now see an increased value in financial planning, income protection and insurance. They also recognize the benefit of working with a financial professional when planning for a more secure financial future.
We partnered with Greenwald Research in 2021 to survey 1,000 Americans with household incomes of $40,000 or higher. One of the strongest findings was that 91% of survey respondents view products that provide income for life as valuable, with 34% saying it is very valuable.
A lot has changed since then, but the demand for financial solutions that protect against uncertainty is continuing to grow.
PEK: Corebridge identifies a ‘new urgency’ in planning for the future. How are Americans thinking about the impact of future events? How does this affect their sense of retirement preparedness?
TH: Our work with Greenwald Research found Americans wanting to be better prepared for retirement.
One important consideration is to recognize that retirement planning involves much more than growing your assets during your working years. Yes, “grow” is the first phase, but there’s more to it than that. You also need to think about creating a level of protection—especially as you get closer to retirement—and then prepare for how you’re going to sustainably spend your savings.
Retirement is one of the most challenging and complex stages of an individual’s personal finance journey. Fortunately, there are products and solutions that can simplify the complexities, ease the uncertainty, and create peace of mind.
PEK: How have attitudes toward money, both spending it and saving it, changed, post-Covid?
TH: We see a strong demand for creating a steady stream of income that will last throughout retirement. One reason Americans are purchasing annuities is to ensure an income stream that will help them pay for essential living expenses such as housing, utilities and groceries.
As you begin to approach retirement, it’s important to think through and plan for your spending needs. A financial professional can be very helpful with projecting income and expenses.
Additionally, you’ll want to have the flexibility and the resources to create the lifestyle you have in mind for retirement. A financial professional can be valuable here too.
It’s great to have someone with the experience and expertise to help you consider important questions like these: What do you want to do with your retirement? How do you see yourself spending your days? Are there new directions you’re hoping to take your life? How can we create a diversified retirement portfolio to support all of that?
PEK: There appears to be a ‘reawakening’ to the need to protect against uncertainties, including market uncertainties, coupled with longevity. Are annuity solutions beginning to make better sense in today’s economic climate? Why?
TH: We believe annuities always have an important role to play in a diversified retirement portfolio. That said, the past 15 months have been a perfect case study for the value of annuities.
The rate on the 10-year Treasury more than doubled in 2022, and this increase has allowed annuity providers to raise crediting rates and the income levels for their products, with rates at their highest levels in decades. In today’s economic environment, annuities have a strong benefit proposition.
PEK: Investors are starting to appreciate better the need for guarantees — tied to this new, existential sense of urgency — so, how are today’s products changing the calculus of planning through longevity?
TH: Americans are living longer lives. The protected lifetime income that annuities can provide is one of the most important benefits sought by clients. Having certainty that they won’t run out of money in retirement gives them the confidence to live the life they want.
Many individuals tie the income they receive from their annuities with their essential expenses. From there, they can then more confidently explore their hopes and dreams for retirement.
PEK: Behind many of these developing trends is a deepening need to seek financial help, and find better solutions. How are advisors responding?
TH: We conducted a study with MIT AgeLab that found clients expressing a willingness and desire to step beyond traditional conversational boundaries with their financial professionals. In fact, 85% of clients who reported being highly satisfied with their financial professionals were the ones having the most wide-ranging conversations, beyond topics that are strictly financial, such as health, family, job changes and housing.
There is an opportunity for financial professionals to work with their clients to identify areas of concern and then use their professional networks to help clients connect with the right experts and service providers to address their needs. As financial professionals continue to build their relationships with clients, we are expecting more to prioritize a holistic approach to financial well-being by exploring topics related to physical, mental and financial health.
This material is general in nature, was developed for educational use only, and is not intended to provide financial, legal, fiduciary, accounting or tax advice, nor is it intended to make any recommendations. Applicable laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Please consult with your financial professional regarding your situation. For legal, accounting or tax advice, consult the appropriate professional.
Annuities are long term financial products designed for retirement. Withdrawals may be subject to withdrawal charges and federal and/or state income taxes. A 10% federal early withdrawal tax penalty may apply if taken before age 59½.
Annuities issued by American General Life Insurance Company (AGL), Houston, TX except in New York, where issued by The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York (US Life). Certain annuities are issued by The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC), Houston, TX. Issuing companies AGL, US Life and VALIC are responsible for financial obligations of insurance products, and guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of each company.
All companies are wholly owned subsidiaries of Corebridge Financial, Inc. Products and services may not be available in all states and product features may vary by state. AGL does not solicit, issue or deliver policies or contracts in the state of New York.
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