Commentary & Opinion

NAFA Takes On The Annuity Haters

DiVencenzo addresses USA Today’s opinion piece by Ken Fisher

On April 17, NAFA submitted the following letter to the editor of USA Today regarding the opinion piece published by Ken Fisher. A copy of this letter can also be downloaded from the NAFA Press Room.

Dear Ms. Carroll,

In response to Kenneth Fisher’s opinion piece in USA Today, dated April 14, 2019, I would like to rebut his misleading and factually inaccurate view regarding annuities. In this piece, he mirrors his decade long marketing campaign “Why I Hate Annuities,” coined by the investment firm he founded. Mr. Fisher clearly does not like the annuity concept, yet his own firm gets paid out like an annuity, steadily receiving his current clients’ fees regardless of his performance in managing his clients’ assets. Mr. Fisher’s organization requires a $500,000 minimum to invest, so his clients are paying a minimum of $5,000 per year in fees. As clients de-accumulate during their retirement years, is Mr. Fisher’s firm going to drop them or provide less service when they fall below that $500,000 threshold, at a time when they need individualized financial advice the most?

Since The Roman Empire

Annuities are insurance products that have been around since the Roman Empire utilized to pay Roman soldiers an “annua” or annual stipend for life for their service. Guaranteed lifetime income is important, as many Americans do not have a pension plan: survey after survey confirm that a significant worry for retirees is the possibility of outliving their retirement savings. Is Mr. Fisher’s firm going to guarantee that his clients will have a steady income for life, whether they live to 75 or 105? Is Mr. Fisher’s firm going to provide guaranteed, consistent income to a retiree that retired during a downturn in the market — or just to those fortunate to have been in a sustained bull market?

As clients de-accumulate during their retirement years, is Mr. Fisher’s firm going to drop them or provide less service when they fall below that $500,000 threshold, at a time when they need individualized financial advice the most?

Like health, auto, homeowners or life insurance, financial advisors and insurance professionals recommend annuities to deal with specific risks like longevity, health care costs, and sequence of return risk as part of a stable retirement income plan, which today may last 25 to 40 years. Annuity sales reached $234 billion in 2018, which was an almost 15% increase over 2017. More importantly, consumers are happy with annuities, as evidenced by de minimus customer complaint data.

Life insurance companies pay out billions of dollars annually in annuities (in 2017 that number was $82 billion!) to individuals and families to help them customize their financial and retirement plans. Far from being “horsepucky,” annuities protect against life’s uncertainties, allowing consumers to manage their financial risks and offering peace of mind to Americans when they need it the most.

Sincerely,

Charles J. DiVencenzo
NAFA President & CEO

 

 

NAFA, the National Association for Fixed Annuities, is the premier trade association exclusively dedicated to fixed annuities. Our mission is to promote the awareness and understanding of fixed annuities. We educate annuity salespeople, regulators, legislators, journalists, and industry personnel about the value of fixed annuities and their benefits to consumers. NAFA’s membership represents every aspect of the fixed annuity marketplace covering 85% of fixed annuities sold by independent agents, advisors and brokers. NAFA was founded in 1998. For more information, visit www.nafa.com.