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Home > Blog > Pensions > The Role Of Annuities In Retirement Planning: Building A Reliable Income Stream For Your Golden Years
While no one can predict the future, there are certain eventualities that we can predict. The majority of us will retire and require a retirement income, and many of us will require care in later life. Retirement planning enables you to mitigate both unforeseen and expected changes in later life. So it pays to prioritise retirement planning, wherever you are in life’s journey.
Annuities are a useful retirement planning tool. These insurance products enable you to swap all or part of your pension funds for a guaranteed income, typically for life, with rates differing depending on the type of annuity and provider. Annuities in retirement provide certainty, which can be invaluable. However, they aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution, especially if flexibility is a priority.
Not all financial advisers specialise in retirement planning, but Hilltop Financial Planning does. Our experienced financial advisors are here to help you make confident decisions about your pension and retirement income sources, whether that be an annuity or another option altogether. Seeking professional advice can help to provide the clarity and assurance you need.
In this blog post, we will explore the role of annuities in retirement planning, outlining their potential for building a reliable income stream in your golden years. Keep reading to find out more about the importance of annuities in retirement, the various annuity options available, and retirement income strategies to incorporate into your retirement planning.
Annuities play an important role in retirement planning as they provide a layer of certainty and predictability that is often distinctly lacking when it comes to many other types of investments. With some annuities linked to inflation rates, they can also provide stability when prices rise and markets are volatile, helping to mitigate any economic downturns. As such, annuities are a particularly useful retirement planning option for risk-averse pension savers.
The primary difference between annuities and pension drawdown products is that most annuities require you to use the entirety of your pension pot to buy the insurance product that provides you with your fixed retirement income. In contrast, pension drawdown products allow you to take a flexible income when you need it and then keep the remainder invested. This provides greater flexibility but also comes with exposure to market volatility.
Another key point of difference is that, unlike pension drawdown arrangements, most annuities die with the holder. In other words, any remaining funds beyond the point of death are not passed down to beneficiaries. However, it is worth remembering that annuities are not an ‘all or nothing’ option. Partial annuitisation, blending an annuity with a pension drawdown, can provide an effective balance between security and flexibility.
Annuities are undoubtedly the most reliable source of income during retirement. Although critics often cite that annuities are expensive in relative terms, they are one of the few investments that you cannot outlive. In an age where life expectancies continue to rise, a point that many pension savers tend to underestimate, an annuity can often provide an effective means of future-proofing your retirement income, no matter how long you live.
There are various annuity options for retirement planning, including the following:
As the name suggests, a lifetime annuity pays a guaranteed income for the rest of your life. This type of annuity provides peace of mind that you will never run out of money and that your pension savings will not be subject to market fluctuations. However, it is worth bearing in mind that once you opt into a lifetime annuity, that decision is irreversible. Rates also vary according to the provider, so it is important to shop around to find the best fit for you.
Fixed-term annuities pay a fixed income over a defined period of time – typically 1-25 years – followed by a guaranteed maturity value that can be put towards another pension income or taken as a cash sum. This type of annuity enables you to use a portion of your pension pot to buy a short-term annuity and leave the remainder invested. This can be a particularly useful option if you don’t feel ready to commit to a lifetime annuity.
Level annuities pay a ‘level’ or flat rate of income each year. The benefit of this type of annuity is that you will typically receive the highest starting rate of income. However, the downside is that this income is not linked to inflation. That means that any inflationary rises will erode your income over time and could leave you with less in later life.
Unlike level annuities, escalating annuities pay an increasing amount of income each year. This can either be in line with inflation – usually linked to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) – or set against a predetermined percentage increase (such as 3%, for example). However, this type of annuity usually comes with a lower starting annuity rate. These rates can be as much as 50% lower than a level annuity, taking many years to reach parity.
Single life annuities pay an income directly to you. However, unless it comes with a guarantee to continue paying an income for a set period after your death, your partner won’t be financially protected. A joint life annuity solves this problem, continuing to pay your partner an income until they die. Although this type of annuity normally offers a lower starting rate than a single life annuity, it could potentially pay out more in the long term.
Most standard annuities are based around life expectancy. According to the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics, life expectancy is currently 86 for a woman and 83.5 for a man. However, not everyone will reach those milestones. As such, enhanced annuities provide higher annuity incomes to people with ill health or whose lifestyle could potentially shorten their lifespan.
Annuities are somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, one of the main benefits of incorporating annuities into your retirement planning is the promise of a guaranteed income. This undoubtedly provides a certain degree of reassurance against outliving your pension savings and the vagaries of the market; both of which are potential factors when choosing pension drawdown.
On the other hand, what you gain in peace of mind (especially if you tend to be risk-averse) you lose somewhat in terms of flexibility. Unless you choose a fixed-term annuity, you are likely to be tied into an annuity for life. Therefore, it has to be right for you and your circumstances. Talking of which, you also need to consider whether you would be happy for your annuity income to die with you or whether you need to purchase a joint life or guaranteed annuity to pass down the remaining funds to your spouse or partner.
For these reasons, it is always advisable to take professional financial advice when deciding whether to incorporate annuities into your retirement plan. Planning for a financially secure retirement is easier with the help of Hilltop Financial Planning’s experienced advisers. We can provide tailor-made retirement planning advice, including retirement income strategies and annuities in retirement, that enables you to make informed decisions.
Contact us today to learn more about the role of annuities in retirement planning and how we can help you to achieve golden years of financial security. Get in touch at 0161 413 7051 for pension advice made personal.
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