Security Benefit, an annuity purveyor whose roots date back a whopping 127 years, is no stranger to fixed indexed annuities (FIAs).
Its predecessor started out in Kansas as an insurance company with a twist, one focused on providing working people with financial security in the event of a calamity. It has long since been primarily a vendor of FIAs, overwhelmingly serving middle-class people concerned not about financial calamity but about building the framework for a financially secure retirement. FIAs fit the bill nicely by offering the growth potential of stock market investing while simultaneously guaranteeing no losses in down markets.
So, predictably, when FIAs followed in the footsteps of variable annuities in 2007 and began offering the option of lifetime guaranteed income riders to supplement retirement security, Security Benefit jumped right in.
And it did so big-time – unlike many competitors, which offer fixed indexed annuities with or without income riders, Security Benefit FIAs have always been accompanied with income riders – and usually a tad more generous than those offered by the competition. Rider-free growth FIAs, in contrast to income FIAs, sidestep this pricey feature in a quest to provide customers with greater upside potential.
But now Security Benefit has tweaked its strategy and decided to offer a no-fee growth FIA for the first time – Security Benefit Strategic Growth. As has been the case with its income riders, this growth FIA is a bit more generous than most. Strategic Growth is offering a 50% participation rate on the S&P 500, compared to 40% to 45% at competing growth FIAs. It’s also offering a slightly better deal to those who take the option of opting for a higher index participation rate in exchange for accepting a 2-percentage point index spread.
Investors who choose this annuity can also opt instead for the Morningstar Wide Moat Focus Barclays VC Index, a low volatility index that focuses on companies with the lowest current market price/fair value ratio. This offers a 100% or 130% participation rate, depending upon which of two crediting options you choose, more in line with what the completion offers on low-volatility indexes. Still, this annuity may fare better over time because this version of Strategic Growth is more equity-centric than average.
After all these years, why is Security Benefit finally eschewing the income rider on one of its fixed indexed annuities? Growth FIAs have become more popular, and it knows that. “In the end, lots of people want to get close to rivaling stock market performance without the threat of losing money,” says one annuity watcher and broker.
Strategic Growth is generally best for somewhat younger annuity buyers — those aged 55 to 62 or 63. These folks are more inclined to seek growth than to lock in income. After 10 years – the end of the Security Benefit surrender schedule — they can then buy an income FIA if they wish.
The minimum investment for Security Benefit Strategic Growth is $25,000.
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