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Variable Annuities

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What is a Variable Annuity?

A variable annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company. You open an account with funds typically earmarked for your retirement. The insurance company invests your money in a selection of mutual fund-like investments (called “sub-accounts”). Your account value can grow or shrink with the underlying investments, just like with a mutual fund (hence the term “variable”).

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ADVISOR INSIGHT

"With a variable annuity, you place your funds with an insurance company and then choose how the money will be invested. Your available investment options (called sub-accounts) are those funds that the insurance company has selected inside of their variable annuity. These fund sub-accounts typically range from conservative bond funds to aggressive stock funds in addition to asset allocation models.

In the bull markets of the ’80s, a new type of annuity contract allowed investors to participate in the debt and equity markets and enjoy the benefits of annuities at the same time. These vehicles, known as variable rate annuities because of the variability of the returns realized, began in 1952 as a funding vehicle for pension plans. Originally started by the Teachers Insurance and Annuities Association – College Retirement Equity Fund (TIAA-CREF), these vehicles became more popular after the Tax Reform Act of 1986 closed many of the other tax loopholes that were available to investors. Since then, they’ve grown into a multibillion dollar industry that is now regulated by insurance and securities agencies such as FINRA and the SEC, as well as state insurance commissioners.

Variable annuities can vary wildly in their fund and benefit offerings as well as fees so be certain to contain a highly qualified financial advisor who specializes in all types of annuities prior to purchase."

Thomas Burgess Hamlin
Thomas Burgess Hamlin, Financial Advisor Annuity FYI Expert

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