Financial Planning

What Is An Annuity And Should You Have One?

What Is An Annuity And Should You Have One?

“Here’s the bottom line about annuities; they’re confidence products” – Stan Haithcock
4 min read
Annuity - Annuities - Should You Have One?

What Is An Annuity And Should You Have One?

“Here’s the bottom line about annuities; they’re confidence products” – Stan Haithcock
4 min read

Annuities are designed to provide a steady income stream, typically for retirees.

They are insurance contracts where you pay a lump sum or series of payments in exchange for periodic disbursements in the future. Annuities can be a valuable component of a retirement plan, but they also come with complexities and considerations.

Below, you will found out what annuities are, how they work, the different types, their pros and cons, and whether you should consider having one. So, read on!

Understanding Annuities

An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company.

In its simplest form, you make an investment in the annuity, and in return, the insurer promises to make periodic payments to you, either immediately or at some point in the future.

Types of Annuities

There are several types of annuities, each with unique features:

  1. Fixed Annuities: These provide regular, guaranteed payments. They are considered low-risk because the insurer bears the investment risk.
  2. Variable Annuities: Payments vary based on the performance of investments chosen by the annuitant. These offer higher potential returns but also come with more risk.
  3. Indexed Annuities: Payments are linked to a stock market index. They offer a middle ground between fixed and variable annuities, providing some potential for higher returns while limiting risk.
  4. Immediate Annuities: Payments start almost immediately after a lump-sum investment. They are useful for those needing income right away.
  5. Deferred Annuities: Payments begin at a future date, allowing the investment to grow tax-deferred in the interim.

How Do They Work?

When you purchase an annuity, you either make a single lump-sum payment or a series of payments over time. The insurance company then invests your money and guarantees to provide you with periodic payments for a specified period or for the rest of your life.

  • Accumulation Phase: During this phase, you pay into the annuity, and the funds grow tax-deferred.
  • Distribution Phase: In this phase, the insurer starts making payments to you according to the terms of the annuity contract.

The Benefits

Annuities offer several advantages, making them an attractive option for certain people. Here are a few of them:

  1. Guaranteed Income: One of the most significant benefits is the assurance of a steady income stream, which can provide financial security in retirement.
  2. Tax Deferral: Annuities allow your investments to grow tax-deferred, meaning you won’t pay taxes on the earnings until you start receiving payments.
  3. Customisable Payment Options: Annuities offer flexibility in how payments are structured, such as for a fixed period or for life.
  4. Death Benefit: Some annuities include a death benefit, which pays out to your beneficiaries if you pass away before the annuity is fully paid out.

The Drawbacks

Despite their benefits, annuities are not for everyone and do come with several disadvantages. Here are a few of them:

  1. High Fees: Annuities often come with various fees, including administrative fees, investment management fees, and surrender charges if you withdraw funds early.
  2. Complexity: The terms and conditions of annuity contracts can be complex and difficult to understand.
  3. Limited Liquidity: Once you invest in an annuity, your money is typically locked up for a period, limiting access to your funds. In addition, should the company paying you find themselves in severe financial difficulty, your income may cease.
  4. Potential for Lower Returns: Compared to other investment options, some annuities may offer lower returns, especially after accounting for fees and inflation. This means that you would be able to pay yourself more or earn higher returns if you were to retain your fund.

Who Should Consider an Annuity

In short, annuities are suitable for those who are looking for a ‘guaranteed’ income and like the security that comes with it. Provided all goes well with the insurer, it can be comforting to know exactly what you will receive and when you will receive it.

You also have the option to only use a certain portion of funds to buy an annuity, whilst retaining access to the rest aimed at higher returns and performance.

How To Choose The Right Annuity

Selecting the right annuity involves careful consideration of your financial situation, goals, risk tolerance and more.

The top 3 things you can do to ensure you are making the right decision are:

  1. Assess Your Needs: Determine how much income you need in retirement and whether an annuity can meet that need.
  2. Research Different Annuities: Compare the features, benefits, and costs of different types of annuities.
  3. Consult With Your Patterson Mills Financial Adviser: Our professional Advisers can help you navigate the complexities of annuities and choose the best option for your situation.

So, Is An Annuity Right For You?

Annuities can be a valuable tool for securing a reliable income in retirement, but they come with complexities and costs that must be carefully considered.

There are a myriad of options that go beyond the basics provided in this article, and this can be overwhelming for some. By planning early, doing your research, and consulting with Patterson Mills, you can make an informed decision about whether an annuity is right for you.

We are here to help you navigate the complexities of annuities and tailor the right strategy that meets your needs, whether that involves buying an annuity, or not!

Get in touch with us today and book your initial, no-cost and no-obligation meeting to learn more about how we can assist you in securing your financial future.

Send us an e-mail to or call us direct at +41 21 801 36 84 and we shall be pleased to assist you.

Please note that all content within this article has been prepared for information purposes only. This article does not constitute financial, legal or tax advice. Always ensure you speak to a regulated Financial Adviser before making any financial decisions.