This article is 6 years old. As we are in a rapidly-changing industry, the information contained in this article may no longer be relevant. Please keep this in mind while reading.

 

Halloween is coming: The Scary Problem with Variable Annuities: 2.91% Total Expected Return

I’m working on a white paper on expected future returns for variable annuities. I have not yet completed the research, but I’d like to try out some of my thinking on you, and get your feedback in the comments section below.
Since we sold American Skandia to Prudential three important trends have developed; GLWB riders are more expensive, mortality and expense fees are more expensive, and investor performance experience is lower—so our investors and our advisors need to be more concerned about the real expected returns from a variable annuity investment.
Here are the expenses of some of the top annuity contracts:

 

These fees do not count the higher potential riders, nor do they count the potential for riders to increase their cost to the advisor.
Here is the expected performance for a variable annuity contract before fees

 

This analysis may overstate and understate the total management fee of the funds. However, it understates the opportunity for GLWB costs to rise. We will more closely research these numbers. However, the key dilemma is that today’s products are predicated on total returns from the 1982-1999 equity and bond market period and not today’s or the long term average.
How can this analysis be improved, and what other white papers would you like to see?