Layin’ It on the Line: Should I invest in an annuity or a bank CD?
“Both offer guarantees, but the interest rate earned can be another story.” — Lyle Boss
Questions to ask yourself before choosing a bank CD or annuity
Aside from the near-zero interest rates thanks to the Federal Reserve, people who save in traditional vehicles such as Certificates of Deposit (CDs) and savings accounts face increased fees and potential institutional insolvency. When the economy shows signs of faltering, the Federal Reserve typically cuts interest rates. While this can be OK, it punishes those with large cash reserves parked in CDs or savings accounts, often causing them to take more risks with their money than they usually would. Despite historically low-interest rates, banks continue to tighten lending standards and aggressively avoid risk, making it more difficult for small businesses and individuals to borrow money.
In a shaky economy, safety rules
When there is economic uncertainty, most people crave safety, especially if they can retire in a few years. Although they are well aware of the erosive effects of inflation on their wealth, many retirees are afraid of losing money they don’t have time to replace. That’s why those near retirement often seek to transfer their more vulnerable assets to safer vehicles, such as annuity products or bank CDs.
Should you choose an annuity or CD?
Suppose you are someone with cash reserves withering away in a low- to zero-interest account and want to find ways to make that money work harder and smarter for you. On the one hand, it’s hard to resist the siren song of higher returns in the market. But, on the other hand, when you are within a few years of retirement, the thought of losing even a penny of your nest egg is nearly intolerable.
After exploring their goals and risk tolerance, many pre-retirees choose to balance their portfolios with “safe money” products, such as annuities or bank CDs. While CDs are a traditional safe money choice, annuity products offer some additional advantages. In deciding whether to place money in an annuity or a CD, you should ask yourself:
- Is it essential the government backs my investment?
- Do I want a stream of guaranteed, predictable income?
- For how long do I want my money invested in a product?
- What will I do with the money once I have it saved?
- How critical is portfolio diversity to me?
- What are my long-term and short-term money goals?
- Am I looking to create a legacy?
- Is it necessary for me to have a product I can customize to meet my needs?
- Is liquidity a vital concern?
- Would I like to use this product to plan for long-term care needs?
- Am I looking for a short-term or a long-term solution?
- Do I understand all the pros and cons of both annuities and CDs?
- Will the annuity companies be able to pay my claim when the time comes?
The takeaway: When economies falter, safety becomes of paramount importance, especially for those near retirement or who have already left the workforce. Both annuities and bank CDs offer wealth protection. However, for those with specific goals, annuities may fit better with their long-term financial objectives.
When considering these choices, it’s wise to meet with a qualified planner who has particular knowledge about annuity products and the retirement phase of life.
Lyle Boss is a member of Syndicated Columnists, a national organization committed to a fully transparent approach to money management. Boss Financial, 955 Chambers St., Suite 250, Ogden, UT 84403. Telephone: 801-475-9400.