Recap: What happened to the retirement landscape in 2019?

As 2019 comes to an end, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect back on what took place in the retirement landscape during the past 12 months and how it could affect those preparing for life after work.

In recent years, the United States has witnessed a shift from employer-based retirement planning opportunities like pensions toward a more “do-it-yourself” approach. As Americans are living longer, the stakes for financial planning couldn’t be higher. In fact, nearly six out of 10 people are more afraid of running out of money in retirement than they are of dying.

Given these trends, it’s unsurprising people are beginning to look for retirement tools that can provide guaranteed lifetime income—tools like fixed indexed annuities (FIAs). This past year, FIAs continued to grow in popularity, driven by legislative activities and a rising understanding of their potential benefits. More specifically:

  • The House of Representatives passed the SECURE Act by an overwhelming majority of 417-3. Contained within are sweeping changes designed to encourage Americans to save for retirement by improving access to more types of financial products, including annuities. The bill would also create incentives for employers to expand access to 401(k) plans, particularly to employees of small businesses and part-time employees—two groups traditionally left out of the employer-sponsored retirement planning landscape. Although the bill has not yet made it out of Congress, it continues to hold widespread bipartisan support.
  • Annuities continued to grow in popularity. As reported by three market research firms showing similar data, annuities sales showed a significant increase from the same time last year. This is in line with research previously conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which found that 80% of 401(k) plan participants are interested in putting some or all of their balances in a guaranteed lifetime income option like an annuity.

Recognizing the growing popularity of annuities, the IALC took steps this year to educate consumers on the benefits they can provide, namely tax-deferred growth, principal protection and the ability to generate lifetime income. Our “Game Ready” video series, launched this year, highlights how the guaranteed income of an FIA can help anyone become retirement ready. And to provide practical next steps, we published a Financial Checklist that describes what you can do today to get started.

This year was exciting for many reasons, but mostly because the financial world saw real headway in addressing the needs of today’s changing retirement landscape. If you’re like the majority of Americans who are concerned about running out of lifetime income, consider talking to a financial professional about FIAs and whether they make sense for your unique retirement journey.

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