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Sep
28

Variable Annuity in an IRA

In my profession as a Certified Financial Planner™, nothing gets my blood boiling faster than blatant acts of self-interest by other financial advisers. One of the most obvious examples of this type of behavior is when advisers invest their clients’ Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) in variable annuities.

In my view, variable annuities are almost always a bad idea as a stand-alone investment. Most are exceedingly expensive, complicated, and illiquid. Occasionally, a low-cost variable annuity can be justified as an additional way to invest on a tax-deferred basis if an investor is already maximizing her other tax-deferred investment options. But this situation is a rare exception to the rule.

Yet I regularly work with new clients whose former advisers recommended they invest their IRAs in variable annuities even though an IRA is already a tax-deferred investment vehicle. In these cases, the investors are stuck (due to many years of high surrender charges) in high-fee products for no good reason and I’m left to help them make the best of a bad situation.

I was recently working with a colleague on a project for a new client, and he asked me why the client had bought a variable annuity in his IRA. I replied that he was asking the wrong question. Investors put their trust in financial advisors to steer them in the right direction. The appropriate question, I said, was why had the so-called advisor sold it to the client. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is all too clear to those of us in the industry – for the large commission.

But don’t take my word for it. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority have written investor alerts on the subject.

If your financial adviser recommends that you invest your IRA in a variable annuity, he almost certainly does not have your best interest in mind. It’s time to find a new adviser.

Please note that this blog post is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice specific to your situation. You should get advice from a legal, accounting, or investment professional before deciding what course of action is appropriate for you. Please note that this blog post is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice specific to your situation. You should get advice from a legal, accounting, or investment professional before deciding what course of action is appropriate for you.

Aug
18

Skimmers, Jitters, and Complaints

Below are the interesting personal finance links I have come across since my last post: