Decoding Suze Orman’s Perspective on Annuities: A Comprehensive Guide

Suze Orman, the renowned personal finance guru, has long been a vocal advocate for responsible money management and retirement planning. When it comes to annuities, her stance is nuanced and often misunderstood. In this article, we’ll delve into Suze Orman’s views on annuities, exploring the types she recommends, their pros and cons, and her overall philosophy on these financial instruments.

The Deferred Fixed Indexed Annuity: Orman’s Recommended Choice

According to Suze Orman’s book “The Road to Wealth,” she recommends a specific type of annuity called a deferred fixed indexed annuity for individuals who “don’t want to take risk but still want to play the stock market.” This recommendation stems from the unique features of deferred fixed indexed annuities, which combine the security of a guaranteed minimum interest rate with the potential for higher returns tied to a market index like the S&P 500.

A deferred fixed indexed annuity is a long-term contract between an individual and an insurance company. The policyholder pays a lump sum, which the insurance company invests in the market, with the earnings linked to an index. However, unlike traditional investments, these annuities offer downside protection by guaranteeing a minimum interest rate, regardless of market performance.

Advantages of Deferred Fixed Indexed Annuities

Suze Orman highlights several advantages of deferred fixed indexed annuities:

  1. Guaranteed Income Stream: These annuities provide a guaranteed income stream for life, protecting retirees from the risk of outliving their savings.

  2. Tax-Deferred Growth: The interest earned within the annuity is tax-deferred, allowing the funds to grow more rapidly than in a taxable account.

  3. Market Participation with Downside Protection: While the returns are linked to a market index, the guaranteed minimum interest rate protects against market downturns, providing a level of security for risk-averse investors.

  4. Lifetime Income Option: Many deferred fixed indexed annuities offer the option to convert the accumulated value into a guaranteed lifetime income stream, providing a reliable source of retirement income.

Drawbacks and Considerations

While Suze Orman advocates for deferred fixed indexed annuities in certain scenarios, she also acknowledges their potential drawbacks:

  1. Fees and Surrender Charges: Annuities often carry high fees, including commissions and potential surrender charges if the policyholder withdraws funds early.

  2. Limited Liquidity: Annuities typically have a surrender period during which withdrawals are subject to penalties, limiting access to the funds.

  3. Complexity: Annuities can be complex financial products, with various riders and options that can be challenging to understand.

  4. Inflation Risk: While the guaranteed income stream provides stability, it may not keep pace with inflation over time, eroding the purchasing power of the payments.

Orman’s Perspective on Other Annuity Types

In a recent Women & Money podcast episode, Suze Orman clarified that she doesn’t dislike all annuities and believes certain types are worth considering. However, she generally advises against variable annuities due to their high fees and potential for underperformance compared to low-cost index funds.

Orman also acknowledges the potential benefits of immediate annuities, which provide a guaranteed income stream for life, particularly for retirees with limited resources or those seeking a predictable income source.

The Bottom Line: When Are Annuities Suitable?

Suze Orman’s stance on annuities is pragmatic and tailored to individual circumstances. She recommends considering deferred fixed indexed annuities for individuals who prioritize downside protection and a guaranteed income stream in retirement, but cautions against excessive fees and unnecessary complexity.

Ultimately, Orman emphasizes the importance of consulting with a financial advisor to determine whether an annuity aligns with your specific goals, risk tolerance, and overall financial plan. Additionally, she advocates for thoroughly understanding the terms, conditions, and potential drawbacks before committing to any annuity product.

While annuities can be valuable tools in certain situations, Suze Orman’s guidance underscores the need for a comprehensive financial strategy that considers all aspects of your retirement planning, including diversification, tax implications, and long-term financial security.

Ask Suze: What’s wrong with annuities?


What kind of annuities does Suze Orman recommend?

Here’s why Suze Orman is a fan of FIAs: 1. Security and Protection: Fixed Index Annuities offer a level of financial security that aligns with Suze Orman’s emphasis on protecting one’s financial future. With FIAs, your principal investment is protected from market downturns.

Why are annuities a bad retirement investment?

Why are annuities a poor investment choice? Annuities can be a bad choice for some people—they have higher fees and less flexibility than some savings options. And depending on the type you choose, your heirs may get nothing after you die even if far less was paid out than you had contributed.

Are annuities safe if market crashes?

Fixed Annuities in a Recession That guaranteed rate ensures that your money will grow steadily, even in a recession when the stock market is performing poorly. That’s why fixed annuities are one of the safest financial products, regardless of whether there is a market downturn.

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