With all of the current focus on unique programs designed to enhance the attractiveness to participants and fiduciaries of adopting lifetime income programs under defined contribution plans, there is little discussion about how all of this plays out in the 403(b) market. Guarantee lifetime payouts from 403(b) annuity contracts are still alive and well, particularly in the higher eduction market which is still dominated by TIAA and its insurance products.  However, with the  the now-decade-long-shift in the 403(b) market to the mutual fund based group custodial arrangements designed to mimic 401(k), where do those new lifetime income programs fit?
Continue Reading 403(b) and Lifetime Income

The provision of the “Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit” (or GLWB) is a key element of most of the current market efforts to provide guaranteed lifetime income programs from defined contribution plans-and with good reason. The GLWB is one of a class of annuity payment programs referred to as “living benefits”  which seek to remove the

There are substantial efforts underway throughout the retirement market, attempting to wrap minds around the various aspects of providing lifetime income from DC plans. This incudes efforts to design new programs and how to explain them to sponsors, fiduciaries and advisers who must make the ultimate selection election between competing choices.This will not only involve getting familiar with a whole new vocabulary, but ultimately there needs to be at least a working knowledge of the different types of annuities which may be in play in any of these designs.
Continue Reading Building a Lifetime Income Product

There have been a significant number of developments since then, not the least of which being the SECURE Act providing three key new provisions to support lifetime income from DC plans (with the new annuity provider safe harbor, the new lifetime income disclosure rules, and the new lifetime income “portability”); invigorated efforts by all sorts of financial service companies to provide a variety of different lifetime income programs; and, finally,  a growing sense by plan sponsors and participants that lifetime income guarantees are important (see, for example this recent TIAA survey).

Even for all of this excitement, elements of that “annuity fog” I wrote about 13 years seem to continue to linger. I suspect it still has to do with the market’s continuing basic lack of understanding and how guarantees work in a defined contribution retirement plan
Continue Reading The DC Annuity Fog, Revisited

You may’ve noticed that the SECURE Act introduced yet another new twist to the 403(b) world: the Qualified Plan Distribution Annuity Contract (“QPDAC”-you may want to look at my prior blog related to these lifetime income acronyms). Its not that Congress was singly out 403(b) plans, as 401(a) and 457(b) plansnow also have the ability to distribute QPDAC. But, as in all other things 403(b)s, there are a number of unique twists to the rules which exist solely in the 403(b) world.
Continue Reading The 403(b) “Qualified Plan Distribution Annuity Contract” Under SECURE Section 109

Mike Webb,  (formerly of Cammack Consulting, now being part of Captrust) who has been one of the true 403(b) thought leaders in the country for a number of years, runs a podcast series called called “Revamping Retirment.”  Mike wanted to have a conversation with me about annuities. We do talk about 403(b)’s in the video, of course, but also of many other annuities issues, like  the reluctance of sponsors to take up lifetime income, the value of annuities as well as their problems as they are currently being sold in the market. This resulted  in a refreshing  22 minutes of great conversation.
Continue Reading A Frank-and Fun-Conversation on Annuities with Mike Webb

There is in the SECURE Act a volume of small, odd, technical  details which need to which attention needs to be paid. This statute is a technocrat’s dream. So much in there actually raises fundamental  infrastructure issues of the sort we rarely see. We are all familiar with the 80/20 rule, with the caution of not letting perfection become the enemy of good. Well, these “oddities” raise the exact inverse of the 80/20 rule: through my long years in retirement product development,  the highest risk of failure arise from the lack of understanding of how the smallest of details can tank a multi-million dollar project. The “80” may sound good conceptually and structurally, but it is in the implementation of the detail in the 20 which will determine the success of the project.

Continue Reading Tontines and PEP Late Deferrals Are Among the SECURE Act’s Impactful, Infrastructure Oddities

Section 109 of the SECURE Act enables something called “Portability of Lifetime Income Options.” It  is one of those fundamental building blocks with which -regrettably or not, depending on your view of things-  all benefit professionals and all plan sponsors will have to eventually deal. Given that it is effective now, there is some urgency in understanding this thing. One of the challenges is that annuities within Defined Contribution plans are not generally well understood.
Continue Reading SECURE Act and “Portability of Lifetime Income”: Its the “Sleeper” in the Act of which Document Drafters Need to Be Wary

Lifetime Income from Defined Contribution continues to gain traction, which means that those tasked with administering these programs really need to start paying attention to the details of how its done. This also means understanding how the Joint & Survivor Annuity rules-rules which many have spent a career avoiding in 401(k) plans- operate. This then means understanding how Revenue Ruling 2012-03 actually works.
Continue Reading Administering Lifetime Income’s Joint and Survivor Annuity Rules Requires Knowing How Revenue Ruling 2012-3 Operates