What’s Covered in this Athene Annuity Review?In this Athene annuity review, we’ll cover the following information on the Athene Ascent Fixed Indexed Annuity
- Product Type
- Current Rates
- Realistic long term investment expectations
- What to expect, and what not to expect
- Financial ratings of Athene Annuity and Life Company
Annuities can be complex. That’s where having an Annuity Investigator who loves math comes in. We make the complex, simple.Annuities are a type of insurance product. The Athene Ascent is a fixed indexed annuity (FIA) that may be appealing to those who are seeking a higher rate of return than that of a regular fixed annuity, but who also want to keep their money safe during the “accumulation”, or savings, phase of the annuity – even during a stock market downturn. In fact, given that the biggest fear on the minds of retirees is losing income and assets while they are still needed, the protection of downside market risk is essential. At retirement, this annuity can also provide an ongoing income that cannot be outlived if the lifetime option is chosen. Knowing you can count on this ongoing stream of income can allow you to focus on other things in retirement – such as traveling and spending time with family and friends. In fact, annuity income can provide either a nice alternative or supplement to your other retirement cash flow sources. Fixed indexed annuities can have many pros and cons. There can be both advantages and drawbacks, and because all annuities should be considered long-term endeavors, it is important to have a good understanding as to why this annuity may or may not be a good fit for you. Otherwise, you could run the risk of getting into a product that sounded good initially, but can be quite expensive to get out of, given its surrender charges during the withdrawal charge period. A big part of choosing the right annuity – or for that matter, any financial product – is to first determine why you want it, and what exactly you want it to do. Therefore, knowing all of the key details about an annuity can help you to determine whether or not the product is right for you. The Athene Ascent fixed indexed annuity is primarily designed for those who will need income in ten years or more, and who want to obtain guarantees with growth potential. This annuity offers a unique advantage – particularly if the Income Aspect Income Rider is added, which can offer the power of a 10 percent simple interest crediting rate to the annuity’s income base. The Ascent annuity actually provides numerous different options in its “suite” of products. These include an array of strong crediting strategies and income payout alternatives. These are all broken down – along with the various income base bonus (where applicable) and other features such as premium bonus (and related vesting schedule).
Annuity and Retirement Income Planning Information That You Can TrustIf you have not been to our website before, we would like to officially welcome you to AnnuityGator.com. We are a team of experienced insurance and financial pros who focus on providing unbiased annuity reviews and other financial details about retirement income. We can provide you with more objective information on annuities that insurance advisors could “overlook” if they are simply trying to make a sale. So, if you are looking for complete information – and not just the rosy highlights that you’ll typically find in glossy sales brochures – then you have certainly come to the right place. In fact, there could be a number of reasons why you may be here, looking for additional details within our Athene annuity review. For instance, it is possible that you have recently attended a seminar or online webinar, where in return for a free lunch or steak dinner, the presenter invited you to schedule an appointment and now you’re being pitched this product. But, while the opportunity to take part in market gains, while keeping your principal safe – along with a guaranteed lifetime income in retirement – may have sounded appealing, you may not have heard the entire story. If you’ve been searching for this fixed indexed annuity’s pros and cons on other websites, you may have been lured in by some bold claims, such as:
- Highest income payouts
- Market Index-Linked Growth
- Lowest fees
- Quick annuity quotes
- Top-rated carriers
Athene Ascent Fixed Indexed Annuity at a Glance:
|Product Name||Ascent Annuity|
|Type of Product||Fixed Indexed Annuity|
|Issuer||Athene Annuity and Life Company|
|S&P Rating||A (as of April 2021)|
|Phone Number||(888) 266-8489|
Opening Thoughts on the Athene Ascent Fixed Indexed AnnuityAthene Annuity and Life actually got its start in 2009, when the financial crisis and resulting capital demands caused many financial and insurance companies to exit the industry. Athene has been able to fill this “void” with its strong and stable capitalization, as well as an experienced management team. If you’ve heard the name Athene online or during a seminar about annuities, it could be that it’s because this is one of the fastest-growing fixed index annuity companies in the industry right now. With Athene’s experienced management team, the company has grown from a start-up just a decade ago, to a firm that holds nearly $133 billion in total GAAP assets, more than $113 billion in invested assets, and more than $10 billion in total equity. So financially, Athene is strong and stable. In addition to it’s a rating from S&P, the company has also earned an A from A.M. Best and an A from Fitch. The company also holds approximately $1 billion in excess capital. Over the past several years, fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) have become more popular – predominantly as a way of obtaining a nice potential return, as well as the safety of principal. Due in large part to the continued volatility of the market, fixed indexed annuities have led many investors to believe that they are keeping their money safe, while also building up a nice retirement income stream for the future. Some annuity sales agents use the term “hybrid,” when they are referring to this annuity because it has multiple annuity features rolled into a single product. But in reality, “Hybrid Annuity” is just a marketing term. It’s nothing special, and in reality, annuities (for the most part) have always been hybrid in nature because they do more than just one thing. (They can grow money and pay out income). The Athene Ascent annuity suite provides several different options for investors, based on specific goals and time frame. Overall, though, the Ascent products offer the following features:
- Guarantees – Because of the product’s fixed interest crediting strategy, annuity owners can be assured that their money will get a minimum return. The rate of interest is set each year by the company and is in turn guaranteed for that next contract year.
- Opportunity for Growth – Based on the performance of an underlying index, there is also the opportunity for growth, especially in good index years.
- Protection of Principal – Because there is no downside risk, the principal is protected in the Ascent annuity – and, with no loss of principal, future gains can continue to build and compound.
- Income – There are several income options available on the Athene Ascent annuity – including a lifetime option. If the lifetime income option is chosen, income will continue throughout the remainder of the annuitant’s lifetime, regardless of how long that may be. Having a stated amount of incoming cash flow could help you with meeting your future retirement income goals.
Before we get into the gritty details, here are some legal disclosures…This is an independent product review, not a recommendation to buy or sell an annuity. Athene USA has not endorsed this review in any way nor do we receive any compensation for this review. This Athene annuity review is meant to be an independent review at the request of readers so they could see our perspective when breaking down the Athene Ascent fixed indexed annuity pros and cons. Before purchasing any investment product be sure to do your own due diligence and consult a properly licensed professional should you have specific questions as they relate to your individual circumstances. All names, marks, and materials used for this review are the property of their respective owners. For additional information on how to compare fixed indexed annuities so that you can decide which may be the best one for you, click here in order to obtain our free annuity buyer’s guide.
How Athene Describes The Ascent Fixed Indexed Annuity.In the age of the one-size-fits-everything movement, it’s refreshing to see a company dedicated to a specific focus: innovative financial products designed to protect and create income. And that’s it! They’re not trying to give you double-digit returns, sell you mutual funds, stocks or bonds. They are kind of like the burger joint that sells high-quality all-beef patties with hand cut French fries for a fair price and that’s it. They don’t roast chicken, toss pizzas, or hand weave baskets. Athene sells three kinds of annuities all designed to turn your retirement savings into a lifetime income stream, so if you’re looking for income, this is an insurance company that specializes. It is the claims-paying strength of the insurance company that backs your annuity, so if you’re retiring without a pension, you want to make sure the company who holds your source of income is strong. That being said, the company has earned decent ratings from the insurance company rating agencies, including a(n):
- A from S&P
- A from Fitch
- A from A.M. Best
- When you make a withdrawal, the money is deducted from this account.
- When you receive an income payment, the money is deducted from this account.
- If you have purchased income rider guarantees, and this account value falls to ZERO, then – guess what?!? – you still get the income payments for the rest of your life (unless you took out an Excessive Lifetime Income Withdrawal – we’ll talk about that next).
- This account is the one that grows using special Income Base rider options. The Income Base (as defined by Athene) is made up of three things:
- 1. The initial premium you put in plus any bonus money
- 2. The simple interest credits
- 3. The indexed interest credits should you chose the indexing method.
- These three elements combined are what allow the Income Base account to grow at a more accelerated rate than the regular Accumulation Value of the actual contract.
- This account is what is used to CALCULATE the amount of your lifetime income.
- The amount of your lifetime income is calculated using a simple math formula:
- The money in the Income Base account is NOT money that you can take out as a lump sum to go buy a new condo with.
- The money in the Income Base account does not have a cash value or a surrender value – meaning, should you cash out the annuity before taking income, this money doesn’t exist.
- If you elected the death benefit rider instead of the income rider, then your beneficiaries will receive the higher of the two accounts – either the Income Base or the Account Value – whichever is greatest. (Nice, huh?)
- If you take out MORE than the income amount specified by the simple math formula, then Athene considers this an Excessive Lifetime Income Withdrawal.
- If an Excessive Lifetime Income Withdrawal reduces your actual account (the Accumulated Value account) to ZERO, then – guess what?!? – your guaranteed income payments STOP.
How Financial Advisors Might Pitch This Annuity to YouGiven its opportunity for growth, yet also the protection of principal, a financial or insurance sales agent may pitch the Athene Ascent fixed indexed annuity as a vehicle that can provide you with a “best of all worlds” scenario. This, however, is not necessarily true. With that in mind, let’s break down Athene Ascent’s fixed index annuity pros and cons. When financial salespeople talk about the performance of an FIA, what they are usually talking about is the enhanced growth rate you get with the purchase of an income rider. There is a fee for this rider, and the charge is deducted monthly from both the Income Base account and the Accumulated Value account (which is the actual value of the contract.) In exchange for this fee, you’ll be getting a guaranteed income base that grows every year until you decide to turn on your lifetime income, and that’s what FIAs are famous for. Now, let’s consider realistically what kind of growth you can expect from the Athene Ascent.
Athene basically gives you two ways to grow the money you want to protect for retirement income.What’s wonderful about both these options is that it gives an investor at or near the time of retirement a place to put a portion of their savings where it will be protected from market loss while still earning a pretty decent return. Option 1 – Fixed Strategy: you can choose a “Simple Interest Rate” where your money grows at the same rate every year no matter what the market is doing. The Income Base guaranteed Simple Interest rate (as opposed to compound rate) is currently 10% for the first 10 years. After that, you’ll get a 5% simple interest credit for up to 20 more years guaranteed for contracts issued with a premium of $50,000 and above. Every annuity out there worth its salt offers these enhanced growth rates with the purchase of an income rider, but a lot of them end once you start taking the income. When you consider that the average rate of inflation is 3.22% annually, then you might start to see the value of this deal. Just remember, the only way you can spend this money is by taking the income because it’s growing in that special account. While the Athene annuity rate sheet may or may not be accessible online, you can find the most updated fixed rates for the Athene Ascent fixed index annuity by talking with an annuity specialist. With that in mind, feel free to reach out to us regarding Athene annuity rates – or any other questions that you may have regarding annuities – via our toll-free number at (888) 440-2468. Or, you can contact us through our secure online contact form to ask your annuity question using our secure contact form. Option 2 – Indexed Strategy: you can choose the guaranteed growth PLUS Interest Credits. This option gives you a lower guaranteed “Simple Interest Rate” in exchange for Interest Credits linked to a market index. These credits are applied to the Income Base and you are guaranteed never to earn less than 0%. According to the hypothetical charts and graphs presented in the Athene brochures, this method has the potential to earn – eh, roughly speaking – about 13% higher or lower than the guaranteed Simple Interest Rate. Does this annuity really earn better returns than other annuities? If not, are there others potential alternatives that you should take a look at? FIAs offer limited growth, which means you don’t get to capture the full glory of a market gain. You trade that in exchange for more secure protection. The Athene uses Annual Cap Rates and Participation Rates which basically give you some, but not all, of the good times. For example, IF your annuity has a 13% cap, your Income Base would only grow at 13% when the index earns returns of 13% or higher. If the index earned 3%, you would get a 3% gain. If the index earned 23%, you would only get 13% of the gains. If the index drops by 23%, your account would still grow according to the guaranteed minimum interest amount, and it would not lose any money due to market loss. What about the free bonus money? You might hear about bonus money anywhere from 1 to 3% of your initial payment, credited to your account as a gift at the time you sign up for this annuity. It is sometimes the case with other FIAs that the bonus money is only applied to the Income Base and not the actual Account Value. With the Athene, the bonus is credited to BOTH accounts. Remember the magic formula?
Your Income = the Income Base X your Lifetime Income Withdrawal %The more money you have in your income base, the higher the potential income amount. But does the Athene really give you more income than other annuities? Great question – we’re glad you asked. Some investors may get tricked by talk of high returns. All the focus these days seems to be on the rate of return, but at the end of the day when all the smoke and mirrors are rolled off the stage, what really what matters most is the amount of INCOME you will get from your money. The bottom line here is that Athene strives to be an industry leader in the annuity arena – and in many ways, it is. However, recently the company has reduced some of their guarantees. And, since the recent rate change on this product, there are some other fixed indexed annuity providers that may outperform the Ascent annuity. Click here to see which annuity has the highest guarantees in your state.
What About the Fees?Not unlike other annuities, the Ascent has several areas where you will find charges and fees. For instance, there is an income rider charge, which is deducted from the annuity’s accumulated value and the income base. Unfortunately, you really can’t avoid this fee, if you are seeking guaranteed lifetime income with this annuity. There is also a fairly hefty withdrawal charge. Other than with the Ascent 5 – which has six years of surrender fees – the Ascent 10, Ascent 10 Bonus, Ascent 10 Bonus Select, and the Ascent Bonus Pro will lock you in for 11 years before you are fully “vested”. So, be sure that you’re familiar with the withdrawal fee schedules if you opt to go with any annuity.
The Annuity Gators End-Take on the Athene Ascent Fixed Indexed Annuity Pros and ConsWhere it works best: The bottom line on the Athene Ascent FIA is that this annuity may work the best for people who are looking for the following features:
- Safety of principal in any type of stock market environment – including a significant market downturn
- The opportunity for index-linked growth
- Guaranteed lifetime income in retirement
- Access to most or all of your money within the first eleven years
- You do not intend to use the lifetime income feature of the annuity
In SummaryThere are many key factors that you need to consider when you are deciding whether or not an annuity is right for you. But, regardless of the type of annuity, you are thinking about, as well as where you may purchase it from, all annuities should be considered as long-term endeavors. In the case of the Ascent annuity, you can certainly be assured that your principal is protected – even in a market that is moving downward. You will also have the opportunity for a higher return than that of a regular fixed annuity. And, when you are ready to convert your funds over into an income stream, you can count on a guaranteed lifetime cash flow, provided you choose the lifetime option. But, even though there are some nice features about the Athene Ascent fixed indexed annuity, this particular product may still fall short – and quite frankly, there may be some better options out there for you. So, if you still have any questions or concerns that have not been answered in this review, or if you would like to talk directly to an unbiased annuity expert, then please feel free to reach out to us via our secure contact form below:
Need Any Additional Information About the Athene Ascent Fixed Indexed Annuity? See Any Mistakes In This Athene Annuity Review That Need Correcting?We realize that this Athene annuity review ran somewhat long – and for that, we do appreciate you sticking with us to the end. Our thought, though, is that we would much rather provide you with “too much” detail regarding this fixed index annuity’s pros and cons, as versus not enough. So, if you happened to find this Athene annuity review helpful, please forward it on to anyone else who you feel might also benefit from the information. You can also request product information on other annuities, too, by contacting us. We also understand just how quickly information about annuities can change – so, if you found any place in this review where the details need to be updated, please also let us know and we will hop on those updates right away. Are there any other annuities that you would like to have reviewed? We’re on it. If you would like additional information in the form of an annuity review that is not already on our website, then just let us know the name of the annuity or annuities, and our team of annuity geeks will get to work on them. Best, The Annuity Gator P.S. We included a few more related links to the Athene Ascent Fixed Indexed Annuity below that you might find useful:
- Athene Ascent Complaints
- Athene Ascent Income Rider
- Athene Ascent Statement of Understanding
- Athene Ascent Enhanced Income Benefit Doubler
- Athene Ascent Death Benefit (Continuation Options)
- Athene Balanced Choice Annuity (BCA) Elevate Fixed Indexed Annuity
- Athene Ascent Fixed Indexed Annuity
- Athene Income Select Bonus Fixed Index Annuity