What Will We Be Covering in this Annuity Review?
In this review, we will be going over the details about the AXA SCS (Structured Capital Strategies) Plus annuity:
- Product Type
- Current rates
- Realistic long-term return expectations
- How it is used
- How it is most poorly used
Annuities can be complex. That’s where having an Annuity Investigator who loves math comes in.
We make the complex, simple.
If you’ve been thinking about moving forward with the purchase of an annuity because you like the tax-deferred aspect of these vehicles, and you also want to assure yourself of a future income in retirement, then the AXA SCS (Structured Capital Strategies) Plus annuity may be a good option for you.
But, prior to going out and making a long-term commitment on this – or any – annuity product, it can help if you have a good understanding of how the product works, and how it may or may not end up working to your benefit.
Over the past several years, many investors who are inching their way towards retirement have been somewhat skeptical about putting their money into equities. One of the biggest reasons for this has to do with the 2008 U.S. recession and the fact that billions of dollars literally evaporated into thin air.
If you were affected by this, then the sting of substantial market losses may make you want to turn and run the other way when it comes to equities. However, this type of financial vehicles can oftentimes provide the best method of ensuring that your money keeps pace with rising inflation – which in turn, can help you to pay for the goods and services that you need in retirement.
One way that you can still have the opportunity for growth, yet not have to endure catastrophic losses, is to choose a “buffer” annuity. These are oftentimes described as a cross between variable and indexed annuities, as they offer a measure of downside protection in return for a cap on the upside performance.
In many ways, a buffer annuity is structured in a similar manner to an indexed annuity in that it does not directly invest in a market index. These annuities will often place a majority of its funds into fixed income securities, with the rest going into derivatives such as future and/or options contracts.
This type of annuity product is typically purchased by an investor for the purpose of accumulating tax-deferred funds, as versus with a future lifetime income stream in mind – and they may be a viable option for investors who have a higher risk tolerance than those who prefer to stick with indexed annuities, yet not quite as high as those who prefer regular variable annuities.
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company was actually the first insurer to market buffer annuities when it came out with the Structured Capital Strategies annuity. That was in 2010. Since then, other insurers have also brought about similar offerings.
Yet, even though this can sound like a great way to hedge inflation, and to accumulate funds on a tax-advantaged basis, annuities can be extremely confusing – especially “hybrid” products like buffer annuities. Given that, it is even more important that you know just exactly what it is that you’re getting into with this or any other similar financial vehicle.
Annuity and Retirement Income Planning Advice that You Can Trust
If this is the first time you have visited our website, then please allow us to officially welcome you to AnnuityGator.com. We make up a team of experienced annuity experts who focus on offering in-depth, and non-biased, annuity reviews. We have been doing this for quite a few years now, and far longer than our “copycat” competitors. Because of this, we have become known as a trusted source of information about annuities online.
If you have been researching annuities via the Internet, then you may have run across a great deal of conflicting information about these products. This, however, is not entirely a shock, as there are many, many opinions about these financial vehicles.
In your quest for additional information on annuities, it is possible that you have also recently attended an annuity seminar where, in return for a free lunch or dinner, the presenter provided you with details about the AXA SCS Plus annuity, or some other similar product.
While there is a lot of good information out there in the marketplace about annuities, you may have discovered that there are some websites online that will try “luring” you in by making some pretty bold claims about the annuity products that they offer, like:
- Low Fees
- High-income payouts
- Guaranteed income for life
Does this look familiar?
Even though these claims might sound very enticing, it makes it all that much more important for you to really know whether or not they are actually true.
This is where the Annuity Gator comes in.
If you have come here to our website in search of more in-depth details about the AXA SCS Plus annuity, then you are definitely in the right place. In fact, we dare say that our site is the only place online where you can discover all of the information you need – which doesn’t just include the good, but also the bad and the ugly. But knowing the entire picture, we feel, will help you to determine whether or not this is the right annuity for you.
In order to be perfect here, we want to make it known that we do feel that annuities can provide some good benefits. This, however, is really only true if the annuity fits in with your other financial goals and needs.
So, if you are ready to learn more about the SCA Plus annuity from AXA, let’s dive in!
AXA SCS Plus Annuity at a Glance
|Product Name||Structured Capital Strategies Plus|
|Type of Product||Variable / Buffer Annuity|
|S&P Rating||AA- (Stable)|
|Phone Number||(877) 899-3743|
Opening Thoughts on the AXA SCS Plus Annuity
AXA is one of the largest companies in the world. After more than two and a half decades in the insurance and financial services arena, AXA offers its products and services in 64 countries and has more than 107 million clients.
For year-end 2016, AXA crosses the Euro 100 billion mark for the first time in the company’s history. This 2% growth over the following year was achieved while also keeping a focus on profitability.
Today, the AXA brand remains the #1 insurance brand worldwide (for the ninth consecutive year), and it is still part of the Top 3 Financial Services brands. The company has also continued to move up the ranking from 46th position to 42nd in terms of best overall global brand.
Due in large part to the volatility of the stock market – particularly over the past decade or so – those who are focused on saving for retirement have become a bit leery about keeping their money invested in equities and equity related financial vehicles. But, while it is essential to keep retirement funds safe, it is also important to also keep up with current and future inflation.
So, how can you essentially cover both of these bases?
One way is to with a “buffer” annuity-like the AXA Structured Capital Strategies Plus Annuity. Here, you have the opportunity for market-related growth, with built-in protections for potential catastrophic loss.
However, even though this can at first glance appears to be the best of both worlds, it something sounds almost too good to be true, it probably is., So, before moving forward with the purchase of this, or any other similar annuity, read on.
Before we get into the gritty details, there are some required legal disclosures here…
This is an independent annuity product review. It is not a recommendation to purchase or to sell an annuity. AXA has not endorsed this review in any way, nor do we receive any type of compensation for providing this review. This annuity review is meant solely to be an independent review at the request of our readers so that they may see our perspective when breaking down the positives and the negatives of this particular annuity. Prior to committing to the purchase of any type of insurance and/or investment vehicle, it is critical that you do your own due diligence, and that you also talk with a properly licensed professional if you have any questions that relate to your specific situation. All of the names, materials, and marks that have been used in compiling this annuity review are the property of their respective owners.
For additional information on how to compare fixed annuities so that you can decide which may be the best one for you, click here in order to obtain our free annuity report.
How AXA Describes the Structured Capital Strategies Plus Annuity Product
AXA describes the Structured Capital Strategies Plus annuity as a tax-deferred financial product that provides the opportunity for upside potential, as well as downside protection.
In other words, this product is a variable and index-linked annuity contract that provides for the accumulation of retirement savings, on a tax-deferred basis. Here, you are able to invest in various sub-accounts which in turn, invest in a corresponding securities portfolio. The annuity also offers a Structured Investment Option, which permits you to invest in one or more segments, each which provides performance that is tied to the performance of an index for a set period of time – in this annuity’s case, for six years, unless the next segment start date is less than six years from the contract’s maturity date, in which case the segment durations are for one year.
According to AXA, the Structured Capital Strategies Plus annuity “adapts to individuals’ unique investment style so that individual retirement goals on your terms can be addressed.”
What exactly does this mean?
First, the annuity offers the opportunity for growth through participation in the performance of market indexes, such as the S&P 500 Price Return index, the Russell 2000 Price Return index, and iShares MSCI EAFE ETF. This product also offers partial protection – up to 30% – from a downward moving market. This annuity has two variable investment options – the AXA Balanced Strategy, and the EQ / Money Market.
There really aren’t a lot of other “bells and whistles” offered with this annuity, other than a death benefit. Here, depending on the designated beneficiary (or beneficiaries), the contract may be continued under either spousal continuation or the beneficiary continuation option.
How an Insurance or Financial Advisor Might “Pitch” this Annuity
While it is impossible to control the movements of the stock market, there are some financial products that can allow you to obtain market-related growth, yet without having to give in to a total loss of your savings if the market should “correct” itself. The AXA SCS Plus annuity is one such product.
With that in mind, it is likely that an insurance or financial advisor will key in on the ability of this annuity to obtain growth, with a cap that is higher than that of a fixed indexed annuity and also have an element of principal protection.
In the case of the AXA SCS Plus, there is a segment buffer that can help you to absorb a certain percentage of loss. Based on the option that is chosen, the buffer can be 10%, 20%, or 30%. Yet, even with the segment buffer in place, it is important to keep in mind that losses that are incurred in excess of the buffer will be absorbed by the investor. So, in the event of a significant market downturn, there is still the risk of a loss of your principal.
In addition, by reading the “fine print” on this annuity, you will also find that the segment types with greater protection will require a “tradeoff” by way of having lower performance cap rates than other segment types that use the same index and duration, but provide you with lesser downside protection.
There are also some other quirks with this annuity, such as the fact that, once your funds have been invested in a particular segment, you are not able to transfer from that segment into another investment option until the segment maturity.
For more of the small print details, you can go Here.
What About Fees on the AXA SCS Plus Annuity?
As with other variable type annuities, the AXA SCS Plus will also require some fees and charges, which in turn, can have a negative impact on your overall return. So, if you are purchasing this annuity with the hope of boosting the return you receive on your savings, it is important to factor in these fees.
For example, there is a variable investment option fee of 1.15% each year. And, you will also incur portfolio operating expenses, which are expressed as an annual percentage of daily assets. Here you will find fees of between 0.72% and 1.05% annually.
In addition, if you withdraw any more than 10% of the contract value during the first full six years that you own this annuity, you will incur a withdrawal charge. These start at 6% of the amount withdrawn, and gradually grade down from there as follows:
AXA SCS Plus Annuity Withdrawal Charge Schedule
The Annuity Gator’s End Take on the AXA SCS Plus Annuity
Where it works best:
The AXA SCS Plus annuity could be a good option for those who are seeking the following benefits from an annuity:
- Market-related growth opportunity
- Some cushion from market-related losses
- A way to continue contributing to a tax-deferred account – even if IRAs and/or employer-sponsored retirement plans have been maxed out each year
Where it works worst:
This annuity may not be a good option for those who:
- Have a low tolerance for risk
- Are seeking an annuity mainly for retirement income purposes
Annuities can be confusing – and the more features they have, the more complicated they can be. So, it is absolutely essential that you know what you are getting into before you make a commitment, as it could be expensive to try and get out.
The AXA SCS Plus annuity offers the ability to obtain a nice return, while at the same time also limiting the amount of loss that can be incurred during a given time period. However, even given the unique benefits that are offered with this annuity, it could still fall somewhat short – and there could very well be other options that are more suited to your specific needs.
The only way to truly know if this particular annuity may work well for you, though, is to have it tested. We can do that for you, using figures that pertain to your specific financial situation. If you are interested in obtaining this information, just simply contact us here through this secure online form.
Any Additional Questions on the AXA SCS Plus Annuity? Did You Notice If There Were Any Mistakes?
We realize that this annuity review went a bit long, so we appreciate you sticking with us through to the end here. In this regard, though, we would much rather that you have “too much” information on this annuity product that to not have enough. So, if you found this annuity review to be beneficial, please feel free to pass it on and to share it with other people who could also find value in it.
We also understand that, just like with most other financial vehicles, the information on annuities can – and does – change frequently. Therefore, if you did happen to notice any information in this annuity review that should be updated or revised, then please let us know and we will happily make the necessary updates.
And, if this annuity review had caused you to be more confused about how “hybrid” annuities work – or, if by reading this review, you were prompted with any additional questions – then please click here and let us know that, too.
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Your fee section here is completely misleading. The reality is that 99.99% of the investments into this product utilize the segments that have NO FEES. Yes, zero fees. That’s a pretty massive plus to investors. Any segment that offers protection on the downside and a cap on the upside has no fees. Look at the literature which is readily available on AXA’s website and then fix your column.
HI Brian – Thank you for your comment. As annuities can – and often do – change in terms of rates, fees, etc., we always appreciate information from our readers as such. We are currently in the process of updating our annuity review database, and will definitely put the AXA Structured Capital Strategies Plus annuity on our list. Thanks again. Best! Annuity Gator
I find it hard to believe that there is no “sales” commission/charge on this product/structured note. At the anniversary date, is there not a fee deducted from the return posted by the index segment chosen?
Thank you for your message.
We would be happy to see the details of this product for you. In order to best support you, we would need some additional information from you. Rather than sending the info back and forth via email, it would be best to discuss by phone. Please feel free to contact us directly, toll-free, at (888) 440-2468 to chat with one of our annuity specialists or visit https://www.annuitygator.com/contact/
I have a flyer given to me by an AXA person. It states on the reverse side that the fees or “cost to invest” are 1% per year but the fees are waived if the index returns are negative and are partially waived if the index returns are positive but less than your cost. It states that this “guarantees that the cost will never bring your returns below zero at maturity”. Also this states that the “performance cap rate is not known before the segment/contract period starts”. So if the cap on the illustration is shown at 35%, that number could change for your actual investment policy. Not sure the ‘hype’ meets the fine print if you ask me.
Here at Annuity Gator, we can help you understand all the little details to help you make the best decision depending on your financial goals.
Please feel free to contact us directly, toll-free, at (888) 440-2468 to chat with one of our annuity specialists or visit https://www.annuitygator.com/contact/
We look forward to hearing from you.