Independent, Objective Review of the Allianz 222 Annuity – [July 2017 Update]

What’s Covered in this Allianz 222 Annuity Review?Allianz-Logo

In today’s review, we’ll be covering the Allianz 222 Fixed Index Annuity with Protected Income Value.

The Allianz 222 is a fixed index annuity with available riders that provide lifetime income guarantees/death benefits / and a few other bells and whistles.  

If you’ve been pitched this annuity and are looking for all the info – good, bad, ugly and even a 35-minute video that shows exactly how to determine the REAL returns you might earn with this annuity – you’re in the right place!

(Note: Because this insurance company’s name sounds so much like the word “alliance,” it is sometimes referenced by those seeking more information as Alliance annuities – or in this particular case, Alliance 222 annuity).

Why do we specify real returns? One of the most concerning things about annuity sales today is the way these financial products are sometimes presented by financial salespeople.

Annuities provide benefits that a conservative retiree might find desirable, but they are sometimes sold with the promise of returns and potential fund performance that may not be entirely true.

Also, because the market tends to move up and down regularly, an index-linked annuity such as the Allianz 222 may have a better return in some years over others.

For instance lately, as President Trump’s administration has been settling in – and quite frankly, ever since the November 2016 election – the stock market has performed quite well over the past few months.

But as always, it’s important to keep in mind that past performance is definitely no guarantee of the future results that you’ll receive in most any financial vehicle.

This is especially the case when it comes to your life savings.

Before you buy, it’s important you understand the difference between what financial sales people say, and how the product actually works, so you can determine if the annuity is a good fit for you.

Be especially careful if the financial salesperson tries to use this annuity as a replacement for an existing annuity you already own, but that still has surrender penalties and charges.

As the current sweetheart of the annuity industry, the Allianz 222 offers buyers a rather large bonus which can sound attractive, but which you’ll learn shortly is far from a free lunch.  

Annuity and Retirement Income Planning Education You Can Actually Trust

A popular way people are getting introduced to this annuity is through free local dinner seminars where financial sales people send out thousands of direct mail pieces to invite folks generally ages 50 to 75 to a local restaurant for financial education and a free dinner.

After the seminar presentation, the annuity sales agent encourages the seminar attendees to sign up for a free consultation where the Allianz 222 may be proposed as a possible option for their retirement financial needs.

There are also a ton of annuity marketing websites advertising either education on annuities or making bold claims that are also responsible for introducing many people to the Allianz 222.

For readers who have found this website for the first time and don’t know much about us, we are an independent annuity research firm comprised of licensed annuity agents, researchers and self-proclaimed math geeks that have joined forces to revolutionize the annuity industry.

Annuity Gator copycats

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

We started AnnuityGator.com to publish the most comprehensive, independent annuity reviews on the web; and have been doing so longer than any of the (now many) copycat sites out there.

If you stumble upon other “independent” “unbiased” or “impartial” annuity review websites, you’ll know what we’re talking about. 😉

We firmly believe that the financial industry has gotten too expensive, too complicated, and too out of touch with actually helping people reach their goals.

We want to change the status quo and start a high quality, low cost, results-driven retirement planning revolution.

Now that we’re acquainted, let’s dig in!

Opening Thoughts On The Allianz 222 Annuity With Protected Income Value

Allianz 222 is like a swiss army knife

Need some scissors and a corkscrew?

You might say that the Allianz 222 is like a Swiss Army Knife – it does a lot of things okay, but it doesn’t do any one thing really well.

Allianz Life has been one of the largest issuers of fixed index annuities for quite a few years.

In the past, people bought index annuities because they were pitched as a way to get market linked upside with no market downside.  

Now that interest rates are super low, however, the upside may be somewhat limited.

As a result, many insurance companies have pivoted to make their products more about lifetime income guarantees. In terms of index annuities, many have done this by adding “riders” that add an income benefit to the base product.

While most insurance companies aren’t fond of the term, there are quite a few agents that use the term “hybrid annuity” when describing this updated version of the original index annuity. Be careful, though, with this term.  

“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).

One other really interesting feature of the Allianz 222 is one of its crediting methods (which is the way you actually make money with an indexed annuity). Recently, Allianz has added the Barclays US Dynamic Balance Index as a way of demonstrating its “superior returns”.

annuity apples

“Hey what happened to the original Barclays index?”

We’ll cover this more in a few minutes – but buyer beware that some annuity sales agents depend on their hypothetical illustrations in order to sell the 222 to investors.

When the Barclays US Dynamic Index I didn’t perform as well as they wanted it to, they pulled a switcheroo and changed the index. How about them apples?

Please be aware that these returns are not based on what IS guaranteed, but rather on what MIGHT be guaranteed.

Some of the hot-selling annuity products like the Allianz 222 may do their best to paint a rosy picture WITHOUT showing you the part with the thorns.

In fact, it is possible that you recently attended a dinner seminar where the annuity sales agent went to great pains pointing out all of the Allianz 222 annuity’s high points, but neglected to discuss the possible drawbacks.

But if you’re planning to put a sizable chunk of your money into this annuity, the possible drawbacks is something you need to know about!

You’ll find out when we dig deeper into some super-nerdy analysis that the returns offered by this annuity really aren’t a big deal, nor is it that great of an index.

But the sales folks may talk it up pretty good – so be sure to stay tuned so you can learn how much value this new interest crediting method can really add.

In order to truly get an idea of whether or not a fixed indexed annuity such as the Allianz 222 annuity is right for you,  click here so that you can access our free annuity buyer’s guide.

In the case of the Allianz 222 product, its name actually implies what it does:

2 Ways to get a bonus to your Protected Income Value

  1. Allianz 222 offers a 20% bonus on any money you add to your contract the first 3 years.
  2. You also receive an interest bonus equal to 50% of any interest you earn from your allocations (more on this later).

2 Ways to get an income increase from your Protected Income Value

  1. Once you start receiving income, your lifetime income withdrawals can increase based on any interest you’ve earned, in addition to the above-mentioned bonus
  2. And, you can double your annual maximum withdrawal under certain hospital / nursing care / assisted living situations.

2 Ways to get a Death Benefit

  1. Your beneficiaries can receive your annuities full accumulation value (very different than the fancy income values from above).
  2. Or, they can get the full protected income value as annuity payments spread out over 5 years.

Look, we’re sure if we really study all of that, eventually, we can figure it out. But really, does it have to be that complicated? With a simple name like 222, we sorta figured this would be simple. Nope, not even close. Oh well, guess we’ll put the mega nerd hat on and start crunching some numbers! 😉

If you’re wondering if this annuity is right for you, or if you have questions and need a little help getting pointed in the right direction; just reach out via our secure contact form here.

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.  Allianz has not endorsed this review in any way nor do we receive any compensation for this review.  This review is meant to be an independent review at the request of readers so they could see our perspective when breaking down the positives and negatives of this particular model annuity.  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.

How Allianz Life Insurance Company of North American Describes the 222 Annuity

Per the 222 brochure, here are some key points as to how it’s marketed and sold:

  • Principal protection
  • Valuable guarantees and death benefit protection
  • Income tax deferral
  • Several income options, including an option for guaranteed lifetime income
  • Flexible interest crediting options

There’s a few more bells and whistles, but those are the basics.  If you’re looking for the full brochure, you can find it here.

How Financial Advisors Might “Pitch” This Annuity

The Allianz 222 is a lot like other annuities that brokers/agents call a hybrid annuity. In the past few years, insurance agents have fallen in love with the term “hybrid annuity.”

Even though the insurance companies don’t seem to like the term a whole lot, we guess the cool sounding name makes it easier to sell annuities, so it’s caught on nonetheless.

Not everyone should use an annuity. Just don't expect many annuity agents to tell you that.

Not everyone should use an annuity. Just don’t expect many annuity agents to tell you that.

When sales agents use the term “hybrid,” they are referring to an annuity that has multiple annuity features rolled into a single product.

In the case of the 222 Annuity, it combines a lifetime income guarantee with the possibility of higher returns linked various market linked crediting methods; so whether Allianz likes it or not – some annuity sales agents may call it a hybrid annuity.

If you hear it described as a “hybrid annuity” – there are a few different ways it might be pitched.  

Our experience, however, is that most sales agents will cling to these main components:

  1. The safety combined with return potential of the market
  2. The guaranteed income for life via the Protected Income Value (PIV)
  3. The return potential via the Barclays US Dynamic Balance Index

While those are true statements, this annuity is not perfect (nor all bad).  It can work okay when used correctly but has shortcomings just like any other financial product.  One of the biggest issues we’ve run into is that some insurance sales agents may misrepresent how this annuity will actually perform.

That’s a problem.

From the many people we’ve talked to personally about their experience working with financial sales people, oftentimes people have been told this annuity will perform “better” than other annuities.

The sales people seem to really tout the large 20% bonus, along with the guaranteed income potential of the Protected Income Value feature.

Is all of that true?  Eh, not exactly.

If your agent/advisor/salesperson explains this annuity correctly, you may never get the impression you’ll earn more than 2% to 6%. It could produce a return of less than 1%, and if surrendered early you could actually lose money.

If you are being sold bigger returns than that in your agent’s sales pitch – run, don’t walk, to find a more honest financial advisor. 

Allianz 222 Annuity Returns / Full Video Overview and Detailed Calculations

Warning: We tend to get pretty in-depth and a little geeky with video reviews.  Please keep in mind that we made this video when the Allianz 222 offered a 15% bonus (it’s currently 20%). This particular video is very thorough and will show you exactly how to calculate the annuity performance.  Enjoy, but consider yourself warned. 😉

Some Important Info on the Barclays Dynamic Balance Index Returns

A feature that has started to come up with many of the newest fixed index annuities are proprietary indexes for determining the returns (or index credits) of the annuity. In the case of the Allianz, many of their newest products (like the 222, 365, and 365i) include the Barclays Dynamic Balance Index.

When we first wrote this review, we warned investors that the Dynamic Balance I Index was new.

It shows a history going back to 1989, but that is almost all back-tested. Back-testing is done to show how the formula used to create the index WOULD HAVE measured up in past market conditions.

We all need to be extremely careful when we look at back-tested data as it is done with the benefit of hindsight. In other words, pretty much anyone can create a special “formula” that would have picked all the best investments and times to be in the market.

Just because something back-tests well does NOT mean it will perform the same in the future.

Case in point: we now have a new development to report…

Prior to 2015, the Alliance 222 used the Barclay US Dynamic Balance I Index in order to give investors a hypothetical illustration of returns. Now, they are using the Barclays US Dynamic Balance II Index, which has only been in existence since April 14, 2015.

We actually spoke with an internal sales consultant and asked why they changed from the Barclays I to the Barclays II, and were told, “because this one back tested higher than the other.”

Take a look for yourself at the difference. Here’s the disclosure directly from the Barclays website indicating the back-tested data and its limitations (red box and lines added by AnnuityGator.com):

This is the OLD index used prior to 2015:

Barclays Dynamic Balance Index Returns

Below is the NEW Barclays graph currently being used.

Here is a link to Allianz 222 annuity index rates as of early April 2017 – anyone can see it. It looks great hypothetical, but not so great when looking more closely at the hard numbers. Two years of return and only up by .97 %

(Note here that the returns can differ, depending on your state of residence). You can also take a look at the chart below, which also shows the movement of this index through early April of 2017.

Allianz 222 Tableold

A closer look at the Barclays US Dynamic Balance II Index

Barclays US Dynamic Balance II Index

Remember, some financial sales folks may depend on these hypothetical illustrations to make their pitch look impressive. Allianz 222 Annuity Statement of Understanding

Here again, there are actually two versions with different caps and spreads on the crediting methods used by the Allianz 222 depending on what state you live in.

If you watch the video above, we break this down in detail using data directly from Barclays. If you didn’t watch the video, then just let this text be your caution.

If the Barclays Dynamic Balance I Index was new, then the Barclays Dynamic Balance II is in its infant stage, not even crawling yet.

We’d caution against putting any real weight on the validity of these hypothetical returns.

The Annuity Gator’s End Take on the Allianz 222 Annuity with Protected Income Value (PIV):

Where it works best:

  • For producing a reliable, “pension-like” guaranteed income stream (although there are other annuities with higher guaranteed income at this time)
  • For producing an income for life that cannot be outlived by a surviving spouse
  • For investors who have a family history of life longevity
  • For investors that have no need for their money or generating large returns, but want it to grow safely until transferred to their beneficiaries
  • For investors willing to defer income payments from the annuity for 10 years or longer in order to get maximum benefit from the PIV (protected income value)

Where it works worst:

  • For those that do not plan on using the Protected Income Value (PIV) feature
  • For those seeking maximum long-term growth
  • For those looking for a good “worst case scenario” annuity

We should also note that we only tested a few of the many ways this annuity can be structured. It has other indexes the interest can be calculated against, different options on the income rider, and most importantly – the returns will vary based on each unique persons’ circumstances. 

In general, though, this is a fairly comprehensive review that will hopefully help many people better understand how the Allianz 222 Annuity really works.

And, like with most any other product or service out there in the market, there has been a fair share of Allianz 222 annuity complaints. You can take a peek at how this annuity has performed for other investors here.

Despite Allianz being a reputable company, based on our review of the Allianz 222 complaints, it appears that some of the folks that bought this product may not have been properly educated about its features.

Given the fact that the Allianz 222 – or any annuity, for that matter – can be somewhat confusing (especially indexed products) – it is all the more important to review the Allianz 222 statement of understanding before you move forward and commit to this product.

As you can see in the statement of understanding example that is linked here, there is a lot more detailed information – which may or may not always mirror exactly what your financial advisor has touted.

In Summary

One of the most important things for investors to understand is that the “Protected Income Value” is not the actual return, nor is the “income percentage” the actual return.  We’re having a difficult time seeing it produce the 5% to 8% return numbers a lot of uneducated financial salespersons toss around when trying to get you to buy it.  

As noted in the video review, a couple both age 60 with a 30-year life expectancy could realistically expect to earn somewhere between 2% and 6% over the next 30 years – depending on which options they select and how long they defer taking income.

You should know that you can improve your income situation by as much as 10% annually if you work with a financial professional who knows how to employ strategy with these income creation tools.

These annuity optimization strategies may lock in a greater guaranteed income for life.

Most financial sales people who are only interested in selling you products (and fee-based advisors who can’t sell annuities) typically don’t know how to employ these creative and mathematically optimized strategies, and so investors are left on their own to figure it out.

For someone strictly looking for guaranteed income with no market risk, the Allianz 222 can do the job, there may be better options available.  

For someone looking for an investment that cannot go down, is content with low / mid-to-single digit returns, and wants the transfer of risk annuities are really good at – this might be a good fit, though we’ve reviewed other annuities we think do that better.

Also, we’re still convinced some agents don’t realize what the real returns are, and may significantly over-promise what’s realisticso be especially wary of anyone who suggests this annuity will work better than how we illustrated it here.

If the agents are being upfront and honest, you’ll notice their explanations will match very closely (if not exactly) as described in this review.  When that happens, you have an agent you can trust.

Allianz has done a very good job of producing easy to understand literature that in no way misrepresents their product. They can’t, however, control every word that comes out of every insurance sales agent’s mouth – so just always be careful out there!

As a recap to the video (for those that don’t have 35+ minutes to watch it), the Allianz 222 Annuity may not actually give a 7% return. Nor will it likely return 6%, and it’s possible the real returns will be 5% or less (maybe even 2% or less).  

When financial advisors use the bigger numbers, they are referring to percentages used to calculate the income guarantee.

In summary, the Allianz 222 has good attributes – it’s backed by a quality company, it has the potential for growth, and you do have some access to money. BUT it may fall short on guaranteed income.

People often buy lifetime guaranteed income annuities for what they WILL provide, not for what they MIGHT provide. Allianz is big on the might, and its might may not be as mighty as other annuities out there.

If you want to see if there are other annuities that can go up against the mighty Allianz 222, you can reach us via the Free Annuity Help form.

We can show you what your other options are so that you can compare and point you in the right direction.

Bottom Line: While we certainly understand that the Allianz 222 annuity has both pros and cons, we’ve found that there may still actually be some better alternatives out there.

Really, though, the only way to know if this annuity is a good fit for you is to have it tested. We do this free at AnnuityGator.com, so just get in touch with us and we’ll run our proprietary annuity review software based on your scenario.

This process allows you to compare one annuity against the other so you can see for yourself what gives your dollar the best benefits and highest income guarantees.

If your agent was honest with you, then you won’t be surprised by the numbers, and if they don’t match up, well then you might want to reconsider who you are working with.

We’ve worked with many wealthy people who were afraid to spend a dime during retirement because all their money was in the market. They were afraid to spend it because they knew that in today’s global economy, anything can happen. The money could be gone tomorrow based on the latest news cycle.

The Allianz 222 can get you a guaranteed income, but dollar for dollar, there may be other annuities we have seen that can to provide you with more income.

When you choose what we call “high-performance annuities” and combine them with a mathematically optimized plan, you can get the maximum effect and benefit out of every dollar saved.

 

Have Questions on the Allianz 222 Indexed Annuity?  See any Mistakes?

Annuities can be complex. That's where having an Annuity Investigator who loves math comes in. We make the complex, simple.

Annuities can be complex. That’s where having an Annuity Investigator who loves math comes in. We make the complex, simple.

If you have questions please let us know. [You can reach me via the Free Annuity Help form here]

We realize that annuities can be complex and confusing and a lot of financial sales people are pushing investors hard to buy them.

But you need to know the real facts to make sure if you go that route, you don’t end up regretting it later.

After all, annuities are long-term investment vehicle with contracts, surrender penalties, etc. For some people, they won’t make sense at all, but for some, they might.

That’s where having an Annuity Investigator who loves math comes in. We make the complex simple.

If you know anyone who has an annuity or is thinking of buying one, please share this post with them.  We know a lot of people are getting very conflicting information and our goal in writing this review and making the video was to educate in an objective way.

If you have a Facebook account you can click on the little “Facebook” icon and share this article.  That way more people will be able to find it and hopefully, more people will benefit.

Thanks for bearing with us on this rather long post. We hope you found it beneficial in your research. Lastly, like all humans – we do make mistakes. If you see one on this review please reach out and let us know.  

We are always more than happy to make corrections and give credit where it is due. If you’re an investor and this review causes confusion and creates questions, feel free to reach out as well.  

We can’t always get back right away but usually, we can clear up those questions within a day or two.

Best,

The Annuity Gator

P.S. We included a few more related links to the Allianz 222 below that you might find useful:

P.P.S If you would like to read more of our Allianz annuity reviews here’s some links to check out:


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