What Will Be Covered in this Review?
In this review, we’ll cover the following information about the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity:
- Product type
- Current rates
- Realistic long-term return expectations
- How it is used
- How it is most poorly used
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We make the complex, simple.
Over the past several years, annuities have become a much more popular component of overall retirement planning. One primary reason for this is because, as people are living longer, having a retirement income that lasts much longer is necessary – and unlike any other insurance or financial product in the market place, an annuity is the only financial vehicle that can guarantee you an income for the remainder of your lifetime, regardless of how long that is.
Fixed annuities have become particularly favored by those who are at or approaching retirement time, as people are getting much more reluctant to entrust their savings to an extremely volatile stock market.
With that in mind, if you’ve been thinking about purchasing a fixed annuity like the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus product because you want your money to be safe – and that you will have an income stream you can rely on in the future – then this could be a good option for you.
That being said, though, before you run out and purchase this annuity, it is really important that you know exactly how it works, and how it may or may not work for you, based on your specific objectives.
Annuity and Retirement Income Planning Information That You Can Trust
If this is the first time that you have visited our website, then please allow us to officially welcome you here to AnnuityGator.com. We are a team of annuity pros who focus on offering very comprehensive – and unbiased – annuity reviews. We have been at this for quite a few years now – longer than our competitors. And, because of the in-depth reviews that we provide, we have become a highly trusted source of annuity information online.
Over the past decade or so, however, there have been a number of “copycat” websites that have popped up on the Internet. While some of these can give you information about annuities, what you are likely to find is that they are oftentimes just simply reiterating what our information already shows.
If you’ve been spending time online researching annuities, it is likely that you have come across some highly conflicting information about these products. That isn’t really all that surprising, though, because there are a lot of different annuities available in the market place, and just about everyone – both consumers and financial advisors – seems to have a differing opinion about them.
During your time researching annuities, it may be that you have viewed some of the annuity sales and lead generation websites. Unfortunately, even though these sites offer some good tidbits about annuities, their sole purpose is to lure in visitors so that they can obtain your contact information (and to then bombard you with a plethora of emails going forward).
One of their strategies for doing so is to make some bold claims about the annuities they offer, such as:
- High Annuity Income Payouts
- Guaranteed Income for Life
- Top-Rated Annuity Carriers
- Low Fees
But, as truly enticing as these claims might initially sound, it is really important that you verify their validity first before you decide to move forward with a long-term financial commitment. Otherwise, it could end up costing you.
Given that, if you are seeking more in-depth details about the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity, you are in the right place. In fact, we dare say that our website is the only place on the Internet where you can obtain all of the key details about this product – including the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly – so that you can make a truly well-informed buying decision.
As we get started here, we do want to be clear in that, we believe that annuities are fine products – and they can be quite beneficial to some people – as long as they fit in with your overall financial objectives. This annuity review is here to provide you with what you need to know.
So, if you’re ready to get started, let’s dive right in!
CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity at a Glance
|Product Name||MEMBERS Focus|
|Type of Product||Single Premium Deferred Fixed Annuity|
|Phone Number||(800) 356-2644|
Opening Thoughts on the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity
Founded more than 80 years ago by credit union leaders who were looking for an insurance and investment partner they could trust, CUNA Mutual offers a wide array of financial products to help its customer grow and protect wealth.
In fact, CUNA Mutual is self-described as “A financial services company serving financial institutions and their clients worldwide.”
As of year-end 2017, the company has over $20.5 billion in assets and had taken in roughly $3.5 billion in total revenue. Due in large part to its financial strength and stability, CUNA Mutual is rated highly by the insurance company rating agencies with an A from A.M. Best, an A2 from Moody’s Investors Service, and an A from S&P Global.
With all of the stock market’s volatility and unpredictability, the demand for fixed annuities has grown quite a bit, particularly as a way for retirees (and those who are preparing for retirement in the near future) to keep assets safe, and to ensure that they have a stable and reliable income going forward.
Unfortunately, though, due to the historically low-interest-rate environment that we’ve been stuck in for nearly a decade now, the return that has been offered by fixed annuities has been very low.
In fact, in many instances, the returns that are obtained on fixed annuities have not even been enough to outpace the inflation rate over time. Because of these low rates, your future purchasing power could be affected – especially if you plan to use the income from a fixed annuity as a primary source of your retirement income down the road.
Before we get into the gritty details, here are some necessary legal disclosures…
This is an independent annuity product review. It is not a recommendation to purchase or to sell an annuity. CUNA Mutual 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 CUNA Mutual Describes the MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity
CUNA Mutual describes the MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity as a product that can help individuals and couples to plan ahead with confidence. The MEMBERS Focus is a single premium deferred annuity that allows money to grow at a guaranteed rate of return – regardless of market conditions.
As with other annuities, the MEMBERS Focus provides benefits such as:
- Tax-deferred growth
- Guaranteed minimum renewal rates
- Protection for beneficiaries
- Guaranteed retirement income options
- Access to 10% f your money each year, and to all of the contract’s value in certain circumstances
The MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity is underwritten by CMFG Life Insurance Company, which is a member of CUNA Mutual Group. When you initially purchase the MEMBERS Focus annuity from CUNA Mutual, you can choose a fixed rate of return for four, five or six years. You can also receive an additional 1% bonus during the first contract year if you select the six-year guarantee rate.
This annuity will waive the surrender charges if you need to access more than 10% of the contract’s value within the surrender period if you are confined to a hospital or nursing home for 90 consecutive days and/or if you are diagnosed as being terminally ill and have a life expectancy of less than one year.
For all of the in-depth details – as well as some exceptions – regarding the benefits on the CUNA Mutual Focus Fixed Annuity, you can check out the product brochure HERE.
How an Insurance or Financial Advisor May “Pitch” this Annuity
If you have been presented the CUNA Mutual Focus Fixed Annuity by your insurance or financial advisor, it is likely that he or she keyed in on some of the product’s benefits – but may have just glossed over some of the potential drawbacks.
In this case, because fixed annuities offer protection of principal and a guaranteed stream of income, these very well could be the primary topics that your advisor explained to you. And these certainly are very nice features.
But, while these guarantees may help you to sleep a bit better at night, the reality is that such benefits can oftentimes come at a cost – this being the low rate that is offered, and in turn, the inability to beat, or even meet, future inflation. This could equate to a step backward in future lifestyle, as it could hinder your ability to keep up with the rising cost of the goods and services you need in retirement.
With that in mind, you really need to determine whether or not you are willing to take the “tradeoff” here – in other words, giving up the opportunity for more growth in return for keeping your principal safe.
What About the Fees on the CUNA Mutual Focus Fixed Annuity?
When it comes to annuities, fees are oftentimes the biggest drawback to moving forward. And admittedly, fees can be a hindrance – particularly if the product is known for offering low rates of return – as an added expense can lower the total return even more.
The good news here is that there are no contract fees, administrative fees, or up-front charges when you purchase the MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity. Because of that, all of your deposits will go to work for you right away.
There are, however, some expenses if you decide to withdraw more than 10% of the contract’s value during the annuity’s surrender period. (This does not include accessing funds for a qualifying nursing home or hospital stay, or terminal illness diagnosis).
Because the length of the surrender period coincides with the guarantee period you choose, the longer the guarantee, the longer the surrender period. For instance, if you opt for the six-year rate guarantee, your surrender period would be as follows:
In addition to incurring a surrender charge for accessing funds during the surrender period, you could also be hit with an additional 10% “early withdrawal” penalty from the IRS if you make such withdrawals before you turn age 59 ½.
The Annuity Gator’s End Take on the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity
Where this annuity works the best:
- Guaranteed lifetime income
- Safety of principal
- Slow and steady growth over time
Where this annuity may work the worst:
The MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity from CUNA Mutual may not work well if you:
- Need or want access to most or all of your money within the first several years (i.e., during the surrender period)
- Are looking for a high, market-linked return on your money
In order to know how to really compare the best annuity options for you, click here so that you can download our free annuity report.
There is a long list of various factors that should be taken into consideration when you are determining which annuity is right for you – of even IF any annuity is right for you. In any case, though, annuities should always be considered as long-term financial endeavors, and because of that, you should feel comfortable that the one you ultimately go with can help you to reach your goals.
If you are still thinking about purchasing the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity, you can be assured that your principal will be safe and that you have a set rate of return for a known period of time, regardless of what occurs in the market.
But, even with these nice benefits, the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity could still fall a bit short – and quite honestly, there could be a better alternative for you. This is particularly true if you are looking for guaranteed lifetime income AND the opportunity for earning a higher return.
If you still have any questions with regard to whether or not this annuity is right for you – or, even if you just simply need some additional guidance about annuities in general, then please feel free to reach out to us directly via our secure contact form here.
Do You Still Have Questions About the MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity from CUNA Mutual?
We know that this review of the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Focus Fixed Annuity ran a bit long. But our thoughts are that we would much rather err on the side of “too much” information as versus not enough. With that in mind, if you found this annuity review to be beneficial, then please feel free to share it with others who you think might also benefit from it.
In addition, we also understand that annuity product information can change frequently. Therefore, if you happened to notice that any of the information in this annuity review was incorrect, then please let us know and we will do our best to get that updated as soon as possible.
Are there any other annuity reviews that you would like to see posted on our website?
If so, we’ll get on it! Just simply tell us the name of the annuity (or annuities, if more than one) and our highly trained team of annuity “geeks” will start working on those – so be sure to check back soon for updates, as well as a whole host of new annuity reviews!
The Annuity Gator
P.S If you would like to read more of our CUNA Mutual annuity reviews here are some links to check out:
- Independent Review of the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Single Premium Immediate Annuity
- Independent Review of the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Index Annuity
- Independent Review of the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Future Income Annuity
- Independent Review of the CUNA Mutual MEMBERS Select Fixed Annuity ll