Independent Review of the Jackson National Perspective II Variable Annuity – [November 2018 Update]

What’s Covered in this Review?jacksonlife300

In this review, we’ll be covering the following information on the Jackson National Perspective II Variable Annuity

  • Product type
  • Fees
  • Current rates
  • Realistic long term investment expectations
  • How it is best used
  • How it is most poorly used

What you will likely find is that like all variable annuities, the Perspective II does some things well, but there are some limitations that you should also be aware of. Bear in mind that some finer details relating to the performance of this variable annuity may not be properly explained by some financial salespeople.

It’s absolutely important that you understand the key differences for yourself, so you can be sure that you made the right decision and it fits into a sound financial plan.

Annuity And Retirement Income Planning Information That You Can Trust

Annuity Gator copycats

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

If you’ve been looking for annuity information online, then you have probably noticed that there is no shortage of “review” sites out there.

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

It’s also possible that you have recently attended a dinner seminar where the presenter offered you a complimentary lunch or dinner in return for being able to present you with information about the Jackson National Perspective ll variable annuity, or a similar product.

That seminar may even be the catalyst that prompted you to visit our website today.

Maybe you’ve stumbled across our website for the first time and don’t know much about what we do. Here at Annuity Gator, we publish the most comprehensive independent annuity reviews online, and we have been doing it longer than many of the copycat annuity review websites you see today.

annuities good band and uglyHere on our website, we hope you find all of the details that you’re looking for – and possibly even some that you are not.

What this means is that, because we offer complete annuity reviews, we will give you all of the pertinent details – which include not just the good, but also the bad and the ugly.

Doing so, though, is really the only way to assist you with determining whether or not an annuity will truly be right for you.

So, let’s get started!

Jackson National Perspective II Variable Annuity at a Glance

Product NamePerspective II Variable Annuity
IssuerJackson National Life
Type of ProductVariable Annuity
Standard & Poor's Rating"AA" (Very Strong)
Phone Number877-565-2968
Websitehttps://www.jackson.com/products/variable-annuities/perspective-ii/product-details.xhtml

Opening Thoughts on the Perspective II Variable Annuity

Jackson National Life Insurance Company has been in operation since 1961. Since its inception, this company – which began as a family owned entity in Lansing, Michigan – has grown into a multi-billion dollar insurance carrier.

In fact, within a relatively short time for an insurer, Jackson National has become the second largest seller of annuities in the U.S. (according to LIMRA). It is also the eighth largest life insurance carrier, based on its total statutory assets (based on research from SNL Financial).

Jackson National has actually added quite an array of accolades throughout the years, including:

  • Ranked first among variable annuity providers for Brand Equity and Overall Brand Awareness
  • Ranked first among variable annuity providers for CoRe Score, a single measure of company strength and momentum
  • Achieved the top ranking among variable annuity providers in the Variable Annuity Ownership category, a weighted metric for market performance and the proportion of current users who consider a firm to be their primary provider.

Throughout the past several years, the demand for annuities has picked up. One of the biggest reasons for this is due to annuities’ ability to provide an ongoing, guaranteed stream of income in retirement – something that other financial vehicles just simply cannot provide with a degree of certainty.

warren buffet annuitiesThe variable annuities that are offered by Jackson National should be considered as long-term investments. These products allow the tax-deferred growth of the funds that are inside of the annuity. However, unlike fixed annuity products, variable annuities are prone to investment risks due to market volatility – and because of that, they could lose value based on the performance of their sub-accounts.

Jackson National offers a family of variable annuities, including the:

  • Elite Access and Elite Access Advisory
  • Perspective Advisory
  • Perspective ll

All of these annuities have slight differences in the benefits they offer, the allowable initial investment, and the living and death benefit options, as well as in the surrender fees and other fees that are charged.

The Perspective ll variable annuity is designed for long-term investors with a timeframe of seven or more years, and those looking for more flexibility when selecting optional benefits. This annuity’s main feature (rider, technically) is the LifeGuard Freedom Flex which is basically Jackson Nation’s version of the income rider benefit with annual bonus guarantee of 7%. (This is similar to an annuity roll-up rate, which should not be confused with the annual payout percentage rate or the annual return).

The rider also allows you to select from a numerous payout percentage options ranging from 3.75% to 6%, depending on your age and the option that you select. It can also be dependent on whether you choose the single or the joint income payout (all of which have fees).

We’ve outlined more in-depth information on the LifeGuard Freedom Flex rider.

In order to see our full review of the Jackson National Perspective ll with Lifeguard Freedom Flex, go HERE.

Several years ago, Jackson National also began offering the LifeGuard Freedom 6 Net rider to the Perspective ll variable annuity. According to the Jackson National prospectus, the LifeGuard Freedom 6 Net is a Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefit (GMWB) that “guarantees the withdrawal of a minimum annual amount for the duration of the life of the owner, regardless of the performance of the underlying investment options.”

Because of that, this benefit could work well for those who are seeking greater access to earnings, in order to provide more income when the contract performs well, yet without negatively impacting the guarantees.

cherries annuitiesBut, even though this rider may sound like a bowl of cherries, the reality is that it, too, has a number of “exceptions,” so it is important to become familiar with just exactly what you can and can’t do in order to collect the promised benefits. We’ve provided a more in-depth look at the LifeGuard Freedom 6 Net rider here.

In fact, any time you are considering the purchase of a variable annuity, you should automatically consider the prospectus, as “required reading.” And, while this sounds about as enticing as fingernails on a chalkboard, understanding what is written in the fine print could end up saving THOUSANDS of dollars in both the short- and long-term time horizon.

To go directly to the Jackson National Perspective ll prospectus, just click HERE.

Jackson National is great about providing a myriad of information about their annuities. So, if you are a glutton for “small print” punishment, or if you really want to know the in-depth in’s and out’s of the Jackson National Perspective ll annuity, you can find all of the most updated disclosure information right HERE.

This will give you more detail on the Jackson National Perspective ll performance over time – which also includes a listing of all of the investment options that you can find associated with this annuity.

To learn more about variable annuities and 8 cautionary warnings that you MUST be aware of, click here.

In a nutshell, though, here’s the scoop on all these somewhat hard to understand features: Be careful!

Really, it can be easy for investors to think this (and other similar) annuity will actually guarantee a return of 5% or more, worst case scenario, while still getting virtually all of the market’s upside potential. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t quite work like this.

You need to know the details – and very specifically, the real minimum guarantees (which can actually require some fairly solid math skills to figure out), as well as the limits to the upside, as the costs here can be quite high, in turn, greatly reducing the maximum potential.

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 annuity product review. It is not a recommendation to purchase or to sell an annuity. Jackson National Life Insurance Company 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.

To learn more about variable annuities and 8 cautionary warnings that you MUST be aware of, click here.

How Jackson National Describes The Perspective II Annuity

A snapshot of the Jackson National Perspective II product brochure.

A snapshot of the Jackson National Perspective II product brochure.

Per the Perspective ll brochure, the highlights of this particular annuity include the following:

  • An investment platform that includes more than 90 options and offers
  • Access to best-in-class month managers and exclusive Jackson investments
  • Optimized growth potential through tax deferral
  • The ability to change your strategy for your evolving needs

There is a handful of other options to consider, but what is listed above pretty much covers the basics. If you’re looking for the entire brochure, you can download it here, or you can go right to the Jackson National Perspective II website.

How Financial Advisors Might “Pitch” This Annuity

Since this is a variable annuity with multiple benefits – there are a few different ways it might be pitched to you. Our experience, however, is that most agents will focus on two key features:

  • Building your personal portfolio with more than 90 variable investment options (lots of upside potential)
  • The LifeGuard Freedom Flex and/or LifeGuard Freedom 6 Net riders, which may allow you to grow your income, along with guaranteeing some safety

Some financial salespeople might use the term “hybrid annuity” when offering the Jackson National Perspective II – which is really a marketing term some people have created to explain an annuity that provides growth, access to your money, and guaranteed income stream – packaged into one annuity.

While many of these features outlined above are true, this annuity (nor any financial vehicle) is perfect. Meaning, it may make sense to buy this type of an annuity when used correctly, but it does have its limitations just like any other financial strategy. One of the biggest concerns we have about variable annuities is that there are some financial sales people that misrepresent how they will actually perform for you…And that may pose a financial problem to the uninformed investor.

But before you go out and start filling out a Jackson National Perspective ll application, there is something important to keep in mind….Always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

And, there’s no such thing as a free lunch (many variable annuities are quite expensive, and you need to know if the cost is worth the benefit).

Some of the folks we’ve spoken to personally have been told that it will outperform other annuities because the Guaranteed Annual Withdrawal Amount (GAWA) or bonus of 7%, and the payout rate can be over 5%; and unfortunately, some people seem to think that’s the actual return from this annuity.

Is any of that true?  Eh, not exactly.

If your agent or financial salesperson explains this annuity accurately, you should never get the impression that you will earn more than whatever the market is returning, about 3% less, due to the costs. It can lose money (all variable annuities may), including all of it, even if riders for guaranteed income are used (in extreme cases).

Remember Warren Buffet’s Rules of Investing: NEVER lose money!

If bigger returns than that are part of your agent’s sales pitch – run, don’t walk, to find an honest financial advisor.

It can also be beneficial to run through numbers that are based on your personal scenario. This can easily be done by using our Jackson National Perspective ll calculator. Doing so can provide you with a more realistic expectation of this annuity’s pros and cons as they relate to your specific situation. In fact, by running the numbers through our annuity calculator, we will send you, free of charge, a much more in-depth spreadsheet that can help you in determining whether or not the Perspective ll is really the right annuity for you.

What About the Fees on the Jackson National Perspective ll?

For years, variable annuities have been given a bad rap with regard to their fees – and unfortunately, the Perspective ll is no different. You will find fees in a number of places with this product – including the agent’s commission, as well as operating fees of the annuity itself, as well as management fees that are associated with each of the investment options.

A Jackson National Perspective ll commission schedule, along with withdrawal charges, and other important fee information, can all be found in the annuity’s prospectus.

The Annuity Gator’s End Take on the Perspective II Variable Annuity

Where it works best:

  • For producing a reliable, “pension-like” guaranteed income stream (so long as LifeGuard Freedom (GMWB) benefit is elected and used shortly after purchase, and you live quite awhile after that)
  • For producing an income for life that cannot be outlived by a surviving spouse
  • For investors who are willing to defer income payments from the annuity for 5 years or longer in order to get maximum benefit with the LifeGuard Freedom option

Where it works worst:

  • For those who need to have substantial liquidity with their financial assets (this does have liquidity, but just not 100% without incurrent penalties during the surrender period)
  • For those seeking maximum long-term growth (the higher than normal fees of variable annuities will take a good chunk out of the maximum upside)
  • For those expecting there’s no risk to their money (remember, all securities have risk- and a variable annuity is exposed to market volatility)

In Summary

One of the most important things for investors to understand is that the “annual bonus rate” is not the actual return, nor is the “payout rate” the actual return. It has the potential to produce very good returns, but I’ve seen some financial sales agents suggest that better than 10% is realistic. This is irresponsible selling at best.

Another thing to note and calculate is how much in fees you will be paying with this annuity. Oftentimes, we’ve seen investors purchase this annuity without fully understanding the full impact of how the contract fees affect their principal balance in the long-run.

For someone strictly looking for guaranteed income with no market risk, you’ll want to make sure you have this annuity tested against numerous others to ensure it’s the right fit for your unique situation. For someone looking for an investment to produce a guaranteed lifetime income, and won’t need their money for 5 or more years – this annuity may be a good fit.

Our biggest concern with this annuity (and most annuities in general), is that some agents don’t realize what the real return potential is, and significantly over-promise what’s realistic – so be especially wary of anyone who suggests this annuity will work better than how we’ve explained it here.

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

If you would like to check up on your current agent’s background, you can do so by going to the BrightScope website and then entering in the financial salesperson’s name, the area of specialization, and/or geographic location.

Also, because a representative must also be securities licensed in order to offer variable annuity products, you can check the website of FINRA – the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority – to view an advisor’s background.

With FINRA’s BrokerCheck, you can search via the advisor’s name, as well as by his or her firm’s name in a specific location.

We are also always happy to answer any additional questions or concerns that you may have about the Jackson National Perspective ll annuity, and/or the riders that are associated with it. Just simply reach out to us via our secure contact form here. We’re always happy to either verify or point you in the right direction.

As a recap, the Perspective II will not actually guarantee much of a return on your investment (more of a return on your investment). When financial salespeople use those numbers they are referring to percentages used to calculate the annual bonus guarantee, or hypothetical situations, not the actual annual return nor the annual payout.

In addition to reviewing the product-only material, it can also be helpful to check out some of the testimonials that current owners of the Perspective ll annuity have posted online. We’ve found some recent comments that you can access here.

But, the only way to really know if this annuity is a good fit for you, is to have it tested.  We do this free at Annuity Gator, so just get in touch with us and we’ll use our proprietary calculator to illustrate for you what returns for your situation are likely to be. If your agent was honest with you, the numbers will match up – if not, well then you might want to reconsider who your agent is.

Have Questions on the Jackson National Perspective II Variable Annuity?  See any Mistakes?

Do you have a question that you can’t seem to find the answer here on our website? You can send us your questions here via our Free Annuity Help contact form.

If you are feeling confused about variable annuities, you are not alone.

There are a lot of financial people out there pushing investors hard to buy them. You need to know the real facts about annuities so you don’t make an irreversible or expensive mistake.

Keep in mind that annuities are long-term contracts with surrender penalties, and for some investors, they don’t make sense at all, but for others, there could play a pivotal part of a financial plan.

If you know someone that has an annuity or considering buying one, please share this variable annuity review with them. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there when it comes to annuities and their performance and our goal in writing this review was to offer you an objective review of this variable annuity.

Also, if you have a Facebook account, you can click on the small “Facebook” icon and share this blog post, so more people will be able to find it and hopefully more people will benefit from the education.

Thanks for sticking with me through this rather long blog post, we sure hope you found it useful as you’re conducting your research on the JNL Perspective II Variable Annuity.

One last thing, like all humans – we do make mistakes. So if you find a one on this review please reach out and let me know. We are always more than happy to make any corrections and offer credit where it’s due.

Also, if you’re an investor and you found this review confusing or have more questions that we didn’t answer, feel free to reach out to us as well. We can’t always get back immediately to every question or comment we receive, but we are usually able to get back to you within a few days.

Best,

The Annuity Gator

P.S. We included a few more related links to the Jackson National Perspective ll below that you might find useful:

P.P.S If you would like to read more of our Jackson National Variable Annuity reviews here’s some links to check out:

Is the Jackson National Perspective II Variable Annuity the right annuity for you?

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