How a drawdown-annuity blend offers the best of both worlds

  • Be able to describe the outlook for the annuity market.
  • Identify some of the advantages of using a drawdown policy for clients.
  • List the tools and apps to help clients avoid running out of money in retirement.

That is not just the standard monthly bills for electricity, TV, water, heating, shopping, council tax and keeping the car running; but also to cover other items that you really need to regard as vital for your sanity – like a good holiday each year.

Once these have been added up, you might want to see if you can fund these essentials out of an annuity to ensure the basics are definitely covered. Also consider the type of annuity you select. Level annuities cost a lot less than inflation-protected ones. So, combining a level annuity to cover today’s essentials with a drawdown plan to pay for the occasional bigger expenses makes sense.

The real growth assets underpinning drawdown policies should also cover future cost increases in that basket of essentials as well as providing for your clients’ lifestyle spending in retirement. 

Drawdown policies

Among these lifestyle items, there may be some big ticket items which your client may not be able to put an immediate timeline or budget on.

It may be likely that within the next 10 years your client’s daughter will get married. But who would have predicted she would want to stage that wedding in Costa Rica, more than doubling any estimated bill they might have factored in? 

Drawdown policies are ideally placed for irregular drawing as these items pop up. They also offer the exposure to higher growth funds, so a good deal of your lifestyle expenditure could be paid for from investment growth in the good years. You will need to arrive at a notional annual maximum drawdown amount that you are limited to in order to ensure that you do not run dry before you reach your dotage. 

In a policy briefing of March 2018, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries recommended a sustainable annual drawdown rate of no more than 3.5 per cent of the entire pot value, assuming that you are going into decumulation at the current state pension age of 65. In this scenario, a £100,000 pot in drawdown could deliver £3,500 a year.

In our annuity and drawdown model, would £3,500 be enough to cover your client’s lifestyle expectations, assuming they have £100,000 to put into an income drawdown plan after you have purchased that annuity to cover agreed essentials?

If they plan to start drawing their pension early, at say age 55 then the recommended maximum drawdown level drops to 3 per cent.

However, the actual sustainable income on an individual level depends on age, gender, life expectancy and investments, and therefore advisers need to do a good deal of fact finding before deciding on each customers’ drawdown-based annual budget that they should try to work to. Aegon has previously proposed drawdown rates on a sliding scale of between 1.7 per cent to 3.6 per cent a year, depending on the risk profile and time period.