Any small business owner can tell you about how much they have given to building their companies. But what about business succession planning, when it comes to making their exit on the backend?
Whenever, and however, they decide to step away, are these entrepreneurs as ready as they could be to enjoy the hard-earned fruits of their life’s work? A survey by Wilmington Trust offers some answers.
It’s no exaggeration to say that small businesses play a big role in America. Both Project Equity, a non-profit group focused on economic security, and the U.S. Census Bureau estimate that there are approximately 2.34 million small businesses in the U.S. These companies employ about 25 million people and, pre-pandemic, generated roughly $5 billion annually in aggregate revenue.
Yet while small business owners are actively involved with their enterprises, a study by Wilmington Trust found that many of them don’t have transition plans. What’s more, a large percentage of these entrepreneurs haven’t even thought of any business succession planning.
According to Ernst & Young’s Family Business Center of Excellence, the average age at which small business owners start transitioning from their businesses is 62.
For a lot of entrepreneurs, succession planning will likely cover some sort of transition to retirement. Or it might be a lifestyle in which they remain plugged into their communities, but they might not be as active in their companies as they were in earlier years.
However, in the study, nearly 60% of small business owners didn’t have a formal business succession plan of any kind currently in place. Moreover, 11% of this group hadn’t even thought about having a transition plan at all.
What will be your major retirement income sources? What income streams will you count on to keep up your ideal lifestyle in your ‘non-working’ years? Do you plan to be financially independent, or will you have to depend on your children or other loved ones for support?
These are important questions as you move closer to retirement. Once you step back from a full-time career, your current income from work earnings, entrepreneurship, or other sources will probably change.
The focal point then turns to your lifestyle in retirement and what sources of income you will use to maintain it. Nor is this just a personal question. Rather, it’s a major concern for millions of retirees affecting their financial future.
One survey that can help with these questions is from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Each year, this survey captures findings from thousands of retirees, workers, and even employers, including on what they are using for major retirement income sources (or what they expect those sources to be).
The Transamerica study is considered to be one of the most accurate samples of the U.S. retirement landscape as a whole. Its numbers are typical of the ‘average’ retiree in America.
As you get closer to retirement, you want to be sure that you are ready for a smooth transition into your post-career lifestyle. There are several things that you can do ahead of time to help yourself with this goal.
To make it digestible, here is a breakdown of different things to do and think about at every stage of pre-retirement.
Despite the negative headlines and money columns painting them as otherwise, annuities are neither good nor bad. They are simply an instrument that works well in some situations and not quite as well in others.
For instance, an annuity is the only thing besides Social Security that can pay you a truly guaranteed income stream for life. That is a feature that you won’t find anywhere else. Period. You can also get other benefits such as tax-advantaged growth and financial protection from market risk, among other things, from different annuities.
Yet, you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the way that many folks, including financial professionals, react when annuities are brought up in retirement planning. And what do these critics say?
Such options “only” serve as a way for financial advisors or agents to make a commission, nothing more. They don’t quite stack up to other investments, according to the naysayers.
The issue with that sort of talk is it focuses on just the negatives. For starters, annuities aren’t an investment but a risk-managing tool.
They provide a strong defense against the risk of running out of money in retirement, which tops the list of financial concerns for many retirees and those nearing retirement.
In past decades, more people have been buying annuities. A big part of this is due to the unique features that annuities offer, such as tax-advantaged growth and contractual guarantees such as lifetime income.
Of course, many kinds of annuities are available now. Knowing what annuity is right for your situation (if indeed a good fit) can be a challenge in some cases.
If you are looking for growth, then you might look at fixed index annuities or variable annuities, as they both offer more growth potential than traditional fixed-type annuities.
But to make a confident and well-informed decision here, it helps to know how these types of annuities are alike and how they differ.
At their core, both are contracts with a life insurance company for a certain period. Where their differences lie is how their money grows, their exposure to market risk, and the fees that they carry, among other things.
If you have spent some time exploring your options for retirement planning, you might have heard of a qualified longevity annuity contract, or QLAC for short. But what is a QLAC? What are some reasons that folks might consider this option for their situations?
As everyone knows, people tend to have many financial concerns nowadays. Having enough retirement income is a top concern among those who have stepped back from a full-time career. Among other things, low interest rates have made it harder to generate predictable income for even just run-of-the-mill living expenses in retirement.
With low rates hitting fixed-interest options such as CDs, Treasury securities, and bonds, the challenge is figuring out how to adequately supplement other sources of predictable income, such as Social Security or a pension. No wonder, then, that surveys have found that many retirees are afraid that they might run out of money in their later years.
Since they have a monopoly on paying reliable lifetime income, annuities are one vehicle that can help fill this gap. In fact, besides Social Security, annuities are the only thing on the planet capable of paying you a guaranteed income for life.
Challenges Still Linger
But even the income from an annuity may not be enough to cover a retiree’s expenses when they get into their final years, especially if they need services such as long-term care or home healthcare.
Conversely, many retirees won’t need to start taking money from their IRAs or workplace retirement plans when they turn 72 (the new age at which required minimum distributions must start). RMDs can create a tax headache for those with considerable retirement assets, and they may be an excess source of income in some cases.
Enter again a possible solution with QLACs, which can help with providing income in later years or providing some tax relief for a while regarding required minimum distributions.
Could annuities be a good investment for retirement? If you could have more peace of mind or your plan could be stronger from having contractual guarantees in it, such as guaranteed income for life, then it’s good to consider an annuity.
What about saving for retirement? If you are taking advantage of contributions to retirement accounts, then annuities can provide another tax-advantaged vehicle for you to build up even more retirement savings. These are just a few ways that an annuity might help you in your financial goals.
One Important Clarification
All of that being said, let’s go back to the original question: “Are annuities a good investment for retirees?” To delve fully into that, it’s important to be clear about what annuities are.
By definition, an annuity is a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for someone putting money into the annuity contract, the insurance carrier promises to uphold contractual guarantees over a certain time. This might be a contractual guarantee to pay you a lifetime income stream, for example.
Because of this use as a contract, many annuities aren’t technically an investment. Fixed-type annuities such as fixed annuities, multi-year guarantee annuities, and fixed index annuities are really fixed insurance contracts. In this regard, they are more of a risk-managing tool.
Whether you bring home a paycheck or earn your keep from entrepreneurship, everyone has some primary income sources during their career. But things change in retirement.
Some folks continue to work in some fashion, often for their own enjoyment. However, chances are you won’t count on this same income source in the way that you did during your career. You may well have to find a way to replace this income with other income streams.
This brings up a big question: How will you draw income for your retirement spending needs?
Every generation faces different obstacles for retirement. But if you were to tune into any financial talk show today, you might hear the host say that retirement isn’t even close to how it was for your parents and grandparents. Why?
Nowadays, people have a variety of issues that are different in scope or that weren’t even around for prior generations. Never-before-seen economic conditions (such as those tied to the COVID-19 pandemic), lengthened lifespans, and evolving financial risks are all contributors to this.
What’s more, the definition of retirement has changed. Nowadays, retirees are taking their golden years by the horns. They are enjoying full lives of second career acts, budding entrepreneurship, volunteerism, and pursuit of lifestyles that might have not been possible for their parents or grandparents.
Here’s a look at why retirement is different for people today than it was in the past — and how you personally can be ready for the changes.
Are you a public employee and close to retirement age? If you prefer to not ‘separate from service’ quite yet, opting for a DROP retirement program can be worthwhile.
Depending on your employer, DROP is short for “deferred retirement option program” or “deferred retirement option plan.” DROP plans first came about in the 1980s for public-sector employees. Currently, members of law enforcement, firefighters, educators, and other civil employees often have this sort of program as an option for delayed retirement.
You have probably heard of some of the many states that offer a DROP program, including Florida, Ohio, Texas, and California. Of course, state governments aren’t the only ones with DROP programs. Municipal governments also offer DROP retirement options to their employees.
DROP benefits can be a great boon to employees who would otherwise prefer to keep working and not quite settle into retirement. If you do have this option as part of your retirement benefits, it’s a good idea to look more into it and see if it might make sense for your working goals.
Are you unsure about whether your retirement system has a DROP option? You can check with your HR department for more information.
All of that said, here is a quick rundown of what deferred retirement option plans involve and what sort of benefits you might obtain from it as a long-term civil employee.