What Is an Accumulation Period?
An accumulation period (or accumulation phase) is the segment of time in which contributions to an investment are made regularly, or premiums are paid on an insurance product, such as an annuity, intended to be used for retirement purposes. Once payments commence on an annuity, the contract is in the annuitization phase.
- For an annuity, the accumulation period is the segment of time in which contributions to the investment are made regularly.
- The length of the accumulation period may be specified at the time the account is created, or it may depend on when you elect to withdraw funds based on your retirement timeline.
- Once payments commence on an annuity, the contract is in the annuitization phase, which may provide retirement income for life.
Understanding the Accumulation Period
An accumulation period is the time period during which an investor builds up their savings and the value of their investment portfolio, usually with the intention of having a nest egg for retirement. As the name implies, the money in your account or the value of your investment capital accumulates continuously over time until the point when you are ready and able to access it. The length of the accumulation period may be specified at the time the account is created, or it may depend on when you elect to withdraw funds based on your retirement timeline.
In the context of a deferred annuity, the accumulation period is the period of time when the annuitant is making contributions to the annuity and building up the value of their annuity account. This is usually followed by the annuitization phase, when guaranteed payments are paid out to the annuitant for a specified period of time, which would usually be for the rest of their life.
Accumulation Period and Retirement Planning
Deferred annuities are a popular tactic for investing for retirement purposes. Investors can choose from several types of deferred annuities, such as variable, fixed, or equity-indexed. Each type has its own specific characteristics, and each can have pros and cons depending on your particular financial situation and long-term investment goals. They have varying degrees of risk, so the right option would also depend on your comfort level with risk.
The benefits of deferred annuities include possible tax advantages, along with the security of knowing you will have income to support your financial needs during retirement. A long accumulation period can be a smart financial strategy for those who are hoping to save as much as possible for their retirement needs.
As part of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, several provisions were included to encourage employers to offer their employees annuities as part of their 401(k) retirement options. These provisions include establishing an ERISA fiduciary safe harbor, which provides certain liability protections to plan fiduciaries who offer annuities inside their 401(k) plan. The SECURE Act also makes annuities in a 401(k) portable, meaning employees who change jobs or retire can transfer their annuity into another direct trustee-to-trustee plan without triggering surrender charges and fees.
By choosing to defer spending until later in life, individuals create savings that can be invested in the marketplace and therefore grow over time. If they periodically invest money over the duration of their working lives, individuals can create a very lengthy accumulation period during which their savings can grow to substantial proportions. In a deferred annuity, the greater your contributions are during the accumulation period and the longer the accumulation period is, the greater your income stream will be once you begin the annuitization phase.
Example of Annuity
A life insurance policy is an example of a fixed annuity in which an individual pays a fixed amount each month for a predetermined time period (typically until age 59½) and receives a fixed income stream during their retirement years.
For instance, say that an annuity guarantees $1,000 of monthly income for the lifetime of the annuity holder from age 65 onwards. In order to fulfill that future payout, the annuity holder must contribute $100 a month until age 60. This payment in is the accumulation period.