The 5% Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefit: Paying Something For Nothing?

April 2008
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Due to the aging of the baby boom generation retirement income has become a topic of widespread interest. Retirees want products that insure they will not outlive income, have some inflation protection, and at the same time maintain flexibility and control. The Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefit (GMWB) product seems to offer everything that retirees are looking for. However, a deep dive into the data will reveal that it does not offer much value. We believe that the fees will result in a diminished estate, and a retiree would most likely not outlive the income stream it produces even without purchasing the protection. Furthermore, we believe that a life annuity would provide better inflation protection and can potentially leave a larger estate.