Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

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frcabot
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by frcabot »

nisiprius wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 3:38 pm
frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 3:17 pm ...FYI I’m a lawyer here including with securities litigation experience and I’ve actually read (and understood) the prospectus. Actually, although long, the prospectus is fairly straightforward and well organized with questions and answers...
Yes and no. The language doesn't seem obfuscated. However, it doesn't help that they are describing four different products at the same time, possibly because you are apparently allowed to mix and match different combinations of the four within the same account. There is a fixed interest strategy and three indexed strategies, two based on price return, one on total return, two with 72-month terms, one with a three-month return.

And the description of how the payoff is calculated on pp. 30 to 38, and thirteen different tables, may not be any more complicated than necessary, but that's pretty complicated.
Agree, I am referring here to the coupon strategy only and disregarding the floor and buffer strategies (the downside protection only applies after 6 years point to point and the SP500 has rarely been down after 6 years, let alone more than 10% (floor strategy)). I would disregard those strategies entirely. The fixed interest rate is also not competitive so I'd disregard that one as well. The only one that seems attractive is the coupon strategy.

In fact, while I know the SP500 has been slightly negative I think once or twice over a 10 year period (most recently 1999 to 2009), I don't know if it has ever been negative over a 6 year period--perhaps the great depression. Even then, I don't know if these negative periods factored in dividends, or whether this only considered the Price Return Index. Therefore, giving up dividends for the very remote possibility of partial downside protection is a sucker's bet.

The major caveat to the coupon strategy is that Gainbridge can cut the coupon rate at any time and the 0.25% bonus only applies for the three month period. Still, the coupon can't drop below 0.20%, so at best you get the Total Return Index plus 1% annually, and at worst you get the Total Return Index + 0.2%.

The only guarantee is that the coupon rate will not be less than 0.2%-in other words it could be 0.2%. In that case, you're locking up your money for 7 years with very little upside (beyond any tax deferral advantages by virtue of holding the SP500 in an annuity, but given that gains will be taxed as ordinary income when withdrawn, and the lack of step up in basis at death, this isn't an advantage at all for the vast majority of folks). And, potentially the downside of losing your investment (minus any eventual bankruptcy recovery or state guarantee association recovery) for only a 0.2% upside over investing directly in VOO.
Last edited by frcabot on Fri Aug 18, 2023 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Nate79 »

frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 2:52 pm
Nate79 wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 2:47 pm Who wouldn't want a product that gives the S&P500 total return + 1% per year with no fees. Back up the truck! Why would anyone buy the index fund itself if you could get such a product?

Now you need to find what you are missing because this is complete BS.
Right, so what are we missing?
Is the S&P total return what can be withdrawn after the surrender period or is that the value that can be annuitized?
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by frcabot »

Nate79 wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 4:39 pm
frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 2:52 pm
Nate79 wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 2:47 pm Who wouldn't want a product that gives the S&P500 total return + 1% per year with no fees. Back up the truck! Why would anyone buy the index fund itself if you could get such a product?

Now you need to find what you are missing because this is complete BS.
Right, so what are we missing?
Is the S&P total return what can be withdrawn after the surrender period or is that the value that can be annuitized?
either, but technically it's SP500 TR + 1% per year (or whatever the coupon rate is).
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

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frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 3:00 pm Ok, I think I know. It’s likely Gainbridge hopes to make up any loss on the back end through the annuitization options in the drawdown phase. I wouldn’t be surprised if the annuity payments amortization (ie the payments) are less than they’d be at eg Fidelity. See page 44 of the prospectus.

Of course, it’s possible to withdraw from the annuity without surrender charges after the 7 year holding period WITHOUT annuitizing the contract, or even rolling over the annuity through a 1035, but it’s possible that enough people will annuitize that Gainbridge can make money that way. This is still a best guess as the annuitization tables are not provided, and therefore there’s no way to compare the annuitization payments offered by Gainbridge versus eg Fidelity for a single life annuity or their other options.

So, assuming one is OK with the insurer risk (A-) rating, and the tax consequences (eg purchase with Qualified Assets), theoretically one could take advantage of the 1%, keep it locked up for at least 7 years, and come out ahead of the SP500 without electing the annuitization options. Lots of caveats here, however.
I must admit that I'm a bit confused about how Gainbridge plans to make any money on folks who allocate to the "Coupon Indexed" strategy. I've spent about an hour looking through the prospectus. (I agree that it's pretty straightforward, although a bit confusing since it's describing four distinctly different "strategies" within one product).

'The Coupon Indexed strategy currently pays an interest rate of 1% per year (0.25% per quarter) in excess of the S&P 500 Total Return index. The company guarantees that the Coupon Indexed strategy will always be available. However, the rate can be cut to as low as 0.20% per year (0.05% per quarter).

The prospectus has three other options - buffer indexed, floor indexed, and fixed interest. I can see how the each of those have non-guaranteed parameters that allow the company to generate profits. Because the insurer can make money in the "normal" ways (by setting the various rates in such a way as to make money), I didn't spend any time trying to fully understand them.

Back to the Coupon Indexed strategy -

The "coupon credit" is applied at the end of every three month period to the account value at that time. It has the effect of modestly increasing the interest credit, which is equal to the S&P 500 Total Return, when the index is positive for the quarter, and modestly cushioning the loss when the index is negative for the quarter.

I don't see any explicit fees in the contract. The only fees are surrender charges, that start off at 5% and grade down to 0% in policy year 7 and later. A person also forfeits any "coupon credits" if they don't wait for the end of the quarter to collect them.

I don't see any obvious places where Gainbridge would make money if a person was 100% in the Coupon Indexed strategy, kept the policy until the surrender charges wore off, and then surrendered. It would seem that Gainbridge is paying out the entire S&P 500 Total Return index, plus a little kicker on top of that.

There are some ways that Gainbridge could make some money, based on "inefficient" policyholder behavior:
--- The policyholder could surrender early and incur surrender charges.
--- The policyholder could invest all or part of his money in the other three strategies, which (probably) do make money for the company.
--- The policyholder can depart before the "credits" are deposited back to his account (end of the policy quarter for the Coupon strategy, end of 6 years for the other strategies).
--- Annuitization of the policy might be at rates favorable to the company.

Finally, as to the confusion about the name of the company. "Gainbridge Life" is a company licensed in 48 states (all but Florida and New York) that hasn't written any direct business to date, and is now issuing this RILA. It's a pretty small company, currently with just $150 million in assets, and it's rated A- by AM Best. Gainbridge Life is 100% owned by Clear Spring Life, which is the company that issues MYGAs. Marketing for both Gainbridge Life and Clear Spring Life is handled by the Gainbridge agency, whose website is gainbridge.io

I'd really welcome somebody figuring out what I'm missing here. Gainbridge, and its ultimate owner Group 1001, expects to make profits on its business. But I'll be darned if I can see how they'll make money on the Coupon Indexed strategy on the OneUp annuity.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by frcabot »

Stinky wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 5:22 pm
frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 3:00 pm Ok, I think I know. It’s likely Gainbridge hopes to make up any loss on the back end through the annuitization options in the drawdown phase. I wouldn’t be surprised if the annuity payments amortization (ie the payments) are less than they’d be at eg Fidelity. See page 44 of the prospectus.

Of course, it’s possible to withdraw from the annuity without surrender charges after the 7 year holding period WITHOUT annuitizing the contract, or even rolling over the annuity through a 1035, but it’s possible that enough people will annuitize that Gainbridge can make money that way. This is still a best guess as the annuitization tables are not provided, and therefore there’s no way to compare the annuitization payments offered by Gainbridge versus eg Fidelity for a single life annuity or their other options.

So, assuming one is OK with the insurer risk (A-) rating, and the tax consequences (eg purchase with Qualified Assets), theoretically one could take advantage of the 1%, keep it locked up for at least 7 years, and come out ahead of the SP500 without electing the annuitization options. Lots of caveats here, however.
I must admit that I'm a bit confused about how Gainbridge plans to make any money on folks who allocate to the "Coupon Indexed" strategy. I've spent about an hour looking through the prospectus. (I agree that it's pretty straightforward, although a bit confusing since it's describing four distinctly different "strategies" within one product).

'The Coupon Indexed strategy currently pays an interest rate of 1% per year (0.25% per quarter) in excess of the S&P 500 Total Return index. The company guarantees that the Coupon Indexed strategy will always be available. However, the rate can be cut to as low as 0.20% per year (0.05% per quarter).

The prospectus has three other options - buffer indexed, floor indexed, and fixed interest. I can see how the each of those have non-guaranteed parameters that allow the company to generate profits. Because the insurer can make money in the "normal" ways (by setting the various rates in such a way as to make money), I didn't spend any time trying to fully understand them.

Back to the Coupon Indexed strategy -

The "coupon credit" is applied at the end of every three month period to the account value at that time. It has the effect of modestly increasing the interest credit, which is equal to the S&P 500 Total Return, when the index is positive for the quarter, and modestly cushioning the loss when the index is negative for the quarter.

I don't see any explicit fees in the contract. The only fees are surrender charges, that start off at 5% and grade down to 0% in policy year 7 and later. A person also forfeits any "coupon credits" if they don't wait for the end of the quarter to collect them.

I don't see any obvious places where Gainbridge would make money if a person was 100% in the Coupon Indexed strategy, kept the policy until the surrender charges wore off, and then surrendered. It would seem that Gainbridge is paying out the entire S&P 500 Total Return index, plus a little kicker on top of that.

There are some ways that Gainbridge could make some money, based on "inefficient" policyholder behavior:
--- The policyholder could surrender early and incur surrender charges.
--- The policyholder could invest all or part of his money in the other three strategies, which (probably) do make money for the company.
--- The policyholder can depart before the "credits" are deposited back to his account (end of the policy quarter for the Coupon strategy, end of 6 years for the other strategies).
--- Annuitization of the policy might be at rates favorable to the company.

Finally, as to the confusion about the name of the company. "Gainbridge Life" is a company licensed in 48 states (all but Florida and New York) that hasn't written any direct business to date, and is now issuing this RILA. It's a pretty small company, currently with just $150 million in assets, and it's rated A- by AM Best. Gainbridge Life is 100% owned by Clear Spring Life, which is the company that issues MYGAs. Marketing for both Gainbridge Life and Clear Spring Life is handled by the Gainbridge agency, whose website is gainbridge.io

I'd really welcome somebody figuring out what I'm missing here. Gainbridge, and its ultimate owner Group 1001, expects to make profits on its business. But I'll be darned if I can see how they'll make money on the Coupon Indexed strategy on the OneUp annuity.
Yep. I think they intend to make money either through inefficient customer behavior (eg surrendering or allocating to other non-coupon strategies) or on the back end through annuitization -- assuming that some percentage of customers choose to annuitize rather than withdraw or roll over. What gives me the most pause is that there's no SIPC insurance, and if the insurance company goes belly-up, then the investor doesn't own the underlying SP500 securities and is just a general creditor.

Out of curiosity where did you see a guarantee that the coupon rate would be at least 0.05% per quarter or 0.2% per year? The only guarantee I saw is that the coupon rate would be at least 0?
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by nisiprius »

Stinky wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 5:22 pm Finally, as to the confusion about the name of the company. "Gainbridge Life" is a company licensed in 48 states (all but Florida and New York)
New York famously has strict regulation of insurance companies, which often must set up a separate business to sell policies in New York. If a company can't meet the requirements for New York, in my opinion that's a yellow flag.
...that hasn't written any direct business to date, and is now issuing this RILA. It's a pretty small company, currently with just $150 million in assets, and it's rated A- by AM Best.
And since Gainbridge's website only mention's AM Best, I think we can take it that they have not been rated by Fitch, Moody's, or S&P, which is another yellow flag.
I'd really welcome somebody figuring out what I'm missing here. Gainbridge, and its ultimate owner Group 1001, expects to make profits on its business. But I'll be darned if I can see how they'll make money on the Coupon Indexed strategy on the OneUp annuity.
(Shrug) Maybe it really is a loss leader, and they just hope to break even or not lose money. Notice that the withdrawal charges are front-end loaded, so if it is a marginal or slightly losing business, the bleeding won't start for years. Maybe they'll offer it for a few years to attract customers, then discontinue that option, and hope that by then they will be making enough money on the other options to cover any slight losses.

Maybe it's a bait-and-switch, and if you actually try to open a 100% Coupon Indexed account someone will contact you and try to talk you into "diversifying" with the others, and mentioning, pointedly, that the coupon indexed strategy doesn't limit your downside.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

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frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 5:48 pm
Out of curiosity where did you see a guarantee that the coupon rate would be at least 0.05% per quarter or 0.2% per year? The only guarantee I saw is that the coupon rate would be at least 0?
It’s on numbered page 7 (pdf page 12) in the second long paragraph from the bottom of the page. Repeated on numbered page 23 (pdf page 28).
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by frcabot »

Stinky wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 6:12 pm
frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 5:48 pm
Out of curiosity where did you see a guarantee that the coupon rate would be at least 0.05% per quarter or 0.2% per year? The only guarantee I saw is that the coupon rate would be at least 0?
It’s on numbered page 7 (pdf page 12) in the second long paragraph from the bottom of the page. Repeated on numbered page 23 (pdf page 28).
Sure enough. Thanks!
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by frcabot »

As an update, I tried to sign up just to see what would happen. The OneUp doesn't appear in the drop down list at account creation, only the MYGA does. I'm in CA. I don't see any exclusions for CA, so maybe this product is no longer being offered? Or perhaps only being offered by phone?
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by nisiprius »

frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 6:42 pm As an update, I tried to sign up just to see what would happen. The OneUp doesn't appear in the drop down list at account creation, only the MYGA does. I'm in CA. I don't see any exclusions for CA, so maybe this product is no longer being offered? Or perhaps only being offered by phone?
Interesting.

The prospectus is dated May 2023, and this press release is dated June 1st, 2023 so that would be stunningly short-lived.

I'm think it's more likely that there was some kind of glitch in launching it or setting up the website (which I think would have to allow you to choose the percentages of the four different strategies, etc.)

On an unrelated topic, doesn't the name "Gainbridge" seem uncomfortably close to Corebridge, another annuity provider?
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Stinky »

nisiprius wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 8:03 pm
frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 6:42 pm As an update, I tried to sign up just to see what would happen. The OneUp doesn't appear in the drop down list at account creation, only the MYGA does. I'm in CA. I don't see any exclusions for CA, so maybe this product is no longer being offered? Or perhaps only being offered by phone?
Interesting.

The prospectus is dated May 2023, and this press release is dated June 1st, 2023 so that would be stunningly short-lived.

I'm think it's more likely that there was some kind of glitch in launching it or setting up the website (which I think would have to allow you to choose the percentages of the four different strategies, etc.)
I tried it for my state, and I got both products.

It’s highly likely that the new product is not yet approved for sale in California, and maybe in other states.

Even though Gainbridge Life is licensed in 48 states, every policy form must be individually filed and approved in each state before the product can be sold there.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by petulant »

nisiprius wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 3:22 pm
petulant wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 12:20 pm ...We have got to drop the missing dividend myth from the BH repertoire on these products. FIAs and so on buy call options that are ultimately hedged through another entity holding the underlying asset. The price of the call option is set based on the expected dividends to be received by the hedger. So, the product is getting the benefit of the dividends through the options being cheaper and the option budget stretching further. For example, thanks to the dividends, maybe a generic FIA benchmarked against the S&P 500 price index has a 70% participation rate instead of 65%, or an 8% cap instead of a 7% cap, etc.
Let me rephrase my gripe, then.

It gets indefinite because we have no real way of knowing how these products are sold to customers and how customers understand or misunderstand what they are getting.

In the case of a typical FIA, not the Gainsbridge product that is the thread topic, I believe that many customers think that they are getting "the S&P 500" without the downside. There are many layers of complexity and phonus-balonus. But two important ones are this. Let's use your hypothetical percentages.

a) The fact that there is only partial participation is a hidden problem with the product. Defenders will say, of course, that it isn't "hidden" at all, but we would need to interview customers and find out how many of them can state correctly what the participation percentage is, and how many of them just are dazed by dozens of details that were rattled off quickly and didn't sink in.

b) In this framing, the use of a price index instead of a total return index serves to further hide things by making the participation percentage look larger than it is. That is, they might see a 70% participation rate on the price index, and believe that they are getting 70% of what they would be getting in an index fund, when it is really only 65%.

It is important for customers to know whether they are buying the total return index or the price index, and therefore when someone asks about a product, it is appropriate to point out whenever a price index is used, because I believe many people do not understand this.
Of course the typical FIA treads on misleading marketing by telling customers that they will have stock-like returns with no losses. This is my post earlier in the thread:
petulant wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 12:16 pmThe products are also popular because investors are misled. They hear returns tied to the stock market, which is a wrong impression. The returns are still driven by bonds, which make up 96% of the assets backing these products and the returns of which set the options budget setting the participation and cap rates. These will not earn fundamentally different amounts than bond portfolios.
But just because there are some problems A and B, which are misleading marketing and a lot of ability to change the parameters of the product after the fact, doesn't mean that people should keep repeating problem C, if it doesn't really exist.

Fully informed investors who were interested in a (synthetic) collar strategy, which is what fuels FIA products, would not be bothered because they know options are always priced on the price index and that expected dividends are priced into options premiums. So, it's really not a problem.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

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Any investment that remains murky after the panel that populates this board reviews it is a hard pass for me. There are so many crystal clear cheap as chips investment options out there why even bother trying to puzzle an obscure company and product out. As for the comment above about NY that is 100% true they are very strict and the dodgy carriers avoid it like the plague.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by nisiprius »

petulant wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 11:58 pm...Fully informed investors who were interested in a (synthetic) collar strategy, which is what fuels FIA products, would not be bothered...
Thanks, I think "synthetic collar strategy" is the term I didn't know and needed to know. I suppose I ought to know what they are, too, but that can wait...

What percentage of all people interested in FIAs are saying "I am looking for a convenient way to implement a synthetic collar strategy?"

I think what some FIA (and RILA?) defenders are saying is that "if you consider them just as a vehicle for investing in a synthetic collar strategy, they are not such a bad choice as the costs are not all that unreasonable." Did I hear you correctly? (Which begs the question, for whom is the strategy itself a better way of reducing risk than merely dialing down stock allocation?)

With respect to the sudden emergence of new products, I was wondering not just about RILAs, but also about ETFs like the Innovator Power Buffer, Simplify Hedged Equity, and Global X S&P 500 Collar 95-110 ETF. I assume that synthetic collar strategies have been around for a long time, so why all of a sudden are we getting them in ETF form? And, perhaps, in a new form in annuities?
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by petulant »

nisiprius wrote: Sat Aug 19, 2023 7:31 am
petulant wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 11:58 pm...Fully informed investors who were interested in a (synthetic) collar strategy, which is what fuels FIA products, would not be bothered...
Thanks, I think "synthetic collar strategy" is the term I didn't know and needed to know. I suppose I ought to know what they are, too, but that can wait...

What percentage of all people interested in FIAs are saying "I am looking for a convenient way to implement a synthetic collar strategy?"

I think what some FIA (and RILA?) defenders are saying is that "if you consider them just as a vehicle for investing in a synthetic collar strategy, they are not such a bad choice as the costs are not all that unreasonable." Did I hear you correctly? (Which begs the question, for whom is the strategy itself a better way of reducing risk than merely dialing down stock allocation?)

With respect to the sudden emergence of new products, I was wondering not just about RILAs, but also about ETFs like the Innovator Power Buffer, Simplify Hedged Equity, and Global X S&P 500 Collar 95-110 ETF. I assume that synthetic collar strategies have been around for a long time, so why all of a sudden are we getting them in ETF form? And, perhaps, in a new form in annuities?
Nobody is saying they want a synthetic collar strategy, but some might implicitly want it. Especially after last year people want some way to earn returns with no downside risk. Whether that's smart I'm not sure.

Some FIAs might be a reasonable vehicle for a synthetic collar. Options strategies are very tax inefficient since they create frequent realization events. Putting them in a deferral vehicle is valuable. When I've tried to compare numbers on SPY options to FIA numbers, I've tried to solve for the implicit options budget and often ended up around what one would get from a long Treasury portfolio. So add a little more fees, and one is in the range of only a little bit of a bad deal. But note, a lot of these are sold with guaranteed withdrawal benefits or similar rights that come with extra fees and are a whole other animal, which Stinky and I have gone on about at length in other threads, so it's hard to compare.

But yes, most people are better off just cutting stock exposure if they're risk averse and then cutting duration exposure if they're worried about 2022 in bonds. I have often said that in contexts before someone has actually bought something. Part of the problem with that advice over the last 10 years has been how ZIRP reduced bond returns and especially low duration. If ZIRP is lastingly undone hopefully we can get back to persuasively recommending 30/70 with low duration for really risk averse people. One reason these are better is better tax treatment; bonds go in tax-deferred, and stocks in taxable/Roth, much better than non-qualified annuities unless we specify some unusual assumptions.

I am puzzled by the ETFs adopting floor and buffer strategies as well. The only thing I can think is that it's a marketing arms race for people who are buying these. RIAs know the annuity wrapper is pretty bad to layer on top of a rollover IRA and they might not be licensed or want to partner with an insurance distributor. So RIAs and similar are probably trying to make sure they have something easy to stick in the account when clients come asking about the latest pitch from the annuity guy. One of the biggest problems in our personal finance ecosystem in my opinion are the silos between the insurance product people, broker-dealers, and RIAs. It might also be that the ETFs will handle these more tax efficiently than we think due to heartbeat trades etc.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Stinky »

nisiprius wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 5:55 pm New York famously has strict regulation of insurance companies, which often must set up a separate business to sell policies in New York. If a company can't meet the requirements for New York, in my opinion that's a yellow flag.
FellsGuy wrote: Sat Aug 19, 2023 7:15 am As for the comment above about NY that is 100% true they are very strict and the dodgy carriers avoid it like the plague.
Part of my job during my working days was to interface with the state insurance regulators on behalf of my company. I visited with insurance departments in more than a dozen states, including visiting the New York Insurance Department multiple times.

New York has a well deserved reputation for being a tough, even difficult, regulator of insurance companies. Their rules in many areas, including the amount of capital and reserves that must be set aside to back insurance products, are without a doubt the toughest in the nation. And the rules have been tough since before I started in the insurance business in the 1970s.

Ostensibly, the NY rules provide for superior consumer protection.

But, in practice, the NY rules have caused many companies to decline to write business in New York, because business written there would be unprofitable under New York rules. That's why you'll see a lot of companies that are widely licensed to sell business everywhere except New York. And many of the insurers who do write in New York choose to do so through a separate, single-state company that is licensed only in New York. That way, they can customize their products to the NY regulations.

Instead of providing extra consumer protection, I believe that the NY rules limit consumer choices and raise consumer costs. For example, most of the attractive level term life insurance policies are simply not available in New York State, as you can see if you look at term4sale.com or other agency websites.

And you can definitely see the limitation of consumer choice when you look at MYGAs. On the Blueprint Income website, there are 186 MYGA choices available to a resident of Texas, and 169 choices available in Florida. Even in California, whose insurance department can be "difficult" to deal with (ask me how I know), there are 98 MYGA choices available. But the residents of New York have only 25 MYGA choices, and the most attractive interest rates are simply not available to New York residents.

In my view, New York State has done a disservice to its residents by having insurance regulations that suppress competition and competitive products. And New York consumers pay the price for its overly tight regulation.

I don't think of "dodgy" or "yellow flag" when I look at carriers who have chosen to not be licensed in New York State. I think of carriers that have made a logical business decision to avoid punitive regulation, and end up not serving New York consumers in the process.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by DrDubious »

For those looking at the coupon strategy and wondering “what is the catch?”…maybe this is it?

“Minimum payments for all Settlement Options are based on a 1.00% annuitization interest rate. The value of any Settlement Option will not be less than would be provided by the application of the Surrender Value to purchase a single premium immediate annuity contract from us by the same class of annuitants at the time of your election.”

I am not sure whether 1% is the industry standard here, but it seems a little low to this layperson.

I am also not sure whether gainbridge plans on marketing competitive SPIA’s that would lend any real meaning to the second.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Stinky »

DrDubious wrote: Sat Dec 30, 2023 3:31 pm For those looking at the coupon strategy and wondering “what is the catch?”…maybe this is it?

“Minimum payments for all Settlement Options are based on a 1.00% annuitization interest rate. The value of any Settlement Option will not be less than would be provided by the application of the Surrender Value to purchase a single premium immediate annuity contract from us by the same class of annuitants at the time of your election.”

I am not sure whether 1% is the industry standard here, but it seems a little low to this layperson.

I am also not sure whether gainbridge plans on marketing competitive SPIA’s that would lend any real meaning to the second.
What you’re quoting is pretty standard annuity contract language.

Nothing nefarious there.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by GoWithTheCashFlow »

To those who have read and understood the prospectus, have you purchased the product and invested in the coupon indexed strategy? If not, why not?
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by DrDubious »

Haven’t done it yet but am giving serious consideration to using it for Roth IRA space, in an amount that I would predict will stay under state guarantee amounts for at least 7 years. That way, insurance company risk is covered. If the stock market goes bonkers and puts me over the limits within 7 years, I can mitigate risk with 10% withdrawals. After 7 years I can eliminate the risk completely by surrendering down to the state limits, or entirely if I want the money for something else.

By using Roth space, I don’t have to worry about changing capital gains into ordinary income.

I really don’t see any other drawback to the coupon strategy to money that would have been invested in a manner similar to an S and P 500 fund in the Roth space.

The only other potential issue I can imagine would be some snafu with the the mechanics of getting surrendered money out of the annuity and back into the brokerage.

Can anybody think of any other concrete downside?
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Stinky »

DrDubious wrote: Sat Jan 20, 2024 11:37 am Haven’t done it yet but am giving serious consideration to using it for Roth IRA space, in an amount that I would predict will stay under state guarantee amounts for at least 7 years. That way, insurance company risk is covered. If the stock market goes bonkers and puts me over the limits within 7 years, I can mitigate risk with 10% withdrawals. After 7 years I can eliminate the risk completely by surrendering down to the state limits, or entirely if I want the money for something else.

By using Roth space, I don’t have to worry about changing capital gains into ordinary income.

I really don’t see any other drawback to the coupon strategy to money that would have been invested in a manner similar to an S and P 500 fund in the Roth space.

The only other potential issue I can imagine would be some snafu with the the mechanics of getting surrendered money out of the annuity and back into the brokerage.

Can anybody think of any other concrete downside?
This thread is now 5 months old and nobody has found an obvious “gotcha” as of yet. The “S&P plus 1%” credited rate sounds took good to be true, but I don’t recall any holes being pokes into it.

If you do purchase the policy, I’d really appreciate if you’d read your policy once it’s issued and post back here with any observations - good, bad, or indifferent.

You might even be able to get a “specimen” contract from the company prior to committing to the purchase.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by GaryA505 »

Stinky wrote: Sat Jan 20, 2024 11:43 am
DrDubious wrote: Sat Jan 20, 2024 11:37 am Haven’t done it yet but am giving serious consideration to using it for Roth IRA space, in an amount that I would predict will stay under state guarantee amounts for at least 7 years. That way, insurance company risk is covered. If the stock market goes bonkers and puts me over the limits within 7 years, I can mitigate risk with 10% withdrawals. After 7 years I can eliminate the risk completely by surrendering down to the state limits, or entirely if I want the money for something else.

By using Roth space, I don’t have to worry about changing capital gains into ordinary income.

I really don’t see any other drawback to the coupon strategy to money that would have been invested in a manner similar to an S and P 500 fund in the Roth space.

The only other potential issue I can imagine would be some snafu with the the mechanics of getting surrendered money out of the annuity and back into the brokerage.

Can anybody think of any other concrete downside?
This thread is now 5 months old and nobody has found an obvious “gotcha” as of yet. The “S&P plus 1%” credited rate sounds took good to be true, but I don’t recall any holes being pokes into it.

If you do purchase the policy, I’d really appreciate if you’d read your policy once it’s issued and post back here with any observations - good, bad, or indifferent.

You might even be able to get a “specimen” contract from the company prior to committing to the purchase.
It's good you followed up on this. I've never seen a FIA product that uses the S&P 500 TR and I at first thought this was surely an error on the part of the OP. As Stan the Annuity Man says, "If it seems to be too good to be true, it is, every time". But maybe it's a loss-leader, or they're counting on early withdrawal penalties, or something.
Get most of it right and don't make any big mistakes. All else being equal, simpler is better. Simple is as simple does.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by exodusNH »

Stinky wrote: Sat Jan 20, 2024 11:43 am
DrDubious wrote: Sat Jan 20, 2024 11:37 am Haven’t done it yet but am giving serious consideration to using it for Roth IRA space, in an amount that I would predict will stay under state guarantee amounts for at least 7 years. That way, insurance company risk is covered. If the stock market goes bonkers and puts me over the limits within 7 years, I can mitigate risk with 10% withdrawals. After 7 years I can eliminate the risk completely by surrendering down to the state limits, or entirely if I want the money for something else.

By using Roth space, I don’t have to worry about changing capital gains into ordinary income.

I really don’t see any other drawback to the coupon strategy to money that would have been invested in a manner similar to an S and P 500 fund in the Roth space.

The only other potential issue I can imagine would be some snafu with the the mechanics of getting surrendered money out of the annuity and back into the brokerage.

Can anybody think of any other concrete downside?
This thread is now 5 months old and nobody has found an obvious “gotcha” as of yet. The “S&P plus 1%” credited rate sounds took good to be true, but I don’t recall any holes being pokes into it.

If you do purchase the policy, I’d really appreciate if you’d read your policy once it’s issued and post back here with any observations - good, bad, or indifferent.

You might even be able to get a “specimen” contract from the company prior to committing to the purchase.
Other than they can change the rates and factors after the initial term. If I'm reading the disclosure correctly, for the Coupon strategy that's 3 months.

It's interesting that the OneUp™️©️🌭🍕popup shows the total return index for the floor and buffer, but when you dig into other places, it's the price return, which makes more sense. Tsk tsk to the marketing people who made the mistake and the compliance people who missed it.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by DrDubious »

Well, I took the plunge.

Sent in the request to transfer a portion of my Roth IRA at Fidelity to Gainbridge using the “Coupon” strategy.

I would not call the website well-designed or the customer service exemplary, but I have a signed contract and am awaiting the funding to go through. We’ll see how that goes. But so far, if there is a gotcha-delivery mechanism it has yet to be deployed. I accept that they can change my return from 1% above S and P 500 total return to 0.2% at any time and I will be stuck with surrender charges for 6 years. I can live with that risk.

FWIW it does not appear based on my contract number that a ton of these contracts are getting sold. (Think in terms of that old joke about someone being so old their Social security number is 12.). Which to me, for now, seems like a shame since I think this model of an effectively no fee annuity could have value for people who want to invest aggressively in their Roth space or get out of a crappy underwater life insurance policy.

I will check back periodically if anything noteworthy comes up.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Stinky »

DrDubious wrote: Wed Feb 21, 2024 1:44 pm Well, I took the plunge.

Sent in the request to transfer a portion of my Roth IRA at Fidelity to Gainbridge using the “Coupon” strategy.

I would not call the website well-designed or the customer service exemplary, but I have a signed contract and am awaiting the funding to go through. We’ll see how that goes. But so far, if there is a gotcha-delivery mechanism it has yet to be deployed. I accept that they can change my return from 1% above S and P 500 total return to 0.2% at any time and I will be stuck with surrender charges for 6 years. I can live with that risk.

FWIW it does not appear based on my contract number that a ton of these contracts are getting sold. (Think in terms of that old joke about someone being so old their Social security number is 12.). Which to me, for now, seems like a shame since I think this model of an effectively no fee annuity could have value for people who want to invest aggressively in their Roth space or get out of a crappy underwater life insurance policy.

I will check back periodically if anything noteworthy comes up.
Thank you for taking the plunge and purchasing one of these policies.

A little technical note - I wouldn’t think that you have a “signed contract” as of now if funding hasn’t arrived yet from Fidelity. Usually, the “issue date” for an annuity is the day that funds arrive at the insurance company. Maybe you have a “specimen contract” right now?

Once your policy is issued, and after you take a look at it, I’d appreciate if you’d post back in May after you’ve finished your first 3 months in the contract. If I understand correctly, the “Coupon” strategy you’ve chosen posts interest every three months. I expect that many Bogleheads will be interested to hear if you really do get S&P total return plus 0.25% for the quarter. That information should be available at the Gainbridge website.

Thanks for keeping us up to date.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by DrDubious »

Brief update.

It took a while to figure out how to enter the application online, but once I did I was contacted by gainbridge and had to fill out some actual paperwork, which I emailed back to them. They then used that to request a check from the brokerage, which then took a few days to generate and be delivered to Gainbridge.

But it looks like the process is complete.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by jhblegend »

This thread is honestly a gem to read through. Similarly, Principal offers a RILA with an S&P 500 participation rate north of 100% - 120% with a 10% downside buffer. It is indexed to the Price Return, not total return however.

Called Principal® Strategic Outcomes: https://risann-rates.prod.principalaws. ... /pso/rates

I would find it hard to believe they would make money on perfectly optimal policyholder behavior, but ultimately we have no way of knowing that. And this prospectus come in at a whopping 368 pages, wonderful. https://connect.rightprospectus.com/Pri ... &site=RILA
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by brandeis »

In my opinion, it's very sketchy that they don't have a product brochure, but I did some digging in the FAQ section rather than going through the lengthy prospectus. I found this line: "We reserve the right to stop offering a new Floor or Buffer Indexed Strategies in the future. If we exercise this right, you will be limited to the Fixed Interest Strategy or the Coupon Indexed Strategy, which may provide less than 1% of downside protection." To me, this makes it a variable annuity with unlimited downside potential. The good thing is that you can reallocate to the fixed account if you think it will be a bad year, but you can only do that at the end of a term. Additionally, as others have said, there is no liquidity in this product in the way that it is structured (buffers are credited on the last day of the term, not daily). I think there are better VAs out there, but of course those will have fees whereas this one does not (I believe) because it isn't technically a VA. This isn't a bad product whatsoever, as it stands, but I worry they will screw you on renewals due to the quote I provided, but perhaps they won't. If they do, then times will probably be tough for everyone at the time so you would presumably just temporarily switch to the fixed account for a term or two. The unlimited upside potential is a huge sell though, and it is credited daily. If you don't have to touch the money for 6 years anyways, why not? As you can probably tell, I'm undecided on my opinion of this product yet haha. I love the Brighthouse Shield Level Select for reference. The difference with this Gainbridge one is that you have immediate participation in the market and immediate buffer protection if you do not withdraw (at least for the first year, since renewals are subject to eliminate a buffer if they please) whereas with Brighthouse your buffer and participation accrue daily, so the first two years of it are not great. Lots to consider here for sure.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by DrDubious »

Three months into the contract.

There are two notations on the website indicating gains made in the account.

One reflects the credit attributable to the change in the index. This has been updating daily according to market results.

The other appeared after the completion of the third month reflecting a credit of 1/4 % of the original contribution, as promised.

In other words, so far, so good.

It would seem reasonable based on my experience to include this annuity on the short list of those considered a “fair deal.”
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Stinky »

DrDubious wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:26 am Three months into the contract.

There are two notations on the website indicating gains made in the account.

One reflects the credit attributable to the change in the index. This has been updating daily according to market results.

The other appeared after the completion of the third month reflecting a credit of 1/4 % of the original contribution, as promised.

In other words, so far, so good.

It would seem reasonable based on my experience to include this annuity on the short list of those considered a “fair deal.”
I really appreciate your update.

Your posts have encouraged me to take the plunge. I’ll plan to buy a (small) OneUp MYGA myself, and I’ll also report on the progress.

I’ll fund from my Vanguard IRA.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by EricGold »

Stinky wrote: Sat Aug 19, 2023 12:59 pm In my view, New York State has done a disservice to its residents by having insurance regulations that suppress competition and competitive products. And New York consumers pay the price for its overly tight regulation.
Pardon to all for going somewhat off-tangent, but NYS regulation and bureaucracy has to be experienced to be believed. I have lots of stories, but I'll share one:

I sent a registered letter to the NYS medical board that held a document they required. A couple of weeks later I called to follow-up a lack of response. I was told that the Dept gives itself 6 WEEKS to *open the letter". I was in NYS for post-grad training. The thought of getting stuck there for employment was a distinctly unpleasant thought.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Stinky »

EricGold wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 8:21 am
Stinky wrote: Sat Aug 19, 2023 12:59 pm In my view, New York State has done a disservice to its residents by having insurance regulations that suppress competition and competitive products. And New York consumers pay the price for its overly tight regulation.
Pardon to all for going somewhat off-tangent, but NYS regulation and bureaucracy has to be experienced to be believed. I have lots of stories, but I'll share one:

I sent a registered letter to the NYS medical board that held a document they required. A couple of weeks later I called to follow-up a lack of response. I was told that the Dept gives itself 6 WEEKS to *open the letter". I was in NYS for post-grad training. The thought of getting stuck there for employment was a distinctly unpleasant thought.
Yes, New York State is a pretty difficult place for life insurers to operate. And that affects the choices that consumers are able to make.

The Blueprint Income site makes it easy to count the number of individual product offerings available within each state. For example, Texas, which has regulations that are not unfriendly to insurance, shows 186 product offerings available to Texas residents with $100,000 to invest in a MYGA.

Many states have 160-180 products available to consumers.

California, which has more restrictive insurance regulations, has 124 product offerings currently available on Blueprint Income.

But the residents of New York State have only 26 product offerings available to them. And the highest rate for any product for any term is 5.05%, compared to Texas whose highest rate is 6.15%.

In my view, the limited product choice is a direct result of the numerous NY Insurance Department rules and regulations that make New York State a distinctly unfriendly environment for insurance companies. And the situation is bad enough that the insurers are willing to stay out of a market with almost 20 million people in order to avoid needing to comply with the onerous and burdensome rules.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by nisiprius »

I perceive these as being in a category: "products that do exactly what they say, but whose salability relies on the likelihood that buyers don't understand exactly what they do." They are products designed to be misunderstood. They are products that need to be explained to a prospect, giving opportunities for a seller to misrepresent--through omission, through choice of emphasis, through biased presentation.

The defense of this kind of product is that hey, they aren't outright frauds, they do make money, they might make more than a CD, and they might sometimes be a better match for a particular customer's taste for risk than some other product. And if a customer makes some money when the stock market is up somewhat, and doesn't lose money when the stock market is down somewhat, they might be satisfied and never compare it to alternatives.

IMHO not a compelling product from the point of view of buying one--even if it is better than magic beans.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by DrDubious »

nisiprius wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 9:54 am I perceive these as being in a category: "products that do exactly what they say, but whose salability relies on the likelihood that buyers don't understand exactly what they do." They are products designed to be misunderstood. They are products that need to be explained to a prospect, giving opportunities for a seller to misrepresent--through omission, through choice of emphasis, through biased presentation.

The defense of this kind of product is that hey, they aren't outright frauds, they do make money, they might make more than a CD, and they might sometimes be a better match for a particular customer's taste for risk than some other product. And if a customer makes some money when the stock market is up somewhat, and doesn't lose money when the stock market is down somewhat, they might be satisfied and never compare it to alternatives.

IMHO not a compelling product from the point of view of buying one--even if it is better than magic beans.
I respect your opinion a great deal, but if you are referring the product I purchased which delivers the returns of the S and P 500 + 1 %, I am going to have to disagree.

The only cost is tying your money up for the surrender charge period. If you have qualified money that you are not going to need in the next 7 years and are hoping to get equity-like returns, I see no downside as long as you are below your state’s guarantee limits. The worst that can happen is if gainbridge reduces the coupon bonus to the contractual minimum, in which case it will only outperform the total return of the s and p 500 by less than expected.

Like you say, it does what it says, but unlike what you say, it’s not all that complex or even a little bit deceptive.

Please note that I will reserve comment on any of the downside-limiting strategies, not because I think they’re deceptive but because there was no need to analyze them to utilize the strategy that is guaranteed to beat the s and p, let alone magic beans, albeit by a small amount.
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Re: Thoughts on Gainbridge OneUp Annuity?

Post by Stinky »

frcabot wrote: Fri Aug 18, 2023 3:17 pm
I might throw a little bit in a Roth IRA (like a couple percent of my portfolio) where the taxation issues wouldn’t be a factor, for example replacing part of my VTI or VOO holdings.
You started this thread almost a year ago, said that you read and pretty well understood the prospectus, and said that you might take the plunge and buy the product.

I’m curious - did you decide to purchase the product?
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