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Athene Annuity Review

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Athene Annuity was founded in 2009 amid the financial crisis. It was created on the premise that the market was in need of a strong and reliable retirement company during a time of instability. The members of the executive management team here have, on average, 25 years of experience in the financial services industry.

Annuity Fees Annuity Type Minimum Initial Premium More Information
Athene Agility 10 Find an Advisor

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  • No base contract fee
Fixed indexed annuity $10,000

Annuity Type

Fixed indexed annuity

Minimum Initial Premium

$10,000
Athene Ascent Pro 10 Find an Advisor

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  • No base contract fee
  • 1% annual income rider fee
Fixed indexed annuity $10,000

Annuity Type

Fixed indexed annuity

Minimum Initial Premium

$10,000
Athene Performance Elite 7 Find an Advisor

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  • No base contract fee
  • 0.95% annual liquidity rider fee
Fixed indexed annuity $10,000

Annuity Type

Fixed indexed annuity

Minimum Initial Premium

$10,000
Athene MaxRate Find an Advisor

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  • No base contract fee
Multi-year guarantee annuity $10,000

Annuity Type

Multi-year guarantee annuity

Minimum Initial Premium

$10,000
Athene Protector 5 Find an Advisor

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  • No base contract fee
  • 0.4% annual return of premium rider fee
Fixed indexed annuity $10,000

Annuity Type

Fixed indexed annuity

Minimum Initial Premium

$10,000

The financial well-being of any financial institution should be of the utmost importance to its customers. But for annuity companies, this is especially relevant due to the longevity of the relationships with its annuitants. Athene holds about $115 billion in assets and has received top marks from the firms tasked with reliably rating annuity companies: A.M. Best, S&P and Fitch. For Athene, these firms gave out A, A and A- grades, respectively.

Athene Agility 10

The Athene Agility 10 annuity is a fixed index annuity with a $10,000 minimum investment and a maximum issue age of 80. These annuities allow customers to tie their assets to a market index available through Athene. So while your returns are dependent on how your chosen index performs, it isn’t literally invested in the market like a normal investment would be. Available options include the following indices: S&P 500®, Morningstar® Dividend Yield Focus Target Volatility 5 Index, Janus SG Market Consensus Index and BNP Paribas Multi Asset Diversified 5 Index. A fixed account is offered as well, though it features a significantly lower rate.

Tax-deferral is another major benefit of this annuity. Should you fund your account with money from an IRA or other non-Roth retirement account, its tax-free growth status will carry over to the Agility 10 annuity.

Unlike most other similar products on the market, this annuity comes with income and death benefit riders at no additional cost to you. The income rider is decided by your “benefit base,” which is your initial premium. This dollar amount is automatically credited a 25% bonus, and on every contract anniversary, you’ll receive another boost equal to 175% of the value you accumulated over that year. On the other hand, the death benefit allows your beneficiaries to receive equal payments from your benefit base over a five-year period.

Fees

There are essentially no fees associated with the Agility 10 annuity. However, there are charges for any withdrawals made over the 10% Athene allows annually. These start at 9% and steadily decline each year until year-11 when they cease.

The IRS may charge you a 10% income tax surcharge if you begin payments from your annuity before 59.5 years old.

Realistic Return Expectations

Considering the nearly nonexistent fee schedule of this annuity, there should be nothing but upside, even with the sometimes risk-laden indexed approach to growth. One way to ensure that your returns will be unimpressive is by investing in the one-year interest rate guaranteed fixed account paired with Agility annuities. In other words, take some risks, as you have the stellar income rider to back you up.

Athene Ascent Pro 10

The Athene Ascent Pro 10 is a fixed indexed annuity with a maximum issue age of 80. This product allows clients to pair their assets  with an index without actually having to invest them in the market. Athene offers some of the strongest indices, including the S&P 500®, Morningstar® Dividend Yield Focus Target Volatility 5 Index and more. These are known to typically perform well, but the annuity does come with a backup plan in the form of a fixed account. This currently comes with an extremely modest 1.75% rate, though it renews on an annual basis.

But the main draw of this annuity is its optional income rider, which comes in the following two forms:

  • Option 1: Guaranteed Growth
  • Option 2: Guaranteed Growth, Plus Interest Credits

Each of these has a preset simple interest rate, along with an opening bonus, that is used to help boost the annuitant’s initial income base, which is what you pay as your initial premium. Then, on every contract anniversary, your premium is multiplied by the simple interest rate, and is credited to your account. Option 1 comes with higher simple interest rates and a better bonus than Option 2, but what it cannot match is Option 2’s stacking percentage. With this, all interest credits are increased by 200%, which rewards those who do not take withdrawals.

Fees

Although there are no contract fees associated with this annuity, there is a 1% annual fee if you choose to purchase its annual income rider.

This product has another drawn-out withdrawal fee schedule, as there’s an 11-year period before these charges fully dissipate. They open at 9% for the first and drop as low as 1% after a decade goes by.

Should you begin taking distributions from your Ascent Pro 10 annuity before you reach age 59.5, you may find yourself subject to a hefty 10% income surtax. So wait as long as you can, if at all possible.

Realistic Return Expectations

Like any fixed indexed annuity, it is essentially impossible to guess what your returns could look like in advance. It is worth noting, though, that the majority of the index options offered by Athene appear to be performing well. Also, your choice of either Option 1 or Option 2 for the income rider will vary your returns, as the former offers a reliable fixed interest rate, while the latter provides a lower fixed rate with a chance for interest credits.

Athene Performance Elite 7

The Athene Performance Elite® 7 is another fixed indexed annuity with a maximum issue age of 83 that comes in two versions: Base and Plus. Each of these still provides annuitants the chance to take advantage of index-based returns, along with an annually renewing fixed account for those that want a more risk-averse approach. So where do the two incarnations of this annuity differ?

If you’re unhappy with how much you have to invest in an annuity, the Plus account affords you the chance to receive a premium bonus up to 6%. While this rate applies in most states, residents of Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington receive just a 5% benefit.

Fees

Annuitants who choose to upgrade their Performance Elite 7 annuity from the “Base” version to “Plus” will receive an annual liquidity rider. But this doesn’t come without a fee, as you’ll be charged 0.95% annually for this perk.

Your first seven years with an account will come with a withdrawal charge if you take out more money than the 10% allotted by Athene. However, Plus annuitants who do not withdraw money over the course of a full year are given up to 20% fee-free withdrawals the following year. These rates operate on an annually shrinking schedule, starting at 9%.

The IRS has a law in place that states anyone under the age of 59.5 who begins receiving payments from his or her retirement account will be charging a 10% income surtax. This could really eat into your assets, so try to avoid this at all costs.

Realistic Return Expectations

Between the premium bonus and index-driven nature of this annuity, it presents a great opportunity for significant growth. Regardless of if it seems like a safe option for even a small portion of your invested money, avoid placing any assets in the fixed account offered with this annuity. As things currently stand, it features just a 1.75% interest rate guaranteed for 12 months.

Athene MaxRate

MaxRate® is a multi-year guarantee annuity that comes in three terms lengths (three-year, five-year and seven-year) that feature fixed interest rates. The longer the term you select, the higher the rates Athene will offer. Once you reach the conclusion of your term, there is no obligation to return, though you can renew if you want to. There’s also no need to stick to the same period, as you can bounce between the trio of terms options as you please.

Although this product is much simpler than some of its counterparts, it still does include a death benefit. With this, you can set up beneficiaries for your account so the right people receive your money should anything happen. The maximum issue age for MaxRate is 83-85 years old.

Fees

There are no traditional fees with this annuity, although it does include withdrawal charges. These rates are unfortunately a very high 10% for either three, five or seven years, depending on the option you select. Once that time frame has passed, there are no charges.

Income taxes are impactful as it is, so nobody should want to volunteer for a 10% surcharge. But if you start taking withdrawals from your account before age 59.5, you’re subjecting yourself to this dangerous bonus rate.

Realistic Return Expectations

As rates currently stand, there is no difference between the multi-year fixed and one-year fixed strategies available through Athene. Once the end of that first year comes, the one-year option may see an interest dip, while the multi-year option remains higher. There’s virtually no way to foresee what these rates will be, but if you are O.K. with a riskier approach, the one-year fixed strategy offers more growth potential.

New York residents abide by a slightly different set of rates, which can be found on Athene’s website.

Athene Protector 5

The title of the Athene Protector 5 fixed indexed annuity is perfect, as it offers the return of premium rider if you’re in dire need of money. In fact, you can ask for the value of your initial premium at any time, minus any withdrawals you made beforehand. Without this benefit, pulling money could be rather detrimental, as a charge of up to 8% could accompany your withdrawal. There is a 0.4% annual fee for this perk, though.

There are five indices that you can invest in through this annuity, including three options from the S&P 500® and one each from BNP Paribas, Morningstar® and Janus SG. If you’re opposed to entrusting all of your money to the performance of an index, you also can place it in a fixed account from Athene that features an annually-renewed rate.

The Protector 5 annuity has a maximum issue age of 85.

Fees

As its name states, the Protector 5 annuity comes with a return of premium rider. You will, however, have to pay 0.4% annually for this service.

A five-year withdrawal charge schedule is paired with this annuity for any payments taken above the 10% threshold that Athene allows. The highest rate you’ll receive is 8% in years one and two, and by the sixth year, there are no fees.

Annuitants aged 59.5 or younger will be subject to the IRS’ 10% income tax surcharge on any withdrawals they make. So wait as long as you can before dipping into your annuity.

Realistic Return Expectations

Because the return potential of this annuity product is dependent on the index you choose and its unpredictable performance, there’s really no way to assume anything safely. However, the favorable fee schedule it possesses and its optional return of premium benefit bode very well for financial success.

Tips for Your Retirement Plan

  • Even if an annuity or other retirement savings product seems foreign to you, don’t be afraid to look into it. Many times people will find themselves surprised at how well some of these services could actually be for them, so be sure to explore every avenue.
  • The SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool can be extremely useful if you’re unsure about whether or not an annuity is right for your overall retirement plans. Based on a few questions about your personal financial situation, the tool will pair you up with as many as three fiduciary advisors in your area that are equipped to handle your needs.