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What Is The Difference Between A Mutual Fund And A Variable Deferred Annuity?

Understanding the differences between straight mutual fund investing and a variable deferred annuity, and the respective advantages of each.

The difference between a mutual fund and a variable deferred annuity can be subtle, but it is an important distinction to make before committing capital to either. The specific objectives of the investor, as well as his or her risk tolerance, are keys to know which investment is more appropriate.

Mutual Funds

An investment into a mutual is very straightforward – it will provide the investor with the return that is generated by the strategy underlying the specific fund. In terms of investment performance, the difference between a mutual fund and a variable deferred annuity is not determined by the choice of investment, but rather by fees charged by the companies offering the respective products.

Variable Deferred Annuity

A variable deferred annuity allows an investor to make an investment into a particular vehicle while allowing the money to grow on a tax-deferred basis. They have the added advantage that investors may contribute more to them than is typically allowed in 401(k) plans. Certain products will provide a guaranteed rate of return or ensure certain payments at specified times in the future, including upon the death of the investor. In a sense then, the difference between a mutual fund and a variable deferred annuity is that many of these annuities provide a level of protection.

The Critical Difference

Considering that the investment performance of the two types of products is so similar, it is understandable that some investors would prefer one or the other. The real difference between a mutual fund and a variable deferred annuity is that for every added feature provided by the annuity, like downside protection or a death benefit, the insurance company issuing the product charges a fee – if one wants or needs these features, the annuity is attractive; for others, a straight mutual fund investment is more appropriate.



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