Athene AccuMax Review: Independent & Unbiased

The Athene Accumax is a fixed index annuity designed to provide more upside accumulation potential and downside protection from market volatility. The AccuMax offers 3 index options (2 of which are proprietary), 3 crediting methods, and two-term lengths to choose from.

Athene is coming off a huge win taking over as the #1 Seller of Individual Fixed Index Annuities in the United States in 2020. Their rise to the top wasn’t an easy one; they have been nipping at the toes of long-time market leader Allianz Life for the better half of a decade.  Allianz saw its sales decrease 40% from its 2019 level but remained in the #2 overall spot. 

It now appears that Athene is positioned to further their grip as the industry’s  leading provider of fixed index annuities with the launch of Athene AccuMax on March 29, 2021. A sluggish year for annuity sales, 2020 taught us that consumers want accumulation products with upside potential and protection from a potential market downturn. I’d attribute much of Allianz Life’s demise in 2020 to their lack of a solid accumulation product and they’ll have plenty of catching up to do with after the launch of Athene’s new AccuMax Annuity.

Is Athene a Good Annuity Company?

Athene annuity logo: my annuity store athene accumax review

When reviewing any annuity I always like to first look at the financial ratings of the issuing annuity company as well as the competitiveness of the insurer’s overall annuity portfolio. Considering Athene was the #1 Seller of Individual Fixed Index Annuities in 2020 and is rated A by AM Best, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s  I am very comfortable with Athene as a company. 

With that said, let us dive into the Athene AccuMax Review.

Athene Financial RatingsRating
7700 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266
A.M. Best Rating (15 possible ratings)A (3)
Fitch Ratings (21 possible)A (6)
Comdex (percentile of all rating companies)78
Standard & Poor's (20 possible ratings)A (6)

Athene AccuMax Reviewed

The Athene AccuMax Annuity is hot off of the shelf at less than just a week old at the time this was written. It is an accumulation-focused fixed indexed annuity designed to simplify a safe and secure path towards a financially secure retirement. As an accumulation-focused annuity, AccuMax is smartly positioned with both a 5 year and a 7-year version available. 

As far as I am concerned the launch of the Athene AccuMax brings the most innovation to the index annuity market since Allianz Life Launched the Allianz 360 with the uncapped Bloomberg  Universal Dynamic Index II nearly a decade ago. I’ll dig a little deeper into the weeds momentarily and provide you with the reasonable rate of return you may expect the AccuMax to generate using Hypothetical Backtesting Annuity Calculators but first I’ll quickly hit on some of the key bullets highlights.

Athene AccuMax Key Features

Strength

Potential for meaningful growth, even in volatile markets. Option to choose a crediting period of 7 years, allowing for higher participation in potential index gains, even in a persistent low-rate environment.

Stability

Choose your crediting strategy allocation with confidence, knowing that rates won’t change over the Withdrawal Charge Period. Penalty-free access to a portion of your money for life’s unexpected moments.

Flexibility

  • Multi-Year Crediting Strategies
  • Growth potential
  • Protection From Loss
  • Participate in More of the Market Upside

Athene AccuMax Index Crediting Options Methods

Crediting methods refer to the way in which the interest you earn is calculated. The AccuMax Annuity offers potential owners:

  • Two index crediting methods
  • Two crediting terms (the length of the crediting strategy)
    • 1 Year Term
    • 7 Year Term
  •  Three Market Index Options
    • AiMax
    • Barclays Cape Allocator 6 Index
    • S&P 500
  •  A Fixed Rate Strategy – interest credits are based on a set interest rate that is declared annually. 

You may allocate your money to more than one crediting strategy and have the ability to re-allocate annually; for the 1 year term and fixed rate strategy options.

7 Year Point to Point Crediting Strategy

The new 7-year point-to-point crediting strategy is likely to be one of those “love it or hate it” features; personally, I am a fan. If you have owned an index annuity or shopped for them in the past you are likely familiar with the typical annual point to point crediting method. In order to provide an opportunity for more upside potential, Athene included a 7-year point-to-point crediting method in the AccuMax.

This strategy compares only two points in time to determine the performance; however, the two points compared are 7 years apart rather than the usual one year. I can see where many would not like the idea of waiting 7 years to see if they are going to be credited any interest; my professional advice is to give the 7-year option real consideration for at least a portion of your account should you decide to purchase the AccuMax. 

I will get into the actual backtested performance in more detail below but in every scenario simulated going back to 12/31/2005 the 7-year point to point delivers superior results. Athene accumax 7 year point to point chart

7 Year Annual Interval Sum Strategy

The Annual Interval Sum, or Annual Sum, strategy combines benefits
that are not usually paired together. Annual Sum is worth a closer look if you want:

  • the advantage of higher growth potential found in longer-term strategies,
  • the peace of mind that comes with tracking performance in annual steps, and
  • rates that are guaranteed for the Withdrawal Charge Period.

While the more traditional Annual Point-to-Point strategies will usually offer higher growth potential in a continuously rising market, Annual Sum provides more resiliency in volatile markets. Because the strategy is calculated annually but also requires a commitment for a longer term, it can provide downside protection  (because of the annual floor) with more upside interest potential (because of the longer-term).

 

How is Interest Calculated Using the Annual Interval Sum Crediting Method?

Annual Sum is the combined total of each year’s index performance. In years when the index is positive,
performance is multiplied by the Participation Rate. 

In years with negative index performance, the sum is reduced by the decrease, but only up to the floor of -10%. 

The Annual Sum interest credit at the end of the Withdrawal Charge Period cannot be less than 0%, so there is no risk of losing principal due to market loss.

Below is an example of a hypothetical annuity using the Annual Sum Strategy purchased during the 2008 financial crisis.

Nfographic illustrating athene accumax annual sum historical performance from 3. 9. 2008 to 3. 9. 2015

 

As you’ll see below; the 7-year annual interval sum crediting method would have outperformed the 7-year annual point to point crediting method quite handily used in the example above.

Infographic example calculating annual sum crediting method for accumax annuity

Available Market Indexes

Put your retirement savings to work with Athene AccuMax’s indexed crediting strategies combined with one of the below stock market indexes.

AI Powered Multi-Asset Index Ticker Symbol: AIMAX

Artificial intelligence (AI) helps turn data into investment insight.
This rules-based global multi-asset index uses AI techniques to analyze millions of data points daily. Based on this analysis, AiMAX evaluates each asset, finds those whose prices are poised for growth, and rebalances its portfolio weekly. Targets a 5% daily volatility to help provide smoother returns.*

Crediting Strategies: 7-Year Point-to-Point (Participation Rate) 1-Year Point-to-Point (Participation Rate)

Shiller Barclays CAPE® Allocator 6 Index Ticker Symbol: BXIISC6E

Provides stabilized exposure to U.S. equity sectors based on long-term investment principles.
The BXIISC6E index aims to provide exposure to U.S. equity sectors that appear to be undervalued according to their Cyclically Adjusted Prices to Earnings (CAPE®) ratio and a basket of U.S. Treasuries. Targets a 6% daily volatility to help provide smoother returns.

Crediting strategy: 7-Year Point-to-Point (Participation Rate) 1-Year Point-to-Point (Participation Rate)

S&P 500® Ticker Symbol: SPX

The benchmark index of large-cap U.S. equities from a top global resource of indexed-based concepts.
Widely regarded as the best single gauge of large-cap U.S. equities, the S&P 500® captures approximately 80% of available market capitalization.

Crediting strategies: 7-Year Point-to-Point (Participation Rate) 7-Year Annual Interval Sum (Participation Rate)

Athene AccuMax Hypothetical Historical Performance

The hypothetical stock market indexes examples in the table below show the annualized return of the Athene AccuMax 7 annuity assuming a contract was held for a continuous period of 7 years during various historical market time periods. The examples reflect the best, average, worst, and minimum guaranteed average annual return for the product. 

Although the product was not actually available during these time periods shown, the average annual returns shown below reflect how the product would have performed had it been available. All fixed and indexed crediting strategy rates for your Withdrawal Charge Period are set and guaranteed at issue, even on 1-year strategies.

The table below lists the average annual rate of return for the Best and worst 7 year period as well as the average from 12/31/2005  to 12/31/2020. As you may notice, the 7-year point-to-point option provides the greatest upside and highest average for all three of the indexes. My recommendation would be to give some serious thought to allocating a portion of your account value to one or all of the 7-year options if you can handle knowing you will not be credited with interest annually.

Athene accumax hypothetical historical returns

The interest credits you receive, if any, will vary depending on market conditions, crediting strategy allocations, and limitations such as an Annual Spread, Cap Rate, Floor Rate, and/or Participation Rate. It is possible that the interest earned may be zero. After the end of the Withdrawal Charge Period, all Indexed Strategies will terminate and funds will be moved to the Fixed Strategy, with a new interest rate being declared each year. 

Note that Athene may add, modify or eliminate indexed strategies from time to time. A specific strategy may not be available for the life of your contract. Index strategies may not be available in all states.

Best, worst and average assume a new contract was issued each possible business day starting on 12/31/2005 and was held for 7 years, using index closing prices through 12/31/2020.

Best = The best annual return of each contract reflects the performance of the annuity during a continuous period of 10 years out of the
last 20 years where the index had the highest 10-year growth. Worst = reflects the performance of the annuity during a continuous period of 10 years out of the last 20 years where the index had the lowest 10-year growth. Average = reflects the average performance of the annuity over the last 20 years.

Athene AccuMax Rates

The below table lists the Athene AccuMax 7 Annuity rates at the products’ launch on March 29th, 2021. They are still current as of April 17th and we have no indication they will be changing within the next month.

Athene accumax annuity rates april, 2021

AccuMax Product Specifics

Issue Ages

0-83

Premium

(Single Premium Only)

Minimum: $10,000

Maximum: $1,000,000

(larger amounts may be accepted with company approval)

Sweep Date

The initial Fixed or Indexed Term Period will start on the 8th or 22nd day of the month (immediately following the Contract Date), at which time the  Premium plus any applicable Holding Account interest will be allocated to the Strategy(ies) selected.

Withdrawal Charges

9%, 8%, 7%, 6%, 5%, 4%, 3%

Free Withdrawals

Greater of 10% of Accumulated Value or 10% of Premium,  each contract year

Pros and Cons of Athene AccuMax Annuity

Athene AccuMax Pros

  • Three unique indexes to select from including the CAPE Shiller index and the AiMAX AI-Powered U.S. Equity Index.
  • A one-year point-to-point and seven-year point-to-point crediting strategy.
  • Uncapped Crediting Strategies are available
  • Offers more upside potential than most annuities 
  • Your interest rate, or cap rate, is locked in for the duration of your contract so there won’t be any surprises.
  • Issued by an A Rated insurance company.
  • Not overly complicated and no fees.

AccuMax Cons

  • No Income Rider is available.
  • While I really like the available indexes, AccuMax offers less choice than many of the other annuity options available. 
  • If you opt to go for a 7-year point-to-point crediting method you would want to avoid taking any withdrawals because interest isn’t credited until the end of the contract term.
  • You may not like the idea of waiting 7 year to learn what interest your annuity is ultimately credited with.
My final Athene AccuMax Annuity Review thought is that it may warrant heavy consideration for a portion of your fixed income portfolio when the purpose is strictly accumulation. The lack of attractive fixed-income alternatives in today’s low-interest rate environment makes AccuMax’s risk/ reward proposition quite attractive.
If you are looking for a retirement savings vehicle with principal protection, and don’t intend to spend the interest as it is earned, the Athene AccuMax will be among my top recommendations for the foreseeable future.

Downloadables:

This is an independent Athene AccuMax review, not a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell an annuity.  Athene has not endorsed this Athene AccuMax Annuity Review in any fashion and we don’t receive any compensation for it.  Be sure to do your own due diligence, we recommend consulting with a properly licensed tax, legal, and/ or financial professional for advice whenever considering an annuity or any major financial decision. 

Values shown are not guaranteed unless specifically stated otherwise. Rates and annuity payout rates are subject to change. Actual values may be higher lower than the values shown. The illustration is not valid without all 18 pages and the statement of understanding. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at (855)-583-1104 or at info@myannuitystore.com. 

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