From drains to fountains: Rethinking retirement and the language of lifetime income

For far too long, the conventional wisdom surrounding retirement has been: amass a pile of assets to live off – the bigger, the better. What if, instead, we envisioned retirement as a flowing fountain?

As Travis Kelce gears up for his fourth appearance in the Big Game, I’ve seen several posts on LinkedIn analyzing what has fueled the tight end’s successful career. While I am a firm believer in the Taylor factor, the secret sauce might actually lie in a simple piece of advice Kelce received from his college coach, which in simple terms was, “Don’t be a drain, be a fountain.”

I like this mantra because it captures the essence of a life well-lived – one that gives generously, rather than simply takes. It also is a sentiment that resonates deeply with the way we should approach retirement planning.


Shifting mindsets

For far too long, the conventional wisdom surrounding retirement has been: amass a pile of assets to live off – the bigger, the better. Think of it as a giant reservoir, diligently filled in the working years, slowly drained in retirement. But what if instead of a depleting reservoir, we envisioned retirement as a flowing fountain?

This shift in perspective is crucial. The traditional drain model breeds anxiety. Worries about outlasting savings, inflation eating away at purchasing power, and the ever-present fear of the well running dry cast a long shadow over retirement years. In contrast, the fountain model offers freedom and confidence. Knowing that a reliable stream of income will always be there allows retirees to prioritize experiences, passions, and personal fulfillment.


Language matters

This transformation requires more than just a mindset shift, though. We also need to reimagine the language surrounding the solutions that can make this fountain a reality – in-plan guaranteed lifetime income products, such as annuities.

Today’s dense, jargon-filled descriptions, full of terms like decumulation phase and distribution ratios, are more likely to drain energy than inspire excitement. Even the word annuity can be fraught with misconceptions. As such, these terms become intimidating obstacles, not the keys to a vibrant future.

By embracing the fountain model and revitalizing the language of guaranteed lifetime income, we can unlock a new era of retirement – one where anxieties take a backseat to joy, and where intimidating financial instruments are seen as empowering pathways to a more secure retirement.


Putting words into action

As part of our thought leadership strategy for the first part of the year, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America is setting out to dispel many of the misconceptions surrounding annuities to help advisors and consultants communicate key points regarding guaranteed lifetime income in a simple and straightforward manner.

Along with our latest white paper, we’ve created a new Field Guide to help provide actionable steps that advisors and consultants can take to incorporate guaranteed lifetime income products into their practice. All of these materials are now available on the Insights & Education page.

You can also catch us on the road as we bring our “Retirement Reframed” message to upcoming conferences including:

  • Osaic Retirement Summit, March 7-8, 2024 in Huntington Beach, CA
  • Defined Contribution East, March 10-12, 2024 in Orlando, FL
  • NAPA 401(k) Summit, April 7-9, 2024 in Nashville, TN

In the past year, we’ve made significant progress in building out the technology and infrastructure needed to support guaranteed lifetime income – but we can take this transformation to the next level with a thoughtful approach to the words we use and the participant experiences that we create.

Now if only we could get a certain spokesperson associated with Travis Kelce to help get the message out …

Employer Markets Engagement & Education Blog Series

By Kate Cook

Kate Cook is Head of Marketing for the Employer Markets channel at Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America. With almost 30 years of experience across the spectrum of financial services, she is now squarely at the intersection of retirement assets and lifetime income. Her energy and focus are spent on connecting more Americans with solutions that will help ensure they can retire with dignity and options.


For more insights and perspectives including technology, product, and demographic perspectives in the defined contribution space, see our Insights and Education.

Ready to go more in-depth? Email our team.

Fixed index annuities are designed to meet long-term needs for retirement income. They provide guarantees against the loss of principal and credited interest, tax-deferred accumulation potential, and the reassurance of a death benefit for beneficiaries.

Guarantees are backed solely by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.

Annuities are issued by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.

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