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Crash Proof Retirement’s ‘Inflation Fighters’ takes a closer look at company's claims of 'guaranteed income.'

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Crash Proof Retirement’s ‘Inflation Fighters’

“If the inflation rate continues, and we’re not trying to scare you, ladies and gentlemen, but you cannot go down the superhighway of retirement and all of a sudden hit a hazard and not be prepared for that hazard. You can flip your car. You can crack your nest egg.”

After painting that rosy picture for retirees and soon-to-be retirees during a recent edition of the Crash Proof Retirement radio show, the founder of the retirement income strategy, Phil Cannella, offers a “real-world,” “guaranteed” solution called “inflation fighters.”

Built into the Crash Proof Retirement System (which a previous investigation found is focused on selling fixed index annuities, though that is not always made clear in the company’s marketing), an inflation fighter is “an increase in your income that’s guaranteed when you need it,” Cannella explains.

We can give you as much as a 15% increase in your income. So over the next 10 years, if the average [inflation] rate is 4% to 5%, we can still give you a 15% inflation fighter where your income would go up by 15% each and every year.

Cannella then continues to drive home the 15% message, but muddies the landscape with hypothetical — and potentially confusing — figures and language.

These particular clients have about $500,000 with us, but they need an inflation fighter to be turned on to keep their purchasing power throughout their 60s and into their 70s. Simply put, we’ve already prebuilt, within their proprietary Crash Proof System, guaranteed income, and here’s how we would do it.

We would utilize $300,000 of that $500,000. It would remain in the system, but because we have income options on each of our components in this system, we would just flip on a switch with one of those components and it would draw down 3% off of that $300,000. That would produce $9,000 per year for additional income. Now if you take $9,000 — that’s 15% increase on $60,000. So, over the next 10 years, even if inflation became 7% a year and 70% lost in purchasing power, our Crash Proof Consumer would be getting a 15% inflation fighter each and every year over a 10-year period, bringing them to 150%, overcoming that 70% lost in purchasing power.

The only thing that’s crystal clear in that description is that 15% is the advertised annual income boost. Or is it?

At the end of the radio show, Cannella actually walks back the 15% inflation fighter promise.

[W]ould we actually give someone a 15% inflation fighter over 10 years? That would be tax inefficient. They’d be paying taxes on money they really didn’t need. So in a real-life situation – and that was a hypothetical – we would only recommend either 8% or 9%…

If clients don’t “need” the money – somehow Cannella knows every clients’ specific situation – why advertise this option in the first place?

In a request for comment, asked Crash Proof Retirement why Cannella would give a 15% inflation fighter as an example if that is not representative of a “real-life situation.” We also asked how much inflation fighters are taxed and if Crash Proof Retirement also charges a fee. (As explained in its 2016 Ad Alert, in addition to taxes, penalties for early withdrawals are one of the drawbacks to investing in fixed index annuities.)

In response, Crash Proof Retirement declined to answer questions about its inflation fighters, saying that the strategy is “only shared with the firm’s clients” and “[p]ublic disclosure of the strategy may improperly result in a competitive disadvantage.”

Find more of our coverage on products and services aimed at retirees here.

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