"The Advisor's Guide to Annuities" (5th ed.), by John L. Olsen, CLU®, ChFC®, AEP® & Michael Kitces, CFP®, ChFC®, AEP®, MSTAX, MSFS

"I truly enjoyed reading this very thorough and clearly written reference book covering annuities available within the U.S. marketplace. Pay heed to the book title, which tells you right away that it is targeted at financial professionals ("advisors"). If you are looking for an introductory book about annuities, other books will better fit your need. But if what you want is an authoritative and detailed guide to the subject matter, there is no need to search further. Order this book! (Or rather, order the latest 4th edition, which came out after I purchased this 3rd edition.)

Amazingly, I didn't find any weaknesses in this book. The explanations are thorough, with numerous examples from the current annuity marketplace.

Taxation of annuities, a very complicated topic indeed(!), is covered exhaustively in Chapter 3 (Taxation of Annuity Death Benefits). The explanation here is probably as clear as is humanly possible given the nature of the Internal Revenue Code. But don't fool yourself - the topic IS complicated!

Chapter 5 (Optional Benefits in Variable Annuities) has the very best coverage of Living Benefit Riders that I've encountered. If you've wondered about the sometimes subtle differences between GMIB's, GMAB's, GMWB's and GLWB's, then reading this book will enable you to understand the similarities and differences.

My personal favorite topic was "The Great Debate: Are Annuities Good or Bad?" (Chapters 10 and 11). The authors dig into this topic in depth, discussing arguments about the strengths and weaknesses of the many types of annuities. I can honestly say that some of my personal objections about certain types of annuities were clearly and logically dispelled after reading these chapters. The authors' discussion made me THINK about the topic, and that is always valuable."

Arthur R. Prunier, Jr.

The classic textbook on annuities, updated and expanded


Chapter 1 - Basics of Annuities

Chapter 2 - Taking Money from an Annuity Contract: Distributions "as an Annuity"

Chapter 3 - Taking Money from an Annuity Contract Using Withdrawals

Chapter 4 - Optional Benefits in Variable and Fixed Index Annuities

Chapter 5 - Taxation of Annuity Benefits During Owner's Lifetime

Chapter 6 - Taxation of Annuity Death Benefits

Chapter 7 - Basic Costs of Annuities

Chapter 8 - Fixed Index Annuities

Chapter 9 - Deferred Income Annuities ("Longevity Annuities")

Chapter 10 - Exploring the Benefits and challenges of Immediate Annuitization

Chapter 11 - The Variable Annuity as an Investment

Chapter 12 - Annuities and Trusts

Chapter 13 - Annuities in Estate Planning

Chapter 14 - The Great Annuity Debate: Are Annuities Good or Bad?

Chapter 15 - Recent Developments and Trends in the Annuity Landscape

Chapter 16 - Summary: The Annuity as a Planning Tool

Chapter 17 - Annuities in a Fiduciary Future

Appendix A: Actuarial Tables for Taxing Annuities

Appendix B: Examples of Exclusion Ratio Calculations

Appendix C: Internal Revenue Code Sections

Appendix D: FINRA Rule 2330 for Recommended Purchases or Exchanges of Deferred Variable Annuities

Appendix E: Iowa Insurance Bulletin 11-4


"John is a well respected and knowledgeable expert on annuities. His two books (one with Michael Kitces and the other with Jack Marrion) have been very helpful for me as I learn about different types of annuity products".

- Wade Pfau, CFA, Ph.D, Professor of Retirement Income at The American College, Principal: McLean Asset Management

"John is one of America's leading annuity and insurance experts. We use his annuity book almost daily. If you need a high-powered speaker or expert witness John is one of the best."

- Robert Keebler, CPA/PFS, MST, AEP (Distinguished)

"If there are 5 people in the annuity industry that I respect their opinion and business practices, John is definitely one of them. His book that he co-authored with Michael Kitces, The Advisor's Guide To Annuities, should be required reading for anyone that sells or recommends annuities. I believe that this book should be the basis for increased educational standards within the industry. In addition, John's other book, Taxation and Suitability of Annuities for the Professional Advisor is the best resource of its kind. If you are an annuity advisor in any capacity, you have to have it on your bookshelf."

- Stan The Annuity Man

What readers have said about this book