For many advisory clients, "annuities will become the backbone of any retirement income they will enjoy in their senior years," Jarret Barnett writes. But the risks and rewards of fixed, variable and indexed annuities vary considerably, requiring advisers to educate themselves before they communicate to clients, he writes. For instance, Barnett writes that the upside of fixed-index securities is "often oversold, while the risks associated with this type of annuity are sometimes understated."

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