What is a registered index-linked annuity and how does it work?


As you near retirement, protecting your money from losses due to stock market downturns may become a priority. But for some investors, the cost of that protection may not be worth the benefit. If you are in this situation, you may want to ask your financial professional about a registered index-linked annuity (RILA). 

Choosing an annuity that’s appropriate for your situation depends in part on your tolerance for risk. Generally speaking, the more risk you’re willing to accept, the higher your potential return. From a risk standpoint, a RILA can be described as a cross between a fixed indexed annuity and a variable annuity. A RILA may be a good match for you if you want to limit your downside exposure and you are willing to accept some market risk in exchange for more growth potential. 

A closer look

Like a FIA, a RILA provides the opportunity for growth based in part on the performance of a stock market index. Other similarities include:

  • tax-deferred growth potential
  • annual free withdrawal amounts
  • an option to convert the annuity into a stream of retirement income payments 

Neither a RILA nor a FIA is a stock market investment and neither one directly participates in any stock or equity investments. 

However, there is an important difference between these two indexed annuities. With a RILA, you accept a level of risk of market loss in exchange for higher upside potential. 

How it works 

The upside and downside limits of RILAs are connected, so a higher level of protection from downside risk means a lower cap on upside potential, and vice versa. When index performance is positive during a term, your annuity may earn interest credits, limited by a cap or participation rate. Index declines can result in negative interest credits, with a level of protection from any loss.

Did you know?
RILAs are sometimes called buffered annuities because they “buffer” assets from a level of market loss
  • Downside protection - A buffer provides downside protection, limiting exposure to a percentage of market loss, typically 10, 20 or 30 percent. For example, if an index declines 15 percent and you choose a 10 percent buffer, you would incur a 5 percent loss.
  • Meeting the need for accumulation – RILAs are typically designed to help you accumulate money for retirement or other long-term needs. If you are searching for an option that provides lifetime income, another annuity solution may be a better fit. You may consider a RILA if you’re looking to supplement your retirement plan and would like to choose from a variety of protection and growth options to create a strategy that aligns with your individual retirement needs. 

Discover your “comfort zone” for risk 

How much risk are you willing to take to grow your retirement nest egg? The right blend of risk and return potential can increase your confidence in your retirement plan and help you stay in your financial comfort zone. Find your comfort zone in the annuity spectrum.  

It’s important to know your annuity “comfort zone” when it comes to your tolerance for risk. 

Investing may feel smooth as glass when there’s time to ride out the effects of volatile markets. But the closer retirement gets, the less time there is to recoup lost ground. If your retirement planning goal is growth with some protection from market swings, ask your financial professional if adding a RILA to your portfolio could be the right choice.

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Registered index-linked annuities have a risk of substantial loss of principal and related earnings. They are designed to be a long-term investment product used to help provide income for retirement and are not suitable as a short-term investment. 

All Segment Credits, including those with a guaranteed rate of interest, are paid by the insurance company and subject to its claims paying ability.

Indexed annuities are not stock market investments and do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments. Market indices may not include dividends paid on the underlying stocks, and therefore may not reflect the total return of the underlying stocks; neither an index nor any market-indexed annuity is comparable to a direct investment in the equity markets.

Registered index-linked annuities can only be marketed and sold by securities licensed financial professionals. Athene Annuity and Life Company, West Des Moines, Iowa, is the issuer of the contract. Any discussion of this product must be preceded or accompanied by a Prospectus which provides more detailed product information including all charges or limitations as well as definitions of capitalized terms. 

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Annuities contain features, exclusions, limitations and availability that may vary by state and/or sales distributor. For a full explanation of an annuity, please refer to the Certificate of Disclosure or Prospectus (as applicable) and contact your financial professional or the company for costs and complete details. This material is a general description intended for general public use. 

Annuity contracts and group annuity contracts are issued by Athene Annuity and Life Company (61689), West Des Moines, IA, and Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company (61492), Wilmington, Delaware, in all states (except New York), and in D.C. and PR. Annuity contracts and group annuity contracts are issued by Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York (68039), Pearl River, NY, in New York state. Payment obligations and guarantees are subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Insurance products may not be available in all states. These companies are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any individual or in any individual situation, and therefore nothing in this should be read as investment advice. This material should not be interpreted as a recommendation by Athene Annuity and Life Company, Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company, Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York, or Athene Securities, LLC. Please reach out to your financial professional if you have any questions about insurance products and their features.

The term “financial professional” is not intended to imply engagement in an advisory business with compensation unrelated to sales. Financial professionals will be paid a commission on the sale of an annuity.


Reinsurance contracts are entered into with Athene Annuity and Life Company (61689), West Des Moines, IA; Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company (61492), Wilmington, Delaware; Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York (68039), Pearl River, NY; and Athene Life Re Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda. Not all reinsurance products or structures offered are available in all jurisdictions. Reinsurers may not be licensed in all states. All transactions are subject to meeting a reinsurer’s underwriting requirements. Reinsurance products are not protected or guaranteed by state insurance guaranty associations or insolvency funds.