-Look by Joe Signorella, RICP®

What Will We Cover in this Annuity Review?

In this annuity review, we will be going over annuity details regarding the Brighthouse Shield Level annuity.

  • Investment type
  • Return expectations
  • Optional Riders
  • Fees
  • Rates


Servicing the retirement income planning market has grown in popularity as baby boomers and retirees search for options to protect against market volatility and secure lifetime income. Annuities are one of the few strategies that can accomplish both secured growth and guaranteed income.

Investors like you doing research on annuities to combat the above concerns are finding it more difficult with all the different types of annuities like “hybrid” annuities, equity-linked annuities, buffer annuities, fixed index annuities (FIA), and variable annuities.  The best selling retirement annuity of 2021 is the registered index-linked annuity (RILA), the $17.4 billion market for structured variable annuities– also sometimes referred to as a variable indexed annuity, structured variable annuity, buffer annuity, or a structured annuity – is essentially a blend of the best part of a variable annuity and limited downside protection of a fixed indexed annuity (FIA). 

Started in 2010 with one company, these hybrid annuities do offer is a “limited loss” to an investor  – between 10% and 20% of the market’s decline during a specified period usually a year period. For example, if a RILA or buffer annuity has selected the optional 20% S&P 500 index protection against a market loss over one year period, an investor’s account would lose only 8% of its value if the market dropped by 28% in that given year because of the buffer annuity protects the first 20% loss from the market.

The more loss protection or buffer you select, the less upside gain from the index you will receive.

Taken from the interactive chart above the buffer annuity invested in the International MSCI EAFE index over the last 20 years gain more than $36,000 than the MSCI EAFE index.  That was an increase of 20% gain from limiting market losses with the 10% market protection each year.  Click the chart to see how it works.


Annuity Company Issuer Review:  Brighthouse Financial


Since this investment is usually for the long term such as 10 years, it is important that the annuity company itself is financially sound.  The guarantees in the annuity are back by the insurance company and not from a government agency.  However each state’s Guaranty Association has a dollar amount, usually $100,000, that it will refund if an annuity carrier went bankrupt. Think of it as a second layer of protection.  

Brighthouse Financial, Inc. is one of the largest providers in America with $219 billion dollars worth or assets and approximately 2 million insurance policies annuity contracts currently under force nationwide alone! On August 4th 2017 after being separated from MetLife for over 6 decades this company began trading on Nasdaq stock market under BHF symbol where they retain a 19% stake belonging only to themselves while also becoming more popular than ever before due to its large scope which has helped increase revenue stream by almost 10%. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company began selling annuity and life insurance under the Brighthouse Financial brand on March 6, 2017.

Brighthouse Financial has an A.M Best rating as of February 2022 of A and a Comdex rating of 77.  



Table below will update as the competition changes.  Currently, there are some great choices for retirement annuities.  To request a side by side, click on the compare button below, and our Retirement Income Certified Professional® will be happy to answer any question you might have (Click Here).  

Surrender Fees:

Surrender charges/fees and periods for this annuity are the typical of most commissionable annuities. Most annuities will have a 5 year, 7 year, 10 year, and 14 year surrender variation to choose from.  Taking the longer surrender period will most likely give you a larger cap on indexes and a larger fixed rate option for index crediting.  Typically annuities allow you to withdraw 10% of your accumulation value after the first year without surrender fees.  However if you are under age 59 and a half, you are subject to a 10% IRS tax penalty as well as income taxes applied to the withdrawal.


Brighthouse Shield Level annuity commissionable annuity (B-shares) have a 6 year surrender charge starting at 7% charge in the first year and second year followed with a 1% reduction every year after that.  Agent commissions are around 5.5% from the first year deposit with another annual 0.25% commission trail starting in the second year plus. 


Fee-Only planners have access to “Advisory or I- share fee advised” structured annuities,  They usually have zero surrender charges, instant liquidity, and higher index rates.  These planners charge annual fees to manage the indexes around 1.00% per year of assets in the annuity.  Still, a better option as these fee-only RILA annuities have higher upside cap rates than the commissionable traditional RILA/ buffer annuities.  Check out BufferQuote.com for available fee-only buffer annuities


Earning Interest: 

Shield Annuity is a customizable indexed variable annuity that allows you to make choices based on your individual retirement needs and change themes those needs evolve.

One of the most valuable aspects of Shield Level annuity is its potential to cushion your account against loss.  With Brighthouse Shield annuity, you can select a level of protection, called a buffer, which may help limit loss in down markets, partially shielding your account in the case of a negative index return.

With the help of the buffer, your risk of loss could be lessened. You also have the opportunity to grow your money in up markets by choosing from index strategies.

When it comes to choosing an annuity, there are a lot of factors that you need consider. One thing in particular is your tolerance for risk and what kind would be most appropriate depending on this can depend largely on the type either fixed indexed or variable but some people might want both low downside exposure with limited market volatility as well as high growth potential which could make them interested specifically looking at Buffer annuity options.

 Fixed indexed annuities and RILAs provide the opportunity for growth based on performance of stock market index. Other similarities include tax-deferred potential, annual free withdrawal amounts as well an option convert into stream income payments in retirement.  Both fixed indexed annuity nor rila directly participate equity investments but differ from one another by accepting higher risk with greater upside possibilities.

 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.

Downside protection
A “buffer” and a “floor” are two options that limit exposure to market loss.

Buffer: Percentage of downside protection, typically 10, 15 or 20 percent. For example, if an index declines 15 percent and you choose a 10 percent buffer, you would incur a loss of 5 percent.

Floor: Opposite of the buffer option. In this case, you would be exposed to the percentage loss up to the floor amount, but you are protected against any loss after this percentage. For example, if you choose a product with a 10 percent “floor” and the market declines 15 percent, you would lose 10 percent, because the floor limits the downside

Shield Level also enables you to diversify where you put your money by allocating across well-known indices. S&P 500, MSCI EAFE, EURO STOXX 50®, iSHARES RUSSELL 2000 ETF, and Nasdaq 100. Because different indices perform differently under similar market conditions, diversification can help improve your opportunity for growth.  

 Frequently Asked Questions About the Brighthouse Shield Level Annuity:

Q: What is the minimum premium I need to pay?
A: $25,000 funds

Q: Am I paid a bonus on my initial premium at sign-up?
A: No. There is no premium bonus.

Q: Can I pay additional premium later on?
A: Yes, but only during the first contract year at a minimum of $500 each time.

Q: Are there any age restrictions?
A: Yes. You can purchase this annuity up to age 85. In some states the age requirements may differ.

Q: In which states is the Brighthouse Shield Level annuity available?
A: Brighthouse Shield annuity is not available in all states. Call 800-872-6684 to find out if it’s available in your state.

Q: Does this annuity have an income rider (for withdrawing income)?
A: No.

Q: For how long are surrender charges in effect?
A: 10 Years

Q: Does the Shield annuity permit any withdrawals without penalties?
A: Yes. Up to 10% of the accumulation value annually free of withdrawal charges.

Q: What benchmark indices do the Brighthouse Shield Level annuity offer?
A: S&P 500 and Multi-Strategy

Q: What are the index account options?
A: 1 year, 3 year, and 6 year stock index strategies along with Fixed Account Interest Rate.

Q: What is the Method for Crediting Interest or Gains?
A: Buffer and Cap rates.

Fiduciary Annuity and Retirement Income Planning Information From a RICP®

In 2017 Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule being struck down in federal court of Appeals has been especially helpful in the sales of indexed annuities. The rule, which raised investment-advice standards in retirement accounts, would of made brokers and insurance agents become fiduciaries to sell indexed annuity and other financial products opening up potential lawsuits from “bad” sales of annuity products. Unfortunately, that didn’t rule holding agent up to a higher standard, as a fiduciary, did not pass.

Our annuity review also called “look” is overseen by our in house Retirement Income Certified Professional® that has to put you first, as a fiduciary so you will have the confidence to use these annuities in your retirement plan after our reviews. Let’s get to it.

The Agent sales pitch for this annuity?

This indexed variable annuity, also called an Registered Indexed Linked annuity, RILA, Buffer annuity, will likely be presented on three ideas:

  1. Protect – Select a level of protection that will limit losses
  2. Grow- Participate in the limit upside of market indexes
  3. Lifetime Income

The Brighthouse Shield Level Annuity is for investors that want to participate in stock market like return with a loss provision or buffer selected of 10% or 20% a year.

Remember that the index credits are capped at a lower rate than the index itself like your index mutual funds or EFT at Charles Schwab or Fidelity.  They are options held on the indexes at the annuity carrier’s investment department.  Most indexes described above will NOT include the dividends which historically represent some returns in the case of the S&P 500 index. Because this a tax-qualified annuity gains are tax-deferred until income/money is taken out of the annuity.


When you’re looking to secure your future, it pays to do research. This is especially true when there are long-term financial products like annuities that can be so important to retirement. The financial markets can be unpredictable, but your future retirement income will always remain safe with an annuity-like Shield Level annuity from Brighthouse.  This product offers a market-like rate of return and indexing investments. 

I hope you found this look informative and found value in your time.  Aloha!

Have questions about this Annuity?

If you’re considering this annuity and have additional questions, feel free contact us via our secure contact form. Our Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) will answer your questions FREE within 24 hours. I hope you found this look informative and found value in your time.  Aloha!

Our lawyers made us do it, some legal disclosures…

This is an independent product review, not a recommendation to buy or sell an annuity. The annuity carrier has not endorsed this review in any way, nor do we receive any compensation for this review.  This is an independent review for you to see the pros and cons of this particular annuity.  Before purchasing any investment product be sure to do your own due diligence and consult a properly licensed professional, preferably a certified financial planner® practitioner, should you have specific questions as they relate to your individual circumstances. Values shown are not guaranteed unless specifically stated otherwise. Rates and annuity payout rates are subject to change. Actual values may be higher lower than the values shown. The illustration is not valid without all pages and the statement of understanding. Not available in all states.

 All names, marks, and materials used for this review are the property of their respective owners. Annuity product guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer. Annuity riders may be available for an additional annual premium that can provide additional benefits and income guarantees. By contacting us you may speak with an insurance licensed agent in your state, and you may be offered insurance products for sale.