What is Voya Financial?

Published on: Feb 21, 2017

Voya Financial is a financial services company individuals and companies can use to buy insurance, investment plans and retirement accounts.

The company’s brand recognition has really soared over the past couple of years because of the money they’ve invested in their catchy commercials featuring orange squirrels and actors Allison Janney and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Voya is based in New York and started out as ING, an international financial services powerhouse. In 2013, ING’s U.S. branch rebranded itself as Voya. They’ve got an extensive website as well as a network of Voya reps at brick-and-mortar offices across the country.

Voya’s CEO is Rodney O. Martin, Jr., who also serves as chairman of the company’s board. Before becoming the boss at Voya, Martin served as chairman of several different divisions within insurance giant AIG.

Nearly 70% of their business comes from retirement and annuity accounts, while 15% comes from investment management and the remaining 16% of their operations are devoted to employee benefits and individual life insurance plans.

With so many different products on the Voya menu, it can be hard to get a read on exactly what they offer and what fees they’ll charge you for their services.

Also, how do you know if Voya is right for you when there are hundreds of companies offering retirement plans and life insurance.

In this review, we’ll work through each of those topics, as well as address what customers are saying about Voya Financial’s services.

What Does Voya Financial Offer?

As we mentioned at the beginning of this review, Voya Financial sells retirement and annuity accounts, various investment vehicles, benefit plans for employees and life insurance plans.

They divide up all these products in two categories: employer-based and individual-based. For the purposes of this review, we’ll focus on their individual products since we focus on consumers.

Voya Financial’s Retirement Products

For the individual, Voya provides IRA’s of the following types:

  • Traditional IRA - You can contribute up to $5,000 per year, contributions are taxed when you cash out and you get tax breaks during the year.
  • Roth IRA - You can contribute up to $5,000 per year, contributions are taxed in the year you make them and you get tax breaks when you cash out.
  • 401(k) Rollover IRA - You move your 401(k) contributions into an IRA account.
  • Spousal IRA - An IRA account you create for a spouse, as long as you’re married and file joint tax returns.
  • SEP IRA - An IRA designed for self-employed individuals or small business owners.
  • SIMPLE IRA - Designed for small business owners with up to 100 employees.

Voya’s Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs: Popular Products

“IRA” stands for investment retirement account.

Basically, you put money into it and that money is applied to a certain mix of investments that, in theory, will increase your contributions to the point you can comfortably retire when you hit your 60s.

The two most popular types of IRAs for individuals are traditional and Roth. The main difference between the two IRA’s is when you get taxed.

Tax Differences Between Voya’s IRAs

Traditional IRAs get you a tax break (deduction) on anything you contribute during the year, but the government won’t make you pay taxes on what you contribute or earn until you retire.

Voya says Traditional IRA’s are good if you think you’re going to earn less in your retirement years than you do now. The idea here is that you’ll pay fewer taxes when you cash out since you’ll be earning less.

When you contribute to a Roth IRA, though, you’re taxed on what you contribute in the year you contribute. When it’s time to cash out your Roth, you can deduct what you collect.

Voya says Roth IRA’s are better for those who think they’ll be in a higher tax bracket when they retire. The idea is that you’ll pay fewer taxes up front because you’re earning less.

Also, you can withdraw from your Roth IRA’s contributions without getting a penalty, which is something you can’t do with a Traditional IRA.

Pro tip: To open an IRA with Voya, you have to deposit at least $5,000 or make monthly payments of at least $100.

Voya Financial IRA Fees

All the categories we listed above – traditional, Roth, SEP, etc. – are types of IRAs. No matter which type of Voya IRA you choose, you’ll have two different options for how much control over you have over your investments: brokerage and express mutual fund.

Each of these IRA management styles carries certain fees.

Voya Brokerage Accounts Fees

Voya’s brokerage account gives you the chance to make trades on your own or to ask Voya to help you. However, these accounts come at a cost:

  • $14.95 per trade you make
  • $44.95 per broker-assisted trade
  • $19.95 per limit order

As you can see, the freedom to trade at your own discretion can be costly.

In case you aren’t familiar with investment terminology, a broker-assisted trade is what happens when you don’t have access to the internet and you have to call and ask Voya to make a trade for you.

“Limit order” is asking Voya to make a trade when a certain investment option hits a certain price.

There are dozens of other possible fees associated with brokerage IRAs; take a look at Voya’s fees page to learn more.

Voya Express Mutual Fund IRA Fees

This Voya IRA management choice is much more hands off than the brokerage account. You make the contributions and Voya does the rest. Fees for this account are $10.00 per quarter.

Voya Annuity Accounts

IRAs are nice because you can contribute pretty much whenever you want and in amounts you want, with contributions capped at $5,000 per year.

Annuity accounts are more rigid – you make a set amount of payments for a set amount of time. For example, you could start an annuity account where you contribute $50 per month for 10 years.

There are several different variations to the annuity, just like there are for the IRA: fixed-index, variable, income and fixed.

Voya’s fixed-index and fixed annuities guarantee you an interest rate on your contributions, which makes them a lower-risk solution.

Variable annuities take on more risk but have the potential to earn more, while Voya’s income annuities disperse payments as income during your retirement.

Voya Annuity Fees

Voya’s annuity fees aren’t listed on their website, but, as with all annuities, you’ll probably be charged certain yearly fees for maintaining your account and for getting guaranteed rates of return.

Those costs may not be worth it, says Jessica Alling, a writer for financial website Motley Fool.

Though the basics of an annuity provide a decent investment option,” Jessica wrote, “the cost of the product cuts into your returns to the point where another investment vehicle may have given you a better result.”

Voya Life Insurance

Like the previous two products, IRAs and annuities, Voya gives you several different choices of life insurance policies: term, universal, index, variable and survivorship.

Each one of these Voya policies meets specific needs and contains varying levels of risk – Voya invests your money to earn extra money that goes back into your policy.

Voya’s universal and index policies offer the lowest risk, while the variable policy has the highest risk.

Survivorship policies are given to couples who pay into one policy for both people rather than having individual policies for each spouse.

Term life insurance policies are kept for a certain amount of time, and, once they run out, the policy ends. These life insurance plans tend to have lower monthly premiums.

Voya Life Insurance Fees

Voya doesn’t list their fees for life insurance policies on their website. Based on our research, you can expect to pay more fees when your retirement account is mixed with investment accounts.

If you’re just buying term life insurance, you can expect the fees to be lower.

A Quick Word About Understanding Fees

One piece of advice we tell consumers like you is to know your contracts inside and out.

One of the benefits of reading through your contracts line by line is that you can catch any and all fees you’ll pay for the service you’re buying – in this case, retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance policies.

Should you decide to use Voya’s services, don’t be afraid to ask your Voya rep any questions you have about fees and read through your policy/plan documents.

If you have any questions about fees, ask them. It’s better to find out everything up front that months or years down the road.

What Other People Are Saying About Voya Financial’s Fees

Voya Financial has a variety of different reviews, ranging from awards given by trade organizations to consumer reviews on various websites.

We’re going to take a quick look at what consumers are saying about Voya and what ratings and reviews the company gets on its Better Business Bureau page.

Consumer Reviews About Voya

We took a look at the most recent Voya reviews on Consumer Affairs and found that many responses were negative. Consumers complained about poor customer service, long hold times and difficulty withdrawing funds from retirement accounts.

One reviewer from New Mexico likened the cash withdrawal process to “wading through dense muck.”

Voya’s Better Business Bureau Page

Voya Financial gets a C- rating on its BBB page. The BBB says their grades “represent the BBB’s opinion of how the business is likely to interact with its customers” and the rating is based on information “about the business, including complaints received form the public.”

Many of the complaints we read echoed what was on Consumer Reviews: bad customer service and difficulty withdrawing funds.

Our Conclusions About Voya Financial

Voya Financial is different than many of the financial services we’ve reviewed because it’s not a startup, but a rebranded company with a catchy ad campaign.

There’s no doubt that Voya is a big company with numerous services and products for employers and individuals. This has its pros and cons – they’re reliable in the sense that they’ve been around for a while, but they’re also busy with millions of customers.

Customer Service Could Be Frustrating…

For the average consumer like you, it’s important that the company handling your life insurance, retirement plans and annuities has time to meet your needs.

Based on the reviews we’ve read from consumers, there’s a chance that your customer service interactions could be frustrating and your needs won’t be met.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the reviews we read represent a very small slice of Voya Financial’s customer base.

These negative reviews shouldn’t service as the only paradigm you use to judge Voya, but as a reminder that the company’s customer service representatives aren’t always as helpful as you’ll expect them to be.

And, of course, that’s nothing out of the ordinary for big or small companies.

So Talk With a Local Voya Rep

If you really value personal interaction, we suggest heading to Voya Financial’s website and using their search page to find a Voya professional near you.

When you talk with them about setting up an account, gather information about their different products.

At the same time, keep your eye out for financial advisor red flags: Have they ever worked with someone who has your needs? If you go to you appointment with your spouse, are they condescending to him or her or do they ignore him or her?

Once you find an advisor with whom you feel comfortable, take the time to read through the paperwork. Use a highlighter to mark the fees you’ll be charged.

If you have questions about certain charges or rates, ask.

Make Your Decision on Your Time

And, above all, don’t feel pressured into making a decision before you’re comfortable. Retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance are expensive endeavors that can have a huge impact on the quality of your life decades from now.

Take time to think everything through, consult the advice of other financial experts and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into.

It will take more time than it would if you just signed the dotted line without thinking, but it’s well worth the hours you devote to solid research.

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