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Because surrender fees will probably make getting out of the annuity costly, you should first see if your annuity offers other investment choices that perform better. Also, how long has this poor performance been going on. If only for one year, perhaps future years will be better. Judge by comparing returns of your investment opitons in the annuity with those of the S&P index for the same time frame. (The S&P does not go up every day or every month either.)

Surrender fees and returns are usually expressed as percentages. If your current investment options are losers compared to the S&P, you should be able to calculate the time required to earn back your surrender costs at a typical 10-12%/yr return of an S&P Index fund. You're a businessman. You may know better than I do, but I would make the change for sure if the payout is projected at 3 years or less. Up to 7 years it may be worth it. Longer than that, I would say its marginal at best (and either your returns are better than you think they are or the surrender fees are extremely large).

Usually the surrender fees decrease or are eliminated after a certain number of years. Make sure you factor these details into your calculations.
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