When you look at the historical use of annuities in America, you’ll find a broad spectrum of different cultural icons who have used these types of products, all the way back to the founding fathers of the nation. Benjamin Franklin left two annuities in his will, one to the city of Philadelphia and another to the city of Boston, which would last for over 200 years until city officials voted to cancel it in 1993. An even earlier example was a Presbyterian church who used this type of product to ensure a secure retirement for ministers all the way back in 1750.
That storied history is still going strong today, as many prominent Americans still endorse annuities as a safe way to ensure financial protection.
American writer, lawyer, and actor Ben Stein is as well known for his intellect as he is for his deadpan delivery. He’s worked in multiple White House administrations and is a frequent commentator on economics and financial topics.
He’s written articles about his support of annuities for long-term financial peace, where he warns of the financial hardships he’s seen befall many of his entertainment industry friends. Unlike corporate pensions, which can be cut if the company goes bankrupt, or stocks, which have no guaranteed value, Stein stresses that annuities are insurance products, guaranteed to be paid by the insurers for the rest of your life. He personally trusts his annuities to provide protection for his wife and children.
One of the biggest celebrities in America (literally!) has to be former-NBA player Shaquille O’Neal. His basketball career ended in 2011, and today he is more renowned for being a public spokesperson and savvy businessman. Despite being one of the highest-paid players in his prime, Shaq actually earns more money now than he did during his NBA days.
My personal favorite example is another sports icon, George Herman “Babe” Ruth. The Great Bambino was encouraged by his business manager Walter “Christy” Walsh to meet with Harry “Slug” Heilman, another Hall of Famer, who worked as an insurance agent with Equitable in the off-season.
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook how much financial products like annuities play into our history and culture. Core values instilled in us at an early age, like working hard and saving for the future, are weaved into the very fabric of our being. That’s why I say that annuities, like Babe Ruth, are as American as apple pie.