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What is a Variable Annuity?

A variable annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company. You open an account with funds typically earmarked for your retirement. The insurance company invests your money in a selection of mutual fund-like investments (called “sub-accounts”). Your account value can grow or shrink with the underlying investments, just like with a mutual fund (hence the term “variable”).



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“With a variable annuity, you place your funds with an insurance company and then choose how the money will be invested. Your available investment options (called sub-accounts) are those funds that the insurance company has selected inside of their variable annuity. These fund sub-accounts typically range from conservative bond funds to aggressive stock funds in addition to asset allocation models.

In the bull markets of the ’80s, a new type of annuity contract allowed investors to participate in the debt and equity markets and enjoy the benefits of annuities at the same time. These vehicles, known as variable rate annuities because of the variability of the returns realized, began in 1952 as a funding vehicle for pension plans. Originally started by the Teachers Insurance and Annuities Association – College Retirement Equity Fund (TIAA-CREF), these vehicles became more popular after the Tax Reform Act of 1986 closed many of the other tax loopholes that were available to investors.
Since then, they’ve grown into a multibillion dollar industry that is now regulated by insurance and securities agencies such as FINRA and the SEC, as well as state insurance commissioners.

Variable annuities can vary wildly in their fund and benefit offerings as well as fees so be certain to contain a highly qualified financial advisor who specializes in all types of annuities prior to purchase.”

Thomas Burgess Hamlin

Thomas Burgess Hamlin, Financial Advisor

Annuity FYI Expert

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Prior to finding Annuity FYI, I had met with two different financial advisors on the topic of variable annuities. To make a long story short, I was not comfortable with their explanations of the products or with their attempts to answer my questions. So, I decided to educate myself, which led me to the book Annuities for Dummies and, because of their recommendation, to Annuity FYI. This is when I spoke with an Annuity FYI Expert. For the first time I felt like I was on the same page with an advisor. The Annuity FYI Expert was very knowledgeable and took the time to answer all of my questions in the most courteous way. With all the turmoil in the economy these days and stories of unethical and just plain bad business practices, it is so refreshing to find Annuity FYI and its Annuity FYI Experts.

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You all have been a blessing to us. With the current economic problems in the world, it seems variable annuities make sense for one’s peace of mind and retirement success. It’s been so important to have someone as knowledgeable as yourself guiding us. You have our confidence and recommendation. All the best to you and your families.

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