The 9 Most Conversational Facts About Retirement

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At some point people get tired of the constant numbers and retirement planning. When that happens it’s time for a break and perhaps a lighter read. Accordingly we’d like to present you with some really interesting retirement facts. They may not help you invest better with a Self Directed IRA, but they can definitely provide conversational fodder for your next family get together.  


Retirement Fact #1 – Et tu, Brute? 

At a certain age almost everybody you know has a retirement account in place. However, that wasn’t always the case. The first private company to offer a pension was American Express in 1875. Before that pensions were usually only offered by governments, and specifically for military positions. The first recorded pension in history is over 2000 years old. The emperor Caesar Augustus needed to find a way to inspire loyalty amongst Roman soldiers. He did so by offering them a pension. After they soldiered for 20 years, each one would receive a pension valued at thirteen times their salary. 


Retirement Fact #2 – Guess who’s getting social 

With the rise of teenage culture, especially with its enablement via social media, we often associate being social with the younger generation. However, according to a recent Transamerica study, the number one activity for retirees is spending more time family and friends. It comes in at a chart topping 61%. Other activities that round out the list include travel (39%), volunteer work (21%), and taking care of grandchildren (15%). 


Retirement Fact #3 – When was the Self Directed IRA invented? 

The Self Directed IRA was invented in 1974 – the same year as the regular IRA account. ERISA, the legislation which brough the IRA to life, actually made no distinction between a brokerage IRA and a Self Directed IRA. The government was fine with any investment asset, as long as it didn’t violate any Prohibited Transactions. The reason why brokerage IRAs became so dominant is because banks and brokerages were the only institutions offering these kinds of accounts. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that specialized custodians began offering investors a Self Directed IRA platform. Since then Self Directed IRAs have slowly grown in market share. 


Retirement Fact #4 – A trillion here, a trillion there… 

How much money is there all together in U.S. retirement accounts? $35.4 trillion. That is not a typo. To put that in perspective, the two top GDP rankings are the United States and China. In 2021, the U.S. came in at $22.7 trillion and China came in at $16.6 trillion. In other words, if the retirement industry was its own country, it would easily be the richest country on Earth.