Annuities are primarily issued by insurance companies. The 2 main Annuity products are fixed annuities and variable annuities. Fixed investments will pay fixed rate of return from a fixed number of annuity units. Variable products will pay a fluctuating rate, but also off of a fixed number of annuity units.
Common stock is the primary investment type in the account backing the variable annuity, so the risk lies more with the investor. The rate of return potential is generally much higher thatn a fixed annuity over a period of time.
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