Wise Mr. Arthur Milton - earlebird.com

I’m in my Connecticut nest this weekend, and I finally had a chance to dust off my old turntable from the ’80s. What a thrill to listen to albums from The Byrds, The Beatles and The Grass Roots again. Among my classic albums, I found a plain, manilla 45 record sleeve with the name “Arthur Milton” at the top. “No Way! I can’t believe I saved this record!” I yelled. It was a recorded interview of the late, great Arthur Milton from 1962.

Arthur Milton was once referred to as “the insurance salesman to the stars.”  He grew up as a poor shoeshine boy in the Bronx and built an insurance and stock brokerage empire. He not only sold property & casualty and life insurance, but his stock brokerage firm bought and sold more insurance stocks than any firm on Wall Street. However, Arthur really didn’t become famous until he wrote his best-selling book, How Your Life Insurance Policies Rob You. Here he talked about the outlandish cost of whole life insurance policies. With whole life insurance, as long as you pay your policy premiums, the policy cannot be terminated and you build up cash inside it to use later in life. Sounds good, right?  Yep, but it was a real expensive venture when you compared its cost to a cheap term insurance policy’s. Term insurance wasn’t permanent and it only lasted up to 20 years, but it was a very cheap alternative. In his book, he told America to ditch whole life and buy term, and invest the cost difference into the stock market or a fixed annuity.

Millions of his books were sold to thankful Americans, but there was one American, in particular, who turned the book’s concept into a powerful insurance company. His name was Art Williams and his “buy term and invest the difference” mantra turned America into a term insurance country within 20 years. Arthur Milton and Art Williams became good friends, and Arthur Milton became the spokesman for the company A.L. Williams. Arthur never got paid for his time; he just asked for paid transportation–and company stock options.

As you may know, A.L. Williams became a mega-successful insurance company, and Arthur’s stock made him millions. And when Primerica bought A.L. Williams, Arthur’s stock became Primerica stock, and, thanks to Sandy Weill, he turned his Primerica holdings into a fortune.

Arthur and I were close friends for years. We would dine at his favorite NYC restaurant usually once a month. I learned a lot from Arthur, and what I learned most was to follow your passion and to stand up for the American consumer. Yes, his “buy term and invest the difference” theory had holes. For example, many people forgot to “invest the difference” and ended up with a lapsed term policy and no funds put aside. But his heart was in the right place. As an insurance agent, he could have made 10 times the commission amount in a whole life vs. term insurance sale. He sold term because it was the right thing to sell. His reputation mattered more than a large commission check.

I miss my wise old friend. But I now plan on listening to him on that 45 record every time I need some Arthur Milton wisdom.

Pay it Forward:

I placed an employment ad looking for an insurance marketing trainee. The job entails calling agents and marketing products via emails and the internet. Guess how many resumes I received?  The answer is zero. Our college grads are not hungry to work. They haven’t learned work skills; they have learned entitlement skills. Building a career has become passe’ and it portends a limited future for America.  It’s funny, when I lived in LA as a post-grad, I was a cold caller for Drexel Burnham making $5 per hour. I made 250 calls a day. And I had to be at the office at 6:30 a.m. And, it was just another day at the office.


Earl E Bird

I'm Earl E. Bird and I am very concerned about saving for my senior years. I am amazed at the stumbling blocks that exist when saving for retirement. That's why I take my time when making decisions on building my nest egg.

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