What’s “The Secret Vatican Account”

The basic premise of this ad is pretty familiar — you can get good returns without risk. Isn’t that what everyone wants?

Presumably the nitty gritty detail is a little different, but, well, who can think about details when they’re under the hypnotic spell of an expert copywriter who’s weaving a tale about secret accounts at the Vatican? And, of course, our intrepid newsletter dude is also uncovering those secrets that you just KNOW the fancy people are keeping from you.

The pitch comes from Ryan Cole for his Unconventional Wealth newsletter, a letter that’s been promoted for the last couple of years for their ability to find “alternative” investments, like the rare stamps they were recommending a while back and calling a “Phi Account.” So what’s this “Vatican Account?” Collectible vestments?

No, turns out this is nothing quite so “alternative” as that — let me give you a few clues from the ad so you can play along from home:

“Did you know you could make 61 times more money than you are currently collecting from your savings account?

“That’s the shocking conclusion I reached after spending months in an unusual research project… one that led me to investigate the Church’s wealth secrets.

“Now, this was no easy task.

“The Vatican doesn’t want anyone to know how wealthy they really are… or what’s inside their priests’ pension funds.

“They do everything they can to keep this information from the public.

“The papacy has even gone so far as to use offshore tax havens to hide a portfolio worth $733 million….

“Among the Roman Catholic Church’s priceless art, land, gold and investments across the globe, I found an obscure account… one that has the potential to pay monthly checks of $12,090 or more.

“In some occasions, it pays even after death. Now, I know this is hard to believe.

“But, as you’re about to see, this type of account has been verified by an independent research conducted by six Ph.D. economists at the University of Pennsylvania.”

Does that “independent research” from Penn ring a bell? If you’ve been an eagle-eyed Gumshoe reader for a while, it just might — here’s more on that bit:

“This type of account has even been verified by professor David B., from the widely respected Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania.

“Like myself, he was skeptical at first.

“Which is why he decided to launch a two-year, in-depth study to verify if the benefits of these accounts were real.

“He and a team of five other Ph.D. financial economists looked at real payouts, not just hypothetical gains, from 1997–2010.

“They actually collected copies of real customer statements from 172 different accounts.

“After analyzing the most comprehensive data ever assembled for real returns of what I call “Vatican Accounts,” they reached a shocking conclusion…

“‘Vatican Accounts’ Pay 61 Times More than Savings Accounts”

So what is it?

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Yep, you guessed it, the “secret Vatican account” is the same thing as the “Franklin IRA” that Cole teased us about a couple months ago… these are… wait for it… annuities.

Yes, I can feel the great exhale as everyone sighs at once. And I notice that the room is clearing out. But yes, there can be a place for annuities — I wrote about them in some detail about six weeks ago when we covered that “Franklin IRA” version of the ad, so I’ll just copy over what I shared then if you’d that general annuity blather… don’t worry, nothing dramatic has changed to shake the world of annuities since March (though the rates and deals you can get presumably change every day), and it doesn’t really matter whether you find Ben Franklin or the Vatican more appealing.

What follows was first published on April 2:

In this case, the study he cites is from Jack Marrion, Geoffrey VanderPal, and David F. Babbel and is called “Real Wo