When you interview a bunch of industry leaders, chances are you are going to notice some distinct similarities in their personal attributes and philosophies about their industry – the types of characteristics that helped them reach such an elite level.

Such is the case with the 10 people included in this issue’s “Who’s who in annuities,” which begins on page 81.

These are all very successful people, and all but one of them – Suze Orman – owes their success in large part to a thriving market for annuities that each of them had a hand in creating or growing.

They share a sense of optimism for the future of annuities, and their strong belief in the value of annuity products comes through loud and clear.

“I think the annuity industry is poised on the cusp of another great run,” says Eric Sondergeld, corporate vice president and director of retirement research at LIMRA International. “As the baby boomers begin to retire, they will need products to protect their assets while providing them with various ways of creating tax-advantaged income in retirement. That’s what annuities do.”

Nearly everyone on the list also made a point of expressing how much satisfaction they derive from knowing their efforts and accomplishments have made a difference in people’s lives.

Despite being 75 years old, American Equity CEO Dave Noble says he’ll be involved as long as he knows he can make a difference. “I am passionate about this business, and it’s that passion that keeps me going,” Noble says.

Known for his use of the term “sleep insurance,” Noble says annuity owners can sleep better at night knowing that regardless of how long they live, they can rely on this income stream. “This is a considerable benefit considering our longer life expectancy today and the costs of retirement. Other instruments can be valuable in reaching financial goals, but the individual almost always has to be concerned with how fluctuations will impact his or her principal. With an index annuity, we take the risk, not the policyholders: they can rest easy.”

We can all rest easier knowing that the annuity market has dedicated, groundbreaking professionals like the ones in this inaugural “who’s who” list leading the way.