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Volume 18 / Issue 1 www.figmarketing.com


FIG

TALENT

SOLUTIONS

PASSION. EXPERIENCE. INDUSTRY SPECIFIC FOCUS. Financial Independence Group’s Talent Solutions provides experienced recruiting, performance management, and employee selection programs to the financial services community. Born from the values found from within: ethical standards, commitment to excellence, respect for individuals, investment in our people, and accountability; our team designs customized tools for helping candidates and our advisors achieve success. We are looking forward to building a highly interactive network of financial professionals recognized by every advisor firm as the industry leader for resource solutions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT YOUR MARKETING CONSULTANT


Introduction

Abounding Technology TEXT BY J. WESLEY KNOWLES Originally, the term FinTech pertained to technology integrated in established consumer and trade financial institutions. In the last decade, the term has expanded to include any technological innovation in the financial sector, including innovations in financial literacy and education, retail banking, and investments. Technology, ever-changing and growing, continues to impact the way industries evolve. The financial and insurance industry has seen an increase in innovation over the last fifteen years. Processes involving digital interfaces are becoming more prevalent in day-to-day operations. At Financial Independence Group, we believe in a proactive approach. We are always taking the necessary steps to ensure we are keeping up with industry trends and workflow essentials. Working to secure the best possible experiences for our advisors and their clientele has always been a top priority. For this reason, we have been expanding our Information Technology Division (IT). Our objective is developing new applications and programs that complement existing offerings to ensure positive user experiences in all areas of service. Our IT team is savvy, consistently creating solutions for the technical challenges our advisors experience throughout their daily routines. Personal websites for advisors have become an essential tool to share their perspective and reach clients before ever picking up the phone or leaving the office. The Internet is used by clients to validate and compare offerings, which is why it is important that an agent’s website best represent company expertise and offerings. Studies suggest that websites impact consumers’ opinion of a brand, so it is important that agent sites are concise, easy to navigate, offer answers to common questions and showcase contact information clearly. All Points Media (APM), the Marketing Division of Financial Independence Group, offers contracted agents access to graphic design services for all of their promotional needs. APM can walk affiliates through brand identity, direct mail offerings, seminar planning, and follow-up; along with company website development and SEO. Offering unique solutions and affordable services, APM can assist in streamlining business and marketing strategies for members. More and more we are seeing mobile applications being utilized to reach new prospects, touch existing clients, run quotes, make changes to policies, create illustrations about offerings and services, as well as allow clients to access information. Agencies and advisors are understanding that they need to become even more customer-focused. New innovations appear regularly to help facilitate this making it easier to conduct very personalized business interactions. In this ever-changing industry landscape, the role of the advisor continues its evolution. We are here to assist on all levels with sales teams, marketing and business programs, information technologies and personal creative services to help your business become more efficient and remain relevant in the modern technical age. J. Wesley Knowles, Marketing Media Specialist, APM Division, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Wesley - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: Wes.Knowles@figmarketing.com

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Table of Contents

12 IN EVERY ISSUE 1 Introduction 2 Table Of Contents 8 Credits 10 Contributors ARTICLES 6 2017 FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE GROUP SYMPOSIUM RECAP Set in Charlotte this past October, the Financial Indepenendence Group Symposium was the forum for tech advances and new programs. 12 DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES Your online marketing strategy can build your brand, personalize your business, and be your 24/7 salesperson. – by Liz Ross 2 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE

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16 FIND SUCCESS WITH THESE 2018 TIPS A short list of some top marketing strategies to target the new year that won’t break your bank. – by Mark Stewart

26 AVOIDING HEADACHES WHEN UNDERWRITING This nuisance can be alleviated with a little education and setting the proper expectations up front. – by Sean Cooper

20 REMEMBER THIS THE NEXT TIME YOU FAIL Four reminders to help you stay on course as you navigate through the world of financial business. – by Nicholas Ross

28 I HATE ANNUITIES AND YOU SHOULD TOO! OR SHOULD YOU? THE CYNIC’S DILEMMA... We’ve all seen the ads, and the author has done a terrific job of instilling fear and uncertainty into the minds of retirees and pre-retirees, but has he really done them any favors? – by Jason Rindskopf

22 5 SIMPLE TIPS TO OPERATE IN OUR REGULATED INDUSTRY From regulations to marketing, products to policies - it’s important to stay on top of the changes. – by Mark Stewart


ACM Mission Statement AlphaStar’s mission is to lead the next generation of Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firms by providing unparalleled service & support to our Investment Advisor Representatives (IAR) in the field.

Independence

Our Partnership

AlphaStar’s unique business model provides flexibility to the advisor by combining a service model linked to investment management. In other words, Alphastar partners with advisors in ways other RIA’s may not. We provide sales support and resources to ensure you are able to focus on your core competency. AlphaStar does all the heavy lifting so you may focus on client relationships and asset acquisition. Options of affiliation include becoming an IAR or via a sub-advisory agreement with your RIA to access our money management platform. Regardless, you have full access to all the services we provide.

Financial Independence Group strategically partners with Alphastar Capital Management, an SEC Registered Advisor. While these entities remain separate, we provide a strategic alliance with an independent RIA for those wishing to expand their business practices in representing managed portfolios.

To learn more, visit www.alphastarcm.com or call (855) 340-2514.


28 ARTICLES 32 FINTECH SECURITY As technology has been growing at a fast pace for decades now, the financial industry is catching up. With the advances in tech comes new security issues. – by Laura Furner 34 THE 4R’S OF MANAGING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS With the help of these channels, this philosophy could be considered your complete business process map for hiring. – by Tom Lamendola

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36 ELECTRONIC APPLICATION OPTIONS SAVE TIME AND MONEY Positively impact the client experience and create efficiencies for advisor business models. – by Hope Stewart

42 CUSTOMER SERVICE & THE IMPACT ON YOUR BUSINESS By maintaining an interest and attention to personal service, you will keep your clients interested in both you and your business. – by J. Wesley Knowles

40 HYBRID LONG-TERM CARE LTC allows for clients to allocate a portion of their portfolio now to protect the entire portfolio in the future. – by Nick Gullett

44 CALENDAR OF EVENTS Upcoming Financial Independence Group meeting and events.

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FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE GROUP’S 2017 SYMPOSIUM RECAP This past October, the beautiful Charlotte skyline welcomed our advisors, carriers, and partners to our annual Sales Symposium held at the Sheraton hotel in Uptown Charlotte. With big tech unveilings, helpful case solutions, and energetic keynote speakers; this year’s Symposium was not to be missed! Couldn’t make it to the fun, or just want to relive all the great moments? Check out our Symposium recap video below!

CLICK FOR VIDEO


EDITORIAL

Publisher Financial Independence Group Editor Liz Ross Art Direction J. Wesley Knowles Design/Production Alisa Ferrara

Danielle Harnish J. Wesley Knowles Jennifer Shephard Rashaad Bilal

Copywriter Mark Stewart Editorial Assistants Jennifer Shephard

Lindsey Forte Tara Salter

Contributors Dr. William H. Cain

Ericka Cain Hope Stewart J. Wesley Knowles Jason Rindskopf Laura Furner Liz Ross Mark Stewart Nicholas Ross Nick Gullett Sean Cooper Tom Lamendola

Project Consultants Alisa Ferrara

Jennifer Shephard Jim Cooper Lindsey Forte Liz Ross Mark Stewart

Project Manager J. Wesley Knowles PRODUCTION

Design Team Financial Independence Group

All Points Media 19520 West Catawba Ave Suite 200 Cornelius, NC 28031

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CONNECTIONS CONTRIBUTORS

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DR. WILLIAM H. CAIN

ERICKA CAIN

Chief Executive Officer Bill received his undergraduate degree in Speech and a graduate degree in Theology. He received his Doctor of Education from the University of NC at Greensboro. In 1976, he began his career in the insurance industry and has recruited and trained agents for 40 years. Bill is an author, a national speaker and the CEO of Financial Independence Group, Inc. Bill leads by example and directs his staff to give the best service in the industry.

Chief Administrative Officer Ericka’s passion for top-notch service has helped to streamline a multitude of contract, new business, policy issues, commission accounting and service challenges. Since joining her husband, Bill Cain, at Financial Independence Group in 1987, Ericka has played a major role in the company’s development as the Office Manager and currently as the Chief Administrative Officer.

BRIAN WILLIAMS

JIM COOPER

Chief Operating Officer As COO and partner of Financial Independence Group, Brian is responsible for the overall business operations of the company. He works with his colleagues on the executive team to develop global strategies and direction for Financial Independence Group with a goal of providing opportunities for advisors while progressively integrating internal efficiencies for greater effectiveness. He also oversees all areas of IT as well as compliance for Financial Independence Group.

Chief Marketing Officer Jim brings his years of industry experience, proficiency, knowledge and leadership to the marketing department. As CMO, Jim directly oversees APM, the marketing division of Financial Independence Group. He continues to be instrumental in the development of current and new marketing programs.

LIZ ROSS

HOPE STEWART

Director of Marketing Liz leads an incredibly talented group of professionals at APM, our marketing division, who are committed to providing advisors with the marketing tools and strategies they need to grow their business and make a difference in the lives of their clients.

Director of Training & Development Hope is responsible for understanding and documenting procedural items for the company and preliminary training of new employees. She also works with management to create consistency and efficiency by developing educational pieces for Financial Independence Group’s workforce and provides on-going opportunities, while also gathering information and feedback from management and subject-matter experts.

NICHOLAS ROSS

TOM LAMENDOLA

Director of Strategic Development Nicholas has been in financial services for over 20 years, and his passion for the financial sector is relentless. From careers as a retail financial advisor and executive, to being inside one of the largest privately-held brokerage agencies in the world; he knows how to build a sustainable and successful financial services business.

Director of Business Development Tom is a master at identifying and hiring the best talent in the industry. He began his career recruiting in the financial sector, and has worked his way to a senior leadership role in multiple companies. Tom designs, markets, and fulfills open positions for our advisors through Financial Independence Group’s Talent Solutions service.


SEAN COOPER

JASON RINDSKOPF

Senior Vice President Sean joined the Financial Independence Group family in April 2010 after graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in business management. He began as a Life Marketing Assistant, providing internal support to our agents and marketing staff. Today, Sean leads his team as a Senior Vice President with an impressive book of business that he built from scratch.

Senior Vice President Over the last decade, Jason has worked with many top financial advisors, building his book of business by over 100% in the past year. His goal is simple; help his advisors leverage their resources effectively so they can serve more families, while freeing up more time to enjoy with theirs.

NICK GULLETT

LAURA FURNER

Vice President – LTC After graduating from UNC-Wilmington in 2012 with a business management degree, Nick came to Financial Independence Group to push himself to new limits. Each day, he gives producers product recommendations and ideas to increase their LTC insurance sales, so his agents can concentrate on one thing: selling.

Business Analyst – IT Laura is always eager to help our valued agents. Starting as a case manager in the Annuity division, she found relevant solutions to issues in complex cases. Now, she streamlines processes and increases efficiency in our ever-growing IT department. Laura is a big reason why our technology continues to advance each and every day.

MARK STEWART

J. WESLEY KNOWLES

Copywriter Mark’s “jack-of-all-trades” mentality has made him both knowledgeable and passionate in advertising, digital and social media marketing, and of course—copywriting. Responsible for creating captivating content and convincing copy across the board for Financial Independence Group, he has a knack for making the most complex financial topics simple to understand.

Marketing Media Specialist Wes has been involved as an artist & designer with the nationally recognized brands of Spectrum, The DNC, Amway, NBA Charlotte Hornets, AHL Charlotte Checkers, and the NFL Carolina Panthers. Wes joined All Points Media in 2014 and delivers his insight to an already strong group of designers and marketers with his many years of experience in publication production, copywriting, and art direction.

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DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES TEXT BY LIZ ROSS

Your online marketing strategy can build your brand, personalize your business and be your 24/7 salesperson. We all know we need to increase our online presence, but how do we do it? It all starts with a solid base. Think about what you want to achieve first and then consider what resources you currently have to achieve that objective.

WEBSITE ____

Start promoting your site by downloading our guide:“How To Promote Your Website.”

Your website is the central hub of your online strategy. You have a website, but is it doing anything for you? You could be bringing in free traffic by starting with a few basic SEO (search engine optimization) tactics. Ensure you have proper title tags, meta descriptions and consistent NAP (name, address and phone numbers) across all online directories. Most importantly, keep your site updated and personal. Your business competes with large institutions with huge digital marketing budgets. One thing you have which they don’t, is a personalized site that tells your story. One of the best ways to tell your personal story is through video.

CONTENT MARKETING ____

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “Content is King.” This is because your content can be engaging, informative, useful, and ultimately, make you a thought leader. Once you’ve written content for your blog, save time by utilizing Hootsuite to schedule all of our social media posts. It is low cost and easy. Social media is a great way to stay in front of your clients without trying to flood their inboxes. Like email, you can highlight your personality which can separate you from other practices.

Don’t have time to generate content? Our web packages include an extensive content library, weekly blog postings, animated videos and SEO.

CONVERT VISITORS INTO PROSPECTS WITH A LANDING PAGE ____ If you are trying to generate leads with a whitepaper or promote an event, try using a landing page built to convert web visitors into prospects. A lead generating landing page should be built for one thing, conversion. It should have a very clear call-to-action and shouldn’t have your normal site navigation or other distractors. Check out one of Financial Independence Group’s landing pages.


After you build out a landing page, be sure to nurture your prospects with automated follow-up emails. Discuss this strategy with your Financial Independence Group Sales or Marketing Consultant about our offerings.

SYNC YOUR CONTACTS ____ You might have your contacts in a few different applications including your CRM and your email marketing service. Save yourself time and improve your communications by syncing the databases with an API (application program interface). API integration does require a programmer to setup, but the benefits payout in the long run; saving you time and keeping your contacts organized when you manage from one central database. In addition, you can better segment your clients for targeted campaigns.

LOOKING FOR CONTENT? WE CAN HELP. TALK WITH YOUR FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE GROUP SALES OR MARKETING CONSULTANT ABOUT OUR EMAIL MARKETING SERVICE IN OUR ELEVATE PROGRAM.

Liz Ross, Director of Marketing, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Liz - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: liz.ross@figmarketing.com

EMAIL MARKETING AND AUTOMATION ____ Email marketing can be incredibly effective. You can build your brand, keep clients informed and promote events easily. The key is to be effective. We discuss this on another post “3 Questions to Ask Before Clicking Send.” Take email marketing a step further and create email marketing automations. The possibilities are endless, but I recommend keeping it simple at first. Start with a few email sequences from your lead generation landing pages that nurture your clients with follow-up emails which highlight the benefits of your practice. It is also easy to setup birthday and anniversary greetings. s

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EVERYONE LOVES A SUPERHERO

All Points Media is Financial Independence Group’s creative division of innovative services, people, and ideas. We have refined the process to help implement proven marketing practices to make you the best resource you can be. Be your local superhero, let us help!

BRANDING

PUBLIC RELATIONS

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AND MUCH MORE...

www.figmarketing.com | 1-800-527-1155


FIND

SUCCESS WITH THESE 2018 TIPS TEXT BY MARK STEWART

Remember the “good ol’ days” when you could send out direct mailers for seminars and other events to the masses? You’d get a decent amount of responses, the people showing up seemed to be decent prospects, and you called it a success. Or the days when you relied almost solely on family friends, and you got by. The Internet was barely what it is today, and if you were asked what “social media” is, you’d be terribly confused; perhaps guessing it had something to do with sharing newspaper clippings with people you knew. As the bearer of bad news, the “good ol’ days” are over. They have been for years. 2018 is quickly approaching, and with that comes a new time for a fresh start; a new strategy. It’s no longer enough to stand idly by, putting all your marketing dollars towards direct mail (or brochures), hoping for a decent response. This is a new age. It’s time for a new beginning.

W

e compiled a short list of some top marketing strategies to target this new year that won’t break your bank, seize your willpower, or leave you with no time for your clients.

1

Tell your story, connect with people. Stories connect people.

They provide a commonality where people can understand and empathize with the storyteller. A good story strengthens connections and makes people more trustful once they’ve understood another’s story. That means you should be crafting a compelling story for yourself and your business, and then use it in your marketing efforts. On your website and social media channels, tell the story of how you got to where you are. Once people understand your journey, they better understand you. Take this story and mesh it into your business’ story— how your business got started, why you

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went into financial advising, and how you can help people. You see, effective messaging contains all the elements of an enticing story: they include characters (yourself, employees, and target audience), challenges (audience’s pain points), and motivations (desired outcomes). They also include a climax (value your business provides), and finally, a conclusion (value was delivered). Once these elements are put into action, you now can build your central messaging to demonstrate how your products and services take clients from where they currently are, to their ideal scenario that improves their life and well-being.

2

Content marketing is (still) king—so cash in on it.

Crafting compelling content is the foundation for any great marketing strategy today. Your content is unique to you, and you can put it everywhere you

want: on your website’s blog, through your social media channels, or heck, even the “old-fashioned” way—however you choose to use your content, the most important thing is to use your content. To create the right content, the most important thing to remember is be authentic. No one wants to hear a fabricated story, or a story that’s missing pieces. Tell your unique brand story, and engage your target audience in the process. Great content is content that’s relevant to your audience, and adds value to people’s lives. Is deciding between permanent or term life insurance a pain point for many clients?Write a whitepaper describing the two. Are clients having a hard time picking an annuity product? Write up a “Top Ten” list of the best annuity products you’ve had success with. The basic goal is to help your clientele by providing value; making their decisions easier, and lives better. Content can do just that.


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3

However small, get your miniinfluencer marketing rolling.

You may have heard about influencer marketing, since it’s been a big “buzz term” lately. The thing is, it’s warranted for all the hype it’s received. Influencer marketing summed up is the positive word-of-mouth spreading of brand awareness by customers who hold a large influence (usually on social media), instead of through advertising or media outlets. Now, we don’t expect your clients to have 50,000 Instagram followers, but each of your clients can be mini-influencers. But how can you transform your clients into these mini-influencers?

• Acknowledge and provide the needs your clients are looking to solve

Offer solutions that truly alleviate pain points, and solve their problem

Through their exceptional experience, they’ll be sure to spread your name to others they surround themselves with (hopefully through social media)

Pretty simple, right? Influencer marketing functions as a snowball effect. In the beginning, your influencers may be just a small group of people. But, by continuously finding worthwhile solutions to those clients, you’ll start to pick up more and more mini-influencers. The positive messages spread will trigger a chain reaction. The satisfied client will tell his/her family, friends, co-workers, etc. (and hopefully, they know a lot of people). That group should then be impressed enough to engage with your business themselves and spread the word further; and the cycle continues and thrives. So, what started as a small number of people gradually became a powerful influence in the form of happy clients acting as dedicated promoters of your brand.

4

Make social media more important than your website.

If you’re publishing content like you should be (see tip #2), the best place to post it originally would be on your blog or another specified section of your website. Don’t let that content lay dormant, though. Post it to all your business’s social media channels! Perhaps even more important as creating the actual content, is making it visible for all to see.

Having that great blog post or whitepaper on your site is great, but chances are, your social media pages get a lot more traffic. Not many people go to a business’s website daily, but they do get on social media regularly. If you’re posting links to your new blog post on your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page, that post can surface in people’s newsfeeds for days. That makes for a solid formula to get your name and brand out there—plus it gives people a chance to like, share, or comment on the post— making it visible to even MORE people. Don’t have a blog? Not a problem. Even posting your thoughts as a LinkedIn article or Facebook post is effective. Creating great content for your business isn’t enough. It’s all about pushing that content out, and drawing interested readers in—and social media is an effective way to do so.

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This goal is well-defined (increase social media usage to increase followers by 25%), measurable (posting four times per week, comparing social media following), attainable (able to be realistically done in a few minutes each day), relevant (helps your clients and prospects achieve their goals), and is time-based (increase followers 25% by end of 2018). Remember, you should be doing this will ALL your goals, but marketing efforts are a great place to start. Be sure to implement at least a few of these marketing tips for the new year—because none of them require rocket science, but all of them are proven to grow a business. Take the time to grow yours.

Make sure your goals are SMART

Each business’s goals will be different, but they can all be SMART. Probably the most vital tip in this post, you should be setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) for every aspect of your business—not just marketing. Because if you don’t have proper goals, you have no direction as an advisor.

Here’s what it means to make your goals SMART:

• Specific: Make sure your goals are well-defined.

• Measurable: Easily assess how well you are doing.

• Attainable: Make sure your goal is actually realistic for you.

• Relevant: Your goal should reflect one of your core business values.

• Time-based: Establish a realistic time dream for achieving your goal. Sounds great, but how do you craft a SMART goal? Let’s say your overarching business goal is to grow your business’ social media marketing efforts. Here’s what a SMART goal for that would look like: “I will increase my social media usage to gain a bigger footprint online. Through my channels, I will post at least four times a week in 2018—providing relevant, helpful content to my audience to better help them achieve their goals. With this increased social media usage, I hope to increase my followers by 30%.”

You can always ask for these influencers to write a review on Google or your Facebook page. If they like you, they should be willing to do that, and hopefully even write a post about you on their own social channels.

Mark Stewart, Copywriter, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Mark - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: mark.stewart@figmarketing.com CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 19


Remember This

The Next Time You Fail TEXT BY NICHOLAS ROSS

Whether you’re an experienced financial professional or just starting your career in financial services, you will occasionally fail. Failure comes in many forms: losing a sale, declining workshop attendance, missing a referral opportunity, to name a few. For some of us, it can feel like a personal defeat. It is not. Failure is an event, but never a person. While failure is never enjoyable, please keep in mind that you will likely learn more from failure than you will from success. That’s something to enjoy. If you’re like me, your collective experiences have produced some important life lessons. Here’s four reminders to help you stay the course as you navigate through the sometime stormy seas of a financial professional’s business life.

Enjoy the wins and don’t take the losses personally. When you chose to be a financial advisor, I bet you were focused on the money, the self-branding, the opportunity to design your life and business. You didn’t realize that the life of an advisor is hard and is full of rejection. You want people to like you, but remember that most potential clients don’t really know you. To them, you’re just another advisor. First, make peace with that. Then try to change their minds every single day.

Take a break. I don’t recommend you take a month off, but it’s healthy to briefly step back from the business after a significant failure. Review the processes that lead up to that situation. What factors contributed to the shortfall? What can I do to change the outcome the next time this happens? After reflecting and possibly correcting, give yourself a boost by surrounding yourself with family and friends. Once refreshed, re-engage with your clients and serve them with renewed vigor. Just remember to take a day when you need to.

Some things are beyond your control. We want to close every single prospect, but in reality, not all become a client, nor should they. By now, you’ve had plenty of prospects and meetings that didn’t result in a sale. Maybe the prospect got cold feet or decided to remain with their current advisor. Maybe the client insisted on a product you don’t offer or recommend. There’s nothing you can do about that. It will hurt a lot less when you realize you did everything you could to close the sale.

It’s not about you. Ultimately, a career in financial services is a career in client service. It’s about putting a client’s needs ahead of your own. Sometimes, I get wrapped up in my sales volume and my brand and my blah blah blah. When I stop thinking about me, I’m reminded there is no better feeling than hearing a client say I helped them solve a problem or improve their position. That is why I do what I do. I’m pretty sure it’s why you do what you do, too.

Super Bowl winning coach Mike Ditka put it in perspective when he said, “Success is never permanent and failure isn’t fatal. The most successful advisors will learn from their mistakes and grow to be better salespeople, employers, and business owners. s Nicholas Ross, Director of Strategic Development, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Nicholas - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: nicholas.ross@figmarketing.com 20 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE


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5

SIMPLE TIPS TO OPERATE IN OUR REGULATED INDUSTRY

It can seem too much. Maybe sometimes you feel like you need a full-time employee to comply to every regulation. The stranglehold can be daunting. We get it.

TEXT BY MARK STEWART

T

hat grey cloud that glooms over your advising business on occasion doesn’t have to be there. Or, at the very least, it can be less grey, and less gloomy. Operating in a heavily regulated environment is no walk in the park. But with the right research, preparation, and strategy—you can operate your business smoothly and successfully. Be sure to use these five actionable tips to continue to build your business in today’s regulatory climate. 1. Truly understand what the DOL fiduciary rule entails–regardless of when it’s implemented. The rule is meant to develop more trust between consumers and financial advisors by making sure all conduct is done with the consumer’s best interest first.

This “best interest standard” means that all financial advice should focus on income needs, financial circumstances, investment objectives, and risk tolerances of the investor—without regards to a firm’s or financial professional’s compensation. Concisely, a financial professional must be sure that the compensations 22 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE

for any product is comparable to going market rates of other products with similar features. For example, if a product has unusually high commission payouts and is similar to other products with lower payout rates, regulators may decide to take a closer look. While we’re now to believe the entire DOL fiduciary rule isn’t going into effect until 2019, the gist of the saga is this: we don’t really know when it’ll be fully implemented. That being said, it’s best to prepare yourself by learning and understanding the rule. You’ll be happy that you’ve prepared when it does come into effect. 2. Learn how to prepare for challenges in the future. This just in: the financial services industry is constantly altering. From regulations to marketing, products to policies—it’s important to stay on top of the changes. For example, the DOL fiduciary rule is a perfect way to take a holistic reflection on your business and make sure that you’re ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow. You can add more trust into your processes so your clients always know that their interests are put


first. Remember—there is nothing more important than trust in this industry, so take time to prepare your business the right way. 3. Build a solid, agile team. As the industry gets more regulated, there’s obviously going to be more limitations and constraints to what your can do as a business. Focusing on building a solid team that stays on top of changes is key to progress and innovation in a regulated environment. You want to surround yourself with employees that hold a vast amount of skills and varying experiences to help counteract any shortfallings you may have in the company. The more skills packed into one employee, the better. That means to find the office manager that is proficient in social media, or the marketing pro who also understands insurance underwriting.

at 1. Tru ly understan d wh the DOL fidu cia ry rule ent ails reg ard less of wh en it’s imp lemented.

The right mix of people—with the right skills—make for a passionate group of employees who love what they do and why they do it. That should equal success for your business. 4. Strategize to reveal the right solutions for you. This is an easy one, but it can sometimes get lost in the craziness that is running your own business. In a regulated industry, you should be strategizing what you want to be doing in the next three months, six months, and the next year. Having multiple business plans made for the foreseeable future allows you to be flexible with the changes in the industry, and allows you to make easier adjustments along the way. The idea is to be lean and agile; so don’t get too entrenched with a single strategy. Instead, come up with different strategies for different

e 2. Lea rn how to prepar for fut ure cha llen ges . 3. Bu ild a so lid

, ag ile te am . 4. St rate gize to reve al th e ri ght so lu tio ns fo r yo u. 5. Let co mpl ia nc e be yo ur fr ie nd .

circumstances. That way, you’re never caught off-guard. It may seem daunting at first, but you will thank yourself when you realize you need to make a change to stay current with the regulations. 5. Let compliance be your friend. Compliance can get a bad reputation. Sure, it isn’t the most glamorous part of your business, but it sure is one of the most important. If you’re lucky enough to have someone that knows compliance well, be sure to always have them look over your business’ content so you know you’re on the straight and narrow (like we do). It’s worth the time and effort and will keep your business away from any possible legal action. If you don’t have a compliance officer or staff member, you can try to find someone either online or in your community that would be willing to look over your work. You may also consider joining industry-specific networking groups as these can provide good sources of information on how others approach compliance. However, if you believe you can do it yourself, go for it! Just be sure that you know the ins and outs of the industry, and what is needed to be said to comply. s There you have it. Be sure to utilize these tips for our ever-shifting industry environment. The DOL fiduciary rule will continue to shift how financial professionals engage in business, but by taking the proper steps now, you will be saving yourself a lot of time, headaches, and stress when the changes do come.

Mark Stewart, Copywriter, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Mark - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: mark.stewart@figmarketing.com

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SURGE TO NEW HEIGHTS SURGE Business Consulting engages with financial professionals to create tailored strategic and tactical business solutions that maximize growth in their respective businesses. Through the 20.20 process, SURGE holds itself and the financial professional accountable to reaching new heights together. Three important questions: • Are you fully prepared to execute your 5-year business plan to become explosive by the year 2020? • Is your business vision clear and concise to execute change inside your business? • Are you willing to dedicate 20 minutes 20 days per month to be accountable and focus on your business? 20.20 becomes a ritual. With the help of SURGE you will create new personal and business habits that will impact you for the remainder of your years in business as a financial professional.

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THE 20.20 PROCESS A CLEAR AND CONCISE VISION Discovery Meeting - This 30-minute call will introduce you to SURGE and help you understand specifics and deliverables surrounding your SURGE engagement. You are invited to have key associates attend this call with you. GO | Gather and Observe - A one to two day on-site discovery meeting to gather and observe. SURGE will spend time extracting information about your business. From people and processes to business psychology and future planning. SURGE would like to meet all staff members and even core partnerships that are key to your business model. In certain cases, SURGE will ask to meet family and significant others if they are involved in your business life. The more that is learned the stronger the solutions and output will be. DO | Developmental Output - Once the tailored GO process is complete, a developmental output (DO) is created specific to the theory and application necessary to stimulate your business. In this step, you will be given an outline and detail specific strategic and tactical items to hold accountable to change. SUM | Reveal and Discover - Next step is a phone call with you and colleagues of your choosing, to disseminate the findings and discuss how to best turn ideas into practice. This conversation will last between one and three hours. Account | Staying On Course - How many times have you left a great seminar or meeting filled with ideas, only to implement none of them? This final step is to ensure that does not happen. Each month an accountability call is hosted with your specific office to discuss where you are in the process of change and what is needed to remain on course. Also as a member of SURGE, you have an open invitation to a monthly call series hosted by SURGE and other experts on various industry impacting topics.

TESTIMONIALS


AVOIDING HEADACHES WHEN UNDERWRITING TEXT BY SEAN COOPER

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One of the main reasons some of my private clients hate offering life insurance to their clients is that they do not want to risk the relationship because of the unpreventable headache that is underwriting. They have been burned in the past, when a case goes south quickly because of underwriting complications. This can lead to their client losing faith and becoming upset with them, inevitably causing the loss of all lines of business with that client. With a little education, as well as setting the proper expectations up front, this nuisance can be alleviated. The reality is that the future of the financial services is with advisors who can offer all lines of business to their clientele. That future is now, so you better get ahead of the curve and make certain that your clients know you represent all things financial services to them. Otherwise you will risk losing them to the true holistic business consultant who comes along and presents a method that taps into the best of all options. There are 2 main issues I have discovered concerning underwriting troubles which can easily be handled up front. The first issue I encounter all the time is the ordering of medical records. When an application is processed and a paramed is complete, the client is asked to provide details to every doctor, facility, specialist, etc., that they have seen over the last 5 years. My team then works to obtain these records from those facilities. Unfortunately, some facilities are easier to work with than others. I have seen records take 1 week and I have seen them take 3+ months to obtain. This is the point in the process when we are at the mercy of the facility and their timeliness to turn the request. In the case of my team, we personally follow up religiously with each facility to help expedite the process. A phone call from the client to the doctor’s office can sometimes help as well. We do everything we can in our power to rush these facilities to respond. It is very important to set the expectation with the client that we are in process and to happily keep them updated on the

progress, but to please be patient and understand that task can potentially take some time. Most importantly the client must ensure that they have provided all the information, every place they have been, and/or been referred to. Otherwise the action can be delayed longer. A perfect example – waiting 4 weeks to obtain records that then show that the client was also sent to an additional specialist, from whom records now must be ordered from. This of course only delays the process even more. Making certain the client understands the importance of providing all details from the last 5 years and understanding that it will take some time to obtain the records is an essential part of relieving a lot of unnecessary stress during the process. The second issue is that clients must understand that there is a significant difference between insurance medicine and clinical medicine. Through the underwriting process, the carrier will evaluate both an individual’s medical and non-medical information, then determine the impact these factors will have on life expectancy. Once this information is processed they assign a risk classification to that insured. A key issue is that this rating, in some instances, can increase the premium that was originally quoted. Quite often, this comes as a surprise to the client. The revelation frustrates the client. The insured may feel that he/she is in excellent health and/or has been told by their attending physician that they are doing fine. Only some minor issues they will need to keep an eye on, but no treatment is required currently. It is a matter of the distinction regarding a client’s medical health and their life expectancy. The fact is neither the physician, nor the underwriter is wrong. It is simply a difference in perspective, which comes down to the fact that the physician assesses the health in the present and the insurance company assess the probable health well into the future. You must understand that the insurance company gets only one shot to evaluate the client’s history and to predict their health in the future, while the physician can assess their health today and continuously keep tabs on the condition during the client’s life.

Unlike the physician, the insurance company has a very narrow window to evaluate the medical condition. They must assess the potential risk today with the understanding that is an individual’s health deteriorates over the life of the insurance contract the insurer cannot change their assessment. Take for example a recent case I worked on where there were abnormalities in a client’s EKG reading. From an insurance medicine perspective, there is a certain percentage of individuals who will develop a heart disease down the road who present abnormal EKGs today. The client’s physician did not see any issue as the client did not complain of chest pain and no further recommendations were made. Of course, the physician knows and has the EKG results documented so that during the next visit they will take another look. They can keep tabs on any abnormalities, and if necessary, can take a course of action if something develops. The insurance company does not have the opportunity to monitor and observe the insured on a regular basis so they rate this case even though there was no immediate risk or guarantee it would develop into heart disease. They must base their decision entirely off the percentage chance that this abnormality could lead to a bigger issue in the future. In this case, even a letter from the physician stating there was no issue was not sufficient. By negotiation we were still able to obtain a rating that was better then what they should have received and closed the deal, but it was very frustrating for both the agent and the client. Make sure to offer your clients the necessary life insurance they need within their complete/balanced financial plan. Never worry about losing a relationship because of the underwriting process. It doesn’t have to be a headache. All it takes is a little education and setting the proper expectations up front. Sean Cooper, Senior Vice President - Life Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Sean - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: sean.cooper@figmarketing.com

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I hate annuities and

you should too! Or should you? The cynic’s dilemma… TEXT BY JASON RINDSKOPF

“I HATE ANNUITIES AND YOU SHOULD TOO!” We’ve all seen the ads, and the author has done a terrific job of instilling fear and uncertainty into the minds of retirees and pre-retirees, but has he really done them any favors? Making the blanket statement that you hate annuities is akin to saying that you hate your social security paycheck, your company pension, or your latest lottery payout. When was the last time anyone cursed the government for putting their social security check in your mailbox? I’m pretty sure that when Bubba cashed in his lottery ticket, he was celebrating his winnings all the way to the bank. On the flip side of the coin, operating under the delusion that an annuity is somehow the Holy Grail to financial planning is equally misguided and misinformed. Like any polarizing issue, the root of the problem really boils down to a combination of misinformation and misconceptions, perpetrated ad nauseam by so called industry “experts”. The real question isn’t who is right in this argument, but rather, how can you take

Fundamental Principals of Income Planning Let’s start with basic income planning. Do you ever watch the news after a natural disaster such as a tornado or a hurricane claims its victim community? Picture a place like Tornado Alley, across the Central Plains. After a devastating tornado rolls through and they’re taking inventory of the aftermath, what is left to rebuild from? What is left of the homes and buildings? The foundation, right? Your client’s financial plan is no different. The Great Depression. Black Monday. The tech bubble. The mortgage crisis. These are just a few examples of real life, natural disasters that occur in the financial markets that serve to rock your client’s financial plan to their foundation. And you and we have just as much control over these situations as we do over the next F-5 rolling across the plains of Kansas or Oklahoma. So the question is, what is their foundation built upon? Concrete or sand? For any retiree today, the concrete and rebar that serves as the foundation of their fiscal house is built with guaranteed income sources. We may commonly consider this the “three-legged stool”.

ownership of your own situation to make a properly informed decision that is right for you, and ultimately what is right for your

The first leg is their Social Security, the second leg is (or has

clients? This question will serve as the footing for the remainder of

historically been) their company pension, and of course the

this post….to deliver a simple framework to help you make a simple

remaining shortfall to provide for their basic needs and wants must

honest assessment of why these products ultimately exist, and how

be provided for from their assets. This is where your expertise comes

they can potentially serve you and your clients in an uncertain world.

into play. In your infinite wisdom, how will you ensure that your

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CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 29


client’s lifestyle will never be compromised by the outside variables

If you can offer this guidance and clarity for your clients, you’ll

that they ultimately have no control over? Modern portfolio theory

become their hero, regardless of product. Help them acquire real

supports a systematic withdrawal approach that has historically led

transparency around issues such as (but not necessarily limited to):

advisors to the general rule of thumb in the planning community for determining “safe withdrawal rates”. It’s served as a core principal, albeit an ever-moving target, that was at one point known as the “7-percent rule”, then modified to the “5-percent rule”, and has been once again been updated to the “4-percent rule”. The premise is simple and I’m sure you know it well. This is the agreed upon withdrawal rate from a portfolio with a balance of stocks and bonds (typically 50/50), that a 65-year-old retiree can distribute from their assets with a high probability of having a balance in their retirement assets before they pass, assuming today’s assumptions for mortality.[1]

• How their existing investments will affect their taxes today and at the time of distribution • The risk associated with their current investments, and how it correlates with what they say is their actual appetite for risk • The total expenses associated with their existing investment positions. Not just what they see on their statements, but the hidden fees as well which can quietly cannibalize their principal. • The reliability of income generated from their existing positions and how market fluctuations could potentially effect that reliability

Whether you agree with the strategy or not is arbitrary for our purposes here. The question is whether this method is more founded

These questions can go on and on, but the bottom line is, if you help

in sand or concrete? Does it provide us with a guaranteed stream of

your client establish a process for obtaining clear thinking, you’ll be

income regardless of how long the client lives, and without concern

on the path to a more empowered and engaged prospect and client.

for market fluctuations? The answer here is no, so no matter your level of confidence, this strategy is at least partially founded in sand.

Misconceptions and Misinformation

Maximizing efficiency Alright, back to the annuity. Why are there so many misconceptions around annuities in the first place? The simplest answer I can come

Once you’ve made your own determinations for your own

up with is because there are so many options, with completely

fundamental philosophies about providing your client’s retirement

unique features, benefits, and applications, yet they’re often lumped

income, the next issue that you must contend with are the sources

into the same generic stigma. Tell me if this sounds familiar?

of information that influence you and your client’s opinions on the subject. The best way that I’ve discovered to address this with your

Annuities are too expensive!

client is to simply serve as their filter. There is an endless stream of

Annuities are too restrictive!

noise in the world of economics and personal finance. How is an

Annuities don’t offer enough liquidity!

individual to decipher what is right and what is wrong, let alone

Annuities tie your money up too long!

what actually applies to their particular situation? That’s where a financial professional’s advice and guidance is so invaluable, and

This is why the process we previously discussed is so important.

in my opinion, can never be replaced by a computer or a robot. (a

Because at face value, any or all of the above can be proven true.

conversation for another day). Only you know exactly what makes

Annuities are too expensive! Sometimes… Annuities are too

your client tick. What are their fears and frustrations? Their goals and

restrictive! Sometimes…. Annuities don’t offer enough liquidity!

aspirations? What has influenced their decisions around finances in

Sometimes…. Annuities do tie your money up too long! Sometimes…

the past? At the end of the day, it isn’t so much an argument of right

Again, the real question is what are you trying to accomplish?

or wrong, but offering a path and a process to ensure that they are

Let’s reverse the above bullet points and address them with some

able to accomplish two things:

clarifying questions.

Understand what the right questions are to ask, so that they are equipped with what we would define as critical information, relative to their unique situation. And…

• What are the total expenses (hidden and otherwise) that you’re currently paying on your current portfolio? • How would a market correction, or significant volatility affect your retirement income today and in the future?

Understand how to filter through and apply that information to their unique circumstances to empower them to make an informed and sound decision that is right for them.

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• How much money do you need each year to satisfy your lifestyle? • How long do you want your money to last you?


As with most things in life, it’s a matter of context. If the real objective

It’s ultimately about utilizing the tool for job it was created for. If

is helping the client achieve maximum efficiency in their plan, the

we establish the client’s financial foundation in concrete and rebar,

annuity may help you accomplish this in a way that no other financial

you’ll be freed up to be as flexible as you and your client see fit to

vehicle can. It can take a speculative rule of thumb like the 4-percent

build the rest of the house, with reduced concern for the inevitable

rule, and deliver certain guarantees, removing concern for volatility or

storms that the world will eventually throw our way. s

potential loss, and potentially deliver as much as 20-40 percent more income than any other investment might project to provide, while

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/wadepfau/2016/04/19/the-4-rule-and-the-

mitigating certain risks and expenses in the process.

search-for-a-safe-withdrawal-rate/2/#139defa75df0

Annuities may also deliver more predictable upside potential than

[2] https://retirement.theamericancollege.edu/video-library/why-choose-flooring-

other similar alternatives, which are designed for capital preservation

approach-retirement-income-planning

and principal protection. In addition, the annuity may mitigate other risks often overlooked, beginning with longevity. Longevity is the

Jason Rindskopf, Senior Vice President, Financial Independence

ultimate risk, because as Tom Hegna says, it’s a risk multiplier.[2] The

Group, Inc. Contact Jason - Phone: 800-527-1155,

longer you live, the greater the probability that you have to contend

Email: jason.rindskopf@figmarketing.com

with additional risks impacting retirement, such as market risk, long term care risk, inflation risk, health care risk, etc.

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TEXT BY LAURA FURNER

FinTech is the ever-growing slang term for technology in the financial industry. As technology has been growing at a fast pace for decades now, the financial industry is finally starting to catch up. And, with new technology comes new security issues. Many people think that anything that’s done online can be easily hacked, however, there are many ways to stay safe while using technology. FinTech companies are working in a more secure world that may come with new user experiences. A popular example of increased security is two-factor authentication. An example of this would be entering in a password, and then receiving a code via email that needs to be entered in prior to being logged into a website or application. Although technology companies are working to be more secure, there are many things a smart consumer can do to continue protecting themselves. As evidenced by the 2017 security breach of Equifax, even a smart consumer can have their information at risk. In a recent interview with ABC News, Craig Newman, a privacy and data-security attorney at the 32 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE


HERE’S SOME TIPS AND TRICKS TO STAY SECURE IN AN ONLINE WORLD: 1. Don’t share your passwords with others 2. Use protected applications to store your passwords, rather than notepad type programs 3. Think about using different passwords for different programs. That way, if one password gets compromised it won’t affect everything 4. Create complex passwords 5. Don’t click links in emails you are unsure of 6. Make sure any site addresses you are entering sensitive information into begin with “HTTPS…” instead of “HTTP…” 7. Use an anti-virus software 8. When on public Wi-Fi, be cautious about entering any sensitive information into websites and applications 9. Sign up for login notifications. This will allow a website or application to notify you if your account is accessed from an unfamiliar location. 10. Change your passwords regularly

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler law firm noted, “Companies can build the proverbial 10-foot firewall around their network and sensitive information, but criminals are always going to find that 11-foot ladder”. For consumers, an additional security measure would be to enroll in an ID theft prevention program. This way, if your information is ever at risk, you will be notified and have that additional layer of protection. With almost all industries moving towards a paperless world, it is important to stay up to date on changing regulations, as well as new ways to stay secure in a quickly changing world. Using some of the tips above is a great place to start in ensuring the safety of your information. s http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/fix-identity-theft-issues-posed-equifax-hack-49775038 Laura Furner, Business Analyst - IT, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Laura - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: laura.furner@figmarketing.com CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 33


TEXT BY TOM LAMENDOLA After nearly 20 years of recruiting experience—half of which have been spent in a business management function—I have learned a lot about what drives a successful business. Of course, there’s been a lot of learning along my journey, but what I’ve come to believe is that to be successful it’s certain we all need effective programs for: recruiting, recognition, retention, and referrals. The “4 R’s” if you will. I also believe this concept is relevant to any function within any company or operation. Over time, marketing and communications teams have worked tirelessly to develop channels designed to maximize each of the four “R’s” mentioned above. With the help of these channels, this philosophy could even be considered your complete business process map. I have been fortunate in my career to support many different job requirements, as well as the personalities responsible for making selection decisions. It’s made me develop an appreciation for the philosophy, “your people are your most valuable asset”. Regardless if “your people” is defined as your employees, suppliers, prospects, or clients; they require you to develop programs for each of the “R’s” to effectively fuel your business.

RECRUITING

RECOGNITION

Recruiting is mandatory for both internal and external business management. Creating and mastering effective recruiting programs will have immediate and long-lasting impacts on your business. People today have instant access to more information than any other time before. As a result, it’s your responsibility as a business manager to make sure your recruiting message is clear, concise, and accessible.

By now you have heard of the term “fear of missing out”, or “FOMO”. But, this is not a new concept in business management; and certainly not within employee performance or client acquisition. The application of FOMO is as old as marketing and advertising, and I would argue, one of the most successful motivational campaigns for those who consistently recognize their people.

When you’re seeking new employees, first identify the audience you are trying to attract; then craft a personal, relatable message your candidates can find and engage with. The same strategy applies when attempting to recruit new clients or customers. Remember to use the same channels and/or media, and make sure your messaging sounds alike.

Regardless of which end of the motivational spectrum you reside (intrinsic or extrinsic), effective recognition programs can be very appealing. You can use similar programs with slight adjustments for our employees, as well as our external stakeholders to highlight our relationship. Some of the best recognition campaigns are designed with FOMO as the leading characteristic. For those stakeholders who are intrinsically motivated, social recognition is often the best tool to use.

Too often, people look at recruiting talent different than recruiting clients. It’s not. Our employees should be our biggest fans or (where appropriate) our most active consumers. Likewise, our clients (and their networks) can be our number one source of new talent. Many seem to be conditioned to ask our clients for business referrals, and rightfully so. But, how often do you ask the same group for names for who might fit well within our organization? As a business manager, you should always be recruiting. Each person or contact is a lead in one fashion or another.

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With the expansive reach of technology, you can create broad or narrow recognition campaigns (depending on your objective) for employees highlighting service time, exceptional service, or demonstration of your company values. Similar programs can be created for your clients or prospects with use of age-old campaigns such as “we only have [X amount of] spots left” or “[Client name] has just reached our platinum level”. While the latter will likely have some extrinsic motivation attached, those who are not yet “platinum level” will not want to miss out on the benefits. Neither will their peers, who are now aware they’ve reached a distinguished honor with your business. Extrinsic, or “carrot and stick” recognition programs typically include compensation or performance-based reinvestment and can be used interchangeably. One popular extrinsic motivator today are rewards or loyalty programs constructed on the foundation of giving back or reinvesting in people.


RETENTION

REFERRALS

Perhaps the most important “R” of our successful business management model, retention is your key to longevity. Successful retention ratios fuel the other three “R’s” by providing the foundation for opportunities that others will come to you for. Successful business managers implement and drive communication to their current employee and client bases; providing transparent content to sustain retention rates.

The four “R’s” of business management can also be used as your business process map. Your request for referrals is your last stop. You must perform the first three “R’s” better than your competition before you will realize the power of the referral process.

One of the most common reasons for an employee to leave a company or team is the lack of communication without having clear expectations. Remember, we have instant access to more information than ever before. If you don’t anticipate your stakeholder’s need for information, you inadvertently leave the door open for the competition to fill that need. However, you need to be careful you’re not over-communicating, or becoming white noise in somebody’s inbox. Although providing information is key to retention, our audience prefers current, relevant, and concise information as it relates to their individual needs. Don’t make the mistake of marketing only to your external populations to increase your talent pool or client base.

Throughout the courtship (recruiting) of a new relationship, your prospect must have a positive experience from the first time they hear about your opportunity until the time they decide to join your business. Likewise, how well has their service to you (or your firm) been recognized? Do they feel appreciated? Have they been rewarded for their loyalty? Basically, we’re asking “what will make them want to project FOMO to their peers?” Lastly, how long have they been with your business? Long enough where they feel like they know as much about it as there is to know? Favorable answers to these questions will increase the likelihood of a referral from those you ask (and hopefully some you don’t). Managing a successful business is difficult. It requires a strong vision, sound strategy, and effective execution. Be sure to use “The 4 R’s” philosophy to help you correctly align time, money, technology, and people in all aspects of your firm. s

Tom Lamendola, Director of Business Development, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Tom - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: tom.lamendola@figmarketing.com CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 35


Electronic Application Options Save Time and Money TEXT BY HOPE STEWART

As a financial professional, you have heard of drop tickets and e-applications (e-apps). You have received emails encouraging the use of these electronic options and read that using electronic submission methods decreases issue timeframes. You were also told forms would be current, and in-good-order rates would be greatly increased. Despite the positives associated with these electronic avenues, you have not attempted to submit a drop ticket or e-app. If the first paragraph describes you, know that you are not alone. There are numerous financial professionals who have yet to explore the various electronic avenues that exist, or consider how using these electronic methods could positively impact their businesses.

Although this new territory may seem daunting at first, be aware that many carriers use the same electronic submission platforms, which creates a sense of familiarity. Nearly 15 carriers have an annuity and/or ❑ According to I-Pipeline, cycle timeframes improve an life e-app available average of 5-7 days when drop tickets are used through through FireLight® iGO, and placement ratios increase by 5% on Financial Independence Group’s ❑ Allianz reports the following for FireLight® (ApplyNow) Agent Portal. Also, application use: many of the major industry players for In-Good-Order In-Good-Order Line Of Business life insurance have an ApplyNOW Business Paper Business electronic offering via drop ticket or e-app Annuity 92% 26% through iGO.

Life 86% During Financial Independence Group’s 2017 Sales Symposium, Chief Financial Officer Mike Mullan explained that as business leaders, it was time to embrace change and seize opportunities. One way to do this is through innovation and technology, as what works today may not work tomorrow. Do you want the financial industry to move forward without you because your business continues to rely on obsolete practices? Financial Independence Group strongly believes in technology. Life iGO drop tickets and e-apps have been available for years on the company’s Agent Portal. In addition, Financial Independence Group partnered with numerous annuity carriers in their quest to introduce e-apps through the FireLight® platform.

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Financial Independence Group’s management team knew e-apps, which were new on the annuity side of the business, could positively impact the client experience and create efficiencies for our valued advisors, and we were right.

20%

For advisors who aren’t on board, there will always be a reason to resist submitting applications via an electronic method. Financial Independence Group challenges those advisors to overcome perceived obstacles and consider the bigger picture. Visit Financial Independence Group’s Agent Portal or the website at www.figmarketing.com to learn more about the electronic submission process. Watch the tutorials and read the advisor testimonials. Contact your Senior Vice President or Vice President with questions. Financial Independence Group is here to help as you explore new technology and prepare your business for success in 2018.


Overcome the Challenges Are there obstacles in place preventing you from submitting applications via an electronic method? If so, Financial Independence Group has the solutions! The following is a list of common producer challenges, along with suggestions for overcoming those hurdles:

I am not the best at using the keyboard, and I do not want to embarrass myself when typing information into the e-app in front of a client.

 During the initial client interview, take notes. Upon returning to the office, enter the information into the system, without the client present, and take your time. Then, at the next client meeting, add information as needed and make minor corrections. Afterward, finalize the process by reviewing all information with the client and then complete the signing ceremony.

I completed an e-app once before and fumbled through it. I can finish a paper application faster than I can enter the information into the e-app.

Remember when you were a child and learned to ride a bike? Did you fall off of the bike? (Most of us did fall off of the bike, and not just once, but numerous times!) With repetition, we learned to become experienced, accident-free bike riders. The majority of us do not become skilled with any activity in just one try. The same is true with using the e-app. Don’t give up! Give it at least three tries.

 ost of my clients are not comfortable with technology, and I don’t M want to lose the sale by using an electronic application method.

Anxiety associated with technology is understandable, especially for those who had or have little use for it in their daily lives. However, fear cannot create paralysis. Talk to the client about this hesitation and explain how numerous sectors now frequently use e-apps and e-signatures. Tax returns can be submitted electronically, homepurchase documents can be completed on the computer as well, and numerous banks allow clients to execute financial transactions online. s


Understand the Basics Communicating expectations to a client is important, and electronic submission methods can be confusing if you don’t understand the basics. Review these items to become more familiar with the various processes.

ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION METHODS

Financial Independence Group’s Agent Portal

INSURANCE TECHNOLOGIES

CARRIER

I-PIPELINE

I-Pipeline is the company that offers iGO, which is an electronic submission platform. There are two types of ways to submit information to carriers using iGO: e-apps or drop tickets.

CARRIER’S CUSTOM SOLUTION

iGO

FireLight®

E-Apps E-applications (e-apps) are full applications. Various carrier e-apps are offered through Insurance Technologies, which created FireLight®, and through I-Pipeline, which created iGO.

Drop Tickets Drop tickets are abbreviated applications. Often, a paramed company will be involved to conduct a phone history interview (PHI) or paramed exam and capture signatures on paperwork. Each carrier is different, so before beginning the drop ticket, know that specific carrier’s process so you can prepare the client for next steps.

Hope Stewart, Director of Training and Development, Financial Independence Group Contact Hope - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: hope.stewart@figmarketing.com

Carrier E-Apps Carriers may create their own version of an e-app that is available on the carrier’s website. In those cases, Financial Independence Group is not alerted by the carrier that an electronic submission occurred; therefore, there will be no follow-up on the business unless the advisor makes Financial Independence Group aware of it.

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HYBRID LONG TERM CARE: A new perspective TEXT BY NICK GULLETT Many agents believe there is no place in their current practice for LTC insurance. This can be attributed to a variety of factors. The most likely objection is simply looking at the “averages” and claiming this doesn’t appeal to the masses.

W

hy purchase insurance in something you may never need? Another common barrier to entry when starting the LTC conversation is the bad reputation the traditional, stand-alone policies have earned. Some agents aren’t willing to pursue new opportunities, and would rather use the detriments associated with past products to misrepresent what is currently offered. Although both of these arguments have substance, the ultimate goal for the advisor should be putting the client’s needs first, and providing them with the best possible solution. This process begins with keeping an open mind as it relates to what products are available, and how they can both protect and promote growth in an already successful practice. Once this is established, one begins to realize these hybrid products far exceed expectations, and are much more comprehensive as it relates to portfolio management and wealth protection. Although personal experience is usually the number one reason for purchasing LTC, many families haven’t experienced this first-hand. Many of these folks turn elsewhere for guidance and their perception often becomes tainted. Some clients choose to seek advice from their lawyers or accountants before pursuing long term care. The major flaw with this strategy is being a CPA or practicing law doesn’t necessarily qualify these individuals to give insurance advice. Quite often, many of these clients are advised to self-insure based on historical averages. Taking a look at the numbers helps establish the connection between the averages and reality, as it relates to LTC. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services the 2014 AVERAGE cost for a

private room was $87,600.[i] If this number is applied to the AVERAGE time on claim (2.2 years for men, 3.7 years for women, and 8 years for any Alzheimer’s patient) virtually no one would prefer to self-insure. If we were to add a conservative 3.5% annual medical inflation rate, the AVERAGE Alzheimer’s claim would cost $1.5 million by 2034. Gambling that you’re only on claim for an AVERAGE amount of time can be quite costly, but what if you’re on claim for an extended period? If you knew for a fact that 1/3 people over age 65 die with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, would selfinsuring really be your best option? To give a bit more insight, let’s try a different example; is it safe to assume most people have both home and car insurance? The majority of these policy holders would likely agree that both are extremely important to have, even if there is a low probability of ever going on claim. These are considered high deductible plans, which essentially, protects the insured from catastrophic loss. Using this same logic, if there was a high likelihood of needing coverage, having these same policies in place would be a no-brainer, right? The best way to illustrate the need for long term care is the 70/70/70 trend.[ii]

has been reduced to about a dozen. Originally, LTC was offered in the form of nursing home insurance that focused on the 65+ target market. Once multitudes of people simultaneously went on claim, the sustainability of these products was called into question. Premiums started increasing up to 3x the original charge, claims fraud became prevalent, and many carriers couldn’t afford to pay out since current policy holders couldn’t afford these increased rates.[ii]

There are roughly 70 million baby boomers turning 70 at a rate of 10k/day, and 70% of this group will need some form of LTC before they die. If people are going on claim sooner due to cognitive ailments, but living longer because of medical advances, historical AVERAGES can no longer be a viable source. Now that we have established the need for LTC insurance what’s next? Traditional long term care policies have been around for decades, but due to a variety of circumstances, what began as 100+ carriers

When an agent can truthfully disclose to a client that they are covered whether they live, die, or quit a certain confidence is revealed. When these carriers are confronted with the cliché that their products are “too good to be true,” they reply rather “they’re just too good to be free.” The added value proposition, discussed above, comes at a cost. The hybrid products are more expensive initially, but the overall worth far exceeds the additional premium.ii Different financing options are available based on the carrier, and range

In addition, anyone who passed away or defaulted on their payments received nothing in return. When you combine these facts with a sluggish economy in a low interest rate environment you have the incendiary mix for a ticking time bomb. As a result of this “explosion” hybrid LTC was introduced with a different approach. In hybrid products not only will LTC benefits be paid out for a specified time period, but the premiums are guaranteed to never increase. If a client chooses their policy is no longer necessary, there is a return of premium feature at their disposal. Lastly, if the client were to pass away before going on claim, the life insurance policy would be paid out in the form of a death benefit.[ii]


from a single premium to whole life premiums, with many options in between. One carrier in particular offers a lifetime benefit period through its optional continuation of benefits rider. Another advantageous feature is the ability to place two individuals on one contract, using a combined age, and sharing the benefits therein. Optional inflation protection will keep pace with the cost of living adjustment before and after the insured goes on claim. Some clients believe Medicaid will cover these expenses once LTC is necessary. It is important to note that to become Medicaid eligible you must first spend down your assets. If someone has worked their entire life to build their portfolio to the point of retirement, would they be willing to exhaust it by not investing in a policy that could protect it? It is not a matter of “if” you will need care but rather “when” it will be too late. Transitioning the conversation from “risk” to “consequences” is a pertinent step. The “New” LTC allows for clients to allocate a portion of their portfolio now to protect the entire portfolio in the future. Hybrid LTC products ensure the client can remain in a social environment for as long as possible, while protecting the emotional, physical, and financial well-being of the insured, as well as those he/she loves. s

Nick Gullett, Vice President - LTC, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Nick - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: nick.gullett@figmarketing.com [i] http://insurancenewsnet.com/innarticle/LTC-Costs-ContinueOutpacing-Inflation-a-508990 [ii] All information was ascertained from the Care Solutions University, held October 2016 in Indianapolis. There were about 15 guest speakers who spoke candidly about the past, present, and future of the industry. These statistics are derived from the following: Susie Sughrue, VP and Chief Underwriter at OneAmerica; Pat Foley President, Individual Life and Financial Services at OneAmerica; General facts of OneAmerica’s asset based products summarized; Gary Munz, Regional Marketing Director OneAmerica.

CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 41


CUSTOMER SERVICE & THE IMPACT ON YOUR BUSINESS TEXT BY J. WESLEY KNOWLES

Is customer service and our level of engagement with the client important to the success of a practice? On a recent vacation, a trip to Walt Disney World Resort, I learned first-hand how customer service and interaction impacts the takeaway. This was not my first trip to the Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida. I received a Disney World Annual Pass as a birthday present in 2002. I became a repeat and loyal patron of the resort and would travel from Charlotte to Orlando at least three times per year for the thirteen years I kept the membership going. A kid at heart, I enjoy themed attractions, especially immersive experiences and thrill rides. That was the first enticement, the second was Disney’s commitment to unrivaled customer service. I had not realized how much it meant to my personal travel experience until it failed. 42 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE

I work in the marketing segment of the financial and insurance services industry. Upon my return to work I began to ponder the customer experience and how important it is when offering any consumer product. Pertaining to advisors and their businesses, the customer experience revolves around how each client perceives their interactions. Every point of engagement leaves an impression including time with owners, advisory services, staff members and the environment (space) where business is conducted. Expectations and consistency play a role in the positive or negative takeaway from each encounter. Maintaining connections to long-term clientele is important throughout the life of the business. They usually represent the building blocks from its early stages. Consistency in the conduct of interaction is paramount to maintaining clients and getting


advisor can demonstrate the ability to orchestrate interpersonal skills combined with traditional expertise and the ability to return on investment. This is what creates successful advisor/client relationships.1 Interaction is always a part of any transaction even when a human being is absent from the process. Purposefully corporations hire specialists to build out their web profiles and online presences with UX (User Experience) professionals. This ensures that the consumer has a positive encounter with their website so that they may return to purchase again in the future. Competition is plentiful and company brands’ and reputations are on the line when negative feedback begins to roll in via social outlets. 60% of people get influenced by others when they are about to buy. Any hesitation to fulfill clients’ needs may result in a failure to attract new business or retain your long-time clientele. 2 Fortunately, the Walt Disney World Resort has many outstanding Cast Members who stepped up a few days into the trip. Those excellent employees worked their magic to make amends for the shortcomings that happened at the beginning of the vacation. Their proactive approach reaffirmed my confidence in the product and the brand.

referrals. Checking in the first day of my trip, the staff had not been properly trained to take care of things that I was promised. I trusted the brand and now it was letting me down. This made me second guess future trips to the resort. Trust is a very important component in business relationships. Other key characteristics that clients value in their financial advisors are personalization, expertise and empathy. Clients are interested in working with advisors who understand their personal needs, goals and timetables. It is important the

Providing exemplary customer service is not difficult when you stay connected to the clients you serve. Make sure client touches are not too far apart, because emotional relationships between advisors and clients has never been more important. Client appreciation events go a long way to maintaining relationships and garnering referrals from all those long-term investors.3 Treating all your customers with the same respect that you would a recruit will strengthen the relationships for many years and possibly influence their family to seek your advice. By maintaining an interest and attention to personal service, you will keep your clients interested in both you and your business. s J. Wesley Knowles, Marketing Media Specialist, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Wesley - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: wes.knowles@figmarketing.com

1. What Clients Value In Their Financial Advisors – https://www.forbes.com/sites/russalanprince/2015/04/01/what-clients-value-in-their-financialadvisors/#2e016aba1c50 2. Why Great Customer Service Is Critical To Business Success – https://www.tagove.com/great-customer-service-critical-business-success/ 3. Advisers’ clients want even more of the human touch – http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20150518/FREE/150519918/advisers-clients-want-even-moreof-the-human-touch CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 43


2018 // FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE GROUP EVENTS CALENDAR JANUARY SU

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Feb. 12-16: Winter Wonderland Agent Convention, Ritz Carlton Bachelor’s Gulch Feb. 19: President’s Day

January 1: New Year’s Day January 15: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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April 1: Easter April 22-24 Elevate U, Embassy Suites Uptown Charlotte

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June 6-8: TOT Retreat, Boca Beach Club, FL June 17: Father’s Day

May 4: LTC Meeting Charlotte May 13: Mother’s Day May 28: Memorial Day

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August 6-8: Elevate U, Hyatt Regency DFW, Dallas

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September 3: Labor Day September 10-11: Rosh Hashanah September 19: Yom Kippur

Oct 1-2: Sales Symposium, Nashville Oct 3: AlphaStar Annual Mtg. Oct 8: Columbus Day

November 12: Veteran’s Day November 15-16: KOP/MOP meeting, Financial Independence Group November 22: Thanksgiving

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December 2-10: Hanukkah December 25: Christmas Day


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Connections Winter 2018  

Financial Independence Group's Connections magazine pays tribute to our advisors, agents and carriers along with our workforce. This issue f...

Connections Winter 2018  

Financial Independence Group's Connections magazine pays tribute to our advisors, agents and carriers along with our workforce. This issue f...