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Staying Connected for Future Growth TEXT BY J. WESLEY KNOWLES & NICHOLAS ROSS March 2020 changed the world when the pandemic forced businesses and individuals to shift the way they connect. Many companies, especially the financial sector, surveyed ways to sustain while looking toward future growth. Connectivity became an obstacle in a world where person-to-person interaction became dangerous. Throughout the past year, digital services and remote communications became the path around that obstacle. They still play a significant role in how financial professionals interact with their clients today.1 Financial professionals desiring future growth should consider both their established clientele and the young investors flowing into the marketplace. The new generation of investors embrace current technologies and demand more from independent financial professionals. Employing digital assets is an essential tool for continued success in financial services. Progression is a key to remaining relevant and prevents your business from being perceived as stale and lacking value. It’s ideal to adapt subtly to maintain traditional techniques valued by invested clients and embrace changes new, younger clients expect.2 Implementing changes will be necessary to win and retain the new generation of investors. An example would be how younger clients next door to you still prefer to meet over Zoom or FaceTime. Your seasoned clients may appreciate these applications too as a measure of health and safety as we move toward a post-COVID world. The adjustment from in-person to remote meetings has created both opportunities and challenges. One possibility for financial professionals utilizing remote correspondence is connecting with potential clients outside of their immediate areas. Seeking professional advice is no longer limited to services located in their area. It’s more important than ever for financial services professionals to adapt to challenges consistently providing optimal services to their clients for retention.3 Clients have witnessed more lies and scandals in the last several decades than ever before. Consumers want to know what you do, how good you are, how you charge, what they can expect, and how it’ll be delivered. Financial services firms must have an ongoing overlay of complete see-through transparency to maintain consumer confidence. Older generations frequently view financial planning and assets with compartmentalization. They bought from multiple parties. Younger generations want it all from one source, and they don’t have a predisposition against insurance products like their
parents. They want to be surrounded by personal, living plans that transform to a death plan at their demise. These plans are universal, integrated, and regularly pivot. Giving back is another significant shift. Younger investors are all about the impact they’ll make in this world and how their money can help do that. They want to know what the companies they’re investing in are doing with their social impact as well as their financial services firm. Younger investors want to give their time, money and want the firm they’re with to do the same. Developing successful, lasting connections to customers will require adjustments to service and offerings. These include newly defined revenue models, ensuring the inclusion of all investment and insurance products, perpetual planning, seeking alpha, and last but most important, an outreach plan for helping the world. There’s no better time than now to integrate modern processes into your business. Those firms bringing updated modeling to the market fastest will have the first shot at unique opportunities. Financial Independence Group is here to assist. We consistently work toward transparency and dependable approaches that prepare financial services professionals for the future. We’re able to guide your business to new technology. This issue contains a catalog of informative articles. They provide financial services professionals with pragmatic concepts and strategies to implement when reconnecting to your established clients. We have also supplied informative commentary on best practices for digital services to get in front of new prospects and develop fruitful, long-term relationships. s Nicholas Ross, Chief Distribution Officer Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Nicholas - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: email@example.com J. Wesley Knowles, Marketing Media Specialist Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Wesley - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 1
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WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY TO TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF AN EVERCHANGING WORLD?
We provide the knowledge, expertise and the tools you need to meet the challenges of tomorrow and take your business further than it has ever gone before. You gain exclusive access to: Elite mentors Creative branding and marketing services Our online marketing and sales platform Seminars, presentations, video scripting, and more! M arketing points to use towards future efforts when you write any annuity, life insurance, or care planning business with us
Table of Contents
IN EVERY ISSUE 1 INTRODUCTION 4 TABLE OF CONTENTS 8 CREDITS 10 EXECUTIVE TEAM 14 CONTRIBUTORS
20 RECONNECT, RENEW AND REVITALIZE YOUR BUSINESS Determine the best vehicle and process for reconnecting with each individual or group. – by John Schwalenberg
ARTICLES 1 STAYING CONNECTED FOR FUTURE GROWTH Those firms bringing updated modeling to the market fastest will have the first shot at unique opportunities. – by J.Wesley Knowles & Nicholas Ross
22 GET CLIENTS THINKING ABOUT MULTI-GENERATIONAL WEALTH 34 FOUR TRENDS TO CONFIGURE PLANNING YOUR MARKETING FOR REAL By sharing different perspectives RESULTS with clients, you can help them Consumer preferences are always better understand the generational changing. Understand who your differences. clients are now to recognize who – by Mark Stewart you should be targeting in the future. – by Monica Breeding 26 BECOME THE STUDENT AND THE TEACHER You need your brand to be what they search for and what they share. Use your why and your mission to reconnect with your audience. – by Sheryl Theisen
18 WHY SWITCH TO E-APPS Using e-Apps can drive your business forward while saving you precious time throughout the day. – by Mark Stewart
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28 FINANCIAL SERVICES WEBSITE DESIGN AND FUNDAMENTALS It will help raise brand awareness and can dramatically increase sales and bring new revenue streams to your business. – by Victoria Bryant
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36 ARTICLES 36 OUT OF THE ASHES This last difficult year has taught us to truly embrace technology and inspired innovations in life insurance underwriting. – by Sean Cooper
44 A NEW LIFE FOR OLD ASSETS Sometimes in life, you cannot wait for things to happen. You must go and get them. – by Alecia Barnette 46 WHY NOW IS THE TIME TO RE-ENGAGE THE LIFE INSURANCE CONVERSATION 38 HOW DATA WILL DRIVE THE Several reasons why now’s the FUTURE OF FINANCIAL time to re-engage with clients on PLANNING ADVICE the importance of implementing Imagine a world where you could or reviewing the life insurance prospect, plan, meet, and execute portion of their financial plan. business for a client all in one place. – by Arron Price – by David Henry
46 48 THE ERA OF BEST INTERESTS Learn about converging regulations and the long-term impacts they will have on our daily business. – by Paul Van Ginhoven
50 THREE EASY WAYS YOU
CAN CONNECT WITH YOUR CLIENTS AND PROSPECTS These are some things to keep in mind as you reconnect with existing clients. – by All Points Media
40 SIXTY-FOUR PROBLEMS, ONE SOLUTION To truly connect with your client, you need to observe. You need to look. And you need to listen. – by James LeMay CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE| | 7 CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE
EDITORIAL Publisher Financial Independence Group Editor Mark Stewart Executives Dr. William H. Cain Ericka Cain Brian K. Williams Jim Cooper Mike Mullan Nicholas Ross Tracia Cericola Arron Price Jared Hine Director of Marketing Tom Lamendola Art Direction J. Wesley Knowles Design/Production Alisa Agnew J. Wesley Knowles Jennifer Shephard Copywriter Mark Stewart Editorial Assistants Jennifer Shephard Lindsey Forte Tara Salter Contributors Alecia Barnette Arron Price Dave Henry J. Wesley Knowles James LeMay John Schwalenberg Mark Stewart Monica Breeding Nicholas Ross Paul Van Ginhoven Sean Cooper Sheryl Theisen Tom Lamendola Victoria Bryant Project Consultants Alisa Agnew Jennifer Shephard Lindsey Forte Mark Stewart Nick Voelker Paul Van Ginhoven Project Management Lindsey Forte J. Wesley Knowles PRODUCTION Design Team Financial Independence Group All Points Media 19520 West Catawba Ave Suite 200 Cornelius, NC 28031
Cover Concept/layout J. Wesley Knowles Copyright© 2021 by Financial Independence Group, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Financial Independence Group, LLC.
Photograph by Jon Bilous
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EXECUTIVE TEAM DR. WILLIAM H. CAIN
Founder and Chairman of the Board
Co-Chief Executive Officer
Co-Chief Executive Officer
Co-Chief Executive Officer
Chief Administrative Officer
Chief Distribution Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Financial Officer
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“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Director of Marketing Tom is a graduate and postgraduate from St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York. Tom joined FIG as the Director of Business Development in 2017. Primarily responsible for all design, marketing, business development, fulfillment, and leadership of our “recruiting as a service” solutions. In 2020, he became the Head of Marketing, leading our FIG All Points Media team’s strategy and delivery.
Chief Operating Officer Originally from England, Arron joined FIG in May 2013 as a software developer. He was instrumental in the complete buildout and release of FIG’s internal CRM that powers all business areas. In 2015, Arron assumed the director of software engineering role, tasked with leading and growing an innovative team to spearhead the tech charge in the financial services industry. In 2019, Arron joined the FIG executive team as the chief operating officer. As COO, he’s responsible for the overall business operations and brings a wealth of leadership experience, highlighting the unwavering direction the industry is headed.
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Chief Distribution Officer Nicholas has been in financial services for over 20 years, and his passion for the financial sector is unwavering. His experiences range from a retail financial advisor and executive at a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer to ten years inside one of the world’s largest privately-held brokerage general agencies. For more than a decade, Nicholas has tailored solutions for entrepreneurial financial professionals with one goal in mind: to fulfill the vision of becoming the very best. Nicholas serves three verticals within his current role: leading FIG sales units, business development, and working with top product manufacturers in distribution.
PAUL VAN GINHOVEN Director of Compliance
Paul collaborates with FInancial Independence Group’s financial professionals and internal staff to find solutions to their compliance questions and potential regulatory issues. He’s a member of the International Association of Risk and Compliance Professionals and has a Certified Risk and Compliance Management Professional designation. He currently holds FINRA Series 6, 7, 9, 10, 24, 26, 53, 63, and 66 licenses. Additionally, Paul has a North Carolina life insurance license and is a North Carolina notary public.
Executive Vice President of Life Insurance Dave joined Financial Independence Group in 2019 to help develop the RIA Insurance Solutions division. With 19 years of experience in the brokerage industry, he’s implemented various platforms to help financial professionals implement life insurance strategies into their practice in the complex and everchanging world of insurance. In 2021, Dave became the executive vice president of the Life Insurance Division at FIG to lead FIG’s growth in the life insurance sector. His experience and knowledge support the experienced life insurance team at FIG to make an impact by providing top-tier education, resources, innovation, and solutions in the life insurance space.
Senior Vice President Care Planning Alecia has over 20 years of experience in providing assetbased LTC case designs to highly successful advisors. Her main purpose is to help advisors protect their clients and their families from the physical and emotional consequences of unexpected care needs. Alecia’s use of holistic approaches and strong ethics make her an invaluable asset to any financial advisor.
JOHN SCHWALENBERG Senior Vice President
John takes pride in being a resource for financial professionals to enhance their skills and grow their business. During his 30-year career in financial services, he led a corporate services team and held research sales and institutional trading roles at Sterne Agee, RBC Dain Rauscher, Swiss Bank, and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. As a holder of securities, insurance, and real estate licenses, John understands the demands placed on small business owners.
Vice President - Annuity James graduated from Western Michigan University in 1998. He understands the power of networking, the importance of forming strong relationships, and that partnering with the right people is the key to success. James joined Financial Independence Group as an annuity sales consultant in 2007 and has spent most of his time at FIG consulting on annuity products and case designs. Now a vice president of annuity sales, James leverages his 14 years of experience and the strong relationships he’s cultivated to achieve the best possible outcome regardless of the challenge at hand.
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Senior Vice President Sean is a graduate of Appalachian State University and has been with FIG for over 12 years. Sean began as a life insurance consultant, where he built the largest life insurance book and was instrumental in the exponential growth of FIG’s Life Insurance Division. Since then, he’s become a senior vice president offering all lines of FIG insurance offerings. Sean has had the privilege of working with some of the industry’s brightest minds and most prominent firms.
SVP - Advisor Marketing Monica joined Financial Independence Group in 2014 as a marketing consultant for the All Points Media department. Over the years, she has mentored and consulted financial professionals across the country on their marketing efforts to help them reach their production goals. Monica was one of FIG’s first marketing consultants to introduce the very successful marketing and coaching program, Elevate. Since then, Monica has become the senior vice president of advisor marketing. She now leads FIG’s advisor-facing marketing teams to develop custom strategies resulting in year-over-year growth.
Victoria joined Financial Independence Group in May 2020. As a digital strategist in All Points Media, she plays an integral part in establishing financial professionals’ online presence and building their brand across a digital landscape. Before FIG, she managed the marketing strategy and execution for some of the world’s top sporting event organizations, including Churchill Downs, the NBA, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the NHL.
Sheryl’s creative marketing experience spans a vast array of industries, from gluten to tech to finance. Inspired by advertising tycoon David Ogilvy, she has developed a keen ability to understand how small, unique details can inspire the big picture. She writes for an audience beyond those already interested in a specific sector opening the door to a new conversation.
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J. WESLEY KNOWLES
Mark’s do-it-all mentality has made him a passionate specialist in content writing, content strategy, digital marketing, and social media advertising. Responsible for creating captivating content and punchy copy that compels action, he has a knack for making complex topics fun to read and easy to understand. Mark also works to develop the strategies and processes that maximize reach and engagement across all Financial Independence Group digital outlets.
Wes has been involved as an artist and 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.
Marketing Media Specialist
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WHY SWITCH TO TEXT BY MARK STEWART
Switching to e-applications (e-apps) can open your eyes to the ease and simplicity of efficient business solutions in the digital age. Sort of like how my eyes were opened when I finally gave in and downloaded TikTok. It’s wild over there. But I digress. Using e-apps can drive your business forward while saving you precious time throughout the day. All it takes is 10-15 minutes and your application is ready for approval. Plus, implementing e-apps in your business has never been easier. Even if you and your clients have no experience with e-apps, you can be on your way to approved applications in four simple steps.
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Why should you make the switch? Here are just a few reasons to use e-apps:
•Greater client flexibility •Faster processing times •Always in good order submissions •Real-time carrier submissions
Our industry continues to drive forward as we acclimate to new processes that grant businesses and clients more flexibility. This has led to a higher adoption rate of e-apps for financial professionals everywhere. And if you haven’t utilized them, you’re missing out.
Who says you need to be in an office? With FIG’s eApps process, you can do business anywhere, in any setting. Faster Processing Time Get applications processed faster with eApps. You’ll find carriers prioritize and process eApps quicker than paper applications.
Implementing eApps has never been easier. Here are some answers to common questions you may have.
?W hat if I fill in the information on the application before the appointment with my client?
the application for me?
A: Y ou can complete the eApps portion then email it to your client(s) for them to sign digitally. If needed, you can host a video conference to walk them through the application.
? How can I write two applications for the same client with similar information?
? What if I’m not tech-savvy and I don’t want to look
A: I t’s easy. Once you’ve filled out one of the eApps, you can copy that application and pre-fill the new application with the same data. foolish in front of my clients?
Connect with Ease
A: H ave your office staff sign into the FIG Agent Portal, and they can initiate the eApps for you.
? My client(s) can’t meet to sign their eApps. Is there
It doesn’t matter where you or your clients are, eApps allow you to get applications done— whatever the situation may be. Once you’re done, applications get sent to the carrier in real-time. No more long waits. No more hassle.
A: T his can be done in the e-application still. Simply start a new application and fill in as much information as you’d like, then save the app.
? What if I usually have someone on my staff fill out
In Good Order, Always
In good order checks are done inside the application. It’s managed by the insurance carrier, so you can rest easy knowing your applications are good to go.
A: F amiliarize yourself with eApps a couple of times before using them with clients. They’re so easy! Not to mention, clients today expect reliable tech options from their financial professionals.
How to Get Started
Getting started with eApps is simple with four easy steps.
1. Grab your computer, laptop, or tablet
2. Connect to the Internet
3. Login to the FIG Agent Portal or FIG Mobile App
4. Access either the Firelight® or iPipeline® eApps platforms and click “Start Application”
We’re Here for You
If you have any questions, please contact your private client group. Soon, you’ll be filling out eApps with ease. s Mark Stewart, Content Writer, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Mark- Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: Mark.Stewart@figmarketing.com
TEXT BY JOHN SCHWALENBERG Change happens slowly and then all at once. COVID-19 was no different as it crept into 2020 undetected. Less than three months later, the entire country was experiencing a significant disruption that continues to have its impact on every aspect of our lives. Many of our daily processes were forever changed or eliminated altogether. Personal and business relationships suffered. The damage was real. As the world enters the second year of adjustment, most people have accepted the inconveniences and begun to normalize their behavior. With Covid-19 hopefully fading into the rear-view mirror, we must strive to reconnect so our lives can return to their normal rhythm. We’re social creatures, built to live in community and driven to interact with others. It’s why people, both clients and the team that serves them, are typically the most crucial component of your business. Like it or not, Zoom meetings were instrumental in keeping you connected with all your people and will have a permanent role in the life of your future business. However, the isolation of the past year has made many desperate for authentic connection.
Use your client segmentation model to guide the allocation of available “connection” time. It may be best to speak to some in groups, while others will require one-on-one attention. If you haven’t done so already, reconnect with those prospects who seemed ready to act before the disruption. Make every interaction meaningful for each individual. As you did in your initial discovery meeting years ago, ask about their current situation, any concerns, and future goals. Remember to record any new information gleaned from these conversations in your CRM. Listen more than you speak. Be alert for opportunities to refer another in your network to help with issues outside your area of expertise. It may be wise to ask some if they’d like another call in a few weeks—followup with a note or forward an article that builds on your conversation.
Today’s the Day to Restore
Start Your Reconnection Program
Reconnecting isn’t new. It should be part of our normal business process. Unfortunately for many, the disruption of the past year caused some to withdraw, scale back, or quit the basic blocking and tackling necessary for success.
Most clients look to their financial professional for proactive advice. This helps them minimize their personal bias and see things from a larger perspective. Throughout COVID-19, clients wanted—even needed—someone to listen, empathize, and even comfort them. This will remain true as we reconnect with our clients and prospects.
If that describes you, today is the perfect day to launch a reconnection campaign. The reconnection program will renew and deepen relationships and reinforce clients’ impression of you as their caring, knowledgeable, and trusted financial professional.
A reconnection program might be your best business plan for 2021. Begin by creating and prioritizing a list of people you need to approach. Determine the best vehicle and process for reconnecting with each individual or group. What will be the goal of the conversation or meeting? Be prepared to provide a service or offer some other help. Then execute. Lastly, your process should include some follow-up. 20 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE
Cheers to renewed relationships and the business growth that’ll follow! s John Schwalenberg, SVP - Private Client Group Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact John - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: email@example.com
Independent Property & Casualty Group (IPCG) works with companies and individuals to offer the best products to protect assets and minimize risk. We take a holistic approach when working with our clients to make sure their coverage aligns with their financial goals. IPCG has access with the top carriers in all 50 states, enabling us to ensure the client is getting the best value in the marketplace. We will be in constant contact with the carriers during renewals to confirm the client is still in the optimal position with their rates and coverage. Service is a key component in the foundation of IPCG’s business model. Our concierge department will act as a liaison between the carrier and client. Making sure the client understands the coverage they have in place, as well as being a resource to assist when a possible claim arises is crucial. IPCG has also created a unique partnership with financial advisors. We see 3 key areas were the advisor will benefit; 1) Help the advisor insulate their business. The more lines someone has the stickier the relationship becomes. 2) Attract the next generation. Helping the younger generation with their property & casualty needs will open the door for financial services. 3) Generate an additional revenue stream. The advisors will be paid commission on new business and renewals. Through this partnership we will help the advisor concentrate on growing their business without the worry of unnecessary financial loss from potential insurable risks your clients may face. Our goal is to ensure your clients are protected and their coverage continues to meet their business or personal needs.
Matt Woodford, President firstname.lastname@example.org 704-990-0930 www.ipcginsurance.com
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Ways to Get Clients Thinking About
W E A LT H
TEXT BY MARK STEWART
“Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Wait. What? If you’re contemplating what that could mean, let me save you the inevitable Google search. It’s an old proverb that describes future generations’ inability to manage and maintain the wealth passed down from previous generations. Another way to look at it, as the matter-of-fact Scottish proverb goes, is this: “The father buys, the son builds, the grandchild sells, and his son begs.” This saying represents an unfortunately common cycle. One generation builds the wealth, the next uses it, and by the third generation, well, it can all but disappear. Leaving the fourth generation with nothing but stories of their family’s past wealth. For clients, laying the foundation for multi-generational planning is essential to pass their wealth down to future generations. But, it can be a challenge to get everyone thinking about multi-generational planning. With that in mind, here are some talking points to share with clients to get them thinking about their legacy, along with tips and an exercise they can use right away.
ENCOURAGE THEM TO BREAK DOWN GENERATIONAL BARRIERS The first step towards achieving a multi-generational wealth planning strategy is to get everyone on board with a single plan. But with such a broad range of opinions prevalent in most families, getting everyone to align when discussing family goals and intentions can be challenging. This challenge gets its roots in generational differences. However, communication can be the key to unlocking a well-thought-out plan. Open communication allows each generation to provide their perspectives to evaluate all issues and concerns to protect the family’s wealth. It’s imperative to start here with clients. Multi-generational wealth planning doesn’t happen overnight. But by sharing these different perspectives with clients, you can help them better understand the generational differences. In turn, this can help break down barriers that inhibit a proper multi-generational wealth plan.
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SECOND GENERATION FIRST GENERATION Presumably, senior family members helped build their family’s wealth through hard work and frugality. There were sacrifices to get the family’s financial situation to where it’s at today. Help the senior members think about their own needs first so they can maintain the quality of life they’ve worked hard to build. From there, you can suggest that they decide how much wealth they want to pass on to their heirs. Once your clients look to be set up comfortably and have an idea of how much heirs will receive, then you can help them move to the next step of laying the foundation of family values and rules to start molding a healthy multigenerational wealth plan.
Assuming your client is a senior family member, their children likely have seen first-hand the blood, sweat, and tears that were required to amass the wealth their parents created. With that in mind, this second generation is generally appreciative of their parents’ sacrifices and wants to use their inheritance to build a life of balance and purpose. That’s a net positive in planning for generational wealth. Now middle-aged, perhaps with children of their own, your client’s offspring are often unsure how much wealth their parents actually have. And because open communication is essential in multi-generational planning, inspire your clients to engage the second generation in discussions so both generations understand the level of their family’s wealth. This can get the ball rolling for generations to work together to preserve and utilize their family’s wealth.
This generation is where the headaches can potentially start. Suppose your clients are wary of their grandchildren preserving their generational wealth. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to remind them that empathy and understanding can go a long way in multi-generational wealth planning. The youngest generation is the least experienced when it comes to financial planning. They’re generally teens or young adults who are still figuring out their path in life. And because they’re furthest removed from the wealth creators, this generation can sometimes be careless with their family’s money if given the opportunity. However, their inexperience shouldn’t deter them from having a voice in the planning conversation, but they may not need to know every detail at this point in their lives. Urge your clients to help the youngest generation get educated in financial management by using college funding or basic budgeting exercises. These can be necessary steps towards including them in multi-generational planning talks.
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SUGGEST A FORMAL COMMUNICATION PLAN WITH FAMILY CHARTERS Creating a formal and open communication plan is critical for clients to build an effective multi-generational plan, and a great way to accomplish that is through a family charter. A family charter is a document that describes the values, vision, mission, roles, and responsibilities of family members. It also contains sections on the charter’s purpose, how it’ll change throughout the generations, and which members have decisionmaking capabilities. Lastly, a family charter should detail members’ accountability, participation, and transparency. The lack of clarity is a primary source of distrust among family members, leading to significant consequences and conflict. When you’re talking multi-generational wealth planning, suggest to clients that they and their family members create a charter. It can be an invaluable aspect of a multi-generational wealth plan.
CLIENT FAMILY MEETING TIPS Once your client’s family has an established charter, their next step should be setting regular family meetings to start realizing their plan (hopefully, with your help). Here are five tips to share with your clients to make the most out of their family meetings:
1. Urge clients to set a vision and purpose. Having a direction on how their family achieves financial goals will set the table for a defined family culture in planning meetings.
2. Have them create structure. Set-in-stone accountability allows for growth in individuals and families as a whole. Help clients have a plan in place that describes who does what and when.
3. Suggest a facilitator. We won’t pretend that all family meetings will go smoothly each time. But a competent facilitator will have the coaching, communication, and coping strategies needed to help level the playing field. Please don’t be shy to suggest getting a facilitator to help your clients manage their meetings to ensure every voice is heard.
4. Recommend that they open up. Your clients (and their family members) need to be completely honest and transparent. Vulnerability and engagement initiate better conversations and can deliver much-needed buy-in from all family members. Urge clients to be 100% genuine in these meetings.
5. Encourage them to include fun! Let’s be honest: financial talk isn’t always the most exhilarating, especially for people outside of the industry. To help energize their meetings for a more unified experience, advise clients to balance their meetings with fun activities and financial education opportunities.
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A USEFUL EXERCISE FOR FAMILY MEETINGS
4. Structural: This family wealth type relies on wealth management tools like estate plans, family charters, trusts, and more. It’s not uncommon for a family to have various incentive clauses or other structural facets in a multi-generational plan, but those can be ambiguous. It’s vital to make sure clients have simple and organized wealth management tools in place. Doing this can help relieve any possible resentment between heirs down the road.
5. Societal: What does their family value? Do they have a vision of how life should be? How are they tapped into the community and world around them? These are all questions clients should ask family members to find their family’s societal wealth.
Often in multi-generational wealth family meetings, there tends to be a focus on the hard-hitting mechanics of multigenerational planning, such as tax-efficient strategies, wills, and trusts. And that’s all fine and dandy. But suppose a client and their family members can learn to look past those tangible aspects of planning and become genuinely involved in future generations’ overall well-being. When that’s the case, a family’s wealth can take a giant leap toward long-term sustainability. A great way to develop this framework is by encouraging clients to explore the “dimensions of wealth” in an exercise during one of their meetings. These dimensions are both financial and non-financial and can help clarify the values, ideas, and traits your family wants to pass along to future generations. Consider passing along these five dimensions of wealth for your clients to discuss in their next wealth planning meeting:
1. Financial: It’s the obvious one. Talking about financial wealth and implementing the best strategies to transfer assets is critical for multi-generational wealth planning. Your clients can learn more about their family dynamics (relationships, asset preferences, personalities, and more) to start accounting for potential roadblocks that may occur when transferring wealth in the future. Knowing these hurdles can come in handy when they’re discussing goals and strategies with you.
2. Human: Human wealth is the skills, identity, and character of family members. The traits that run in a given family can influence how they (or you as the financial professional) approach their wealth. Clients should account for a family member’s “human wealth” before making them a beneficiary. They should be ready both psychologically and intellectually to manage any inheritance.
3. Family: Family wealth refers to the communication and interactions within a family tree. Since many financial failures are rooted in a lack of communication, this wealth dimension is crucial. Make sure clients give all family members a forum or platform to connect and improve communication—regardless if the interactions are financially-based or not.
PARTING WORDS Creating and implementing a multi-generational plan is no easy task for you or your clients. It takes a lot of hard work, long hours, family cooperation, and expertise to see a plan come to fruition. However, the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve helped a family be financially stable for generations to come is the priceless reward for seeing the planning process through. Although these tips and ideas are just the starting block, if you share them with clients interested in multi-generational wealth planning, you might help a ton of people devise a more holistic and practical approach to generational wealth. s Mark Stewart, Content Writer, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Mark- Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: Mark.Stewart@figmarketing.com
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TEXT BY SHERYL THEISEN
2020: The year everyone became disconnected and lived on the Internet. The year everyone became an expert on every topic they researched. The year that killed the financial dinner seminar. As we run full throttle into 2021, your target audience isn’t so compelled to listen to your dog and pony show since they have answers at their fingertips. Don’t sweat it. The status of COVID and the laws in each state are presenting less-than-stellar show rates at events anyway.
Rethink: Why Do You Do What You Do? Admit it; it’s possible you’ve become complacent and bored with your routine. Can you easily recall why you got into the financial sector in the first place? If you close your eyes, can you still picture your why and feel the excitement you had on the first day you began helping others build their dreams? If you’re not feeling it, then now is the time to rethink your plan. Think about what you enjoy doing the most in your job. Is it the sales pitch? The listening and planning? Do you thrive on evaluation and implementation? If you spend your time cultivating what you excel at, your enthusiasm will grow, and so will your business. Conversely, delegate what you hate. Spend some money and delegate tasks that aren’t your strong suit—someone else is better at that role than you, and that’s okay. When you focus on your strengths, the benefits come back to you in multitudes.
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Refocus: What Processes Did 2020 Impact & How Will 2021 Change What You Do?
tart with your goals. Were they realistic? Have S you accomplished any of them? Are you happy with the outcomes? If not, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board and set sales figures and implement tactics that allow you to start hitting your goals.
hen, focus on your mission. Is the mission you T originally wrote still on-point, or does it now seem less focused? Things change in the business world—how quickly we forget 2020! Write a new mission statement that shows value, inspires those around you, and remains plausible moving forward.
E nhance your processes. So, dinner seminars aren’t the big draw right now, and even your top clients feel it’s too soon to get out and mingle. Try new initiatives that might be a little outside your comfort zone. Is your website drawing visitors? Are your social posts getting engagement? Has your video gone viral? If your target audience is online, then you need to be there actively. The most important thing to do is to make changes where you see growth opportunities.
Reconnect: Can You Teach Your Audience What They Already Know? 2020 kept us at home and online more than any other time in history. According to a recent study, 43% (almost half!) of global shoppers admitted they wanted to evaluate their needs and look for solutions themselves, and 26% are in the 55-64 age bracket.
E ncourage virtual everything. Does your database include artists or foodies or travel junkies? Package up a virtual experience that goes beyond webinars. Have clients who want to visit the Mediterranean? Package and mail them some Turkish coffee and other goodies that they can enjoy while watching a video that tours the country’s best sights. Then, transition into talking about saving and investing so they can afford the trip when the time is right.
Interact with Intent. Think about your refocused mission and goals. Do you plan to focus more on personalized interaction? Talk with your audience, not to them. The new rules say you’re going to have to get creative with your brand and your marketing: host charitable events, do unusual sponsorships, collaborate with referral partners, gamify your brand for fun rewards.
There were roughly 2.8 billion monthly active users on Facebook in 2020, and those generate 3.2 billion likes and comments every day. It’s not enough to be on social sites; you need to make some noise.
2021… The year the Internet works for you by showcasing your brand expertise. The year that financial dinner seminars pause while creative marketing takes the stage. The year you use your why and your mission to reconnect with your audience. s Sheryl Theisen, Content Writer, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Sheryl - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: email@example.com
Your audience has been “Googling” for the past year, now’s your opportunity to refocus their attention. You need your brand to be what they search for and what they share. There are many ways to reconnect, but an unconventional approach trumps tradition this year. Uncover what people are researching and what posts they’re responding to, then build your efforts accordingly.
o live with video. Videos trump reading every G time, and they’re the perfect tool to connect with your clients. Engaging videos that get shared strike a balance between informational and personal. Does your database consist of hikers, or dog owners, or sports fans? Shake up your content in a way that taps into their interest. The 70-30 rule can apply here: 70% business and 30% personal.
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FINANCIAL SERVICES WEBSITE DESIGN TIPS & FUNDAMENTALS
TEXT BY VICTORIA BRYANT
A WEBSITE IS ONE OF THE MOST ESSENTIAL MARKETING TOOLS TO HELP DELIVER SUCCESS AND CREDIBILITY TO YOUR BUSINESS IN THIS DAY AND AGE.
IT’S THE BACKBONE OF YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE, DIGITALLY REPRESENTING YOU DAY IN AND DAY OUT. WHETHER YOU’RE STARTING FROM SCRATCH OR REFRESHING AN EXISTING ONE, LET THESE FINANCIAL SERVICES WEBSITE DESIGN TIPS ASSIST YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS OF CREATING A USEFUL AND ENGAGING WEBSITE TO MEET YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES.
1. USER EXPERIENCE & USER INTERFACE When it comes to a user experience (UX) or user interface (UI), first impressions matter.
3. Consider natural eyescanning patterns. 4. Don’t limit users’ conversion paths.
Visitors can form an opinion about your financial services website in just 50 milliseconds. That’s all the time a user needs to decide whether your site is worth staying on or whether they should leave.
Navigability Make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for to get from point A to point B without having to overthink it. Here are some website navigation tips to consider:
Even so, many users spend less than 15 seconds on a given site. If you haven’t generated interest in that amount of time, you likely never will. That makes it critical to have a well-designed, well-functioning site.
1. Keep only essential options in the top-level navigation and use familiar words. Psychology suggests you should have no more than seven options.
2. Include second navigation in the footer section of your site.
Two of the many reasons why users may visit your website are either to complete a specific action or to find an answer to whatever it is they’re looking for. You want to make it as simple as possible to accomplish what they’re trying to get done. Any design elements should reinforce your website’s message and provide clear answers to why the viewer landed on your site.
Organize website elements in a natural but defined way. By varying your colors, font sizes, structure, and so forth, you can attempt to pull users towards your website’s most vital aspects.
Think about these four simple tips:
1. Your website should be easy to scan. 2. Offer visual weight to your most important website elements. 28 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE
3. Add a breadcrumb menu to make navigation between pages more manageable. 4. Include a search bar in your website’s header so visitors can keyword search. 5. Keep your site’s architecture as flat as possible. Users should never be more than three clicks away from what they’re looking for. 6. Make your “Contact Us” page super easy to find, and consider using a different color or button design for it. (But make sure it’s in your site’s footer.) Uniformity Try to keep the same look and feel across all pages of your site. Uniformity doesn’t mean every page has to look identical, but there should be consistent layouts depending on the webpage type.
Accessibility & Responsiveness Your website must be responsive and accessible. Ensure website pages are compatible across all browsers and devices. All of your site’s content, including images and videos, should be properly formatted to work across these different types. Additionally, make sure your site is ADA-compliant and abides by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), ensuring that people with disabilities or impairments can use and navigate your site.
Conventionality There are basic website design conventions that people expect. These expectations include having the main navigation at the top of the page, having a logo at the top left or center of a page, and having a clickable logo that links to your homepage. You may want your web design to be unique, but you shouldn’t stray too far from these standard conventions. People like familiarity. Going too far outside that can be confusing for a user and could detract from their website experience.
Credibility Be honest. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t be deceitful. Be upfront about what you’re offering and the value behind it. If people can’t find it on your site, they’ll find it somewhere else.
Your website design should be for the end-user, not yourself. Every decision that you make for your site should be made with that in mind. Test your design elements, analyze data, see what’s working or not working, and adjust accordingly.
2. WEBSITE DESIGN ELEMENTS & BRANDING
When designing your website, white space—also known as blank space or negative space—is a good thing to have. It brings harmony and balance while delivering a direct message to users. Don’t look at it as wasted space but instead see it as a way to lead users from one element to another. Color There’s no doubt that the color scheme should align with your brand. This helps with brand recognition across various mediums. However, don’t use too many colors or you’ll convey too many feelings and messages at one time, which can confuse the user. Keep it to a few colors and keep it consistent across your website. You want to achieve the right balance.
Fonts Use a maximum of three fonts: one for primary headings, one for sub-headings, and one for body text. Sans-serif fonts are typically better for web and web accessibility, such as Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet MS, and Verdana. Be aware of the font size and its impact on legibility. You don’t want your text to be too large or too small. A good recommendation is to use font size 16 for the body text so that it’s more likely to be ADA compliant. Although there’s no official ADA minimum font size for websites, we highly urge you not to use font sizes below 12.
3. CONVERSION PATHS
Each webpage should include a form, and you should use a variety of form types throughout your site. These could include: • Contact forms: Used for visitors to ask a question or send a message to you or your business’s primary email. Be sure this form includes fields for their name, phone number, email, and the message itself. • Lead generation forms: Convert visitors into leads with this form type. These forms should at least require a name and email address. The call-toaction (more on this in a bit) could be something like Schedule Appointment, Subscribe to Our Newsletter, or Download eBook. • Registration forms: Use these to attract visitors and leads to register for an event or service you offer. These forms (for example, Register for Webinar or Attend Workshop) should also include a name and email address at the bare minimum. Make sure the purpose of your forms is clear and direct. Your headers should be straightforward so that visitors and leads know exactly how to fill out the form. Keep your form clean and concise with minimal text. Try to limit the number of required fields so that users are more likely to complete the form. Lastly, try to include thank you messages, make sure any auto-responders are working correctly, and confirm that their data is sent correctly to your database.
Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are an essential part of any financial website. They tell your visitors what actions you want them to take, whether it’s signing up for your newsletter, registering for an event, or contacting you to schedule an appointment. They’re essential for two reasons: to generate lead conversions and to increase your click-through rates. CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 29
Links On your website, make sure your links serve several purposes: 1. As a means of navigation. 2. As a method of promotion. 3. To help build trust. 4. And, as a way to reference other web pages. Internal links (or links that go to other pages on your site) are tremendous search engine optimization (SEO) tools to help your search engine rankings. Still, it’s best to use them naturally and periodically. They also allow users to navigate your site better. These links should never open in new browser tabs, but rather the existing tab the user is on. It’s also critical to restrict the number of text links on each page. Too many links can make it difficult for users to navigate. Think beyond linking to your pages that are already in your main navigation, and instead, use links to pages deeper in your website’s hierarchy to create easier ways for users to find them. And when you’re creating internal link text, don’t overthink it. Identify and describe the target of the link in the text itself. Here are a few more pointers to keep in mind about links on your website: • Make your links relevant and timely (don’t link just to link) • Be sure you use “follow links” so that your links can flow freely to other internal pages • Make sure your links contrast your other text, so users know the text is clickable and takes them to another page • Double-check all links to make sure they’re working correctly to avoid 404 error pages
4. CONTENT NEEDS Images As humans, we’re wired to think visually, so the use of images throughout your site is helpful. Just be mindful not to crowd them onto pages. Images should be used sparingly, serve a purpose, and make an impact.
Here are four tips for images on your website:
1. Only use high-resolution photos and keep the file sizes to a minimum without compromising quality. This contributes to a faster loading speed. 2. Always include image alt-text that describes the image in detail. This plays an important factor in image accessibility to visually impaired readers and also for on-page SEO. 3. Photos of people are known to keep site visitors engaged and can help them connect with you and 30 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE
your business. Try to limit the use of stock photos whenever possible. Instead, use images that match your brand and portray authenticity so that users will view your company as more legitimate. 4. Ensure that rights to images are appropriately licensed or cited. Use a credible source to purchase photos. There are strict copyright laws, which means you can’t pull photos from anywhere on the web and use them on your website. Content Identify your why. What’s your story? What’s your unique value proposition? Incorporating this into the content of your site will help demonstrate authenticity and build trust with the user. Make it compelling! It would help if you also chose keywords and key phrases you’d like to target on your site. Instead of only targeting highly competitive keywords, you’ll see a greater return on investment if you focus on less competitive, long-tail, specific key phrases. Your site should include information that includes your keywords but be careful not to “stuff” keywords. Your content should be written for humans (not robots) and should add substantial value to your users. Regularly updating your website with fresh, keywordfocused content will improve its overall performance and help drive organic traffic. So, when writing content for your site, make sure it’s: • Free of spelling and grammatical errors • Written with your target client in mind • Relevant and up-to-date • Void of industry jargon and slang • Not used from other sources • Correctly cited, if needed • Concise and easy to read As a financial professional, your website should offer multiple types of content and conversion opportunities for visitors at each stage of the inbound marketing funnel, detailed below. Top of the Funnel: Awareness & Discovery A prospect is trying to solve a problem, meet a need, or get an answer to a question. In this stage, you should create content designed to educate, like: • Blog posts • eBooks • Whitepapers • Educational videos • Educational courses
Middle of the Funnel: Evaluation & Consideration A prospect looks for the best solution and often compares your service to others in the market. In this stage, you want to demonstrate how and why your answer is the right fit. Your goal should be to nurture the leads and establish trust. The middle of the funnel is also the stage where you can determine if this prospect is a good fit for you as well. You can utilize content types such as: • FAQ sections • Expert guides • Webinars • Toolkits • Reports • Quizzers Bottom of the Funnel: Purchase An engaged prospect is ready for that next step but continues to look for more information before deciding to become your client. In this stage, these content types serve best: • Case studies
A website is your online conversation starter.
5. ANCILLARY NEEDS
Not only can it help raise brand awareness, but it can dramatically increase sales and bring new revenue streams to your business. We encourage you to maximize your online presence. And we’re here to help you achieve success in all aspects of your business. s
Analytics Web analytics are essential to all websites. These tools monitor your site’s traffic to help you identify successes and opportunities to drive strategy and improve a user’s experience.
Victoria Bryant, Digital Strategist, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Monica - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Testimonials • Events
Decide which analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics, that you’ll be using on your site. Even if you don’t check your analytics every week, it’s crucial to have the ability to look back and see your website’s traffic habits. It can be valuable information when making future decisions on your site— and your business as a whole.
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TEXT BY MONICA BREEDING
There are three ways to look at change. You can lead the change. You can embrace change. Or you can disregard it. At Financial Independence Group, we embrace the change that moves your business forward. Our team of in-house marketing experts in All Points Media has decades’ worth of marketing experience that can take your efforts up a notch (or four) to bring you a defined, multi-channel marketing approach that drives action from clients and prospects. Because the days of dinner seminars and direct mailers are nearing their end. Clients are getting younger. Savvier. The financial marketing landscape has changed. These are the four trends you should implement to continue growth in your firm.
Trend #2: Digital Advertising Now’s the time to take advantage of your competitor’s lagging adoption of digital ads. Advertising on digital platforms can be well worth your time.
Tips for success:
2. Content and delivery are key. Hyper-focus your ad’s copy to pique interest in those that need to hear your message. Video is more engaging than text and imagery, so utilize it if you can.
3. Focus on social media. Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and banner ads can be useful, but use social media for a data-driven and costeffective approach that delivers directly to prospects.
Trend #1: Virtual Events In-person events can still be your bread and butter, but it’s vital to embrace virtual events from now on. Consider hosting a variety of both in-person and virtual events.
Tips for success:
2. Alternate your content! Analyze which topics perform best and alternate them so your events don’t get stale.
3. Always get better. Watch the event recording afterward and critique yourself on areas where you can improve. Have others assess your presentation for added effectiveness.
1. Work with the pros. Rely on experts to facilitate webinar components to ensure a smooth event.
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1. Audit your online presence first. Do you have a killer website or is it lacking and dull? What about your social media pages? Google My Business? Take inventory of your digital footprint and find areas to improve before putting your business on digital Main Street.
Trend #4: Shifting Consumer Behavior Consumer preferences are always changing. Understand who your clients are now to recognize who you should be targeting in the future.
Trend #3: Storytelling The best financial professionals can articulate stories well. Develop stronger relationships and close more business with better storytelling.
Tips for success:
2. Know your “why.” Being able to concisely articulate the value you and your firm offer will help you gain more clients.
1. Paint pictures using real scenarios. Use real-life case studies and illustrations to help people visualize what you’re explaining. Don’t be afraid to tell your personal stories, too.
3. Make connections. Focus on bringing your stories full circle. Think about emotional appeals and how you can get someone to picture themselves inside the story you’re telling.
Tips for success:
2. Survey current clients. Ask clients why they chose to work with you, what’s important to them, how they found you, and what problems you solve. The best way to predict future client behavior is to analyze the past!
3. Shop your competition. Search for your competitors online and jot down what you find. If a competitor is outperforming you on Google or social media, find out why so you can develop a plan to get better.
1. Run your analytics! Understand who finds your firm attractive by running reports in your CRM to determine typical demographics and characteristics in your book of business.
With support from All Points Media, you can implement these four trends for results that’ll make you re-think how you do marketing.
www.FIGMarketing.com www.FIGMarketing.com/Blog (800) 527-1155 Info@FIGMarketing.com s
Monica Breeding, SVP-Advisor Marketing, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Monica - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: Monica.Breeding@figmarketing.com
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TEXT BY SEAN COOPER
When thinking of 2020, it can be hard to find anything positive out of what proved to be the most challenging year for our country, and for our purposes, the financial services industry as a whole. However, two main benefits were born out of that difficult year: one, it pushed us to truly embrace technology, and two, the innovation of life insurance underwriting. Both being very positive for our industry. Let’s take a closer look at these two benefits and what they mean for us going forward.
Tech More Important Than Ever With 2020 came a massive evolution in our country, one that saw technology become a part of everyone’s daily lives more than ever. Most of my private clients who were marketing and presenting via live events, mostly to the senior market, could’ve never dreamed about using technology to do the same thing. Frankly, most of their consumers didn’t even know what video conferencing was. Overnight, technologies like Zoom became the only way for their clients to communicate with their family visually, so they became familiar with how it operates. Now, we see it as one of the primary sources for holding events, appointments, annual reviews, and more. Tech solutions are an efficient way to stay in front of your clients and one that’ll cost significantly less. People ended up loving the idea of meeting virtually, which became evident as we embarked into this new world back in March 2020. When
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we assisted our clients in holding their first virtual seminars, many consumers would ask, “Where has this been?” The thought that they didn’t even have to leave their house to get the same information as if they were in person just seemed like common sense. Not to mention, the financial professional didn’t have to rent a venue, didn’t have to provide free dinner—they didn’t even have to leave their house either! With an emphasis on virtual sales came a laser-sharp focus into our clients’ virtual footprint. Website upgrades, landing pages, videos, online seminars, and social media advertising have almost become the norm. Of course, these have been around for years, but it became the only way to continue doing business. And it became overwhelmingly used by the masses. In effect, it forced everyone to embrace all-things digital and now we’re wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.
Overdue Underwriting Innovations Secondly, it was great to see the medical underwriting innovation in 2020. My roots are in the life insurance space, and I have a passion for this side of the business that’ll always exist. I’ve made it a mission to help educate and build the foundation of knowledge around life insurance for my private clients so they can present to their clients and help families. The biggest argument (and battle) I have with getting financial professionals to buy into life insurance as a solution within their offerings is medical underwriting. You always hear the horror stories of cases going wrong— and in some cases losing clients—because a case is declined or heavily rated. I wanted to touch on this because as COVID-19 took over our country and everything began to shut down, the life insurance space came to a screeching halt. Without the ability to perform paramedic exams, there was no way to get approvals medically. The carriers had to act fast, or they’d see a significant reduction in business. Accelerated underwriting has always existed, where you could take an application and the carrier would do a quick background check, and as long as nothing came up, you had approval. These were reserved for lower face amounts though, in most cases, up to $1 million of death benefit maximum. We saw carriers changing this offering and allowing accelerated underwriting at death benefits as high as $3 million. I hear from internal resources at the carriers that after evaluating their ratings, they
were not far off from what they offered when they had to go through full underwriting. Simply put, they realized this process works and now know to offer it going forward. And most importantly, they’ll continue to evolve around it. This is an excellent direction for the life insurance industry. Underwriting innovations will allow for fewer costs to the carrier, which will lead to better-priced products. It’ll also mean less time in the sales process for financial professionals, and most importantly, fewer headaches for the client.
Closing Thought Even though it was an extremely tough year, some silver linings came out of 2020. It changed the way we do business for the better. And as a huge advocate for technology and ease of doing life insurance business, I’m glad to see it! s Sean Cooper, Senior Vice President Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Sean - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: email@example.com
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TEXT BY ARRON PRICE There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, an end to one of the most unique and disruptive years many of us have ever experienced. It feels like we’re about to emerge from a hibernation-like state—hidden from the world and people around us for the last year. We’re in the process of reconnecting and recalibrating our lives close to what they once were. With that reconnection comes change—many changes—personal, professional, psychological.
The Need for Data In Daily Tasks One transformation that’s been evolving within the shadows of 2020 has emerged: Data. Data has always been there, but in 2021 it’ll have a complete overhaul and facelift. In the year we’re calling the “Year of Innovation,” you’re going to see data drive the future of financial planning and advice. To understand the change, we have to know where we’re at today. Have you ever wondered why it seems fragmented when you get contracted with an insurance carrier? Have you ever thought about how long it takes to underwrite or issue an insurance policy? What about typing the client’s name and address several times in every step of the workflow? The list is virtually (no pun intended) endless. Let’s take it a step further. Don’t you love your alreadycrowded inbox getting filled with updates? Sure, some are important, some aren’t—but you’re using your limited time to sift through what you need to know. How about having to go in-and-out of various tools just to do what’s in the best interest of the client. That soon will change. The shift is happening.
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The Value of APIs in Your Workflow The fintech space exploded in 2020, with more technological solutions than ever before. You might be thinking, “Isn’t that going to make things worse? Even more tools for me to log into.” But the answer is no. Not with the shape of data fundamentally changing. The utopian idea of “Enter once, use many times” is upon us. A magical three-letter acronym is hitting our space hard and fast: API. A word that used to be thrown around only by those who implemented them is now a word commonplace in senior executives’ vocabulary. At its basic level, an API creates an environment where data is shared freely, flexibly, and in real-time. Now go back to the frustrations above. If APIs were in place, how different would the world you live in be? Very. Building upon APIs is the idea of a “one-stop-shop.” Integrating multiple high-value software into your workflow and having data seamlessly flow through those systems is the next big domino to fall. Imagine a world where you could prospect, plan, meet, and execute business for a client all in one place. Combine that with bringing all the data together to give insights and analysis like never before. Ultimately, you’re changing your practice to a data-driven environment, where the data predicts your next steps. No matter what innovations happen in our space, mobility is the ultimate necessity for adoption. We live in a fast-paced world where business transactions are made on-the-go. With everything we’ve talked about thus far, that’ll be packaged and accessible everywhere. All the data, all the function, all the value. Even with all that function and mobility, it’ll be simple and in real-time. That’s the key.
Ask Yourself This… Are you ready? This is the big question. Are you really prepared? To be thoroughly equipped for the future of data, you must understand how technology can fit into your practice. Take a step back, recalibrate, and reconnect the pieces. Know how you can take the old processes you’ve always done and enhance and scale them. That’s the hardest step. Once you can do that and have technology work for you, it’s a downhill path to the future coming right around the corner. The “Year of Innovation” is upon us. Hold your spot. s Arron Price, Chief Operations Officer, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Arron - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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TEXT BY JAMES LEMAY Reconnecting with your client is an opportunity to re-invent yourself. Like a New Year’s resolution, you can commit to doing things better. Pick one thing and focus on it until it becomes a habit. To truly connect with your client, you need to observe. You need to look. And you need to listen. Listen to what they’re saying. Look for the need, the pain, the problem—and then solve for that need. An annuity is a tool. Depending on how it’s designed, it can be a scalpel or a hammer. Or even a multitool. The more singular it is in its purpose, the more efficient it likely will be. That being said, if a client’s need is singular, solving for that need is relatively simple. However, adding just one or more other priorities to the client’s particular need can make solving for that need significantly more challenging. Knowing precisely what to look for and what resources are in your toolbox can help eliminate the confusion for both you and your client.
Finding an Annuity Fit
To determine where an annuity best fits, it’s easiest to begin with the need and then back into the solution. Annuities are essentially designed to address one of or a combination of four things: income, growth, legacy, and care (IGLC). Actually, it’s five if you count principal protection. But for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume the client isn’t interested in taking on any downside risk so we can rule out variable annuities (VAs) and indexed VAs. Every insurance company is working with the same 100 pennies in a dollar. They have very similar operating costs, are working with the same investment options, and have similar profit margins. They can’t design a product that does everything as well as a product that does just one thing. If a product addresses IGLC, it won’t provide as much growth opportunity as a product designed specifically for growth. 40 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE
Connecting the Dots Remember, when prioritizing the client’s needs, we use the IGLC categories. As you’ll see in the table below, there are 64 combinations of potential outcomes to prioritize those benefits.
2x IG 2x IL 2x IC 1x I
Connecting Clients with the Right Product If the client desires all four features, there are 24 different ways we can prioritize the IGLC categories. The client may first want the product for income, followed by care, then growth, and lastly, legacy. Their top concern may be legacy, but if other assets underperform, they may at that point rely on the product for income and care. And they’d prefer decent performance from an accumulation value standpoint. If the client only desires three of these benefits, then there are six different ways to prioritize them, and so on—you get the picture. Now, assume we break safe growth into two categories of guaranteed vs. indexed. We break income into two categories of level and increasing. And we add principal protection (throwing indexed VAs back in the mix), and the possible outcomes grow into the thousands! The point being, there are a lot of different ways to connect the dots. Matching the right product to the client’s needs can be daunting considering the number of options available, especially if you’re new to using annuities in your planning. Fortunately, we don’t need to worry about the thousands of outcomes that don’t match your client’s wants and needs. We only care about connecting them with the one that does.
So, how do we go about doing this? There are several ways, and it boils down to what works best for you. Some have questions embedded in their fact finder that specifically address the client’s needs for IGLC. Some have a specific IGLC questionnaire that asks the client on a scale of 0-5 how important each category is, or they ask the client to rank them in order of importance. Others may create the plan and let it dictate what the client needs. Assigning a risk score can be helpful as well. Solid client profiling using a combination of the above is often the best solution. Once you’ve determined what the need is, relay that to your vice president of annuity sales, and they’ll point you toward an option or two that perfectly addresses those needs. Narrowing it down to IGLC can be an efficient way to cut through the clutter, the seemingly infinite universe of products available to you, and efficiently zero in on the perfect annuity solution. You, the client, and FIG…IGLC! s James LeMay, Vice President - Annuity Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact James- Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: email@example.com CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 41
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TEXT BY ALECIA BARNETTE I recently went on a trip to Sedona, Arizona, at the beginning of 2021. Like everyone else, 2020 was a challenging year for me. In fact, it was one of the toughest years I’ve experienced in my lifetime. I lost my father, I was isolated from the rest of the world just like you, and I saw businesses struggle, specifically in care planning. But with my trip came a new perspective. With the bad, sometimes comes the good. Sometimes in life, you can’t wait for things to happen. You must go and get them. This year is about regrouping, recouping, and reengaging. For example, how many financial professionals have never had the critical care planning conversation? If you’re one of them, now is the time! I recently read an insightful article, “The Other Pandemic: What to Do About the Coming Alzheimer’s Crisis,” that dove into one of the scariest and most costly diseases known. According to the article, there will be 60% more elderly population by 2030. That’s less than a decade away. Simply put, it’s time to talk about care planning. It’s time to address the “other pandemic” of Alzheimer’s. And care planning solutions are the ultimate hedge for this dreaded illness.
How to Talk Care Planning with Prospects & Clients So how do you address the concern? There are so many solutions available to help mitigate the risk of unplanned extended care. What if a solution is staring you right in the face? Right now, prospecting can be difficult. But what if you could revisit your book of business and start the conversation with clients you already have? There’s a total of $2.8 trillion currently in annuities.1 Meanwhile, 79% of annuity owners see it as a financial resource to avoid being a financial burden on children.2 Not to mention, 73% see it as an emergency fund in case of catastrophic illness or nursing home care.3 So it’s safe to say that many of these annuity assets are just sitting around, waiting to be used. I like to call them “rainy-day funds” or “dead assets.” Why not help give new life to these old contracts? With the Pension Protection Act, there are products out there that’ll give your clients triple tax efficiencies. Yep, triple the tax advantages. Just by repositioning these non-qualified annuities, they can provide these three efficiencies:
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1. Tax-free transfer
2. Tax deferrals
3. Tax-free distributions for qualified long-term care (LTC) expenses
So, What Does This Mean for Clients? These tax efficiencies, which everyone loves, can take your clients’ money and possibly double or triple it; or even provide lifetime benefits for LTC (depending on the carrier). Think about what this could mean for your older clients! Stand-alone LTC could be a good option, but it can be pretty expensive, and underwriting becomes more difficult the more a client ages. On day one, you get tax-free LTC for qualifying LTC expenses and additional leverage with this option. If your client doesn’t use it, the remainder annuity value goes to their beneficiary. It’s an easy conversation to have with clients who don’t have a plan in place. Most clients don’t realize that by not putting a plan in place, their money is their plan by default. This route can be a great way to go back to your book of business, help your clients mitigate against the extended care risks, and make some additional revenue. The cost is minimal to engage with your existing book of business. Make 2021 the year to reconnect with your clients. Make it the year you start having the care planning conversation. Let us in the FIG Care Planning Division help you navigate these uncharted waters. Reach out today and let us help you reconnect with your book of business! s Alecia Barnette, Senior Vice President - Care Planning, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Alecia - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources 1-Table 25, Year-End Deferred Annuity Assets by Market Type, U.S. Individual Annuity Yearbook—2016, LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, 2017. 2-2013 Survey of Owners of Non-Qualified Annuity Contracts, conducted by The Gallup Organization and Mathew Greenwald & Associates for the Committee of Annuity Insurers, 2013. 3-2013 Survey of Owners of Non-Qualified Annuity Contracts, conducted by The Gallup Organization and Mathew Greenwald & Associates for the Committee of Annuity Insurers, 2013.
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Why Now’s the Time to
RE-ENGAGE THE LIFE INSURANCE CONVERSATION TEXT BY DAVE HENRY
More change has happened in the life insurance industry over the last 12 months than maybe ever before. The life insurance industry has long been thought of as slow-moving, behind-thetimes, and perhaps a bit archaic. But this past year has proven that stigma inaccurate. Combine the advances you’ve seen with clients’ increased desire to discuss their life insurance needs and planning due to COVID-19. Then, add in tax law changes proposed by new government leadership, and financial professionals have a fantastic opportunity to re-engage the life insurance conversation with fun and productive client meetings. (Who would have thought those words would ever be spoken?) Let’s discuss several reasons why now’s the time to re-engage with clients on the importance of implementing or reviewing their life insurance portion of their financial plan. 46 | CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE
1. COVID-19 has moved life insurance to a top-of-mind conversation for families.
67% of families say COVID-19 has been a wake-up call on their finances, according to a Life Happens survey. The Google search “life insurance” was up 50% between March and May of 2020 from the previous year. Individuals are hungry for advice and guidance on life insurance planning like never before. This may include obtaining coverage for the first time or reviewing their current coverage to make sure it’s meeting their needs and goals.
2. COVID -19 has changed the way life insurance carriers underwrite individuals applying for coverage.
Several accelerated underwriting options are available to obtain face amounts of up to $2,000,000 without requiring a paramedical exam. The best part is the price for the coverage is the same as a fully underwritten policy. Carriers have evolved in using technology and information from various databases to become comfortable with the mortality risk without doing the traditional paramedical exam. 50% of surveyed consumers state that a paramedical exam requirement would make them less likely to purchase life insurance coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Not all accelerated underwriting programs that carriers offer are created equal, and your team at FIG can guide you to the best fit for each client.
3. Long-term care and chronic illness riders on life insurance products have been increasingly important to individuals as they see the effects COVID-19 has had on loved ones.
Many couldn’t even visit loved ones in facilities across the country, causing them to think about what options they want to have when or if they needed long-term care. Your FIG team can help review options available on today’s products that can meet your client’s wishes when planning for their future care needs (and their ability to stay in their home if desired).
tool if that happens. Life insurance can uniquely offer tax-deferred growth, tax-free income, and liquidity for business or estate planning. In short, it’s a powerful alternative asset class financial professionals desire.
What’s Keeping Your Clients Up at Night? Re-engaging your clients in a conversation about life insurance is more important than ever. The recent societal and industry changes have individuals thinking about planning for the “what ifs” in life. With that said, you should be adding questions to your next client review meeting or new client meeting that kickstart the conversation. Using some of the topics and recent changes mentioned earlier in this article can help provide thought-provoking questions to identify what’s keeping your clients up at night. Example client questions could be:
publicly discussed tax laws changes become a 11. Ifreality, do we feel your financial plan may be exposed to more income, capital gains, or estate taxes?
all that happened last year, do we feel you have 22. With enough life insurance if something were to happen? we can obtain top-tier pricing for any needed life 33. Ifinsurance coverage with no exam, would that be appealing to you?
you had a loved one or friend impacted by the 44. Have recent pandemic that’s caused you to re-think what you and your family would do in that situation? If so, there may be solutions we can put in place now to ease those concerns for the future.
Now’s the time this industry has been waiting for. The solutions we offer are aligned with what individuals desire like never before. Don’t miss out on the opportunity. s Dave Henry, Executive Vice President - Life Insurance, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Dave - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: email@example.com
4. The election and the resulting possible tax law changes will have a significant impact on all aspects of the financial and investment industry, and life insurance is no different.
Proposals to increase income taxes, capital gains taxes, and estate taxes could be coming down the pipe. The tax advantage status that the IRS provides life insurance will make it an even more powerful CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 47
TEXT BY PAUL VAN GINHOVEN We’ve experienced a lot of new things in the past year, haven’t we? The “new normal” is a phrase we’ve grown accustomed to in our lives. We typically hear this phrase when one is speaking about COVID-19 or COVID-related requirements. However, there’s a new normal emerging in the financial industry that we must get used to seeing. That new normal is an era of best interest regulations. In the insurance industry, we see three converging regulations. Depending on how you serve your customers, whether as an insurance-only agent, investment adviser representative, or registered representative, you may have to juggle multiple rules and requirements at the same time!
Regulation Best Interest On June 30, 2020, the SEC implemented Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI). The SEC has jurisdiction over the securities industry. As such, Reg BI applies to broker-dealers and registered investment advisers (RIAs). Among other things, Reg BI brought forth new disclosure requirements, the need for managing conflicts of interest, and documentation requirements. All with the intent of supporting best interest recommendations made to customers.
The NAIC’s model now speaks to a best interest standard through evidencing four obligations: care, disclosure, conflicts of interest, and documentation. Like Reg BI, the NAIC intends to set requirements in managing conflicts of interest. They’ll require various disclosures to the customer and documentation on how transactions are in their best interests. The NAIC wished to align its requirements to those of Reg BI as much as possible. The NAIC does provide safe harbor in scenarios where one is subject to Reg BI. However, NAIC model rules are subject to state approval, which further complicates matters for financial professionals. At the time of this writing, Arizona, Iowa, and Rhode Island have implemented the rule and require full compliance. Many other states will follow throughout 2021 and into 2022.
DOL Fiduciary Rule
NAIC Model #275
Lastly, the DOL fiduciary rule came back from the dead, albeit in a much different way from its 2017 form. On February 16, 2021, the DOL’s new fiduciary rule reinstates what’s called the “Five-Part Test” along with the Impartial Conduct Standards and adopted a new prohibited transaction exemption to boot. The DOL’s work is primarily directed towards advice involving a customer’s qualified retirement plan assets. In the insurance industry, rollovers come to mind as one of the largest impacted areas the DOL’s rule touches. In a nutshell, the DOL has set the need for disclosures involving conflicts of interest and how transactions meet best interest standards.
In addition to Reg BI, the NAIC adjusted their Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation (Model #275) during 2020. The NAIC sought to enhance their annuity suitability model regulation when they saw the DOL’s work with the Obama-era fiduciary rule and what the SEC was doing with Reg BI. They, too, moved towards a best interest standard.
When we line them up, we see the common threads between all of these regulations. There are obligations to provide certain disclosures. There are obligations to mitigate, manage, or eliminate conflicts of interest. There are obligations to have supporting documentation that proves the transaction was in the customer’s best interests.
Reg BI has arguably had a more significant impact on brokerdealers than RIAs, since RIAs have always had to live up to most of the standards outlined in the regulation.
What I See From My Point of View While all of the obligations within each regulation are important on their own, some may find that documenting the best interest recommendation may be one of the most challenging items to accomplish. From a compliance perspective, and I may generalize here but do so based on my experience, insurance agents tend to have more difficulty maintaining an adequate documentation level within their books and records. However, I also tend to believe this isn’t necessarily the fault of the insurance agent. Many insurance agents are independent business owners and don’t benefit from receiving guidance from a compliance department like a registered representative of a broker-dealer or an investment adviser representative of an RIA would. In broker-dealers and RIAs, there are set criteria for documentation that provide a standardized method of gathering all needed information. Insurance agents often have to create these processes while interpreting rules and seeking limited guidance from various state regulatory agencies. From a compliance perspective, documentation is your primary defense when it comes to the potential bad situations that could pop up in the future (for example, customer complaints, regulatory inquiries, and lawsuits). Outside of the RIA space, most operating with commissionable products have only had to abide by a suitability standard and not a best interest standard. Evidencing a best interest recommendation through documentation is more complex. How do you prove that a particular product was in a customer’s best interest and not just a suitable recommendation? First, most insurance companies are enhancing their application processes to ensure the requirements from these converging regulations are captured. However, to demonstrate a best interest recommendation, one has to dig deeper from a documentation standpoint and go beyond the standard forms an insurance company requires. There’s a need to include a comparative analysis between the various products presented to a customer. This analysis should show all of the pros and cons of each product and how the selected product best aligns with the customer’s needs.
Going Forward in the Era of Best Interests There’s still much to learn about these converging regulations and the long-term impacts on our daily business. As we move forward, we expect to see additional guidance come from external sources. Especially in the case of the DOL, we may receive some clarity from the regulators themselves. Many states still need to adopt NAIC Model #275. Additionally, the DOL has a non-enforcement policy in place on their rule until December 20, 2021 (provided you’re complying with the Impartial Conduct Standards). We’ll keep our eye on these and any other emerging regulations going forward so that you’re informed. We’re officially in the era of best interests. And they’re here to stay. s Paul Van Ginhoven, Director of Compliance Financial Independence Group, Inc. Contact Paul - Phone: 800-527-1155, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Agents will be required to gather more financial background information on their customers further to evidence the financial need for the selected product. Outside of required standard insurance company documentation found in the applications, insurance agents should also keep a write-up in their books and records that details their conversations with the customer and how they arrived at their recommendation. This write-up should be thorough and describe all of the meetings between the customer and the insurance agent. It may not be a bad idea to summarize this type of write-up and provide it to your customer, so you can show there was a mutual decision that the selected product was in their best interests. If the transaction ever came into question many years later, you might not recall the details of your recommendation. A detailed write-up may prove to be one of your greatest defenses. CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE | 49
YOU CAN RECONNECT WITH YOUR CLIENTS & PROSPECTS TEXT BY ALL POINTS MEDIA
inancial professionals have a tough job to do. They compete in a fast-paced service industry where building relationships is the name of the game. And building new relationships isn’t easy, but financial professionals continue to find creative ways to reach and convert new prospects every day. But what about existing clients? With so much focus on the hottest new lead or brand-new referral, financial professionals often forget that so much of their new business comes from someone else’s “old business.” That means clients that have been neglected or otherwise disgruntled in their existing relationship with a competing professional. It’s just as vital to nurture your existing clients as it is to build new relationships to avoid the “revolving door” pattern: new business coming in as old business goes out. Here are some things to keep in mind as you reconnect with existing clients:
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Expand outside the center of your relationship. Often, financial professionals gain a “central client,” – perhaps a patriarch or matriarch who becomes their “goto” and the glue to their relationship with the household. No matter how close you may be with the head of a home, continuously expand your connections to include the family as a whole. Get to know the spouse, the children, and the parents of your central client if possible. Aim to know them just as intimately and become indispensable to all of them. Often, existing business is lost when a widowed spouse or children inherit wealth from a central client. Expanding and deepening your relationship with entire families will ensure that you’re a trusted figure across generations and phases of life. Just as there may be a central client, there’s often a primary financial professional. You may have a team of professionals, but certain clients only want to speak with you. While this may be flattering, work to expand your client relationships to as much of your staff as possible. You may find that certain family members connect more deeply with various team members. These connections are an excellent phenomenon that’ll make your business feel like a place for the entire family. It’s the little things: Always address spouses and children by name. Never say, “Bring your husband or wife.” Use their name and take an active interest in their inclusion for events, gifts, or any other client-appreciation campaigns you take on.
Pay attention and acknowledge the milestones. Keep track of birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and beyond. It’s a simple way to show you listen and care. Did your clients mention vacation plans? Send them personalized recommendations or a travel journal. Did their child just get accepted to a university? Send them a collegiate blanket for their dorm room. Don’t neglect the melancholy events, either. Sending a card of condolences for the loss of an elderly parent, sibling, or even a pet can be more meaningful than celebratory moments. Take note of small details as they come up. If your client mentions their parents’ names, their pets, or a favorite vacation spot, keep a record. Knowing and mentioning these details by name will make your outreach more meaningful during a time of celebration or condolences.
Actions speak louder than words: Does your client have a favorite beverage or local bakery? Have it available at your meetings. Did your client share that they’re not a big fan of flowers or gift baskets? Keep a note on hand so that when gift-time rolls around, you don’t make the mistake of sending them something they openly dislike. You probably have many clients, so showing that you pay such close attention will make each one feel special and understood. Make sure you have a system in place to keep these detailed notes, such as a CRM tool, Excel sheet, or an electronic notebook.
Engage with unique and fun events. Client appreciation events may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s equally important to ensure your affairs are appealing to many groups. Perhaps your go-to event includes boating or golfing; while many clients may enjoy these events, be sure to expand outside your comfort zone to reach clients with different hobbies and interests. Try to categorize your events (like sports, arts, food, and entertainment) to stay accountable and comprehensive. Also, be sure that you reserve some events for clients only. It can be tempting to expand all events to prospects, but prospects require a lot of time and rapport-building, leaving little quality time with your existing base. Even if you opt for one-on-one time with existing clients instead of events, be sure to set aside time to give existing clients your undivided attention. Don’t forget to make sure your events are F.U.N.: That’s fun, unique, and no-stress. Educational events can be great, but make sure you spend quality time with your attendees. When it’s time to invite prospects, your clients will remember the genuinely great time they had and will more be inclined to invite friends and family. By keeping these three tips in mind, you can successfully reconnect (and stay connected) with your most important relationships that’ll drive your business forward in the years to come. s All Points Media, Financial Independence Group, Inc. Phone: 800-527-1155, Web: www.figmarketing.com
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