InsuranceNewsNet Magazine | March 2023

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PLUS: Your road map to success with Steaphanie Bogan PAGE 6 Using a SPIA to protect an IRA in Medicaid planning PAGE 28 Can employee benefits provide a solution for long-term care? PAGE 32 THIS MONTH: SERVING WOMEN AND WEALTH Life • Health/Benefits Annuities • Financial Services MARCH 2023 Often left out of the financial picture, women need help to bridge life insurance and savings gaps and achieve a secure retirement. PAGE 12


6 Your road map to success

Stephanie Bogan founded a consulting firm at age 24 and sold it in a sevenfigure deal 12 years later. But she felt personally unfulfilled and embarked on a journey to find what really made her happy. In this interview with Publisher Paul Feldman, she describes how the secret to true success is hidden in the science of our behavior.

FEATURE What will it take to bridge the gap?

Women are still trailing men in life insurance ownership and their ability to save for retirement. How can the industry help them catch up?


18 Advice from the heartland


offers financial planning with a progressive sheen in the heart of conservative Kansas.


24 Expand your toolbox with cash value life insurance

Cash value life insurance can be used as an asset in a diversified investment strategy or as an investment plan hedge.


28 Using a SPIA to protect an IRA in Medicaid planning

How seniors can accelerate their eligibility for Medicaid benefits without losing their assets first.


PUBLISHER Paul Feldman



32 Can employee benefits provide a solution for long-term care?

Your employer clients have several tools to help workers fund future care.


36 Using a Nevada incomplete gift non-grantor trust

Vince Aiello

This can be part of an effective business exiting strategy.


38 Keep your emails out of the spam folder

Susan Rupe

A pair of business etiquette experts give tips on how to keep from being an email stalker.


40 Simplicity in it for the long haul

By John Hilton

The company embarked on an aggressive growth plan in 2016 and is still moving full speed ahead.


150 Corporate Center Drive • Suite 200 • Camp Hill, PA 17011 717.441.9357



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12 MARCH 2023 » VOLUME 16, NUMBER 03
6 March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 1

A month to consider women’s history — and why change is needed

The observance of Women’s History Month in March is one reminder of the many ways women in the U.S. have a history different from men’s. While men — white men, that is — have had the right to vote since the founding of the country in 1776, women did not have the right to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment, passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. That is 144 years after the founding of the country and 103 years prior to 2023. So, women have had the vote for fewer years than the period of time when they were not permitted to vote.

Of course, there are so many other ways women’s history has differed, whether in the job market or finances on the home front — at one time women even lacked the ability to get credit. In times gone by,

When it comes to retirement, this leaves many women today woefully behind their male counterparts regarding being prepared for retirement.

Add to this the rocky market and inflation, and retirement is a murky — even scary — prospect for many women. A recent Nationwide survey found that 62% of women, compared to 47% of men, are putting off retirement or don’t believe they will ever retire due to inflation.

That is only the beginning of the disparities. Women often live longer than men, with wives often outliving their husbands. So whether single, married or widowed, women stand to be in the worst position as retirement funds begin to run out in old age. As longevity extends and women live longer, the problems compound.

Marital status also impacts the retire-

This has reverberating impacts, since having more female advisors might make it easier — and more comfortable — for women to seek advisors.

Since women are outliving men, they are, by definition, controlling the vast majority of inherited wealth as they age. Figures show that at some point, 80% of women will be responsible for their household income.

Building the ranks of female advisors — and working to retain them — as well as building a practice that makes special efforts to reach out to female investors and heads of households is just good business sense, in addition to offering a necessary remedy for the serious financial challenges that many women face.

This year, Women’s History Month should mark the start of an ongoing effort to recognize the unfair financial history of women — and to change it.

Welcome to Society of FSP

As we strive to broaden the voices in the magazine, we are working to expand the number of professional associations providing useful information and discussion for our readers. With this issue, we welcome the Society of Financial Service Professionals to our pages. We know that FSP, which is such a great resource for information and education, will add to the valuable discussions and provide actionable insights for our readers. Welcome to FSP!

ICYMI > In Case You Missed It

ing 58.4% in Sept. 2022 — down from 59.2% just prior to the pandemic. Also, more women head households — but often earn less than men do. And recent U.S. government figures have shown that about 50% of women ages 55 to 66, compared to 47% of men, have no personal retirement savings. (See chart.)

According to the U.S. census, women also lag men at the other end of the spectrum: 22% of women, compared to 30% of men, have $100,000 or more in personal retirement savings.

those who never married and about 33% of those who married two or more times. And women who never married tend to be worse off financially than those who did marry.

The financial advisory community has a disparate balance of male and female advisors, with estimates ranging from male advisors outnumbering female advisors by ratios from 6:1 to 10:1. Some studies show this imbalance is improving somewhat, but the numbers are still heavily out of balance.

Also, starting with this issue, the magazine will feature a new section called ICYMI, or In Case You Missed It. This new section will feature some of the great articles published on the INN website. In addition to all the valuable content you read every month in the magazine, there is more to be found on With ICYMI, we’ll provide a snapshot of some of that great content — and we hope to entice you to explore more.

2 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 WELCOME LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
* Indicates statistical difference between males and females at a 90% confidence interval. 1. Indicates combined retirement savings if married, spouse present. Otherwise, personal retirement savings is used. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, Survey Year 2018.

American National Insurance Company is the #1 Trusted Insurer on Newsweek’s America’s Most Trustworthy Companies list!

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American National was founded in 1905 and offers a broad variety of life insurance, retirement, and annuity products. American National’s mission is to be the company of choice for insurance and other financial products and services while maintaining financial strength. We are honored to be included on the Newsweek and Statista America’s Most Trusted Companies Award List!

We want to thank all of our distribution partners for the important role you play in helping American National to achieve this trustworthy status! Please visit our producer website to read the entire company press release and find the link to the full Newsweek article. There you can download marketing materials you may use to promote that you represent and offer life & annuity products from one of America’s most trustworthy companies.

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products and services it issues. For Agent Use Only; Not for Distribution or Use with Consumers.

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The Newsweek Logo itself is the intellectual property of Newsweek and all other rights are reserved. American National Group, LLC is the corporate parent of the American National companies, which include American National Insurance Company and its insurance affiliates. American National Insurance Company, founded in 1905 and headquartered in Galveston, Texas, is licensed to
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What’s in the news on

Read up about lengthy application processing times, potential IUL sales slowdowns and a state LTC benefit in California.

[Editor’s Note: These are some of the major stories to which we are devoting ongoing coverage on]

Life, annuity app delays frustrate producers

Total annuity sales surged to $310.6 billion in 2022, a 22% increase from 2021 results and 17% higher than the record set in 2008, according to LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey.

“Rates have continued to be very competitive, especially relative to CDs,” Moore explained. “That speaks very well for sales of [MYGAs]. Never mind indexed annuities, which should also fare very well.”

Insurers have long outsourced administration services to third-party companies, Moore said. Likewise, many insurers are now outsourcing phone services as well, she added, calling the trend “bananas.”

It means that someone calling an insurer is going to have an added layer of difficulty reaching the right person.

“Apparently, this is contributing to the long times to issue a case,” Moore added.

Bruce Friedland has more than 30 years in the life insurance industry. It is not uncommon for insurers to get caught without enough people power to meet a surging demand, he said.

“They run into servicing challenges, and there are often shortfalls in what companies are able to deliver,” said Friedland, who left Vantis Life Insurance Co. in 2021 to start his own consulting business.

In a technology world where transactions are moving faster and faster, life and annuity applications are heading in the opposite direction.

Producers are growing frustrated by the extra weeks it is taking to complete apps.

Sheryl Moore is president and CEO of Moore Market Intelligence and Wink Inc. She also has an influential social network and posted about the delay issue last week on LinkedIn. The responses flooded in from irritated producers.

Speculation on the source of the delays ranged from staffing shortages to technology deficiencies to insurers just caught off-guard by a possible sales boom.

“The home offices are likely understaffed and unable to handle the influx of business,” she added via email.

“I have seen this in the past, back in 2008, 2009.”

Back then, fixed annuity sales boomed in the aftermath of the financial crisis, which wiped out retirement accounts. The same thing is happening again.

It can be a challenge for insurers to maintain staffing levels amid so many variables, Friedland said. In addition to sales surges, changing regulations can make the client analysis a lengthy process.

4 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023
Read the full story online: InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at john.hilton@innfeedback. com. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH. ICYMI IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

IUL sales strong but face a potential rough patch

This was despite the product’s connection with equities, which had a challenging year. The marketing message of not losing principal while gaining on the upside was a winner, Moore said.

Sales of indexed universal life products remain strong, but next year might feature a speed bump mid-year, according to industry analysts.

Although the fourth quarter is not expected to be a record-breaker on its own, it caps a banner year. Sheryl Moore, CEO of Moore Market Intelligence, projected that it will supersede last year’s blazing performance.

“I am projecting total 2022 IUL sales to be more than $2.7 billion in target,” Moore said. “This will be significantly greater than the last record of $2.4 billion that was achieved in 2021.”

“I hate saying this motto with index life, but zero is your hero. When the markets are going down, the worst-case scenario is that you earn 0%,” Moore said. “And the reason I hate that is because you still pay for the insurance charges that come out of the policy. So, you’re really not getting zero. You’re having a negative adjustment to your cash value to pay for insurance charges.”

A bigger issue in Moore’s estimation is IUL illustrations, which regulators are likely to adjust this year after the past few years of discussing the issue. Moore and others have said that hybrid, proprietary and unproven indexes are confusing and misleading consumers, something that regulators are expected to act on.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners have been looking at updating Actuarial Guideline 49, which was enacted in 2015 to rein in IUL illustrations.

California pondering 5 options for state long-term care benefit

Whether Californians will accept a payroll tax will likely determine the fate of a long-term care public benefit.

A state LTC Task Force is pondering five options presented by consultants Oliver Wyman. They range from a low of $36,000 in benefits up to a high of $144,000.

WA Cares, the Washington state program, required residents to either purchase LTC insurance or be taxed to pay for the new benefit. That resulted in a lot of residents purchasing spare LTC policies that critics say might be ill-fitting when the time comes to rely on them.

The Wyman report does not address the cost of the program for the nearly 40 million residents of California. But payroll taxes are the most logical means to fund public LTC benefits. Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association

for Long-Term Care Insurance, isn’t sure Californians will accept more taxes.

“California is already one of the most heavily taxed states, so only time will tell what happens when such a proposal is ultimately put in front of taxpayers,” he said.

Legislation to create the California task force passed in October 2019. A 15-member board is made up of various care providers, consumer advocates and one industry representative: Jamala Arland, vice president of LTCi in-force at Genworth.

Work has progressed steadily toward a goal of producing a final

That guideline was itself an addition to Life Insurance Illustrations Model Regulation 582, adopted in 1995 when the products were just being developed.

Even after a few years of kicking around AG 49 amendments, the NAIC was not able to move on a new model in 2022. But the NAIC has floated a couple of “quick fixes” that may be enacted this year, which could trip up IUL sales.

“I’m anticipating that things will change this year,” Moore said. “We didn’t have a ton of disruption in 2022. But it’s just basically anytime there’s a change to the product or the illustration, it can cause a decline in sales.”

Read the full story online:

Steven A. Morelli is a contributing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines. He was also vice president of communications for an insurance agents association. Steve can be reached at

recommendation by the end of 2023. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s office cited opinion surveys in launching the task force.

Two-thirds of respondents to the surveys said that they are apprehensive about being able to afford long-term care. Sixty-three percent of respondents worry as much about paying for long-term care as they do for their future health care.

A majority of respondents could not afford more than three months of nursing home care at an average cost of $6,000 per month in California, the research found.

The biggest task before the task force remains public education, said Bonnie Burns, who has 30 years’ experience in the Medicare industry and lives in California. Burns is not a member of the task force.

Read the full story online:

InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.

March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 5 TOP PICKS FROM INSURANCENEWSNET.COM ICYMI

Stephanie Bogan achieved amazing success early in her career — and then stepped back from it all. Her journey led her to find the key to both success and happiness.

An interview with Paul Feldman, publisher

6 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 INTERVIEW

tephanie Bogan founded her first consulting firm at the age of 24. At 36, she sold it in a seven-figure deal to a Fortune 200 company, where she joined the executive team. After four years, she joined United Capital Financial Partners as senior vice president of training and client experience, helping develop a national practice model adopted by thousands of advisors and then acquired by Goldman Sachs.

Despite this success, she felt personally unfulfilled. So, she retired to a beach in Costa Rica. That is where, she said, her real learning began.

Bogan spent years studying the science of success and happiness, searching for the elusive something that was missing in her life.

She discovered that the secret to true success is hidden in the science of our behavior. Armed with that knowledge and understanding, she started Limitless, and now teaches advisors to “work with greater success” and “live with greater freedom.”

In this interview with Publisher Paul Feldman, she describes how she developed the ways to build what she calls high-performance happiness.

Paul Feldman: Stephanie, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you developed this amazing career.

Stephanie Bogan: People always assume that there was this great deal of intention. It was radically the opposite. I left home when I was 17. My mother had a mental illness; my dad had post-traumatic stress disorder. There was some ensuing childhood trauma, so I moved out. I got a job as a receptionist in an insurance firm, which was my first foray into financial services. At one point along the way, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. So I went down that path and ultimately worked in a large international law firm. I decided that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, and I applied for a job as a marketing and office manager for an estate planning firm that worked in the ultrahigh net worth wealth management space.

I think I was 20 or 21 at the time. It was a small firm of three people. At one point, I suggested, “How about we grow this thing?” That was when I got deeply

introduced to all the different disciplines around the practice: accounting, insurance, tax, estate planning, high net worth. At 24, I was invited to speak at a conference about marketing. Six months later, they asked me to speak again. And then they asked me to consult. My boss wouldn’t allow me to do some consulting one day a week, which would have cut down my commuting time. Three weeks later — after commuting an hour each way — I thought, “I’ll take the $5,000 we have to our name, buy a desk and a computer, and I’m going to try consulting.”

Feldman: That was quite a bold decision. How did that go for you?

Bogan: It went really well. We built up a good-sized firm and a really solid brand for delivering results. Twelve years later, we were approached by Genworth, which acquired the firm. I stayed on and built our practice management for four years. We reached a point where I was running the shop but not doing anything new. So we took a year off, went to Turks and Caicos with our kids. Did a lot of diving and family time.

Then Joe Duran, the CEO and founder of United Capital Financial Partners — now at Goldman Sachs — reached out and said, “I have the perfect job for you ... I created it just for you.” I said, “OK, I’ll listen.” I became the senior vice president of what I’ll describe as practice development. If you’re familiar with “money minds” in Joe’s book The Money Code, a lot came from the work our team did. I was in charge of interviewing and signing off on every M&A deal to make sure that they would be a good fit and could integrate into the firm and that we could create opportunity for them. That was a great role. After two and a half years, I had two young children and the company had received our third round of funding, another $40 million.

I had joined with the premise that it would fit the lifestyle I wanted. Instead, the reality was that I needed to travel and meet with different firms. So, at the apex in my career, I retired and walked away from it all to the beach in Costa Rica. Which was a fabulous decision.

I had been so successful. I had built a firm, sold it for millions of dollars, and I was financially independent. I could live

this great life, but I wasn’t satisfied. I was like the princess and the pea, with that little pea bothering me.

Then I did what everybody does when they retire. I googled “how to be successful and happy.” And that was the beginning of what is now my encore career.

That was a radical change that led me to a lot of articles around mindset and psychology, which led me into neuroscience, epigenetics, quantum physics — really great, deep, cool stuff. I was sitting on the beach one day, reading an article, which led me to a paper, which led to some research by the Carnegie Institute done back in 1910. Carnegie was very big on learning, growth, development. He was funding a university, and he wanted to know what was required for people to learn, change and grow.

At the end of the study, they concluded that there were three core factors to success. First, knowledge environment — where you are and what you know. Dubai is different than Dallas, for example, and what you learn in Dubai will be different than what you learn in Dallas. Second, skills. Skills are very straightforward. You either have them or you develop them.

The third was mindset, or psychology. I thought, “OK, I’ve read some of those books — that makes sense.” It’s the next line that was truly life changing for me. It read, “Of those three factors, mindset is responsible for greater than 80% of our success.”

I thought, wow, I don’t even really know what this is, but if it’s responsible for 80% maybe that’s what I need. I spent the next few years devouring that kind of research, knowledge and information. That led me into coaching. What I realized at that point was the reason we’d done so well was that we weren’t really just consulting; we were also naturally coaching.

We would ask questions like “What about this creates change?” “What are you afraid of?” “How do we work through that?”

I wondered what would happen if I applied this. We have our conscious mind, and we have our subconscious mind. Our subconscious is responsible for heart rate, breathing, etc. It turns out that our subconscious mind is responsible for 95% of what we do. By the age of 35, we are 95% a bundle of hardwired habits, thoughts and behaviors, all originating from our belief


systems or thoughts. Are we confident and empowered or unconfident and disempowered in our general state?

We have, on average, 60,000 thoughts a day, and what neuroscience research has uncovered in the past five to 10 years is fascinating. Of those 60,000 thoughts that you have a day, on average, 80% of them will be negative. And on average, 95% of

When a client calls and leaves a message and you don’t know why, your brain is hardwired to scan the landscape for threats. Our brains haven’t evolved much from our caveman days. Modern threats are clients leaving, or that clients will never make another referral. Those are the modern-day threats, and our brain still kicks into that survival state. From that

worth a teeny bit less than you do. So how about you give us all that awesome sauce — 100% of your love, attention, expertise, credibility. Could you be 100% on board with supporting us? But could you do it for 75% of what you’re charging?”

Without a conscious plan for how to address those situations, your brain will kick you into survival mode every single time. And that is the place from which we’ll respond.

Our goal in coaching is to get clear, get focused and get to work. When the vision is clear, the decisions are easy.

Advisors who don’t have a clear vision revert to survival mode.

We have clients literally write out a script to have their response ready when a prospect asks, “Hey, could I have a discount?” Having that script stops an advisor from saying yes to a discount — or from saying “I don’t know” and stumbling over themselves.

those will run behind the curtain of your conscious mind in a constant loop. “I can’t.” “I shouldn’t.” “I don’t know how.” So we’re in this constant state of fight or flight. Studies show that the average worker spends 70% of their day in a stress state. Stress kicks us into fight or flight, even at a low level.

Feldman: How do you apply this in your practice? What is the impact of understanding that we all have this built-in negative outlook?

Bogan: For example, if your largest client just called and left a message and you have no idea why, what’s your first instinct? To think something’s wrong.

I’ve asked this question to many advisors. And every time it’s “Holy cow, I’m going to get fired! Something’s wrong. I have to go to their file and see what’s going on.” This is that mindset.

survival state, we make compromised decisions. We have crises of confidence.

When your largest client calls and leaves a message, we should actually sit in the space of trusted advisor and feel great. Or at least confident about picking up the phone because we know who we are, what we’re worth.

The issue is most of us never get out of that survival phase. We are conditioned to believe that all clients are good clients, all revenue is good revenue, all assets are good assets. And it’s just not true.

So when a prospect sits down across from you and asks, “Hey, can I have a discount?,” we tend to say yes. But as a coach, I love to reframe this conversation. What the prospect is essentially saying to you is the following:

“You’ve shared with me all the value you can add, and we think it’s great. We would love to receive that value. There’s just one small problem. We think it’s

We want to look that prospect in the eye confidently and say, “Look, our fees aren’t the least expensive, they’re not the most expensive, but our clients continuously tell us that they’re fair for the value they add with our ongoing relationships. We would love to be of service and value to you, and we understand that you might be on a different budget. If that’s an issue for you, we completely understand. We won’t take it personally. We have some resources or people that we’d be happy to refer you to. Have a great day.”

Feldman: If someone is ready to really grow their business, what should they focus on?

Bogan: The biggest practical mistake that advisors make — 100% unequivocally — is they don’t use their time well. If time is your greatest revenue-producing asset and you’re wasting 50% to 70% of it, your practice won’t be as successful as it could be. What if we harnessed and used all that energy in the direction of our dreams?

How many times a day do we check email? On average, 17 to 36 times, for

Modern threats are clients leaving, or that clients will never make another referral. Those are the modern-day threats, and our brain still kicks into that survival state. From that survival state, we make compromised decisions.

roughly 2.5 hours a day, according to the research. Instead, spend 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at the end of the day, which is what we have our clients do. Now you can focus your time and energy on things that truly would move the needle. Ask yourself: What clients do I work with? What marketing do I need to do? What systems do I need to build? The problem is we don’t consciously think about how much time we have, what we’re trying to build and what our road map is.

Take a piece of paper, draw a line, and put a plus on the top and a minus on the bottom. Above the line, list the things that you love to do. They are energy creating. They are revenue producing. You could do them over and over for hours. You should spend your time doing that.

Below the line are energy-draining tasks that are revenue-supporting or revenue-dilutive activities. Now there’s a certain amount of revenue sustaining that must be done in client service if you don’t have another advisor or team member. If you do have supporting staff, that type of work is above the line for them.

Another important question to ask yourself is “How big do I want to be?” There’s no right or wrong answer. Big for the sake of big isn’t good. For me, success was about striving for significance. Making money was going to give me meaning — and I did all those things — and it didn’t work. I wanted to be happy and empowered and fulfilled. I didn’t know my value. I didn’t love myself. I didn’t know my worth.

When you have those clients who are too small relative to your minimums, I want you to imagine that you’re writing yourself a check or me a check or your neighbor a check for the amount that’s the difference. If your minimum is $5,000 and the client’s at $3,500, imagine that you’re writing a check for $1,500 and giving it away. If you had to do that every time, you wouldn’t take those clients, because every year it’s thousands of dollars.

Feldman: So how important do you think it is for advisors to have minimums with their clients?

Bogan: I think it’s incredibly important. We talk about building a high-growth, high-profit, high-happiness practice. We call it high-performance happiness. It’s

different for everyone. The goal is to understand that time is your greatest revenue-producing asset. It’s also your greatest happiness-producing asset. If we’re not clear about how we use our time, we end up with businesses and clients and situations that we’re not totally in love with.

Feldman: How should advisors deal with clients who panic in a rocky market?

Bogan: This is without question 100% a behavioral issue. It’s your mindset. Do you feel confident and empowered having those conversations? Because that’s what we call being the trusted advisor. You want to build trust equity with your clients over time so that they trust you. It’s little things operationally when you deliver that build that. It’s advice and engagement.

Our job is to sit in that seat of trusted advisor and be able to have the tough conversations. That’s what you get paid the big bucks for. You must have an honest conversation with the $80 million client who wants to pull his money out and put it in the mattress.

Step one is that you should reach out to your clients. Your job is to remind them you’re not going to do anything in that situation. You tell them, “We’ve planned for these kinds of events. We never know when they’re going to happen, but they’re built into the plan.”

When you have the conversation, validate and acknowledge their feelings. “Hey, what I hear you saying is you’re really worried that the markets are going to stay this way and you’re going to lose everything that you’ve worked hard for.” Be quiet. Let them speak. “I see you. I hear you. I understand you. Can we go back to the goals? I know it’s difficult and challenging and scary, but we’ve built this into the plan.”

And to really understand where a client is coming from, you must understand their “money story.”

Feldman: How do you get money stories from clients? I don’t think a lot of advisors take the time to do that.

Bogan: I’m not proposing that you just jump straight into life coaching. The biggest issue I see with advisors is they’re afraid to ask questions because they’re not sure that they would know the answer or how to respond.

Your job is to create space. “I hear you, Bob. When markets go down, a lot of our clients start to worry is the plan really going to work? That’s really common.” Or they’ll say, “Hey, my wife’s going to give me a hard time.” You don’t have to solve everything for them; you just have to create space. “I see you. I hear you. I understand.” You want to repeat their words back to them.

We say things like “Hey, money comes with a lot of feelings. Sometimes they’re scary. I don’t know when in our relationship that’s going to happen, but things could get scary. It often comes with big life events or market events. In those moments, how would you like us to support you?”

So that when the market shifts, you can remind them: “Hey Bob and Jane, remember that conversation we had five or six years ago about ... “We talked about it last year. That scary downturn that we talked about, it’s here.”

Feldman: What do you think is the hurdle that lies between most advisors and success? What should they do when they’ve hit a plateau in their practice?

Bogan: If you want to be more successful, you must get used to being more uncomfortable. It becomes the way of life. When I unretired, I said I was going to follow two rules. One, I was going to use every business practice I had learned — ruthlessly. I know what works, and we’re going to do it. That led to rule number two: no fear. We’re going to get really clear, and if it feels right, that’s what we’re going to do. And the results have been radical. It took me 10 years to build a seven-figure business before. By following those two rules, we built one in only 15 months. And it just keeps growing.

Success leaves clues. Our job is to follow them. We’ve done that at Limitless. We’ve built a business out of what are the best practices for small or large firms, and it’s not one size fits all. There are just so many levers that we can pull. It’s like a race car. Look at each component and how it’s contributing, under- or overperforming and tweak as needed. And your mindset is important. As the research shows, it’s 80% to 95% responsible for our success.

Focus your time and energy on things that would truly move the needle. What’s your road map?



bet on US stocks to outperform in 2023

Advisors said they believe the biggest challenges to their business over the next year are:

» Volatile markets: 57%

» Inflation: 56%

» Recession: 49% SOURCE: CoreData

Advisors think we are in the worst investment climate since 2008 but are betting on U.S. stocks to outperform this year amid a tech rebound, new research shows.

A CoreData Research study of nearly 500 US financial advisors found almost six in 10 (57%) think U.S. stocks will outperform their global peers in 2023. Driving the home bias is an expectation that technology stocks will stage a recovery. About half (48%) say tech stocks will rebound in 2023, compared to just 15% who disagree.



CEOs in both the U.S. and globally say slow growth and a recession are their top external worries of 2023.

The Conference Board survey also found that most executives don’t think stronger economic growth will return anytime soon: 51% of CEOs worldwide — and 60% of U.S. CEOs — expect a tepid year ahead, with their economies only picking back up by late 2023 or mid-2024. Despite CEOs bracing for weaker growth and recessions, labor shortages and talent retention rank among the biggest challenges of executives worldwide, underscoring how the current downturn differs from those in the past.


Inflation is coming for Americans’ auto insurance premiums. The average cost of full-coverage auto insurance has hit $2,014 a year nationally, up nearly 14% from last year, according to Bankrate’s annual True Cost of Auto Insurance Report.

What’s driving these higher costs? It’s a lagging effect of high inflation from the last two years that resulted from labor and parts shortages. These ramped up the cost

of paying insurance claims on car repairs and related in sured expenses.

“Car insur ance rates are reactionary,” said Cate Deventer, Bankrate’s insurance analyst, tion keeps cooling, we could see insurers file for rate decreases in future years.”

Another factor impacting insurance costs is where you live. Bankrate found that average 2023 premiums rose the most in Orlando, Fla. (up nearly 23% to $3,078), followed by Phoenix (up nearly 17% to $2,164). They fell the most in Philadelphia (down nearly 22% to $1,872) and New York City (down 14% to $2,649). Meanwhile, as a percentage of average household income, drivers living in Miami now pay the most — 5.51%, or $3,447. Drivers in Boston, meanwhile, pay the least -— just 1.32% of average income, or $1,328.


While U.S. advisors favor domestic markets, they nevertheless think this is the worst time to invest since 2008. More than half (54%) say we are in the most difficult investment environment since the global financial crisis. Furthermore, advisors expect market turbulence to intensify. Four in 10 (40%) agree that volatility will increase over the next 12 months — nearly double the proportion that disagree (23%). DID

Retirement? What retirement? Turbulent market conditions and rampant inflation

have forced investors to consider working after their retirement, according to Nationwide’s eighth annual Advisor Authority survey. More than two-thirds (69%) of non-retired investors may work or may continue working after they retire, and more than two-fifths of these investors (44%) say they’ll have to work to supplement their retirement savings or income out of necessity.

Two-fifths (40%) of non-retired investors plan to move to a different city or region after retiring – though perhaps not for the reasons some may think.

Less than a quarter (22%) of these individuals cite being near family among their top three reasons for relocating. The most common incentives for relocating include lower cost of living (43%) and lower taxes (34%), which may indicate that these investors’ decisions are being influenced by macroeconomic factors.

Not all investors see working through retirement as a means to stay financially afloat, however; 60% cited staying physi cally and mentally active and 41% aim to preserve a sense of pur pose in their continued employment.

82% of savers worry about a recession affecting their retirement.

10 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine »
March 2023
? Source: U.S. News & World Report
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— Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger

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Often left out of the financial picture, women need help to bridge life insurance and savings gaps and achieve a secure retirement.

COVER STORY 12 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023

ary Grace Musuneggi has faced financial challenges as a widow, single mom and divorced woman. Those experiences have shaped her determination to help women overcome the lack of knowledge — and lack of confidence — many of them share when it comes to their personal finances.

Musuneggi was widowed with a 9-month-old son when she was 25 years old. Years later, she remarried, but that marriage ended in divorce.

When asked her marital status, she jokingly replies, “All of the above.”

Today, she is the chairman and CEO of The Musuneggi Financial Group in Pittsburgh, Pa., and founder of Single Steps Strategies, a life planning resource for women. She also is the author of two books, Single Steps: Strategies for Abundant Living and A Man Is Not a Plan: Success Strategies for Independent Women.

Musuneggi’s challenges as a widow, single mom and divorced woman inspired her to help women achieve financial independence and plan for whatever life might throw their way. And she is aware of the need to help women attain financial security. Consider a few statistics:

» In 2022, 46% of women owned life insurance, seven points below the ownership rate of men (53%). This marks the sixth consecutive year of declines in the rate of women’s life insurance ownership. (Source: LIMRA)

» 44% of women are very concerned about outliving their assets (versus 29% of men). (Source: LIMRA)

» Women workers have saved only $43,000 (estimated median) in all household retirement accounts. (Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.)

Musuneggi has seen these statistics play out among the women she serves in her practice, many of whom have lost a partner through death or divorce and are

now navigating their finances alone.

“I heard more and more stories from women who are now trying to learn all the things they should have learned in high school and college and before they got married and whatever, and it was a struggle for some of them,” she said.

“Some of them were frustrated because they didn’t know anything. Some were scared to make mistakes. Not all of the women whose husbands died left them well off either. So, I said I wanted to focus on making sure, before these things happen, that women do not center their entire lives around believing ‘I’m secure because I have someone in my life.’”

That focus was the inspiration for writing A Man Is Not a Plan.

“Nobody else should be your plan. Not your father, not your bartender, not the girl across the street, not your business partners,” she said. “You need your own plan because the person who will take the best care of you is you.”

Musuneggi works with couples as well as single women, and she finds that “women have come a long way, but we still find that when we work with couples, the husband more than likely overrides the entire conversation. When I ask the wife about it, she says, ‘Oh, he handles all that.’ That ends the conversation right there. I say, ‘No, he doesn’t. We do this as a team. Everyone needs to be involved.’”


where the women are

Women began coming to Musuneggi when she started her practice because she went to them instead of waiting for them to come to her.

“I took the time to go to women’s organizations, to do workshops, to do speaking engagements,” she said. “Today, we do very little prospecting. People come to us. Part of it is because we have a program called ‘Friends Helping Friends.’ If someone’s a client, we encourage them to find their friends who might be good clients and to spread the word. About 98% of the new people we get as clients in a year are people who came to us.”

Musuneggi started Single Steps as a way to educate women about their finances.

“The whole focus of Single Steps is one step at a time. Let’s get you in front of someone you need to get in front of,” she said. “We decided if we were going to

MWHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BRIDGE THE GAP? COVER STORY March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 13

focus on women, we needed to have some way for women to learn. So, we gathered together a group of resources who were willing to give some free time to women. We have attorneys, accountants, counselors. We brought all these people together and said, ‘What we need you to do is be available and not charge anything for at least one session if one of our people calls, so that they can get some professional advice and not worry about having to pay for it.’ And these resources jumped on board; they said, ‘Yes, let’s do that.’”

In the decades Musuneggi has operated her practice, she sees the needs of women changing yet being the same.

“As much as we say, ‘You’ve come a long way, baby,’ I still see women and think, ‘It’s 2023! You do know this isn’t the way things are done anymore?’

“But at the same time, I see younger women who are starting out in a job that pays well, and they know they need to plan for their future. They’re ready to get started.”

Musuneggi said she believes the financial services industry must “work at not making this such a scary experience.”

“I’ve had women who have told me that they’ve gone to advisors, male and female, who’ve talked down to them. They don’t need that. They need somebody who’s going to counsel them. So I think we need to do a better job of saying, ‘We’re here as counselors — we’re not here to sell you bitcoin.’

“We need to tell women that [planning] needs to be the next life experience. You go to grade school, high school, college, get a job and start doing your financial planning. It all needs to flow together.”

Bridging the gap

LIMRA research shows a life insurance gap as well as a retirement savings gap between men and women. The reasons for those gaps are complex, but three main factors contribute to them, said Alison Salka, LIMRA vice president and director of research.

“First, there’s a pay gap. Women earn an estimated 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, so they earn less. So they may be less able to

What are some of the misconceptions that women have about life insurance/ financial planning, and how do those thoughts keep women from seeking professional advice?

LIMRA did a qualitative study last year to learn the obstacles that prevent women from getting the life insurance they need.

Knowledge: Women believe they have less financial knowledge. Carriers and financial professionals should provide easy-to-understand information and tools that feature data specifically for women, such as the average financial value a wife/ mother contributes to a household, to explain why they require life insurance.

Confidence: Women feel intimidated by/ uncertain about financial decisions. Carriers and financial professionals can empower women with knowledge and tools that allow them to compare their coverage choices with those of their peers. This will increase their self-confidence and remove some of their hesitancy about buying the life insurance they need.

Vulnerability: Women feel vulnerable to something happening to the incomeearning spouse and are uncomfortable sharing personal information with financial professionals or insurers. Understanding and acknowledging how uncomfortable many women are when thinking about the reasons for needing life insurance can help financial professionals and companies engage more effectively and overcome a significant barrier to purchase

Treatment: Women perceive male agents as condescending and resent being treated like a child.

They fear a carrier might take advantage of their lack of knowledge/confidence. Training financial professionals on the best ways to build a trusting relationship with their women clients can help overcome women’s negative perceptions of the industry.

Source: LIMRA

COVER STORY WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BRIDGE THE GAP? 14 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023

save. In addition, women are more likely to work in jobs that don’t offer benefits such as a retirement savings plan or life insurance, which means they have to take an extra step to seek out retail solutions. And they’re more likely to take a break in their employment to take care of other people. Our research has found that when they do that, their retirement savings likely take a hit.”

LIMRA conducted a study in 2022 to examine why women are less likely than men to own life insurance.

“We found that women believe they have less financial knowledge than men do,” Salka said. “We also found women feel uncomfortable sharing personal information with financial professionals or with insurers. Women are more uncertain about making financial decisions because they believe they have less knowledge. That makes them feel more vulnerable when meeting with an advisor, and sometimes they’re afraid that someone may take advantage of that. All of these things hinder them from being

Life insurance ownership: men versus women

There are 131 million adult women in the United States. In 2022, 46% of women owned life insurance, seven points below the ownership rate of men (53%). This marks the sixth consecutive year of declines in the rate of women’s life insurance ownership.

able to have a full and good relationship with an advisor.”

Research shows women are stressed about their household finances, and the industry must take steps to help women address those concerns, Salka said.

“It starts off with understanding women’s concerns and looking at their goals. We also know that women tend to have self-professed lower levels of financial literacy. When they’re looking for financial relationships, they want to find

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Source: LIMRA

Women’s total household retirement savings

Women’s total savings in household retirement accounts was less than half of men’s ($43,000, $91,000) (estimated medians) in late 2021. Men were significantly more likely than women to have saved $250,000 or more in total household retirement accounts (32%, 21%). A worrisome 25% of women and 16% of men had saved less than $10,000 or nothing at all.

2021 total household retirement savings (%)

somebody they’re comfortable with. So what the industry has done is tried to understand the needs of women, and they’ve tried to make advice more accessible, make educational material accessible to everybody.”

LIMRA also looked at the impact of female financial advisors on female consumers.

“We saw that female financial advisors tend to do more holistic planning, and they tend to do more budget and expense management,” Salka said. “From that, we can assume that women want or need those services more and that women advisors recognize that. I think giving women access to education and advice is crucial. Not everyone wants education, but I think it always should be accessible.”

Advice = wellness

Advisors have an opportunity to serve women by being aware of women’s unique concerns, Salka said.

“One way advisors can do a better job of reaching women is to ask for referrals,” she said. “Women are more likely than

men to consult friends and family when choosing an advisor. I also would say that advisors can do a better job when they reach out to women. Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to help you invest or look at these products,’ say, ‘This is about your wellness, your overall health. You want to be financially healthy in addition to being mentally and physically healthy. The way to do that is to take care of your finances.’”

Salka said advisors should start by helping women develop a formal written plan for day-to-day issues such as budgeting, then move on to a holistic plan that would include life insurance, an annuity or an individual retirement account or other retirement plan.

The industry is making progress in recruiting women advisors, Salka said, but women’s life insurance ownership remains down.

“I think the momentum to reach women is increasing, I think the effort is there, and the interest is there. But it takes a lot to reach women in a world where they are hyperdistracted and inflation is high. How do you get women

Source: Transamerica Institute for Retirement Studies

to stop and take a minute and say, ‘I’m going to prioritize this; I’m going to meet with a professional’? It’s such a challenging environment overall.”

The rocky road to retirement

For the past 22 years, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies has looked at women’s retirement readiness. The outlook for women’s retirement prospects remains bleak, although some slow progress is being made.

Catherine Collinson is CEO and president of Transamerica Institute and TCRS. She said the risks women face in attaining retirement security have become part of the national dialogue — something that wasn’t the case 10 or 20 years ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic shone a light on women’s financial challenges and intensified the struggles that many women dealt with for years, TCRS found in its most recent study, “Emerging

COVER STORY WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BRIDGE THE GAP? 16 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023

Insufficient income to save for retirement

More than half of women (57%) agree with the statement “I don’t have enough income to save for retirement.” Twenty-seven percent of women “strongly agree,” which is significantly higher than reported by men (18%.)

“I don’t have enough income to save for retirement” (%)

from the COVID-19 Pandemic: Women’s Health, Money and Retirement Preparations.”

Many women became stretched beyond their limits, juggling paid employment with home schooling and caregiving for aging loved ones, the study said. As these unpaid family responsibilities increased during the pandemic, many women also experienced employment setbacks. Some women gave up their employment and dropped out of the workforce altogether. These factors put women further behind in saving and investing for retirement.

In addition, Collinson said, women are more likely than men to be busy with taking care of families and working in their jobs to the point where they don’t think about financial or retirement planning until a major life event hits them.

“It could be a divorce, a financial emergency, a health emergency, becoming a caregiver — any one of these things can prove to be a wake-up call and motivator for people to take charge of their situation.”

When TCRS asked women what would motivate them to become more engaged

in retirement planning, the majority said they wanted to obtain advice that is easy to understand.

“Financial services still tends to be laden with jargon and technical terms,” Collinson said. “And those types of terms don’t resonate with women the way they do with men. It’s really important for women when an advisor is able to break things down and explain them in relatable, conceptual terms. And the starting point for the discussion on saving and investing for retirement is the sum of money you will need and that you will not run out of when you are retired. That can be a bit of an overwhelming proposition for most people.”

How does the industry help more women become financially secure? Collinson said it’s crucial “to offer assistance in an empowering manner.

“When we look at women being at greater risk than men of not achieving a secure retirement, it isn’t that women are ill prepared and men are super prepared,” she said. “Women are taking steps, and they need help and assistance to mitigate their risks. But men are far from perfect

Source: Transamerica Institute for Retirement Studies

in the retirement plans. So we have to keep reminding ourselves that this is an everyone issue. It isn’t that men are good at it and women aren’t. In reality, relatively few people — women or men — are extremely good at it. Otherwise, we would not be so concerned about people achieving retirement security.

“When we approach retirement planning for women, we must be supportive, encouraging and empowering, offering guidance versus being critical of women and potentially undermining their confidence.”

Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents’ association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.

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March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 17 WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BRIDGE THE GAP? COVER STORY

Bonnie Maize offers financial planning with a progressive sheen in the heart of conservative Kansas. If those odds of success weren’t long enough, she opened Maize Financial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Maize has found her niche as the business’s two-year anniversary nears.

“I just love it,” Maize said. “It’s very important to me that just regular, working-class people can afford my fees. I have some local clients who I meet with, but I do almost all of it virtually, and I have clients across the country now.”

The work is fulfilling and fits Maize’s need for family flexibility. Maize and her husband, Will, are the parents of three boys, ages 11 to 17, two of whom are special needs.

“We’ve home-schooled them,” Maize said. “It has worked out so well because we live in a really small town that doesn’t have lots of special services. And I love it and they love it.”

Maize recently won a diversity scholarship from the Financial Planning Association. It will provide her fledgling business with several industry perks, including conference attendance and a oneyear FPA membership.

“She is really involved in financial literacy and trying to help underserved communities,” said Christopher Woods, chair of the FPA Diversity and Inclusion Committee. “Anytime I see people doing that kind of community service work, it tells me something.”

Law on the mind

A fifth-generation Kansan, Maize was raised on a farm near Manhattan. About 85% of all Kansas land remains agricultural, and the state economy relies upon it. The state generally ranks low in unemployment data and Gross Domestic Product growth. “I didn’t leave my military clients. I stretched myself and added more women and federal employees. And that’s my client base right now.

Many Kansans retain a vigorous provincial identity. The pop culture image of insular Kansan neighbors helping neighbors is not all fictional, Maize said.

“They’re all such hardworking, wonderful people, and they deserve to get help with their questions and to feel secure in

the Fıeld A Visit With Agents of Change 18 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023
BONNIE MAIZE shares how she found an ideal balance of big-city financial planning and small-town charm.

their finances, too,” she said.

After graduating Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, Maize got her law degree from Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. She married Will, “a computer geek,” and the couple settled down.

Maize never intended to practice law, she explained (“I’m too agreeable to make a good attorney.”). Instead, she advocated for farmers in the public policy arena.

“I did work in the policy arena in state government for almost two years and enjoyed it immensely,” Maize recalled, “but

get a part-time position, and plans to take the Certified Financial Planner exam in the summer of 2020 had to be postponed.

“Just like that, everything’s kind of up in the air,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what to do.”

‘My own business’

Fortified by a lifetime of challenging situations, Maize massaged her plan on the fly. She took an FPA virtual externship in the summer and passed the CFP exam in September 2020.

“By that point, I just kind of figured, ‘If I want to get started in financial planning, I’m going to have to open my own business to do it,’” she said.

Maize Financial began serving clients out of the Maize home in May 2021. With a roster of about 20 families, Maize is delivering highly personalized, neighborly, Kansas-style financial advice. Fees are low, and the focus is on the family financial building blocks, including things like health savings accounts, how much to contribute to a 401(k) plan and what types of insurances are available.

time to advance financial literacy, teaching financial literacy courses and doing pro bono work when she can.

Progressive lean

Maize is also proud to advocate for causes such as wealth equality and LGBT issues. Those progressive issues, and others endorsed by Maize on her website, are not normally associated with conservative Kansas. It is a polarity of opinion that Maize hopes to overcome by remaining true to herself.

After all, financial independence and good family budgeting are largely agnostic concepts, she noted.

“The wealth gap in the country really bothers me,” she said, “I guess because of my background. I see how hard people work and they’re still struggling, and I want them to be able to feel comfortable. I believe everyone deserves to feel financially secure.

after a change in administrations, we decided to start a family instead of me trying to find a new job.”

The family plan called for Maize to stay at home until the kids started school.

That short stay turned into 15 years while the couple raised their boys. As the years went by, Maize drifted further from the law and more toward helping people with their finances. It became a new calling, one she answered by returning to Kansas State in 2019 to earn a graduate certificate in personal financial planning.

“Eventually, it got to the point I was thinking the boys don’t need me as much,” Maize said. “I’d really like to do something professionally but still have time to take the kids to appointments and activities and stuff.”

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The plan to become a financial planner was scrambled before Maize could even get started. She couldn’t do an internship or

“They’re not high net worth clients that have needs like extensive estate planning or all this tax planning,” Maize explained. “They just have basic questions. They just want to know that they’re doing the right things and will be secure in the future.”

Maize reminds clients first and always to take care of their kids. “Even if you don’t think you have a lot of assets, enough to need a will, please have a guardianship for your kids,” she said.

Repeated studies show that financial literacy corresponds with better preparedness for all aspects of money management.

For example, a 2022 FINRA study found that respondents with higher financial literacy (scoring above the median on a seven-question financial literacy quiz) spent less than their income and set aside three months’ worth of emergency funds.

Those with higher financial literacy were also more likely to have taken steps to plan for their long-term financial future by calculating retirement savings needs and opening a retirement account.

Maize is very committed to giving back

“If you’re getting up, working hard every day, there’s no reason you should be just barely scraping by or not being able to afford your rent or mortgage. So it’s just really important to me to try and help narrow that divide.”

The combination of motherhood and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina cemented Maize’s progressive idealism. The epic Category 5 Atlantic hurricane caused 1,392 fatalities and between $97.4 billion to: and $145.5 billion in damage in late August 2005, especially in the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas.

Maize joins fellow Omni Circle volunteers at a summer Topeka event. The Financial Planning Association awards Maize its Diversity Scholarship honor.

“Seeing mothers on the news, stranded and unable to get formula to feed their babies, while I held my own sweet boy, broke something inside of me,” Maize said. “I had never really questioned the way things worked in our country before, but there was no going back after that. The initial desire to create a better world for my kids began to grow into the larger goal today of creating a better world for everyone.”

When political issues do stray into the financial planning process, Maize takes direction from her clients. Take environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. ESG took a place along the cultural divide in 2022 when the Biden administration published a Department of Labor rule recognizing that ESG factors may be relevant to the risk-return analysis of potential investments.

That rule took effect Feb. 1. On her website, Maize includes an endorsement of ESG titled “Values-based investing.” It is a tool, she stressed, that can get a client excited about investing in things that matter.

“If you get into these different issues with them and say, ‘What values do you care about? What’s important to you?’” Maize recounted, “then they just feel so much better about investing, and they get so much more engaged in the process. So that’s why I really enjoy it.”

Continued outreach

As the two-year anniversary of opening her business nears, Maize keeps her focus on the work. She now has clients nationwide, a nod to the new virtual methods that have taken root.

Maize remains active in her community and serves on the board of directors of a pair of Topeka groups: the Omni Circle Group, a professional development organization, and Capital City Equality Center, a nonprofit supporting the LGBT community.

In an industry known for being white, male and boomer age, Maize is among the wave of women and people of color taking advantage of opportunities. She won three scholarships to attend industry conferences and plans a greater involvement in debates about the future of the industry.

“That’s just really important to me — to try to help keep increasing the diversity in financial planning,” she said.


Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.

Please keep in mind that the primary reason to purchase a life insurance product is the death benefit.

Life insurance products contain fees, such as mortality and expense charges, and may contain restrictions, such as surrender periods.

Additional agreements may be available. Agreements may be subject to additional costs and restrictions. Agreements may not be available in all states or may exist under a different name in various states and may not be available in combination with other agreements.

SecureCare III may not be available in all states. Product features, including limitations and exclusions, may vary by state.

SecureCare III includes an Acceleration for Long-Term Care Agreement and an Extension of Long-Term Care Benefits Agreement. These two agreements are tax qualified long-term care agreements that cover care such as nursing care, home and community-based care, and informal care as defined in the agreements. These agreements provide for the payment of a monthly benefit for qualified long-term care services. These agreements are intended to provide federally tax qualified long-term care insurance benefits under Section 7702B of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended. However, due to uncertainty in the tax law, benefits paid under these agreements may be taxable. Please ensure that your clients consult a tax advisor regarding long-term care benefit payments, or when taking a loan or withdrawal from a life insurance contract.

The death proceeds will be reduced by a long-term care or terminal illness benefit payment under this policy.

The return of premium options affect the amount available upon full surrender of the policy. This amount varies based on the return of premium option selected in the application, and premiums paid at the time of surrender. Please ensure that your clients consult with a financial professional regarding return of premium options.

These materials are for informational and educational purposes only and are not designed, or intended, to be applicable to any person’s individual circumstances. It should not be considered investment advice, nor does it constitute a recommendation that anyone engage in (or refrain from) a particular course of action. Securian Financial Group, and its subsidiaries, have a financial interest in the sale of their products.

The purpose of this material is the solicitation of insurance. An insurance agent or company may contact you.

Policy form numbers: ICC20-20212, 20-20212 and any state variations; ICC21-20220, 21-20220 and any state variations; ICC21-20221, 21-20221 and any state variations.

Insurance products are issued by Minnesota Life Insurance Company in all states except New York. In New York, products are issued by Securian Life Insurance Company, a New York authorized insurer. Minnesota Life is not an authorized New York insurer and does not do insurance business in New York. Both companies are headquartered in St. Paul, MN. Product availability and features may vary by state. Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies or contracts it issues.

Securian Financial is the marketing name for Securian Financial Group, Inc., and its subsidiaries. Minnesota Life Insurance Company and Securian Life Insurance Company are subsidiaries of Securian Financial Group, Inc.

For financial professional use only. Not for use with the public. This material may not be reproduced in any way where it would be accessible to the general public.

400 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55101-2098

©2021 Securian Financial Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

20 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023
A Visit With Agents of Change
F95989-4 10-2021 DOFU 10-2021 ICC21-1694726
Maize poses with attendees at a National Association of Personal Financial Advisors event.
March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 21 INSURANCE INVESTMENTS RETIREMENT Insurance products issued by: MINNESOTA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY Give your LTC clients a benefit boost We heard you. And built the product you want: SecureCare™ III, a hybrid longterm care (LTC) plan built on a whole life insurance policy. It has all the things you love about its predecessor — a cash indemnity benefit for LTC with no fine print or restrictions — plus more flexibility. Now clients can choose the protection that matters most to them: • Maximize protection on their premium dollars with full return of premium OR • Maximize leverage on their premium dollars with LTC Boost Learn more Call 1-888-900-1962 to get started.

4 in 10 consumers shop online or on app

One-third of consumers do not have a life insurance policy. The top reason given was they don’t believe they need one.

SOURCE: TransUnion

Most consumers still buy life insurance through an agent, but a sizable percentage are going online or to an app to shop for coverage, a TransUnion survey showed.

While the TransUnion survey aligned with the industry trend toward digitalization across all segments, it also underscored that life insurers generally were slow to adopt technology innovation. Mark McElroy, executive vice president and head of TransUnion’s insurance business, pointed to statistics from the Insurance Information Institute that show more than 65% of personal lines policies were sold direct in 2021, while only 6% of life policies were.

However, he said, TransUnion’s survey found 41% of consumers received a life quote online. The increase is likely partly due to companies streamlining what previously was a cumbersome underwriting process, in which applicants typically had to submit to blood draws, physical exams and other in-person procedures to obtain a basic quote. More insurers now access data sources that include medical scores and credit-based scores, which speeds up underwriting and eliminates home and office visits and invasive testing.


The West Virginia House of Delegates advanced a bill to exempt life insurance payouts from being taken during bankruptcy proceedings. The bill goes to the state Senate for approval.

The bill would exempt from bankruptcy any unmatured life insurance policy owned by the debtor, other than a credit life insurance contract. Existing state law exempts only the first $8,000 of a payout from a contract owned by the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependent. Delegate Steve Westfall, R-Jackson, a State Farm Insurance agent, is the lead sponsor of the bill. He said 34 other states have similar laws.

The bill also would protect all life insurance proceeds paid to the debtor as a beneficiary, as well as any annuities owned by the debtor, including those payable to someone else.


Death can cost a family, not only in terms


of emotions but in terms of dollars and cents. Empathy, a platform helping families navigate the journey they face after the loss of a loved one, released its annual report “The Cost of Dying,” which showed the emotional, logistical and financial challenges of bereavement for the family of the deceased.

Among the findings:

• It takes families an average of 12.5 months to resolve all financial matters after a loss, and they spend a median of 12 hours per week on these tasks.

• The average total expense of handling financial matters is $4,384, including accountants’ fees and paying off bills, while the average family spent $4,967 on legal matters.

• Dealing with the house is a responsibility for a sizable number of families: 47% of estates included a house or other real estate. Making house-related

arrangements takes a long time: The families who were surveyed required an average of 15 months to settle them all.

• Nearly one in four insurers expect more than 25% of their portfolio to be invested in private assets in two years.

• One in three said their firm will likely make its first allocations to private assets in the next two years.

SOURCE: Conning


U.S. insurers are expected to increase their risk tolerance and grow portfolio allocations to private assets amid their concerns about higher market volatility and inflation, according to a new Conning survey of U.S. life insurers. The survey also captured insurers’ latest thinking on environmental, social and governance principles.

Overall, the findings suggest risk management and sustainability continue to grow in both importance and complexity among insurers. Most acknowledged they face a learning curve when it comes to their risk-management and ESG investing processes.

Investment return was one of the top two overall business concerns among respondents in 2022, on par with cybersecurity. When asked what their investment focus would be in 2023, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they expect an increase in risk tolerance.

SOURCE: Allianz Life

22 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 LIFE WIRES
The industry has improved its ability to give quotes in a timelier manner, including via online quotes.
— Mark McElroy, executive vice president, TransUnion
50% of those without life insurance worry about finding financial products that provide access to funds while allowing money to accumulate.

The Spectrum Financial Group ascended to the top of Kansas City Life Insurance Company by winning the Agency Building Award (ABA) for 2022 and the second year in a row. The agency also achieved the ABA in 2021 and an ABA Honorable Mention in 2010.

Pictured from left: General Agent Dennis Parrish, President, CEO, and Vice Chairman of the Board Web Bixby, and Agent Alex Parrish.

2022 Agency Building Award winner

The Agency Building Award is Kansas City Life Insurance Company’s most prestigious agency honor, bestowed only to agencies that embody the spirit of entrepreneurship, growth, and building for the future.

Life is better here. SM
– General Agent Dennis Parrish, CLU The Spectrum Financial Group CONTACT DENNIS PARRISH, CLU 317 846 2100 The Spectrum Financial Group 9000 Keystone Crossing, Ste. 620 Indianapolis, IN 46240
“I know Kansas City Life will be there for me.
Company truly wants to help us be the best that we can be.”

Expand your toolbox with cash value life insurance

Cash value life insurance can be used as an asset in a diversified investment strategy or as a hedge in an investment plan.

While the market may only do three things in a given day (go up, go down, remain flat), recently it seems that the ups and downs are more extreme and occurring more frequently.

Because this is today’s investment reality, no longer should we use traditional asset classes and allocation strategies alone to reduce risk. Nor should we continue to rely solely on traditional investment products and planning strategies created during different times when constructing investment portfolios and developing planning strategies today. We must be more creative and evolve with the times.

To paraphrase David McKnight, people really do not want to save or invest more money; they want to be smarter about the money they are saving and investing. So, as we evolve, how can we be more creative when implementing savings and investment strategies that will work over time and are more efficient with planning dollars?

The answer is simple: Expand your toolbox. How, you ask? Simply consider a tool that has been available for centuries that is now being used as a “new” alternative investment in today’s new world. This tool’s general features include:

» Most favored asset class status in the IRS Tax Code.

» Tax-deferred growth and tax-free income distributions for any reason.

» Liquidity without penalty before and after age 59 ½.

» No traditional qualified plan funding limitations.

» No required minimum distributions.

» Distributions are not included in IRS provisional income calculation to determine whether Social Security income is taxable.

» Cash value and distributions are not considered in college financial aid calculations.

» Professional and institutional investment management.

» Leveraged asset transfer efficiency, unlike other assets.

» Can be a “no work and no worry” proposition with guarantees.

So, what is this “new” investment alternative that has been around for so long? Ready? Answer: cash value life insurance. Yeah, I know: letdown, right? Hold on! Keep reading.

You see, as the investment world has grown and evolved over time, so has the life insurance industry. Today’s cash value life insurance products offer all features mentioned above and more. Furthermore, every one of these features is a benefit that any and every saver or investor wants.

Additionally, life insurance eliminates potential investment liquidity at death,

preserving investment portfolios. Cash value life insurance also can be used as an asset in a diversified investment strategy or as a hedge in an investment plan. Today’s cash value life insurance can be designed to offer guaranteed interest, fixed-income-like returns with guarantees, market index indices return with guarantees and complete equity market upside potential like other traditional investments.

Furthermore, in addition to providing attractive competitive returns, tax-free growth, tax-free income, and access to cash for purchases, expenses, emergencies, opportunities, and things like college funding and retirement, cash value life insurance may also be designed to provide living benefits for things such as terminal and chronic illness.

Today’s life insurance products can allow for death benefit acceleration under certain circumstances while the policy owner is living. General life situations where death benefit acceleration may be helpful include the following.

Critical illness: A sudden acute medical condition or event. Examples of qualifying conditions include major heart attack, coronary artery bypass, stroke, invasive and blood cancers, major organ transplant, end-stage renal failure, paralysis, coma, and severe burns. Conditions vary by carrier and state.

Chronic/cognitive illness: Doctorverified inability to perform two out of six activities of daily living, requiring assistance or supervision for severe

24 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 LIFE

Look closer at the most common cash value life insurance products

• Universal life: Offers short-term interest rate yield with a minimum contractual guarantee and no cash value downside risk as long as required premiums are paid.

• Guaranteed whole life: Offers contractual guaranteed interest typically higher than short-term interest rates without traditional equity market correlation — no cash value downside risk.

• Participating whole life: Offers contractual guaranteed minimum compounding yield and potential for nonguaranteed dividends that, when paid, combine to offer fixed-income-like yield without traditional equity market correlation and with no cash value downside risk.

• Indexed universal life: Offers specific correlated index-like yield with a downside floor and a capped or an uncapped upside. Market segment premiums are 100% exposed to index indices performance within floor and cap parameters, but cash value has no equity market downside risk.

• Variable universal life: Offers direct correlation to equity market yield based on underlying separate account investment options. Cash value is always 100% exposed to market upside and downside risk. This product is registered as a security.

cognitive impairment. Those activities of daily living include walking, bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring. (Note: Some carriers do not require permanent diagnoses.)

Terminal illness: A physician-diagnosed medical condition that is expected to result in the death of the insured within a specified period of time, usually 12-24 months.

The following may apply to each or all of the benefits described above and vary by carrier:

» These benefits are typically available as a part of the policy contract and or may be offered as a rider on a contract.

» These benefits usually have a minimum and may allow for a percentage up to the full death benefit amount to be accelerated as long as the insured qualifies as stipulated in the policy and/or rider. However, many carriers cap the amount available below the full death benefit.

» These benefits may be offered at no cost at policy issue but charge a fee (fixed or formula) at time of access or may charge a premium in addition to the cost of the base policy.

» Electing to accelerate any amount of death benefit will reduce the amount a beneficiary receives upon the insured’s death.

» Chronic illness riders may or may not have an elimination period and may or may not be indemnity benefits.

» Qualified accelerated benefits that are received generally will not be subject to taxation under Section 101(g) of the

Internal Revenue Code. However, receiving an accelerated benefit may affect the recipient’s rights to receive certain public funds, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. As with all taxable matters, clients should consult with a tax advisor to determine the tax consequences prior to electing to receive benefits.

Another life situation is disability. Although this does not trigger death benefit acceleration, many carriers offer a disability rider for an additional premium that pays the policy premiums, as stipulated in the rider, if the policy owner becomes disabled. This allows the policy owner to keep their life insurance death benefit and cash value without having to pay premiums while disabled.

The world and the economy continue to evolve, forcing the financial services and insurance industries to evolve to meet the demands of our new world. Your toolbox must expand to meet your prospects’ and clients’ holistic planning needs while you help them become smarter about how they plan and save and invest their money. Now is the time to add cash value life insurance to your planning toolbox if you haven’t done so already. Jeff Snyder is executive vice president of business development and insurance with Gateway Financial Advisors. He may be contacted at

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Annuity sales soar to new heights

Americans certainly loved annuities in 2022 — to the tune of $310.6 billion, a 22% increase from 2021 results and 17% higher than the record set in 2008, according to preliminary results from LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, total annuity sales were $87.2 billion, a 39% increase from the fourth quarter of 2021. It marked the third consecutive quarter in which annuity sales set a new record.

Fixed annuities led the way, as investors craved safety amid economic calamity.

Total fixed-rate deferred annuity sales were $37.5 billion in the fourth quarter, 241% higher than fourth quarter 2021 sales. It was the best sales quarter for fixed-rate deferred annuities ever documented. In 2022, fixed-rate deferred annuities totaled $112.1 billion, more than double (111%) the sales in 2021

Fixed indexed annuity sales also had a record quarter and year. In the fourth quarter, FIA sales were $21.9 billion, a 32% increase from the prior year. For the year, FIA sales were $79.4 billion, up 25% from 2021 and 8% higher than the record set in 2019.


Many Americans are feeling a financial pinch after a difficult 2022. One in three Americans say they are struggling to get by or are in trouble financially, according to Lincoln Financial Group’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker.

The study also found that people aren’t necessarily seeing any relief in sight, with 76% believing factors like inflation, market volatility and debt will worsen. Bu the news is not all bad, however.

Those who had specific financial goals last year were two to three times more likely to say various aspects of their personal finances improved. They were also three times more likely to say they did a great job on their overall financial wellness last year and twice as likely to be optimistic about their finances in 2023. So where should consumers start in creating and reaching their own financial goals?

“Lincoln’s research underscores the importance of taking a definitive approach,” said Ed Walters, senior vice president, Lincoln Financial Network,


the wealth management arm of Lincoln Financial Group. “While financial goals don’t need to be complicated, you should be able to easily track and monitor your progress.”


Annuity sellers might want to target a sales message to women after a new Nationwide Retirement Institute survey of retirement plan participants.

Inflation mostly has unnerved women to a greater degree than men when it comes to retirement planning, the survey found. According to the study, 62% of women, compared to just 47% of men, either expect to retire later than originally planned or don’t believe they will ever be able to retire because of inflation.

This is a significant jump from the 2021 survey results that showed only one in four women — or 25% — expected to postpone or cancel retirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Women are more likely to feel less prepared because of the time they might have been out of the job market and not contributing to a retirement plan,” said Amelia Dunlap, vice president of Retirement Solutions Marketing for Nationwide.


Natural human pessimism about mortality is usually seen as a high hurdle in an annuity sale, but a more positive outlook has less impact than raising the objective facts about longevity, according to a recent study.

Researchers were taking a crack at the “annuity puzzle” that has vexed the insurance industry since annuities were invented — why, if people prefer having a regular pension payout, do they not buy an annuity, essentially a private pension, with their retirement funds?

The authors of the Boston College Center for Retirement Research study

“What Matters for Annuity Demand: Objective Life Expectancy or Subjective Survival Pessimism?” used data from a University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study.

It turns out that we earn our optimism rather than sink into pessimism as we age. People are darker about their longevity between ages 55 and 70 and brighter between 70 and 85.

The authors’ analysis suggested that the assumption that pessimism is the key hurdle for purchase of annuities and the amount to annuitize might be overestimated and that an objective life expectancy might be more important.

26 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023
Our forecast suggests that protection products will continue to boost growth in the annuity market for the next several years.
— Todd Giesing, assistant vice president, LIMRA Annuity Research
Source: The University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study
TOTAL ANNUITY SALES (in $ billions) 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 $233.7 $241.7 $219.0 $254.6 $310.6
A one-year rise in objective life expectancy increased the probability of holding an annuity by 0.20 percentage points.
LIMRA Fact Tank

Using a SPIA to protect an IRA in Medicaid planning

Medicaid applicants can protect their countable individual retirement account by transferring it to a Medicaid-compliant annuity.

The population is growing older, and Americans are living longer. This means a further increase in the need for long-term care over the coming decades. In fact, 56% of the U.S. population turning 65 today is expected to require long-term care at some point, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But this care will come at a staggering cost. By 2029, 54% of older Americans will not have enough financial resources to pay for long-term care, Health Affairs reports, leaving many individuals and their loved ones seeking a solution to cover these costs and protect their nest egg. As the demand for long-term care increases, financial professionals have a unique opportunity to provide life-changing solutions to older adults and families who are experiencing a long-term care crisis.

Medicaid and long-term care

Older Americans who have not planned for long-term care or who have exhausted their Medicare or long-term care insurance benefits may seek Medicaid eligibility to cover their care costs. Medicaid provides health coverage for a variety of individuals with limited resources and income, including those who are aged, blind or disabled.

To qualify for Medicaid, applicants must meet strict nonfinancial and financial requirements. To meet the nonfinancial qualifications, the applicant must be 65 years of age or older, blind or disabled; be a U.S. citizen or qualified noncitizen; and reside in a Medicaid-approved facility. The financial qualifications for Medicaid are much more complex, and they differ

depending on the applicant’s marital status, state of residence and other criteria.

The applicant’s income typically must be less than the private pay rate of the care facility in which they reside. After the applicant qualifies, their income is used to pay the Medicaid copay to the nursing home. In cases involving a married couple, the spouse at home, also known as the community spouse, is not subject to any income limitations when determining Medicaid eligibility. Instead, if the community spouse has income below a certain threshold, known as the Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance, they may be eligible to receive income shifted from the institutionalized spouse. The MMNA varies by state but is generally between $2,288 and $3,715 as of Jan. 1, 2023.

To meet Medicaid’s asset requirements, the institutionalized individual typically can keep $2,000 in countable assets. The community spouse can retain a separate amount known as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. The CSRA varies by state and is generally between $29,724 and $148,620 as of Jan. 1, 2023. In order for the applicant to qualify for Medicaid benefits, they must first spend down any countable assets exceeding these limitations.

Common countable assets include checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, additional real estate and property beyond the primary home, and additional vehicles beyond the primary vehicle. Separate from countable resources, applicants and their spouses can retain certain assets that are exempt from Medicaid’s consideration.

Common exempt assets include the primary residence, one vehicle, household furnishings and appliances, personal effects and clothing, and life insurance policies and funeral trusts below a state-specific limit. The primary residence is considered exempt unless the Medicaid applicant’s equity in the home exceeds a state-specific limit,

which is between $688,000 and $1,033,000 as of Jan. 1, 2023.

Planning with individual retirement accounts

Common assets notably missing from the lists of countable and exempt assets are retirement accounts. Although retirement accounts come in many forms, for the purposes of this article, the term “IRA” refers to all applicable retirement accounts.

When it comes to determining Medicaid eligibility, states treat IRAs differently. Some states consider IRAs belonging to either spouse to be exempt. Some states view IRAs owned by the community spouse as exempt, and some consider IRAs to be exempt only if the account owner is taking the required minimum distributions. Most states, however, treat IRAs as countable and view the entire account as a resource available.

Like other countable assets, if an IRA is considered countable, it must be spent down before the applicant can qualify for Medicaid. However, liquidating an IRA can result in hefty tax consequences for the account owner. However, an IRA can be transferred to a tax-qualified single-premium immediate annuity that meets specific requirements deeming the contract Medicaid compliant.

Transferring an IRA to a Medicaidcompliant annuity

To eliminate a countable IRA, the applicant can transfer the account to a Medicaidcompliant annuity, which is a SPIA that converts excess assets into an income stream with zero cash value. The MCA is a useful tool used in crisis planning to help Medicaid applicants spend down their excess countable resources. To be Medicaid compliant in most cases, the annuity must be irrevocable, nonassignable and actuarially sound. It must make equal monthly payments and name the state Medicaid agency as a beneficiary.

The state Medicaid agency must

28 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 ANNUITY

typically be named the primary beneficiary to the extent of benefits provided on behalf of the institutionalized individual. However, exceptions exist in certain states and in certain cases involving a married couple or a minor or disabled child. In these instances, the state must be named contingent beneficiary.

Instead of incurring immediate tax consequences from liquidating an IRA, transferring it to an MCA spreads the tax consequences over the term of the annuity, since the account owner is taxed as payments are made within each calendar year. An IRA can be transferred to an IRA-MCA with either a 60-day rollover or a trustee-to-trustee transfer.

Depending on which spouse owns the IRA, they may benefit from a different crisis planning strategy. Since ownership of an IRA cannot be transferred, the IRA-MCA must be owned by the owner of the IRA. If the community spouse owns the IRA, they can transfer the account to an IRA-MCA, and the income received from the payments

will not be considered by the Medicaid agency when determining eligibility. However, if the institutionalized spouse owns the IRA, the monthly payments from the IRA-MCA cannot exceed their income limitation. Plus, the payments may be used to pay the monthly Medicaid copay to the nursing home.

In these cases, if the community spouse has income that is low enough, they may be eligible for an income shift from the institutionalized spouse based on the MMNA rules. That way, a portion or all of the IRAMCA income will be shifted to the community spouse.

If the community spouse does not qualify for a MMNA transfer, however, the couple may benefit from the name on the check rule. This strategy is based on the Medicaid stipulation regarding who income is attributed to — the person whose name is on the check. With this strategy, the institutionalized spouse remains the owner of the IRA-MCA, but the community spouse is designated as payee and, therefore, will

receive the monthly payments from the annuity. Although the name on the check rule is an excellent strategy in many states, it has not been universally accepted nationwide; therefore, it may not be viable in certain jurisdictions.

As more older Americans seek help from agents and advisors to protect their life savings in the face of long-term care, financial professionals should be prepared to help their clients, especially when those clients have tricky assets such as IRAs to consider. Medicaid applicants can protect their countable IRA by transferring it to a Medicaid-compliant annuity, allowing them to avoid the immediate tax consequences of liquidation. This way, seniors can accelerate their eligibility for Medicaid benefits without losing their assets first.

Dale Krause, J.D., LL.M., is founder, president and CEO of The Krause Agency in DePere, Wis. He may be contacted at dale.krause@

March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 29 USING A SPIA TO PROTECT AN IRA IN MEDICAID PLANNING ANNUITY © 2023 American Equity. All Rights Reserved. American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company® does not offer legal, investment, or tax advice. Each client has specific needs which should be discussed with a qualified legal or tax advisor. 6000 Westown Pkwy, West Des Moines, IA 50266 ● Call us at 888-221-1234 01AD-INN-HMAG0323 03.01.23 AMERICAN EQUITY INVESTMENT LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY TM ® *For J.D. Power 2022 award information, visit Experience our service in action. Call 888-647-1371 IN CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AMONG ANNUITY PROVIDERS*

Amazon launches prescription drug subscription service

Amazon’s footprint in the health care business will become even bigger now that the e-commerce giant has added a prescription drug discount program. RxPass is a subscription service for customers who have Prime memberships. Those who have RxPass will pay $5 a month to fill as many prescriptions as they need from a roster of about 50 generic medications.

The program doesn’t use insurance, and those who have Medicaid or Medicare coverage are not eligible for it. RxPass will be available in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

Amazon already operates an online pharmacy and is seeking to acquire the primary care organization One Medical for $3.9 billion, pending the outcome of a Federal Trade Commission investigation. In November, Amazon said it would begin offering Amazon Clinic, a messaging service that connects patients with doctors to discuss a number of common medical conditions.


Health outcomes in the U.S. lag those in most other high-income nations, even though the U.S. spends two to four times more on care, a Commonwealth Fund study found. The Commonwealth Fund compared health care spending and out comes, health status, and health care usage in the U.S. with those of 12 other high-income nations and the average for all 38 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development members.

Among the study findings:

1. The U.S. has the lowest life expectancy at 77 years compared to the average of 80 years for other wealthy nations.

2. The U.S. has the highest rates of avoidable deaths from causes such as diabetes, hypertensive disease and certain cancers.

3. The U.S. has the highest COVID-19 death rate among high-income countries, at 3,000 deaths in every 1 million cases between Jan. 22, 2020, and Jan. 18, 2023.

4. U.S. infant and maternal deaths occur at more than triple the rate in most other high-income countries.


delayed by the prior authorization process.


Despite health care expenditures increasing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, average HSA balances increased during 2021. In addition, the majority of accountholders contributed more than they withdrew, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Among EBRI’s findings:

Medicare Advantage plans

vices in whole or in part in 2021. That’s about 6% of the 35 million requests submitted on behalf of enrollees that year, a KFF analysis found.

Only about 11% of denials of prior authorization requests were appealed, the analysis finds. However, of the appeals that were filed, the vast majority (82%) resulted in fully or partially overturning the initial denial.

The KFF study said the high rate of successful appeals raises questions about whether a larger share of the initial prior authorization requests should have been approved. Alternatively, it could reflect problems with documentation that were subsequently rectified during the appeal. In either case, medical care ordered by physicians or other practitioners ulti mately deemed necessary by the insurers was potentially

» Accounts that received an employer contribution saw higher total contributions. However, accountholders who received that employer contribution were more likely to take more frequent and larger distributions.

» Most accountholders took a distribution in 2021. More than half of HSAs in the EBRI database saw a distribution in 2021, and the average distribution was $1,786.

» Older accountholders tended to have higher average contributions and higher average balances than younger

SOURCE: Elevance Health

30 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 HEALTH/BENEFITS
Elevance Health said it has agreed to buy Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana for an undisclosed amount.
We acknowledge that [the Medicaid unwinding] is going to be a bumpy road.
— California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly

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Traditional Carriers

Can employee benefits provide a solution for long-term care?

Your employer clients have several tools to help their workers plan for long-term care.

We’re living in what many are calling a “care crisis.”

If you’re a benefits broker, you know exactly what I’m talking about: the discussion around long-term care. Over the past few years, demographic, legislative and economic factors have come together to force tough conversations among clients, brokers and financial consultants.

What’s contributing to this care crisis? The increasing costs of long-term care, for one thing. But also, the increased likelihood that people will need long-term care. Some states (notably the state of Washington) already have considered legislative action to address this issue. That’s how serious it is right now.

This crisis also is driven by population trends. If you looked at the U.S. population by age, it would probably look like a pyramid. Young people at the bottom, fewer older people at the top. However, things are shifting. Now the older generation is much

larger — and that phenomenon will continue in the years ahead.


For starters, baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are entering their senior years.

And younger people aren’t having as many kids. In 1965, families on average had 2.44 children. In 2020, that number had fallen to only 1.93.

On top of that, medical advances have helped extend life expectancies. In 1960, the average life expectancy was just under 70 years. In 2022, it’s 77 years.

Each one of those shifts is significant. Combined, they play a huge role in this emerging care crisis.

The challenges of standalone long-term care plans

Those population shifts I just mentioned highlight an issue that already was surging. For years, insurance companies sold individual long-term care policies that relied on a number of assumptions that never happened. For example, cancelation rates were much lower than expected, medical costs escalated, mortality decreased, and people have been able to live longer with more

severe disease and illness than was the case a couple of decades ago.

As a result, insurance companies:

» Underestimated how many policyholders would make claims.

» Underestimated how long those policyholders would need care.

» Overestimated investment returns — they have typically been as little as half of what was projected.

So, insurance companies are now asking state regulators for support. In some instances, they’re winning large premium increases.

Other states are considering legislation as a way to address the issue of care for citizens who end up on Medicaid to receive long-term care. This is a significant and growing cost for state budgets. Washington state’s WA Cares Act, which established a long-term care insurance benefit for all eligible workers to address the future longterm care crisis, provides a blueprint. But looking ahead, pending legislation in other states could be different, leaving employers and their workers to solve the challenge.

32 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 HEALTH/BENEFITS

Hybrid solutions present a viable alternative

We’re all starting to see that standalone long-term care coverage may not be the best solution for many people. It’s often positioned as a “use it or lose it” proposition, which can incentivize lower voluntary lapse rates and higher usage. On the flip side, hybrid products can have lower long-term care incidence.

Hybrid products, on the other hand, combine life insurance and long-term care benefits. Employees would purchase life insurance coverage that includes the ability to advance part of the death benefit for care needs. Based on what we’re hearing so far, this seems to be much more helpful and practical for employees for a few big reasons.

First: it ensures the use of the benefits. The employee will either end up using the benefits for long-term care, for a terminal illness or for a death benefit.

Second, it’s attractive for younger employees too. In this model, the younger you are when you purchase coverage, the lower your premiums and the greater amount of life and long-term care coverage you can afford.

Third , hybrid products can include benefits for family caregivers as well as for professional care — a huge perk for many employees who may need or want care at home.

The design of these hybrid policies is also quite different from current standalone products. In some cases, the benefits can be structured as a fixed indemnity and pay out a specific amount, regardless of the expenses incurred by the policyholder. Translation: Employers don’t have to worry about the trend of increasing costs of long-term care services.

No easy answers, but conversations worth having

Your employer clients are hearing and seeing pressure from both sides of this issue. On one hand, employees and loved ones receiving care face increased financial stress due to the increased costs of care, lingering health issues if they can’t afford proper care, and increased distractions due to managing bills and changes at home.

On the other hand, employees who are providing care face significant emotional stress in addition to the time and energy


• 70% of adults over age 65 will develop severe long-term needs before they die, but only 48% will receive paid care.

• Only about 7% of Americans own a private long-term care policy.

• High care costs quickly exhaust personal savings and force a spend down to poverty levels to qualify for Medicaid.

• Unpaid care often is left to family members, who face significant financial and emotional burdens.

• 41 million caregivers provide an estimated 43 billion care hours each year. This equals an estimated $470 billion in economic impact.

• 60% of caregivers are employed, 40% of them full time.

• Caregivers spend an average of $7,000 on out-of-pocket expenses related to care.

that providing care requires. As a result, these employees frequently miss time at work and, in some cases, are leaving the workforce entirely.

But employers have tools to help. Retirement savings/401(k)s, health savings accounts and standalone long-term care insurance all can help employees finance their own care. Employee assistance programs can help too. Your employer clients can direct their workers to care planning tools and strategies or provide them with access to tools that can help them manage complex aspects of care.

There are no easy answers and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But the

time is right to have these conversations and explore new hybrid plans that combine life insurance with long-term care benefits.

This care crisis we’re in right now is not going away. Employers and employees alike must be educated and presented with solutions that can help address this very real risk — one that will impact the majority of American families.

Frank Morang is a regional sales manager at Trustmark Voluntary Benefits. He may be contacted at

March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 33
Source: National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Limited and Extended Care Planning Center

How advisors can help women achieve greater financial security

Recent surveys have shown that women not only are less financially secure than many other demographic groups, but they also tend to be a parent caregiver, further adding to financial stress. So what can advisors do about this? Asalyn Coachman of Financial Architects advisors need to educate women on their longer life expectancy compared with that of men and the financial implication of living longer. Some steps include:

1. Estate planning should be done and reviewed regularly. Women must have powers of attorney for their financial and health care decisions, in addition to a will and possibly a trust.

2. Financial security is defined differently for each woman; advisors need to take time to ask questions to be clear on her goals.

3. Teach women the difference between savings and investing. Set up and contribute to a savings account with periodic payments to themselves to grow a personal reserve fund.

4. Women must protect their credit scores.

‘Use your words’ when communicating about retirement

While there is no best single way to effectively speak to Americans about retirement, the language used in retirement communications is often a more dependable way to communicate than imagery is, according to research by Capital Group.

“This research makes clear that both the language and imagery we use in retirement communications do matter in making an impact on people and inspiring them to take action,” said Toni Brown, head of retirement strategy at Capital Group.

The audience’s age, for example, strongly influences preferences for both written messages and imagery. Smarter/better messages — for example phrases like “saving smarter for retirement” — appeal the most to Gen X investors who want to know that their money is working for them to the greatest extent possible. On the other hand, boomers can find such language patronizing or condescending.

DEI efforts of financial firms yield mixed results

Two employment trends are running concurrently in financial services: intense competition for talent and an industrywide push for diversity, said Chip Roame, founder and managing partner of Tiburon Strategic Advisors.

Industry efforts to recruit women and people of color are returning immediate and rather dra-

Little to fear for some from taking


Mass affluent clients who have the bulk of their financial wealth in tax-deferred accounts such as individual retirement accounts must take substantial required minimum distributions when they turn age 73.

Some clients may dread the prospect of having to pay taxes on these distributions. But a professor and author said advisors must reassure these clients that there is little to fear from RMDs. Edward McQuarrie, professor emeritus in the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara (Calif.) University, said RMDs are highly unlikely to exhaust a client’s savings during their lifetime.

The required amount to be withdrawn glides upward slowly at first, he explained. The withdrawal percentage doesn’t hit 10% until the account holder is in their mid-90s; even when they reach age 100, the withdrawal percentage is about 16%.

Clients also can donate their RMDs to charity, making a qualified charitable distribution to reduce their taxable income. A client who does not want to donate their RMDs to charity can take the RMD and invest the after-tax remainder, McQuarrie said.

matic results, according to data Roame shared. Women, in particular, are breaking through. From the advisor role all the way to the CEO chair, the number of women in these positions is up sharply.

Likewise, 58% of the total employees in wealth or investment management are either minorities or women, but the vast majority of this group comprise administrative, analyst and associate roles.

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A tool that can be part of an effective business exit strategy


The aim for most entrepreneurs who want to sell their business is to develop an exit plan on their own terms. They want to maximize value (or realize their desired value) and close the deal in the most tax-efficient manner. One way to help them accomplish this is by using a Nevada Incomplete Gift NonGrantor Trust.

A Nevada Incomplete Gift NonGrantor Trust is an irrevocable trust designed to reduce or eliminate potential state income taxes and capital gains taxes upon the sale of a business. Additionally, these trusts offer excellent asset protection for sellers. NINGs are typically used by business owners living in high-income-tax states who seek to minimize or eliminate their state income taxes. The NING exists as a form of tax arbitrage to save business owners the cost of state income and federal gift taxes but still permits future asset control by the settlor.

Preliminary planning for the sale of a closely held business

In an ideal situation, the planning process of selling a closely held business should be done a few years prior to the actual sale to maximize the advantage of the NING. Business owners eager to get to their “number” hastily engage a business broker or investment banker, who then levies heavy percentage fees for aiding in the sale. I believe it’s important to have owners engage competent tax and legal professionals first, as presale planning is critical. Planning should take place prior to engaging a broker, drafting a letter of intent, or starting negotiations with a potential buyer.

The team

A CPA, an attorney and an investment banker are core advisors in business sales. The CPA typically has regular contact with the business, has reviewed or prepared the financials, and understands the business structure as well as its operations. The sale of a closely held company will require a few attorneys with different areas of specialization: a corporate/transactional attorney to structure and execute the transaction documents as well as an income tax attorney plus an estate planning attorney to minimize the seller’s income tax liability.

The owner of a closely held business usually has an accountant and an attorney, but it’s unlikely the owner has worked with an investment banker, business appraiser, or broker. For larger family businesses, choosing the right investment banker, after consultation with counsel, can be critical to maximizing the business sale price.

What is a NING Trust?

A Nevada Incomplete Gift Non-Grantor Trust is an irrevocable trust designed to reduce or eliminate the potential state income tax for high-income earners or on a significant capital gain incurred on the sale of an asset for business owners who live in a high-income-tax state. An irrevocable trust is a trust in which the assets placed are no longer owned by the grantor (business owner or seller). The trust has a separate tax ID number and is the entity that pays the income taxes. The trust is considered to be the owner of the assets. The proceeds or profits generated from any assets held in the trust are not taxable at the state level.

For example, Sally Founder owns a $5,000,000 investment portfolio that produces $600,000 of interest, dividends and capital gains per year. Assume that Sally’s home state has a 12.3% income tax rate but would not tax income

36 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023
a Nevada incomplete gift nongrantor trust can help those who want to sell their business maximize value in a tax-efficient manner.

from a trust created by Sally in Nevada. By transferring the investment portfolio to a Nevada Incomplete Non-Grantor Trust and by satisfying certain other technical requirements in the trust document, Sally could save $73,800 per year in state income tax (0.123 x $600,000). If Sally could reinvest the savings at 10%, Sally’s initial savings if reinvested would increase by $496,489 over a 20year period. This amount increases as additional annual state tax savings are factored into the equation. Larger tax savings might also be achieved by taxpayers holding assets with large capital gains on low-basis assets.

Trust structure

Transactions using a NING should be structured carefully to satisfy the following requirements:

1. The trust must be established in a state that does not tax trust income.

2. The income from the trust must not be taxable by the founder’s (grantor’s) home state.

3. The trust must allow discretionary distributions to the grantor without making the trust a grantor trust.

4. Transfers into the trust must be incomplete gifts for federal gift tax purposes without having the trust become a grantor trust.

As noted previously, NING trusts are largely supported by a series of private letter rulings issued by the IRS. In order to use a NING, there are three critical points to consider.

First, any potential state tax reduction only applies to investment incomeproducing assets. It generally does not apply to compensation, to income from a trade or business, or to rents, royalties, or gains derived from ownership of tangible property. The second point is that the individual owner of the income-producing asset must transfer it into a special trust well in advance of any liquidation event. Third, that trust must be administered in Nevada (or a suitable state that has no income taxes and permits self-settled trusts).

1. Trust must be located in a state that doesn’t tax trust income

The incomplete gift non-grantor trust must be established in a state that: (1) will not tax trust income, (2) has a domestic

asset protection trust statute, and (3) permits the settlor to retain a lifetime and testamentary nongeneral power of appointment. States that permit incomplete gift non-grantor trusts include Alaska, Delaware, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota and Wyoming. It is important for a settlor to consider if their home state will deem the trust to be a resident trust.

For example, under California law, a trust is taxed on the income from intangible investment assets if a fiduciary (including a trustee) or a beneficiary (other than one whose interest in the trust is contingent) is resident in the state. Unlike tangible property, intangible investment assets not associated with a business domicile in a state with income taxes are deemed to be situated where the trust is administered. For NINGs, that is Nevada. The income from tangible property is traced to the location of the asset, while the income from intangible property — for example, the passive investments of a typical trust portfolio — is traced to the residence of the owner.

2. Trust not subject to tax in the settlor’s home state

Establishing the trust in one of the states listed above does not necessarily mean that the trust’s income will not be taxed by the grantor’s home state. Many states levy income tax on what they refer to as resident trusts. Resident trust definitions vary from state to state. For example, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin treat trusts as resident trusts if the grantor/ settlor was a state resident when the trust became irrevocable, regardless of where the trust is domiciled.

3. Discretionary distributions to the settlor

The trustee must be “adverse” to the settlor and have the power to make discretionary distributions to the settlor so that the settlor can receive the trust income. However, this must be accomplished without making the trust a grantor trust.

4. Incomplete gift

Most taxpayers who transfer assets to a NING do not want the transfer to be

subject to gift tax. And while available, the taxpayer may not want to use their gift tax exemption. This is accomplished by: (1) giving the settlor a testamentary special power of appointment over the trust assets, and (2) requiring the consent of a distribution committee for any distributions to the settlor. The testamentary special power of appointment makes the transfer to the trust an incomplete gift, and the distribution committee consent requirement allows the trust to avoid grantor trust status.

Red flags for state tax authorities

State taxing authorities may audit and challenge NINGs that are hastily prepared and designed primarily to avoid incurring state income tax on a particular transaction, such as the disposition of a block of highly appreciated stock. State taxing authorities will examine the timing and dates on transaction documents as part of their assessment. They also may be on the lookout for issues such as funding a trust with assets that are certain or even highly likely to be sold shortly after the creation of the trust.

Subject to careful planning and execution, the NING is a powerful tax-planning tool useful for entrepreneurs and business owners contemplating the future sale of a closely held business, stock, or investment portfolio to eliminate or minimize state income tax. The benefits are especially appealing when the taxpayer’s home state is a high-income-tax state, such as California.

Investment income can be transferred into a NING, and state income tax on the investment income of assets held in the NING can be avoided. Taxpayers residing in states with high income taxes with large unrealized capital gains or a regular stream of ordinary income from an investment portfolio who have always wanted to find a way to eliminate or minimize their state income tax exposure without giving up the economic benefit of the underlying assets would benefit from using the NING.

March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 37
Vince Aiello is an attorney in the Spencer Fane Las Vegas office. He may be contacted at vince.

Keep your emails out of the spam folder

If it seems as though your email inbox is getting bigger every day, you’re not mistaken.

The number of emails sent and received keeps increasing each year and is expected to reach 347.3 billion in 2023. That’s an increase of 4.3% from last year, according to Oberlo, an online shopping platform.

Email marketing can be effective, with every dollar spent on email generating an average return on investment of about $42, Campaign Monitor reports. But email also can be a source of frustration. The average businessperson receives 120 emails a day, and 55% of them are spam, Oberlo said. In addition, email can be a time suck. The average professional responds to only 25% of emails in their inbox. Furthermore, professionals check their emails an average of every 37 minutes — that’s 15 times per day — but open only about 18% of the messages they receive.

Observing email etiquette and crafting your message carefully can keep you from becoming an email “stalker” and can help keep your message out of the spam folder, two business etiquette experts told InsuranceNewsNet.

Rachana Adyanthaya is a business etiquette and image consultant and founder of, where she advises on career enhancement and etiquette. Julia Esteve Boyd is an international etiquette consultant and author of A Dash of Decorum. The two women host the Manners Matter podcast.

Email messaging can be quick and informal, but an email message in a professional setting must be crafted carefully, Adyanthaya said.

“Some of the obvious and common mistakes I see with email are not including a subject line and not presenting yourself in the way that you should be in a business setting,” she said. “I believe email has become so sloppy, and it shouldn’t be.”

Email messages must be concise and to the point, but they also need to contain some level of familiarity, she added. “You need to get the tone right. If your email contains more than just a paragraph, it

often won’t get read. So you must be concise, include a greeting, put a call to action at the end and sign off. That all shows professionalism.”

Adyanthaya said grammar and spelling errors in an email will brand you as unprofessional, and many of those mistakes are made when dashing off a quick message.

“Check your grammar, take some time to check your email after you’ve crafted it,” she said. “You can use an app such as Grammarly if you’re not sure about your grammar skills, and make sure you use spell check.”

The goal for a business email, Adyanthaya said, “is to provide an eloquent and put-together message.”

When emails are sent to multiple people and the recipients respond by replying to all,” that can cause confusion, she said.

“If you have a particular subject heading and people respond by adding extra points or adding points that aren’t relevant to the subject, the resulting email

BUSINESS 38 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023
Two experts on email etiquette give tips on how to keep from becoming an email “stalker.”
When you send an initial email, take your time before you follow up with another one. If you followed up once or perhaps twice and didn’t get any input or feedback, then it’s time to back off.

trail can become confusing and lead to people not reading it at all.”

Another potential pitfall of “replying to all” is that the email recipients can sometimes become emotional or even argumentative when replying to the group. It’s important to watch your reply tone and keep your emotions in check when replying, Boyd said.

“One suggestion when you are having a difficult time keeping from being emotional in your response is to respond directly to one person instead of to everyone on the email list,” she said.

Not everyone who is in the list of email recipients needs to be in the entire email chain, she added. “There may come a point where all of them don’t need to be involved in the conversation, and if you hit reply all, you’re only increasing the clutter people have in their inboxes. So be a little bit cautious with using reply all and do it only if it is relevant and important.”

It also might be tempting to tackle a lot of different talking points in a single email, but that can lead to confusion as well, Adyanthaya said.

“In a situation like that, it’s better to stick to one subject and then send out a different email with a different subject instead of including several different topics in one message. You are more likely to come across in a professional manner, and your email recipients are more likely to pay attention to the topic at hand.”

Don’t try to oversell

When sending an email to a prospect, Boyd advised being courteous and formal, piquing the prospect’s interest without trying to oversell.

“You want to tell a potential client who you are and what you offer without a hard sell,” she said. “Clarity in the email is important as well. Be concise. Use the word ‘you’ more than you use the word ‘I.’”

Customizing your message to different prospects also is important, Boyd said. “Instead of sending a standardized message to anyone and everyone, create a message for different types of prospects, and word that message in the way that’s right for each prospect type.”

Drip, drip, drip

The key to a successful email drip marketing campaign is to have a different subject line with each consecutive email and to

The email avalanche

• The average number of emails in an inbox = 200.

• The average person responds to 25% of their emails and checks their emails every 37 minutes — that’s 15 times per day

• The average email open rate is 18%, although this can vary by as much as 1%, depending on the day of the week.

Sources: Harvard Business Review, Campaign Monitor

feed the recipient a tiny bit of information that leads to a call to action to learn more, Adyanthaya said.

“Don’t send a lengthy email right off the bat, and don’t keep repeating what you already said in the last email,” she said. “Know your target market and be really clear about what you are trying to sell them. Keep the subject lines interesting and don’t send the same subject lines out more than once.

“It’s about building a relationship, building that trust, being very clear with your message.”

Adyanthaya suggested a strong beginning, a few bullet points and a compelling call to action at the end.

“I think people tend to read the beginning of a message, lose interest somewhere in the middle part of it and then see what is the point at the end of the message. So your message needs to follow that structure.”

Stay off the naughty list

The quickest way to end up on someone’s “do not email list” is to be annoying, Boyd said.

“If you don’t want someone to block you, don’t be annoying,” she said. “Don’t send repeated emails, don’t ask too many questions. When you send an initial email, take your time before you follow up with another one. If you followed up once or

perhaps twice and didn’t get any input or feedback, then it’s time to back off. You still have the opportunity in the future to reach out again. A few months down the line, you can email again and say, ‘I reached out to you a few months ago,’ and now maybe this is the time to start a conversation.”

As for the prospect who isn’t a good fit and isn’t responding to email, Boyd suggested simply moving on.

“I will politely decline something once, and if you answer me after that, I usually I just don’t respond because you can’t respond to every email,” she said. “If I look at the subject line and see this isn’t something that I’m looking for, I will delete the message without opening it. This is why your subject line must be appropriate and relevant.

“If I have declined in a nice way and someone follows up, I don’t respond any further. Otherwise, they’ll be sending me multiple emails, and we don’t have time for this. We all have other important things to do.”

Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents’ association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.

March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 39 KEEP YOUR EMAILS OUT OF THE SPAM FOLDER BUSINESS

Simplicity in it for the long haul

The Hartford, Conn.-based marketing group was one of the first to seek scale with an aggressive growth plan conceived in 2016. The company is full speed ahead in year eight, CEO and President Bruce Donaldson says.

Simplicity Group created an expansion plan in 2016 that has since become readily recognizable among the big players in the insurance marketing industry: Growth, scale and efficiencies.

“Each of the companies has their own take on what they’re doing,” said Bruce Donaldson, president and CEO of Simplicity. “We do engage in merger and acquisition activity, but that’s not the business that we’re in. We are in the business of supporting independent insurance agents and financial advisors, whether they be in a broker/dealer, an RIA, with properly placing insurance products into a holistic financial plan.”

Headquartered in Hartford, Conn., Simplicity Group Holdings is one of the largest and fastest-growing financial marketing organizations, with over 20,000 financial professionals, 100 partner agencies and 30 broker/dealer partners located throughout the United States. While exact sales numbers are not

public, Donaldson said: “We’re certainly a top five annuity and in the top five life insurance wholesale platforms.”

The Simplicity model was promising enough to make private equity firms take notice. Aquiline Capital Partners took a majority stake in the company, which provided the backing for Simplicity’s emergence in the life insurance/annuity space.

The company’s timing was good, as distribution evolution favored marketing firms that could deliver scale.

“I think the success that we’ve had … has brought a lot of attention to the sector and other people into the industry who are also trying to execute their version of an M&A plan,” Donaldson noted.

It didn’t take long for Simplicity to have competition in the race to scale up. Integrity Group and AmeriLife are both turning private equity investment into substantial acquisition activity.

Marketing firms are changing the business of distribution, said Sheryl Moore, president and CEO of Moore Market Intelligence and Wink Inc. Small- to midsized insurance marketing organizations and field marketing organizations are being gobbled up so quickly, it is forcing many to reconsider their plan, she added.

“It is hard to compete against an Integrity, Simplicity or AmeriLife in terms of sales and, therefore, annuity commission payouts,” she said. “For this

40 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 the Know In-depth
discussions with industry experts

reason, I’ve seen friends talking to these firms, when they previously wouldn’t have considered selling so soon. It just seems like for those who had planned to retire in five to seven years, I am seeing more of them entertain discussions with these three firms than I would have anticipated.”

Recapitalizing the company

In 2020, Lee Equity Partners struck a deal to become the new majority owner of Simplicity. Those terms were not disclosed, but the company’s acquisition activity further revved up.

In 2021-22, Simplicity closed 13 acquisitions, according to Crunchbase. In July 2022, Simplicity added LifePro Financial Services, a San Diego-based financial products distribution business serving independent financial professionals across the country with a range of financial planning and sales and marketing services.

Like many firms that opt to join with the bigger IMOs, LifePro already had a

2018. “And we’ve been executing on that plan successfully for the last six and a half years.”

Barriers to growth

While many conditions continue to be strong for marketing and distribution growth, there are disruptions lurking. Mega-marketing firms like Simplicity, Integrity and AmeriLife are as affected by these trends as any carrier.

For starters, the producer shortage is acute. The median age of insurance agents is 46, a Zippia survey found, compared to 42.2 for the overall U.S. workforce. However, several studies conclude that as much as one-quarter of the insurance workforce is 55 or older.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not help the insurance industry personnel problem. Studies show that older workers are more likely to just retire early rather than press on through adversity such as job loss or a pandemic interruption.

Data from the past two years proves that to be true, as insurance workforce

The ongoing tightening of regulation is another disruption for the industry — especially for IMOs that act as financial institutions for producer networks. The Department of Labor is again working on a new fiduciary rule definition, one that some analysts could nudge a one-time advice into the fiduciary umbrella.

As it stands, the DOL investment advice rule package published under the Trump administration makes rollover advice fiduciary. At the state level, a “best interest” standard is winning support in more states each month.

“We do worry a lot about how rules and regulations are written and implemented,” he explained. “Because if you look at the original fiduciary rule, there was a view that it was going to be very hard to implement. And that’s always a concern when you’re talking about new regulations. But if you’re talking about just basic standards of care, no, we’re not concerned about that.”

Private plans

Looking to the future, Simplicity simply plans to keep doing what it is doing. Rather than disrupting the traditional insurance model, Donaldson sees his company working in tandem with carriers.

“It’s been great because they understand what the Simplicity business model is,” he said, “and that’s to grow the overall distribution base. And we’re not growing for the sake of growing. We’re actually growing the market and helping educate the consumers on the benefits of insurance products that we offer.”

working relationship with Simplicity, said Ben Nevejans, president of LifePro and a new Simplicity partner.

“Joining forces with Simplicity will allow us to accelerate our growth and focus on what we do best: deliver superior service, support and products to help agents and advisors across the country,” he said when the deal was announced.

Simplicity is up to 50 acquisitions now in a buying spree that began in 2016 and, as of late January, included two deals closed in 2023.

“We developed a plan in 2016 to build what we hope will be the leading financial products distribution business,” said Donaldson, who came on as president that year and added the CEO title in

retirements rose dramatically. In 2021, the financial services sector recorded the highest average monthly retirements in more than a decade.

Donaldson is confident that market forces will fill the need for agents and advisors.

“As the economy continues to grow and the boomer generation gets set to retire, I think you’ll see more and younger successful advisors come into the financial planning market,” he said. “Where we see huge growth is financial advisors, who have historically not worked with insurance products, get comfortable with the benefits and get comfortable with how to properly position insurance products in a holistic financial plan.”

While speculation grows that the large-scale IMOs will eventually transition, to public ownership in order to maximize profits, Simplicity has no such plans, Donaldson said.

“As a result of the strength of our position we don’t have to commit to one sort of capital plan or another because we have a lot of options available to us,” he added.


Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at john.hilton@innfeedback. com. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.

March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 41 SIMPLICITY IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL IN THE KNOW
It is hard to compete against an Integrity, Simplicity or AmeriLife in terms of sales and, therefore, annuity commission payouts.
— Sheryl Moore, president and CEO of Moore Market Intelligence and Wink Inc.

New York state’s best interest regulation has lasting impact

Presenting yourself as a professional comes with a duty and an obligation.

By now, we can assume most or all insurance and annuity advisors are familiar with the terms “suitability” and “best interest.” If you work with securities, you are also familiar with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Regulation Best Interest. If you work with employer-sponsored retirement plans (qualified plans), you are familiar with the Department of Labor’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE 2020-02), otherwise known as the fiduciary rule.

On top of these rules and regulations, you also may be bound by a Code of Standards (Certified Financial Planner Board), a Code of Professional Conduct (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) or a Code of Professional Responsibility (Society of Financial Service Professionals), to name a few. These codes usually include requirements to act with:

» Fairness (respecting the interests of those you serve).

» Competence (knowledge and skills that start with technical competence and continued learning).

» Integrity (placing the client’s interest above your own).

Revised New York Department of Financial Services Regulation 187 (enacted in 1997) was published in the New York State Register on Aug. 1, 2018, with an effective date of Aug. 1, 2019. On April 29, 2021, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, ruled that state Insurance Regulation 187, “Suitability and Best Interests in Life Insurance and Annuity Transactions,” was unconstitutional. On Oct. 20, 2022, New York’s highest court reinstated the 2018 regulation.

Under Regulation 187, irrespective of how you are compensated — commission or fee or both — recommendations must

be made “in the best interest of the consumer and appropriately address the insurance needs and financial objectives of the consumer at the time of the transaction.”

[NYS Regulation 187, Section 224.0(b)]

In my experience, since the regulation was published, life insurance and annuity carriers have taken steps to comply. The regulation is clear, outlining the duties and obligations of insurers — including fraternal benefit societies — by requiring them to establish standards and procedures for recommendations to consumers, with respect to policies delivered or issued for delivery in New York state, to make sure transactions are in the consumer’s best interest.

The regulation also further clarifies the duties and obligations of producers when making recommendations to consumers with respect to policies delivered or issued for delivery in New York state. The regulation is designed to help ensure that a transaction is in the consumer’s best interest and appropriately addresses the consumer’s insurance needs and financial objectives at the time of the transaction.

Therefore, the carrier and the advisor are bound by procedures, duties and obligations. There are limited exceptions.

Regulation 187 directly impacts advisors who deliver or issue for delivery life insurance and annuity contracts in New York state. However, the regulation has implications for all advisors in all states.

Acting in the client’s best interest has been a foundation of the industry that is all about providing financial security. Rightfully so, the advisor, as with any other entrepreneur, should be paid for this service. The term “fiduciary” is not mentioned in the New York regulation, but isn’t it a fiduciary duty to serve clients in their best interest? And how can you serve your client if you’re not being reasonably compensated?

The answer: proof — evidence, in writing and other documents, distinguished from oral evidence. In certain instances, there may be recordings and video. This

is proof that your meetings met your duty and obligation that your recommendation was based on all the client’s relevant suitability information. Additionally, proof must reflect the care, skill, prudence and diligence that a prudent person acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters would use under the prevailing circumstances.

How do you prove you are acting in the client’s best interest? That you said so will not be enough. It must be memorialized with written or electronic documentation.

As of the writing of this article, 27 states (New Mexico is the most recent, with adoption on Oct. 1, 2022) have some form of rule, regulation or legislation regarding systems and procedures for advisors to act in a consumer’s best interest regarding annuities and life insurance.

Beyond New York state

As when John Paul Warren coined the phrase “Cream always rises to the top … so do good leaders,” those with competence, skill, a solid work ethic and strong moral character will succeed. Presenting yourself as a professional comes with a duty and obligation. If we consider Regulation 187 a high standard, shouldn’t that standard be applied in all your transactions in all states? Four in 10 producers (41%) say merger and acquisition activity among intermediaries will affect where they choose to place business and will make it more complex.

You will not find the term “fiduciary” in Regulation 187. However, when you consider that the regulation outlines the duties and obligations of carriers and advisors, it mirrors a fiduciary’s duties and obligations.


of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, is the director of qualified plans, business markets for Consolidated Planning. He may be contacted at ernest.

42 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023
FSP is a multidisciplinary organization where financial professionals can build their professional network, enhance their knowledge base and grow their practice.

Women agents and advisors making history in 2023

It’s important to create policies and products that address issues that are specific to women.

With March being Women’s History Month and 2023

ushering in a new Congress, it is a good time to note that the 118th Congress has a record number of women. Women now hold 28% of congressional seats, which is a 59% increase from a decade ago.

As our industry is well aware, there have been more women than men in the U.S. since 1946, women outlive men, and more women than men vote, but women still comprise a fraction of the total population of agents and advisors. It is clear why so much emphasis is now being placed on recruiting women into the financial services sector, studying women in aging, and creating policies and products that address women’s issues.

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which was passed in 2019, and then its corollary bill, the SECURE 2.0 Act, which passed in December 2022, made monumental strides in creating mechanisms and closing gaps to make it easier and less risky for Americans to save for their retirement. Although both new laws provide a multitude of provisions to help savers, SECURE 2.0 includes a specific provision that can be extremely beneficial to women. The provision focuses on allowing individuals to make catch-up contributions to their retirement plans. This can be a particular benefit to women who may have chosen to stay home during portions of their career and missed out on income during these times.

Our population will continue to shift radically in the next decade as we see the baby boomer generation retire in record numbers and we welcome the oldest millennials into their 40s. So it is clear that

we need innovative new ways to ensure that Main Street American individuals, families and small businesses have access to, and consume, risk protection products. It’s also clear that to do this well, we need innovative ways for agents and advisors to serve this clientele and advocate for their own businesses as well as their client base.

To do our part, NAIFA has deepened our partnership with the Women in Insurance and Financial Services national association to create the inaugural Women’s Financial Security Fly-In, which will happen March 29-30 in Washington. Through the support of New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, Guardian and Ameritas, the fly-in will bring women advisors from across the country to meet and hear from congressional leaders before making Capitol Hill visits to their representatives.

This historic fly-in will become an annual event and will allow women to unify their voices to advocate on issues that specifically affect women’s financial and economic security in the U.S. All women advisors who participate are also invited to return to Washington in May to attend NAIFA’s annual Congressional Conference and share their experiences during the eighth annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium, which will be held in conjunction with the conference.

Both events will be part of NAIFA’s ongoing effort to educate agents and advisors on their critical role in state and federal advocacy. Only a fraction of American agents and advisors currently participate in associations such as NAIFA that advocate for positive legislative and regulatory environments, and frankly, we need more. Too few agents and advisors understand that the producer population is the closest to the individuals, families and small businesses that comprise Main Street America — and therefore comprise the constituent voter base of every state and federal elected leader. It’s no coincidence that the SECURE Act passed in December 2019 soon after agents and

advisors participated in an impactful Day on the Hill, and the same occurred in 2022 with SECURE 2.0.

The voices of women agents and advisors hold particular importance, which is why NAIFA is the advocacy representative for WIFS and we work closely together to educate women agents and advisors on every aspect of state and federal advocacy, from grassroots relationship building to meeting leaders in statehouses and on Capitol Hill.

Although March is Women’s History Month, a focus on women will not be relegated to one month in 2023. Instead, we are seeing quite the opposite. With the rise of long-term care legislation and the changing nature of the workplace after COVID-19, we have created legislative working groups with our members and industry partners in the areas of longterm care and aging issues as well as in employee benefits. While we encourage all agents and advisors in the industry to belong to NAIFA, we provide a plethora of information and resources for the industry, including our Get Out the Vote platform, to ensure that producers start by exercising their right to vote.

With the changes that occurred during the midterm elections and the 2024 elections coming up, now is the time for agents and advisors to get educated, vote and get involved in advocating for their businesses. Let’s work to ensure that there are record numbers of women who have the right financial security plans in place, that there are record numbers of women agents and advisors advocating for their clients and their businesses, and that there are record numbers of women entering the financial services industry to match the record number of women who are making the laws that affect us.

March 2023 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 43 INSIGHTS
Diane Boyle is NAIFA’s senior vice president, government relations. She may be contacted at Founded in 1890, NAIFA is one of the nation’s oldest and largest associations representing the interests of insurance professionals from every congressional district in the United States.

It’s go time for financial advisors on social media

An active social media presence can help advisors build deeper connections with clients and prospects.

In order to be successful, financial advisors must be strong in three broad areas.

Relationships: Scope of influence, personal brand and the depth of connections.

Knowledge: Ability to provide accurate, relevant information and impart it in an understandable way.

Persistence: Having development plans, and executing consistently on goals.

How do financial professionals hone their skills and practices to sell more life insurance in current and evolving markets? It comes down to being available and helping clients and prospects understand the importance of financial security.

According to LIMRA research, twothirds of U.S. adults either are working with a financial professional or looking for one. Consumers who work with a financial professional are more likely to be protected by both group and individual life insurance than those who do not currently have a connection but are seeking one. In fact, 4 in 10 who do not currently work with a professional say they are uninsured and need life insurance.

Consumers are most likely to buy individual life insurance when a financial professional gives them a quote. The reason most often given for declining to buy life insurance is that it’s too expensive. This objection is vastly reduced when a financial professional is involved.

LIMRA research shows only 8% of those who got a quote from a financial professional said they did not buy because it was too expensive, compared with 44% of those who got a quote from the website of a specific company.

One way financial professionals can

Why Buyers Buy Life Insurance

Type of Life Insurance Owned

reach prospects and clients is through an active social media presence. Unlike radio, television or print, social media can provide a deeper connection using posts, live chats and live events. Financial professionals can build social media content around the reasons that matter most when consumers think about the present, the future and life insurance.

Financial professionals can use this information to generate ideas, build relationship skills to engage with people and use technology to meet consumer expectations. Financial professionals’ social media goals can include showing up in prospects’ online feeds and “coaching a click” from viewers who want to learn more. Among those applying for life insurance in the past few years, “through a financial professional” was second only to “the website of a specific provider” as the method used to apply for life insurance.

According to our research, 8 in 10 buyers of individual life insurance policies over the past two years are millennials (52%) and Generation X (29%). These individuals, along with Generation Z, are on

the front lines of social media every single day. By having an active presence on social media, financial professionals can help these buyers get the information they need and make deeper connections.

When it comes to making financial decisions, consumers are looking for someone they can trust. Financial professionals can build trust by authentically sharing proactive and relevant information about topics they know the most about. Freely share some of what you know about making financial decisions and why it matters. Embrace social media as a way to reach out and deliver compelling content about financial issues. You don’t need to be perfect — instead just strive to meet your clients and prospects where they are, whether doing research or making financial decisions.

44 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » March 2023 INSIGHTS 46% 42% 38% 26% 17% 9% 11% 14% 11% 9% 7% 1% Replace income if you or your spouse/partner, etc. die Cover burial and other final expenses Transfer wealth to your family Guarantee the mortgage would be paid off Provide funds for a college education Replace another life insurance policy Supplement life insurance provided by employer A way to pay estate taxes and create estate liquidity A tax advantaged way to save and invest A way to make a charitable gift For business purposes, such as partnership buy-sell Other More than 850 financial services companies in more than 70 countries turn to LIMRA first to help them build their businesses and improve their performance.
Source: The Purchase Funnel, LIMRA, 2022. *Respondents did not have a financial advisor when surveyed; they are looking for one. Source: 2022 Insurance Barometer Study, LIMRA and Life Happens.
I have a primary financial advisor No primary financial advisor 21% 13% 19% 31% 60% 56%
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Articles from InsuranceNewsNet Magazine | March 2023