file o r p h g i h of a s e l p m a and x e e g t s d e e t e a l h t e Th d on e v i l o h w nning a e l p r e peopl p o r ut p died witho
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IN THIS ISSUE When Celebrities 20 (Still) Go Wild
View and share the articles from this month’s issue
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MAY 2021 » VOLUME 14, NUMBER 5
38 How Social Determinants Can Impact Health Benefits
By Steven A. Morelli Cautionary tales of high-profile people who lived on the edge and died without a will.
16 An Ally For Life
By Susan Rupe Ebony Ruffin believes life insurance is more than a product — it’s part of a luxury lifestyle.
By John Hilton There remains a good possibility that as many as half of the states will have best-interest rules on the books by the end of 2021.
30 One Advisor’s Experience With Accelerated Underwriting
8 The 2 Billion Dollar Man
Tom Archer decided early in his career what he did not want. That was more than 35 years ago, and it led to his selling nearly $2 billion in coverage in a single year. In this interview with Publisher Paul Feldman, Archer describes the decisions and actions he took that led to his success with the wealthiest clients.
By Stuart Hanson and Lynnette Nelson Addressing long-standing disparities will be paramount to the continued health, safety and productivity of the population and the labor force.
42 Retirement Planning: Getting Their Attention
IN THE FIELD
6 States Embrace Best-Interest Annuity Standard
By Peachie G. Thompson Just as advisors had to adapt to a new way of doing business in the pandemic, carriers had to adapt their underwriting processes as well.
By Albert Lalonde Impress upon young professionals that the earlier they start saving and investing for retirement, the better.
46 A Good Walk Spoiled: 6 Tips On Golf Course Etiquette By John Hilton Golf is a sport that simultaneously frustrates and relaxes the participants. But sportsmanship is inherently a part of the golf experience.
34 A nnuities Give Retirees A Lifetime Of Spending
48 The ‘Monkey Brain’: Determine If A Prospect Will Accept You
By Susan Rupe Annuities can provide meaningful accumulation and lifetime income, but research shows consumers often overlook them because they don’t understand the products or how to position them to address income gaps.
By Joe Templin Each person runs every new contact with an unfamiliar individual through a series of filters that they rarely realize is the monkey brain in action.
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InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
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WELCOME LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
The Walk Home
had a feeling I would not get an Uber. I knew I would have to walk to the office. But I did not mind, even on this chilly, drizzly evening. It had been a year into the pandemic at that point, and few Uber drivers were still working in my area. Although I do not drive because of my visual impairment, I have not needed rides because I’ve been working from home, and everything I need is a short walk away. I had tied up all the other loose ends on that Friday. I just needed to drop off a few things at the office and take a last look to ensure I did not leave anything. I planned to get an Uber back, so I could lug anything heavy home.
Along The Way
This month’s magazine features the annual installment of what we loosely call the “Estate-Planning Failures of the Rich and Famous.” That yearly series was inspired during a walk when I was thinking about the estate mess left by the recent death of a celebrity. I don’t remember who the celebrity was, but I do recall thinking the story would make a good cautionary tale. That idea turned into an article about the stories agents can tell clients to convey the lessons contained in these compelling estate-planning disasters.
day before going remote. I dropped off my keycard and credit card before checking my office. I scanned the room for anything I left behind, marveling at the blaze of light from the setting sun. I gazed at a large circle on the wall for a few moments before realizing it was a mirror reflecting from behind me and yelling, “Don’t forget me!” No Uber drivers were available, so I had to trek back with this hefty, 50-year-old mirror under my arm. As I walked, I remembered the thousands of trips home in every weather condition with nothing but my thoughts night after night. One of the stories I had been thinking about lately was my own at INN. It has been a fulfilling run, but I realized that after 12 years it was time for me to move on with my own story.
The streets on the way to the office were the same that I had been traveling for 12 years since I started at InsuranceNewsNet. I was INN’s first editor in 2008, managing this magazine along with the website and newsletters. We were up against some titans of insurance news back then, many of which have since faded. The story I had been telling myself was that I had no business doing this job because I didn’t know anything about the industry, and it was just little ol’ me trying to do all this stuff. But I reminded myself that the story of InsuranceNewsNet is that we are a scrappy company with the drive to do things differently. We had to be creative to compete directly with the legacy industry news business. During a walk early in my tenure, I realized that I had to change my own story to be all about telling stories. Sure, other news organizations might have had a wider array of articles, but we could dig deeper into a few key issues and explore them from our readers’ perspectives. Pretty soon we were able to raise our profile and win a few awards along the way. We eventually brought on a couple of other editors: Managing Editor Susan Rupe and Senior Editor John Hilton, both news veterans who have firmly established themselves in this industry. 4
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
One of the people from this month’s main feature, Tony Hsieh, had made a brilliant career out of changing stories. He is most known for having developed Zappos shoes into an internet superstore. People were reluctant to buy shoes online because they wanted to try them on first. Zappos did the unthinkable by offering no-questions-asked returns and free shipping. Hsieh changed the story about shoe shopping when he helped start Zappos in 1999, the same year Paul Feldman started InsuranceNewsNet and helped change the story about life insurance news and marketing online.
At the end of my walk, I entered our offices, passed the meeting room with the clipboard showing the schedule for March 17, 2020, which had been our last
INN has an exciting future ahead of it that others can pursue with fresh energy. I expect to contribute content to INN, but no longer as a staff member. I thank Paul Feldman for his enduring faith in me and for more than a decade of adventure. I was aware of the significance of this last walk home as an INN employee. I wanted to appreciate that this was a definitive end to a chapter. Most of us rush from one job to another or from one home to another or from one stage to another, stumbling out of one story and into the next. I opened my apartment door, put down the mirror, took off my hat, and thought, “This is the end of that chapter.” Picking up the mirror, I said, “and this is the next,” as I walked into my home office. Steven A. Morelli Editor-in-Chief
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States Embrace Best Interest Annuity Standard After more than a decade of public debate, federal and state policymakers have seemingly coalesced around a consistent, workable, best-interest standard of conduct for financial professionals. By John Hilton
s 2020 progressed through the summer, many insurance regulators were concerned that best-interest annuity sales rules were not being adopted in many states. That is no longer a concern. States are very quickly adopting best-interest rules based on a model regulation put forth by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. There remains a good possibility that as many as half the states will have best-interest rules on the books by the end of 2021, said Jim Szostek, vice president and deputy, retirement security, for the American Council of Life Insurers. “We’re pleased with what we’ve seen so far, and we’re pleased with what we think is coming ahead,” he said. “It’s Jim Szostek not uncommon for a number of years to go by before you get close to all of them, but I think we’ve got a very good start.” As of press deadline, the states that have adopted annuity standards along the 6
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
NAIC’s model include:
» Arizona: in effect » Arkansas: June 29 » Delaware: Aug. 1 » Idaho: July 1 » Iowa: in effect » Michigan: June 29 » Nebraska: in effect » North Dakota: Jan. 1, 2022 » Ohio: Aug. 14 » Rhode Island: April 1
Uniformity Of Preferred Rules
The flurry of activity at the state level became an important priority for the industry once it became clear Democrats had a strong opportunity to return to power. Progressives such as Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., favor tough annuity sales rules. The more rules on the books, the better the chance the industry could achieve a best-interest compromise it could live with. “After more than a decade of public debate, federal and state policymakers have seemingly coalesced around a consistent, workable best-interest standard of conduct for financial professionals," said Wayne Chopus, Wayne Chopus president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute. “The continued adoption and implementation of this regulatory framework will be a significant focus for IRI in 2021." In February 2020, the NAIC adopted a
model law that articulates a best-interest standard through the following four obligations: care, disclosure, conflict of interest and documentation. With the outbreak of COVID-19, states were slow to adopt the model in the months that followed. The NAIC began lobbying state officials last summer and formed a working group to develop a series of FAQs to help facilitate adoption. The rule specifically does not establish a fiduciary duty, nor does it ban agents from recommending products with a higher compensation Barbara Roper structure. Consumer advocates are unhappy with the NAIC model, which remains a suitability standard, said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America, earlier this year. She noted that it exempts cash and noncash compensation from the definition of material conflict of interest. “The NAIC model rule is explicit and weak,” Roper said. “That’s not a rule that can be tweaked into shape through strengthened interpretations of its key components.” 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.
States Open Door To Public Option More states are studying whether a public option health insurance plan is feasible for them. By Susan Rupe
ashington state became the first to implement a health insurance public option while several other states are moving closer to offering it. Beginning in the 2021 open enrollment period, residents of Washington state have the option to enroll in “Cascade Care,” the nation’s first state public option plan. The Washington Health Care Authority contracted with five health insurance carriers to provide bronze, silver and gold-level qualified health plans in the state’s health insurance marketplace. These plans are named Cascade Care and will be offered in 19 of the state’s 39 counties in the first year. Under Washington state’s public option initiative, the state simultaneously introduced standardized plan designs in the marketplace with higher-value silver and gold metal tiers. Originally, Cascade Care plans were projected to decrease premiums by 5% to 10%, according to a Princeton University analysis. Finalized premiums for standardized Cascade Care public option plans are, on average, slightly more expensive ($392-$490) than nonstandardized plans ($376-$500). In all but one county, public option plans have lower premiums than nonpublic option standardized plan offerings. Meanwhile, Colorado Democrats introduced a bill in the state legislature that opens the door to a statewide health
insurance public option if insurance carriers don’t reduce health care premium costs by 20% over the individual and small-group markets. There are two phases to the bill. In the first phase, insurance providers would be encouraged to offer a standardized health insurance plan for individual and small group plans in places where the insurers are already offering plans. This standardized health plan would be developed by the state and would have certain cost reduction goals to meet. If the cost reduction goals cannot be met, then the second phase of the bill would take effect. In this phase, the state would implement its own public option plan, the Colorado Health Insurance Option, to compete with other insurers on the individual and small-group markets. The public option would be 20% cheaper than current average premiums on a county-by-county basis. The Oregon House of Representatives is considering a bill that would establish a public option in that state. Manatt Health, on behalf of the Oregon Health Authority, conducted a study that evaluated three possible delivery models for the public option. Those models include a coordinated care organization-led model, in which the state uses its existing Medicaid network; a carrier-led model, and a state-led model in partnership with a third-party administrator. In the state-led model, the state would hold the plan risk as the insurer and would use a third-party administrator for processing claims and implementing plans. Nevada’s state legislature was the first to pass a Medicaid buy-in proposal in 2017; however, then-Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican,
vetoed the bill, citing the need for further study. During the 2019 legislative session, the Nevada legislature enacted a resolution to study the feasibility and design of a public option. Under the resolution, the study will explore the feasibility of offering a public option allowing all residents to participate in the Public Employees’ Benefits Program. The study was released in January for consideration during this year’s legislative session. Democratic state lawmakers in Connecticut and the state’s comptroller announced plans late last year to introduce a new public option bill in this year’s legislative session. It won’t be the first time Connecticut legislators considered a public option. In 2019 and 2020, lawmakers attempted to pass a bill that would allow individuals and small businesses to enroll in the state employee health insurance plan. Legislators also attempted to pass a bill that would have allowed the state to contract with carriers to provide coverage in the state’s marketplace. New Mexico passed a bill in 2019 funding the study and development of a Medicaid buy-in plan, including seeking waivers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to receive federal funding to expand coverage and reduce costs. An earlier study conducted by Manatt Health found that a Medicaid buy-in could offer premiums that are 15% to 28% lower than current rates. New Mexico is leaning toward a Medicaid buy-in model because Medicaid already serves 40% of the state’s population. The study will help the state decide whether to offer the public plan on or off the exchange, possibly starting this year. 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 Susan.Rupe@ innfeedback.com. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
THE 2 BILLION DOLLAR MAN INTERVIEW
Tom Archer reveals how he set a high bar for clients and now closes the biggest deals in the business
An interview with Publisher Paul Feldman 8
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
uring one of the toughest years in life insurance history, Tom Archer sold nearly $2 billion in life insurance. That is impressive on its own, but it is even more of a feat because that $2 billion in business came from about a dozen cases, one of which was for $300 million in face value. Archer’s practice handled some smaller cases. But the jumbo cases are the main driver of his business. Not bad for a kid out of the South Bronx. How did he end up with an upscale practice with a main office on New York’s Park Avenue and another in Boca Raton, Fla.? Part of it was deciding what he did not want. Early in his career, more than 35 years ago, he knew he did not want to be cold-calling for the rest of his life. He became interested in life insurance sales because his uncle was in the business. That was back in the day when he bought a mortgage list for leads but could not afford to buy the phone numbers. He would call information to get the number and pound the phone, a prospecting process he described as brutal. Archer also knew that he wanted to focus on life insurance, even though he has a Certified Financial Planner designation. In an era when it seems as though all big case sellers are diversified across a few disciplines, Archer proudly says he sells life insurance. He also does not sell insurance when he believes a client’s situation does not warrant the product. He credits his commitment to clients instead of products for building his business. His clients include several Forbes 500 families, including 18 billionaires along with many celebrities and entertainers. Archer had a baseball career in his college years, and now he serves more than 200 professional athletes in his practice. Archer knew what he did not want and was clear on what he did. He wanted to serve the ultrawealthy, setting the bar at $10 million in 1995. That bar has been rising ever since. In this interview with Publisher Paul Feldman, Archer tells how he was able to focus on the top tier and survive in that financial stratosphere.
THE 2 BILLION DOLLAR MAN INTERVIEW
FELDMAN: How did you get into the affluent market? ARCHER: I wouldn’t not be in that. When I came into the business, I said there’s no way that I was going to go chasing people around to sell them life insurance. It’s one step above used car salesman, and you’re first viewed that way. There’s a Woody Allen movie, I’m not sure if was “Take the Money and Run,” but somebody went to jail and the punishment was to be put in a hole with an insurance guy. The guy’s trying to sell him whole life and term life and this and that. So I said, “I don’t want to be that guy.” I decided I’m not going to be cold-calling. I’m not going to be chasing things down. I’m going to educate myself really, really quickly; get up to speed very quickly; and work with the high-end wealthy people. You get that reputation once you’re able to deliver on those kinds of things. You get the reputation with the advisors, whether it’s with estate planning attorneys or CPA firms, or wealthy clients in general will recommend you to their friends. The business is a lot more fun to me when you’re working on big matters. I upped my client profile to about $10 million, and I did that around 1995. That’s because I was trying to get right into the big market. I didn’t want to take on anything that I wasn’t going to give attention to. The only thing is that I have a personality where I want to help everyone, so I will take on matters that I shouldn’t be involved in at all. I have a very, very good staff, and I have my son now, so he can handle it — it’s good experience. Sometimes I say to myself that what this person needs is $2 million or $3 million of term insurance, and somebody’s going to go in there and try to sell them a whole life policy for $100,000 because they’re going to try to make a bigger commission, because that’s what their managers want and everybody else wants. But the person really needs $2 million of term insurance because they have three children. I never had a widow ask me what kind of insurance this was. I never heard them ask, “Is this term? Is this universal? Is this whole life?” They just want to know how much it was. So it’s very important to make sure that you’re taking care of the
client, not taking care of yourself. People always ask me, “Tom, what’s the best kind of life insurance?” There’s index, then there’s whole life and there’s term and there’s variable. My answer is always the same: “The best kind of life insurance is the kind of life insurance that’s in force when you die. Period.”
doesn’t mean they need to buy life insurance, but I couldn’t get that in my head for a while. I thought, “You have to buy life insurance. You have tax.”
FELDMAN: You had mentioned that your son recently entered your business. How long has he been with you, and how have you helped him along?
ARCHER: Our practice is mostly based on estate planning and business succession. So what I’m really looking to do is explain to clients what their problems could be in the foreseeable future. I explain to them what the problems are, then tell them there are all kinds of ways to find the solution. I had a hedge fund guy who we wrote about $280 million on, and I asked him at the end of the day, “You know, you can get 12% on your money every year. Why would you buy life insurance?” He doesn’t really need it. But I just wanted to know. Some of it was to hedge his bets, but some of it was because you never know, there’s no lease on life. You never know when you’re going to die. You may die when your hedge fund assets are in the dumps, and those assets may be great assets, and he doesn’t want his children to sell those assets if the market is in a down cycle. Maybe he wants to hold on to those assets and let them appreciate and use the life insurance to pay the taxes. Because it’s a lot cheaper most of the time to have the life insurance pay for your estate taxes rather than having them come out of your own pocket.
ARCHER: He has been with me only a couple of months. There are two really important things in this business. The first one is you have to have mental toughness because it’s a business of rejection. He came from playing professional baseball, and you pretty much have that ingrained, because baseball is a game of failure. If you hit three out of 10, when you strike out seven times, you’re a superstar because you’re hitting .300. So this business is similar to that as far as rejection is concerned. The second thing that’s very important is focusing on the process and not the product. The process is what gets you there. People will say to me, “Tom, I know you sell hundreds of millions of dollars in a case. How do you do it?” The answer is it’s only a piece of the puzzle. I don’t go in and say, “Hey, you know what? You need $300 million in life insurance — let’s go ahead.” That’s not the way we do it. We have a tremendous process. It’s all about reviewing documents, making sure the client’s documents are up to speed. It’s all about what they want out of their plan. I have a lot of people who say to me, “Tom, I’m worth $500 million, and if my kids get $250 million, that’s fine, because I started with nothing.” Who’s going to argue with that? I’m not going to argue with that. What I will say is, “You might not approve of where the other $250 million is going” and educate them on that. Then possibly talk to them about some type of charitable arrangement whereby somebody can benefit or a cause can benefit based on how they plan. Just because people have a taxable estate
FELDMAN: How did you develop your life insurance strategy and your approach?
FELDMAN: Pennies on the dollar, right? ARCHER: Old Ben Feldman. I spent a lot of time with Ben Feldman over the beginning of my career because he was everything in this business to everyone. We would talk for hours. His wife would say, “Ben, enough.” I’d say, “Oh, Mrs. Feldman, it’s not him, it’s me.” To this day, I believe that life insurance is nothing more than a financial tool. We make more of it than it is, but nothing can duplicate it. It does whatever the financial tool can do. When you get to that philosophy, it just simplifies things. I find that the more complicated my cases get, like the $300 million case, that was just a little small piece of the puzzle. May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
INTERVIEW THE 2 BILLION DOLLAR MAN
“I never had a widow ask me what kind of insurance this was. I never heard them ask, ‘Is this term? Is this universal? Is this whole life?’ They just want to know how much it was.”
We had so many other things going on. We had valuation discounts and sales to the effect that are put into a trust. Those mechanisms all work together, but you still need that life insurance, you have to fill the void on things that you can’t transfer.
FELDMAN: How do you approach wealthy clients? ARCHER: If people ask me what I do for a living, I say I’m in the life insurance business. Most people say, “I’m a financial advisor,” “I’m a this,” “I’m a that.” Always trying to sugarcoat the fact that they’re in the life insurance business. So, they’ll come at it in a different way, and they’re trying to sell the life insurance on the back end. I come straight out — people know what I do. We’re very, very good at it. I made my mind up on day one that I was going to work in the ultrawealthy market. The reason I did it was because I knew I had the stomach for it and I knew I had the brain for it. When you’re in those cases, they’re very, very, very difficult for a lot of people because it might take six months to a year to close a case. If you’re a newly married person with a baby or two, and your wife is like, “We can’t go six months or a year without a check,” and then at the end of the day, if you don’t get the case or something goes wrong, you might have wasted six months or a year. It takes a lot of guts to be in that market. 10
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
There’s an old saying that you can’t steal second base if you have your foot on first base. You have to really make the decision that you’re going to go in that direction. By going in that direction, that means occasionally walking away from smaller cases. Once you walk away from a couple of smaller cases, that’s when you really know that you’re committed to working on the larger deal. The reason I went to the ultrawealthy market was not because of the money, although it is very good money, but because of the challenge. It was very intriguing to me to be able to dissect estate plans and be able to put in clever, cutting-edge strategies to help people get what they want to get and have their families end up where they want to end up.
FELDMAN: You work with celebrities, wealthy business people and athletes. Are your approaches different with different groups? ARCHER: If someone’s a celebrity, I don’t treat them any differently than if they’re a business owner or if they’re a professional athlete because I take each person and each case individually, and we start from the beginning. People really want a hands-on approach. Some of celebrities say, “I just want you to work through my business manager, my lawyers and my accountants.” It
all depends on the person. We’ll include them as much as they want to be included or exclude them as much as they want to be excluded. The one thing that I think I always had going for me in this business was I was never starstruck, for whatever reason. To me, it’s a case, it’s a person, it’s a human being, you know? As far as the athletes go, I mean, I played a lot of baseball in my life, and I know a little bit about how athletes think. That’s more of a soft spot for me, to make sure that these guys are taken care of. Because when they make it big, there are a lot of hangers-on, and a lot of people are just trying to stay in their entourage until they don’t have any more money. I try to make sure that they have more put away for a rainy day and they have the right documents. Sometimes we’ll even do documents. I’ll say, “This is in spite of yourself. When it’s 3 in the morning, you’re with your friends drinking at a bottle table somewhere in Vegas and they really want to go to the ATM for $100,000, you’re not doing that.” So at the end of the day, we look out for those guys very carefully. Celebrities are human beings. Some of them are really good businesspeople, some of them aren’t because they’re focused on their career. So we try and make sure they’re buttoned up as far as documents go, as far as the right amount of coverage in their planning. Most of the time, they listen. It’s hard when we deal
THE 2 BILLION DOLLAR MAN INTERVIEW with somebody who doesn’t listen. Business owners are a little bit different in that as far as succession goes, are you going to be bringing children into the business, or what are you going to do with this business when you pass? Or do you want to take care of your employees? As far as you not being here in this business, do you want some type of trust fund to continue on while the transitions are taking place? Do you have a partner? What’s going to happen with your partner? Do you want to be in business with your partner’s wife if something were to happen to your partner? Or do you want to make sure that your partner’s wife is taken care of and you now control 100% of this business? What are the tax plays in those scenarios? After doing this for so long, I can kind of see early on where their case is going to go. But as far as grouping people differently because of their occupation, I don’t do that, because you’d be surprised. Sometimes you’ll get someone who you think would be an airhead, and it turns out they’re very sharp and very bright and very on top of things. I’ve learned never to judge a book by its cover or to label someone based on what they do for a living.
FELDMAN: What does your practice look like right now? Do you have a team, such as CPAs or financial advisors, who work with you in-house? ARCHER: No. Right now in my practice, we only have people who are strictly on the insurance side. We have the presentation people, we have underwriting people, administrative people, service people and that’s all we have. I bring in all the business, and they process everything. So I make the promises, and they make sure I deliver on them. We have several vendors who will review documents for us, anything a client needs to help them make a decision or to alert them of the things that they haven’t considered or haven’t put into adjustments. People will have old documents with the wrong beneficiaries and the wrong trustees. There are so many instances when I’ll say, “Your brother-in-law is the trustee of this,” and they’ll say, “I haven’t spoken with him in eight years, and we’ve had kids
since then.” So you really have to make sure that you’re keeping up on things. Right now, the exemption is $11.7 million per person, which means you can pass that along to your children without tax, so that’s a good chunk of money to be able to pass. That may not be around that much longer; we don’t know. But it’s close to sunset to about $5 million in 2026. Given inflation, it might be $5.4 million or $5.7 million. I talk a lot of people out of the market for needing life insurance.
FELDMAN: What are you telling them in cases when you don’t sell them something? ARCHER: With my wealthier clients, I’ve said, “Listen, give away the $11 million and change. Give it away because you’re not going to be able to give it away five years from now. You’re only going to be able to give away $5 million.” We can discount some assets they’re giving away. Then you’re really talking about some leverage. The growth on that over the next five years or whatever it may be is impactful. One of the difficult issues is that when younger people come in to this business, they join up with a company, and the company is coaching them to sell, sell, sell so hard. So, that balance is hard. I feel for new guys. I remember I had to sit with my manager every Monday. I was 21 or 22, and he asked, “How many sales? How many contacts?” You think, “Oh, God. How many times can I sell my aunt a policy?” You really have to balance that and make sure that you have enough activity going on all the time because this is a very lonely business, believe it or not. If you don’t have a lot of activity going on, you’ll say to yourself, “Oh, boy,” because not everyone is going to come through. You’re going to put cases in, and they’re going to get declined or something may happen whereby if you’re living and dying by that case, you don’t make any money. They call it a mill or a pipeline, whatever they call it, but you must try to keep that thing full as best you can. Going back to trying to help people, the more you help them, the better for you, the better for them, and it’ll always keep your pipeline full.
FELDMAN: You’ve been in the industry for about 35 years now. How do you keep yourself motivated and your energy level so high? It’s amazing. ARCHER: I just want to do the right thing and help a lot of people, and I’m also driven by being the best. I don’t ever look at yesterday. I just look at today. You want to be the best at whatever you do. The only way to be the best at whatever you do is to continually educate yourself, continually be out there, continually try to help people. As you know, this business is a lot of aggravation and a lot of stress. You learn how to manage that. Not everything is the end of the world. Not everything is going to work out. But as far as motivation goes, I just love this business. Now that I have my son with me, I feel even better because I’ll be able to turn the reins over to him at some point. But I’ll tell you the truth — I don’t know. What do you do when you retire? Do you play golf every day?
FELDMAN: I don’t know whether I ever want to retire. I think I’d be bored. ARCHER: That’s my point. I don’t even like the sound of the word retire. Sounds like I’m tired, right? I’m not tired.
FELDMAN: What would you tell someone who is just starting in the business now? ARCHER: Anytime someone has a problem and they need advice, I’m always the first one to lend a hand because we’ve all been there. The only thing that you have to do to become successful in this business is to last. That’s it. Just last. Don’t be discouraged, don’t look at any of that. Just last. Eventually it clicks and things happen. That’s not to say that your market is going to be the same as my market or my market is going to be the same as another person’s. But if you last and you don’t quit, and you have the mental toughness and the determination, you will be a success.
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
NEWSWIRES No monsters under here
COVID-19 Padded ‘Mattress Money’
The Theory of Money Anxiety includes a principle called “mattress money,” which states that during times of financial stress, people will shift their funds into their checking accounts or other vehicles where they have easy access to them. The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of this principle, as people stuffed those “money mattresses” to the tune of nearly $2 trillion from April 1 to Dec. 31, 2020 — an increase of nearly 70% over the same period in 2019. That’s according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The mattress money phenomenon also happened during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, prompting behavioral economist Dan Geller to develop the Theory of Money Anxiety and the Money Anxiety Index. The validation of the Money Anxiety Index as a predictor of financial behavior made the index a predictor in projection models used by hundreds of financial institutions nationally.
FED BOOSTS U.S. GROWTH FORECAST TO 6.5% THIS YEAR
U.S. central bankers are much more optimistic about the economic outlook, boosting their median growth estimate by more than two points to 6.5%, the Federal Reserve said. Faster growth will also cause inflation to rise to 2.4%, but the projections from members of the Federal Open Market Committee showed they do not expect to raise their benchmark interest rate through at least 2023. This optimistic outlook was fueled by the expected boost from the $1.9 trillion relief package President Joe Biden signed into law in March and the aftereffects of a $900 billion aid measure Congress approved in the final days of 2020. FOMC members see unemployment improving somewhat, falling to 4.5%
SHUT UP AND
TAKE MY STIMULUS CHECK! DID YOU
It's just a lot of people who need to get back to work, and it's not going to happen overnight. — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell
in fossil fuels, according to Insure Our Future, a coalition of Connecticut environmental groups. At least 26 insurers globally have ended or limited their coverage for coal projects.
DON’T DESIGNATE ASSET MANAGERS AS SIFI, YELLEN SAYS
Remember systemically important financial institutions — otherwise known as SIFI or “too big to fail?” The term became a buzzword following the 2008-2009 finanINSURERS URGED TO DUMP cial crisis, and some of FOSSIL FUELS the nation’s biggest finanInsurance is a top industry in Connecticut, cial services firms wore and the state’s lawmakers are examining that label. Now, Treasury the role that fossil fuels play in that indus- Secretary Janet Yellen warned try. The Connecticut state Senate held against assigning the SIFI designation to hearings on a bill that would be the asset managers such as BlackRock. first in the U.S. to Yellen said it is important to require that insur“look carefully” at systemic risks ance companies Fossil Fuel Investments posed by asset managers, but disclose the pre- of Top 30 Insurers in CT added that designating them as miums they receive systemically important financial from fossil fuels. institutions may not be the right Health In addition, the bill approach. The secretary’s remarks $61.8B would require insurcame in response to questions from Life $134.7B Property ers to disclose their Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., & Casualty fossil fuel investa longtime Wall Street critic, who $66B ments and exposure demanded to know why BlackRock to climate risks. and other large asset managers had Senate Bill 1047 Source: Insure Our Future not been added to the list of SIFIapplies to all insurers operating in the designated institutions. state, including Travelers, AIG, Liberty In 2014, BlackRock and other asset manMutual, Chubb and W.R. Berkley, who are agers won a battle in their fight against among the Top 10 insurers of oil and gas tighter regulation when a panel of top figlobally. nancial regulators agreed to revamp their The most recent data available shows review of asset-management firms to focus that top Connecticut insurance compa- on potentially risky products and activities nies have invested more than $220 billion rather than individual firms. by the end of the year, but they do not expect joblessness to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.
More CFOs in the U.S. believe cybersecurity is a bigger risk to their business than COVID-19 is. Source: LIMRA
Source: National Association for Business Economics
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
Source: CNBC Global CFO Council
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Traffk Is Speeding Up The Entire Industry From IMO to MGU, insurance products will never be the same
hat is not a typo in the Is the industry as a whole reheadline. And if the signed to slow progress, awkfirm’s name caught ward sales conversations and your eye, wait until frustrating client experiences? you see how its unique Justin Snapp, president of Traffk MGU structure is helping and head of Traffk Distribution, is provagents (and their in- ing otherwise. In fact, Traffk can not surance marketing organizations) place only help agents and advisors place more business and faster today, but also the more business — faster! It’s no secret that words like “change” company is revolutionizing the way the and “innovation” are met with more entire industry may soon operate. A bold statement, for sure, and not skepticism than excitement in our industry. And while today’s insurance one that many aside from Justin have companies and carriers truly mean well the experience or the passion to pull and try to innovate, keeping their prod- off. That’s because over the past 20 ucts and platforms as cutting-edge as years, he’s worn many hats, from being possible, many find themselves too old a retail producer and then a manager to an internal and external wholesaler, and bogged down to leap. The reality is that many carriers, leg- followed by being an agency developer acy carriers — as “stable” as they may for one of the world’s largest carriers … all before founding the be — have legacy sysinfamous Innovative Brotems and legacy mindkerage Network. He also sets, resulting in buggy, entered the industry on a obsolete technology and personal mission: to inproducts not built with sure and protect the legacy efficiency or modern deof as many families as he mands in mind. Tradican, however he can. tional underwriting, for In other words, he’s example, even with all driven to help families and the technology in place, knows firsthand where the still can take weeks or Justin Snapp industry’s weaknesses are, months. from every angle. Even more ironic, That unique passion/expertise combo many “instant” insurance products still require a 20-to-30-minute follow-up call is precisely what made Innovative Browith a third-party underwriter. That’s kerage Network and its agents so sucafter an agent has spent time gaining cessful and popular across the country. But for as cutting-edge as IBN was, rapport, identifying appropriate coverage and filling out the instant applica- Justin knew more needed to be done to tion … all to have the client answer simi- increase the speed and efficiency of the sales process for clients and the agents lar questions all over again. It’s a lesson that new agents learn who served them. He couldn’t accomall too quickly and seasoned ones have plish more than that as an IMO. What was needed was a paradigm shift from come to accept as the way it is. inside the industry out. And that meant … But does it have to be this way?
InsuranceNewsNet InsuranceNewsNetMagazine Magazine »» May May2021 2021
Innovative Brokerage Network had to team up with the right insurtech company and become Traffk MGU.
While IMOs and field marketing organizations frequently partner with carriers to create their own, proprietary products (many of which are very solid choices), including a few “instant issue” offerings, the structures of those marketing organizations are still at the mercy of outside insurance companies’ application and underwriting processes. Unfortunately, this is where many carriers’ legacy systems and procedures come into play and can bring an otherwise smooth appointment to a screeching halt, frustrating clients in the process. As a managing general underwriter, however, an IMO essentially becomes a full-service insurance company, allowing control over a policy’s underwriting and application process. And with a mission to streamline the entire industry from within, that meant partnering alongside an insurtech company with the data and analytics capabilities to not only design an easy-to-use cloud-based platform, capable of integrating with virtually any company’s customer relationship management to auto-populate and speed up applications, but also with the capabilities to integrate advanced artificial intelligence in order to streamline the entire underwriting process, making a product truly instant! There was one such company that checked all the boxes and even aligned with the same mission to help insure as many people as possible — the data science and technology wizards at Traffk. Together, with Traffk MGU supporting the distribution, this fateful merger created an insurtech powerhouse
ONE YEAR LATER: THE ONES WHO PROSPERED COVER STORY
The Traffk Difference AI-assisted data analysis identifies optimized risk opportunities others miss. Data drives our product innovation. Our cloud-based sales platform enables agents and customers to transact paperless, instantissue insurance products from quote to policy delivery in minutes. Traffk owned and partnered distribution encompasses 25,000+ agents from a wide variety of markets. Decades of insurance industry domain expertise.
capable of controlling product design, distribution and underwriting — all under the same roof in a modern fashion that is designed to never get slowed down by legacy systems that plague others in the space.
The industry will never be the same — in a good way!
The first order of business was to create a cloud-first platform that can completely replace traditional carrier infrastructure, including a best-in-class e-application that enables agent-led and direct-to-consumer sales engagement. That same platform can also power an agent’s lead generation and run advanced mortality scoring and AI-assisted digital underwriting, all with the goal of showing legacy carriers how incorporating their system could allow any company to offer fully underwritten, instant-issue products — even in catego-
ries once thought impossible to underwrite so rapidly. And the best part is this cloud-first platform now makes it easy for everyone — from the 25-year-old starting a family to the 75-year-old who feels intimidated and overwhelmed by technology — to acquire the insurance they need without confusion or wasting any time. In other words, with Traffk’s technology in play, clients can get those lower, underwritten rates without waiting for parameds or attending physician statements, and agents can place business easier, faster and more smoothly than ever before. To prove it works and that complicated, time-consuming underwriting is not needed in this day and age, Traffk is in the process of launching several instant-issue products through its distribution arms, starting with a 100% instant-decision whole life policy that expands upon the
In a digital world, data, and the ability to fully analyze it, is critical to insurers’ survival. The businesses that will succeed will be the ones who can quickly analyze and adapt to data to make better business decisions and serve their customers better and faster. Katz, Ori, “Explainablity: The Next Frontier for Artificial Intelligence in Insurance and Banking.”
traditional final expense product base. Coming soon is a high-net-worth term product with face amounts up to $2 million, followed by middle-market term, disability, long-term care and annuity products. All instant issue. All with preferred rates clients want. All without time-consuming underwriting.
To see for yourself how much more smoothly your client interactions can run or to learn about integrating Traffk’s game-changing platform with your business, visit www.GetTraffk.com.
May 2021 2021 »» InsuranceNewsNet InsuranceNewsNet Magazine Magazine May
A Visit With Agents of Change
BY SUSAN RUPE
EBONY RUFFIN wants to show her clients that life insurance can be about more than its death benefit.
bony Ruffin was back home after graduating from Auburn University when she discovered a piece of mail that eventually led to her life’s passion. “I found an envelope addressed to me, and I thought, ‘OK, I can open this,’” she said. “And then I saw it was a life insurance statement. But I saw there was cash value in the account, and I didn’t know what it meant. I told my mom I didn’t know I had money in my name, and she explained she had taken out life insurance for me when I went to college. And she went on to explain the different types of life insurance, and she explained why the money was there. But she also told me the importance of letting it sit there because I might need it later in life.” 16
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
It wasn’t Ruffin’s first experience with life insurance. She remembered how “the insurance man” visited her grandmother’s house in Montgomery, Ala., every week to collect her life insurance premium. Ruffin also recalled how her grandmother placed her life insurance policy in her bedroom with all her important papers for safekeeping. Ruffin eventually became the director of finance for a law firm in Reston, Va., where she saw how the partners used key-person life insurance. And a spark was lit. “I said to myself, ‘Childhood, college, mom, my career — there has to be something about life insurance for me to know more about,’” she said. That desire to know more about life
insurance led Ruffin to obtain her license and become appointed with a carrier. Now she is the founder and managing member of Ruffin Consulting Services in Atlanta. Ruffin uses social media, podcasting and other virtual tools to connect with what she calls her “warm market” of young Black professionals and families. “These are the people I already knew. And they trusted me because they knew my professional background,” she said. “They already knew I have a bachelor’s degree in finance and I have a master’s degree in international business. They just didn’t know my experience in life insurance, but they allowed me to present the different types of life insurance and allowed me to explain illustrations.”
AN ALLY FOR LIFE — WITH EBONY RUFFIN
As Ruffin serves her clients through the changes in their lives, she aims “to create a sense of community within my market.” “I’m not a churn-and-burn agent. I focus on relationships. I want my clients to feel comfortable calling me directly.” She is moving beyond her warm market as referrals keep coming in. She is studying for her Series 65 license, as she plans to expand her practice from a business-to-consumer model to work with law firms and private-practice medical firms, creating financial plans and incorporating life insurance into those plans.
Insurance As Part Of A Lifestyle
Ruffin uses social media to market herself and share her knowledge of life insurance. She started with Instagram, then moved into LinkedIn and Facebook. In her social media posts, she attempts to present life insurance as part of a lifestyle instead of as a commodity. “On social media, you have to be able to connect with people’s emotions,” she said. “So on my Instagram, you will see posts about life insurance being a luxury
lifestyle. This allows me to incorporate my lifestyle into the branding of life insurance. So I show you things like healthy meals. Or if I’m dining out, I’ll show what that looks like. And I want it to seem like there is a luxury around life insurance, because people want to be associated with something that feels good, that is of high value and doesn’t feel like death.” Ruffin said she also wants her social media posts to position life insurance as “a wealth benefit and not a death benefit.” “The topic of generational wealth always has been big,” she said. “People want to be associated with wealth. People want to create, sustain and carry wealth from one generation to the next.” She also wants to brand herself on social media as “the woman who, as crazy as it sounds, really does love life insurance and makes it fun.”
“From there, people will follow you and begin to trust you.” But even though Ruffin depends heavily on social media to showcase her practice, she believes “you want to make sure your clients’ offline experience is as great as their online experience.” “When someone goes from your Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn to your booking system, it should be flawless; it should be professional,” she said. “And then when you have your appointment, you want to show professionalism but also show the personality that clients connect with online. From there, I feel you can totally seal the deal. And then that person can refer more clients to you, and you’re creating your ecosystem and community of life insurance.”
A Process For Success
Ruffin created a practice and a system that was completely remote and online years before COVID-19 made in-person sales a challenge. She incorporated Zoom into her appointment system.
Prospects can book an appointment and complete an intake form online. From there, the appointment gets placed on the online calendar, and Ruffin will meet with the prospect on Zoom. During that initial call, Ruffin will assess the prospect’s life insurance needs, explain different types of coverage and complete an analysis. Also during that call, Ruffin will focus on what she calls the DIME — debt, income, mortgage, education — method of helping a prospect determine how much coverage they need. After the call, prospects receive a follow-up email that includes resources to help the prospect learn more about life insurance. Meanwhile, Ruffin said, she works behind the scenes on the life insurance illustrations, based on
IN THE FIELD
the information she gathered from the consultation. When the illustrations are ready, Ruffin will review them with the prospect in another Zoom call. After tweaking the illustrations if necessary, Ruffin will complete the e-application for the coverage. The e-app is secured on the insurance carrier’s website. Once the application is approved. The prospect gets an email notifying them to review and sign the application. After Ruffin signs it as well, the application goes to the carrier’s underwriting department. “I have mechanisms in my workflow where I’m giving my clients updates so they can stay connected to the process and not feel like there’s this period of silence,” she said. “And then once the application is approved, they get an email notification congratulating them on this amazing moment. We’ll review the policy with them, sign the documents electronically and send everything back to the insurance company. At the end, they get an email asking them to share their feedback or give a testimonial, asking where I can improve and asking if I can share their experience. And those testimonials also help grow my business.” Ruffin said she mapped out her process in 2018 or 2019. “As you grow in business, you cannot continue to do a manual process for everything, and you cannot continue to do it all by yourself,” she said. “I want this to work no matter where I am in the world, because I want to have an insurance empire.”
Social Media Spreads The Word
Social media plays a big part in the growth of Ruffin’s business. She uses Facebook and LinkedIn to promote topics ranging from how children can support their aging Black parents to debunking the myths about life insurance as well as how to protect a family’s legacy with life insurance. She even sells a line of life insurance-themed apparel on her website. May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
A Visit With Agents of Change
Ruffin is especially interested in reaching out to women — those who are life insurance prospects as well as those who are in the insurance business. She is the author of the Gurl Get Your Life guide, in which she gives advice to women on how to buy life insurance. She also provides training to life insurance agents who want advice on how to expand their practices. She is a frequent guest on podcasts such as The Clever Girls Know, BeRich
type of life insurance that best meets your needs.” Sheronda White is a nursing professor who has known Ruffin since their days at Auburn. When White needed to buy life insurance to protect her growing family, she turned to Ruffin to help her get the right coverage. “I love her passion for what she does,” White said of Ruffin. “She gives off this energy, and she has found her purpose.”
“When someone goes from your Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn to your booking system, it should be flawless; it should be professional.” and Live Financially Savvy, where she discusses life insurance and its importance to women. She has appeared on the Black Press USA National Newspaper Publishers Association’s YouTube channel to discuss creating generational wealth using life insurance. She also developed an e-course on life insurance to educate consumers on the product. “It incorporates quizzes — it’s audio, it’s visual. And it’s a great way to learn and test your knowledge along the way. Because my goal is to make sure people feel confident. And then when they speak with an agent, I don’t want them to feel embarrassed if they do not have life insurance or if they don’t have enough life insurance. I also want people to know there’s no judgment, it’s confidential, it’s professional. The goal is to get you adequately insured with the 18
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
The life insurance industry has come a long way from the days when the agent (nearly always a man) went from door to door, selling policies and collecting premiums, Ruffin said. “Now we have more women involved in the industry, and we don’t have to go door to door; we can leverage social media and our networks and all of the businesswomen’s organizations that we’re a part of.” Susan Rupe is managing editor for Insurance NewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents’ association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Susan.Rupe@ innfeedback.com. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
Variable annuities are sold by prospectus. Your clients should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of a portfolio and the variable insurance product carefully before investing. The portfolio and variable insurance product prospectuses contain this and other information. A prospectus can be obtained at securian.com or 1-866-335-7355. An annuity is intended to be a long-term, taxdeferred retirement vehicle. Earnings are taxable as ordinary income when distributed, and if withdrawn before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty. If the annuity will fund an IRA or other tax qualified plan, the tax deferral feature offers no additional value. Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are generally excluded from gross income, but taxes and penalties may apply to non-qualified distributions. Please consult a tax advisor for specific information. There are charges and expenses associated with annuities, such as deferred sales charges for early withdrawals. Variable annuities have additional expenses such as mortality and expense risk, administrative charges, investment management fees and rider fees. The variable subaccounts of variable annuities are subject to market fluctuation, investment risk and loss of principal. MultiOption annuities and optional benefits may not be approved in all states and product features may vary by state. Not all products, features and optional benefits are available from all firms. We reserve the right to limit or discontinue acceptance of future purchase payments after the contract is issued. This may limit the ability to increase the contract value through additional purchase payments. If an optional benefit is elected in the contract, this may also limit the ability to increase the value used to calculate the optional benefit. 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 affiliates, have a financial interest in the sale of their products. The Indexed Account options described here can be accessed through the purchase of the MultiOption Momentum variable annuity. This material must be preceded or accompanied by a current MultiOption Momentum variable annuity prospectus. You should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the portfolio, Indexed Accounts and the variable insurance product carefully before investing. The portfolio and variable insurance product prospectuses contain this and other information. Please read the prospectuses carefully before investing. 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. Securities offered through Securian Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/ SIPC, 400 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 551012098, 1-800-820-4205. Securian Financial is the marketing name for Securian Financial Group, Inc., and its affiliates. Minnesota Life Insurance Company and Securian Life Insurance Company are affiliates of Securian Financial Group, Inc. The information presented above is solely intended for use by financial professionals. Such information is not intended for public consumption or dissemination.
Variable annuities are sold by prospectus. Your clients should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of a portfolio and the variable insurance product carefully before investing. The portfolio and variable insurance product prospectuses contain this and other information. A prospectus can be obtained at securian.com or 1-866-335-7355. An annuity is intended to be a long-term, taxdeferred retirement vehicle. Earnings are taxable as ordinary income when distributed, and if withdrawn before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty. If the annuity will fund an IRA or other tax qualified plan, the tax deferral feature offers no additional value. Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are generally excluded from gross income, but taxes and penalties may apply to non-qualified distributions. Please consult a tax advisor for specific information. There are charges and expenses associated with annuities, such as deferred sales charges for early withdrawals. Variable annuities have additional expenses such as mortality and expense risk, administrative charges, investment management fees and rider fees. The variable subaccounts of variable annuities are subject to market fluctuation, investment risk and loss of principal. MultiOption annuities and optional benefits may not be approved in all states and product features may vary by state. Not all products, features and optional benefits are available from all firms. We reserve the right to limit or discontinue acceptance of future purchase payments after the contract is issued. This may limit the ability to increase the contract value through additional purchase payments. If an optional benefit is elected in the contract, this may also limit the ability to increase the value used to calculate the optional benefit. 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 affiliates, have a financial interest in the sale of their products. The Indexed Account options described here can be accessed through the purchase of the MultiOption Momentum variable annuity. This material must be preceded or accompanied by a current MultiOption
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May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
of a e l p m a x e t e lates ived on the h t s i h e i s Tony H le person who l will. a i t f u o r o p h t i h hig died w n e h t d n a edge relli A. Mo n e v e t S By
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
WHEN CELEBRITIES (STILL!) GO WILD COVER STORY
Celebrities are just like other clients. They need to understand that estate planning means love.
Advisors confirmed that they had more people speaking to them about estate
AGE: 46, Nov. 27, 2020 DEATH: Smoke inhalation; Bridgeport, Conn. ESTATE MISTAKE: No will and no planning, exacerbated by erratic behavior.
here are estate-planning disasters, and then there are the “quit the business that you grew into a phenomenon, become addicted to various substances, buy random parts of a town in Utah and die in a literal fire of your own making” kinds of disasters. That was the swan dive that Tony Hsieh executed on the way to his demise. After 20 years of leading Zappos to worldclass success and redeveloping parts of downtown Las Vegas, Hsieh unraveled in spectacular fashion. Hsieh died soon after firefighters pulled him from a building in Connecticut charred by a fire he set, leaving not only an estate worth hundreds of millions of dollars but also a mystery as to what he wanted done with it. Although he had substantial assets, the 46-year-old did not leave a will or any estate-planning documents. Hsieh’s father and brother are trying to pull together all the property he bought and promises he made, sometimes on sticky notes, during the months leading to his death. In some ways, Hsieh was another indirect casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. He grew increasingly erratic after the lockdown began, resigning from Zappos in August 2020 and dying three months later. Although the pandemic increased awareness of mortality, only about a third of Americans thought they should consider planning their estates or should even consider preparing a will, according to Caring.com’s annual wills survey. And only about a third of those people did anything about it. Those who did pursue planning tended to be younger than indicated in previous surveys and tended to be in higher income brackets.
planning and insurance during the pandemic. Even so, some advisors are still surprised by how many people do not believe they need a will. Gabrielle Clemens was not surprised. Although she serves an affluent clientele in her wealth management practice in Boston, she does not assume that new clients have attended to their planning. Just as Caring.com’s survey found that about 30% of Americans do not think they have enough money to require a will, Clemens said that statistic even applies to many people who have been referred to her. “They don’t think they need it because they don’t think they have enough money, and it’s just not true,” Clemens said. “So yes, I have clients who don't have wills, don’t have trusts, don’t have any kind of estate planning in place, and it’s a recipe for disaster right there. I mean if you have a million dollars, you need a will.” Clemens takes a blunt approach on the
subject. She does not dress it up to persuade the client. She just simply tells them they need a will and other planning. Then she tells them why. Often, people have not considered all the elements of their lives that need buttoning up — and what happens if they don’t get things in order. Sure, they might have a beneficiary named on their 401(k) at work, but is that beneficiary still correct? What about their other accounts? What about their house? “Who’s going to get your home if you’re not married or you don’t have children and your parents are gone?” Clemens said. “What happens if you don’t have an estate plan? If you don’t have your home in a trust with a named beneficiary, then it’s going to go through the probate process in court. And it gets cumbersome and expensive, and it’s difficult for the people who are trying to administer your estate.” Difficult would be an understatement for what Hsieh’s family is still going through. May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
COVER STORY WHEN CELEBRITIES (STILL!) GO WILD His father and brother had to visit Park City, Utah, to get a handle on his affairs there. Hsieh had big plans to bring art and commerce to the upscale town, whether its residents wanted it or not. He bought many properties there and entered into an unknown number of agreements, some of which are written on sticky notes that his family must gather for probate court. Another recent case of failing to detail agreements adequately was Herman Cain, who died after contracting COVID-19. His assistant, Lisa Reichert, claims that Cain promised her a severance deal that she plans to pursue despite not producing a document with the details. An observer can write that off as Reichert’s bad luck in apparently not getting it in writing. But she is making it difficult for Cain’s widow and estate. Reichert claims that Cain’s widow is undercounting the estate by leaving out gold bars and coins she claims Cain kept in a safe deposit box. In Hsieh’s case, he did write down his agreements, but haphazardly, and often on sticky notes. Clemens said he has not had a client go off the rails in the way Hsieh did,
although she did have to untangle a situation in which a client’s spouse devasted the family’s finances because of a gambling problem. What she sees most often is the effect of dementia — and of simple loneliness. She has had a few clients, typically widows, who have been unduly influenced by someone taking advantage of them. There was the example of a client, a “well-known woman,” who was asking for a sizable amount to be sent to a person. First it was $15,000, so off the money went. Then another $15,000, sent again — after all, it’s her money. Then came the request for $75,000. Clemens got on the phone to ask the client who this person was. “She said, ‘She’s right here. Do you want to speak to her?’” Clemens said, adding that she most definitely wanted to speak with her. “She got on the phone, and this woman says, ‘Yes, I’m her spiritual advisor. I’m a psychic. And I see very negative things coming toward your client, and this money will clear it.’” Clemens said she was able to help her client gain some “clarity to her thought process” and help her understand what
“negative things” might actually exist in the situation. It was an example of the growing problem of charlatans preying on vulnerable seniors, especially in their most difficult times, which were made worse by the loneliness deepened by the pandemic.
Hsieh’s family is losing time having to organize the pieces of the estate, but they are also losing substantial money. The estate is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Forbes estimated that the estate is worth $840 million, but who knows? The probate court is still getting a handle on it several months after Hsieh died. The Park City house and property he occupied is worth $16 million alone, exceeding the $11.6 million estate tax exemption all on its own. People in Las Vegas are beginning to realize that about 100 of Hsieh’s properties there could be going to auction. Without the proper planning, 40% of the proceeds from that sale and the rest of the estate will go to the federal government. That is not counting the legal fees, other probate costs and state taxes. John Arthur Brown/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Herman Cain AGE: 74, July 30, 2020 DEATH: COVID-19 complications; Stockbridge, Ga. ESTATE MISTAKE: Did not specify severance agreement with assistant, complicating probate.
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
WHEN CELEBRITIES (STILL!) GO WILD COVER STORY
Chadwick Boseman AGE: 43, Aug. 28, 2020 DEATH: Colon cancer; Los Angeles ESTATE MISTAKE: Did not have a will. Given Hsieh’s civic-mindedness, he probably would have preferred the money had gone another route, said Harry S. Margolis, a Wellesley, Mass., attorney Clemens often works with. Without a will, the state says the money goes to the closest relatives. “Which may be what he would have wanted anyway,” Margolis said. “But he was an interesting guy. I mean, he created a whole new neighborhood in Las Vegas and had an idea of how people should live there. He may have wanted to have money go to a nonprofit to support some of those ideas and to create a legacy.” His family might still do something like that, but they will have to do it with 40% less money. Hsieh could have leveraged even more than his money’s worth if he had set up charities. “The tax code is very supportive of rich people setting money aside for charity,” Margolis said, adding that it does not
mean they lose control of the money. “They control what the charity does, instead of the taxpayers, but they’re allowed to do that.” Chadwick Boseman is another example of a celebrity who died without a will. In the case of the “Black Panther” actor, he did not do any estate planning even though he had been suffering from progressive colon cancer for four years before he died at 43. Boseman’s widow had to go to court to get control of his $938,000 estate. Although he died in August 2020, the court did not grant control of the estate until November.
Tangled Webs That Families Weave
Hsieh and Boseman are the latest high-profile instances of well-known people dying without a will. But usually the problem with celebrity estate-planning is a complicated personal life. May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
COVER STORY WHEN CELEBRITIES (STILL!) GO WILD
Larry King AGE: 87, Jan. 23, 2021 DEATH: COVID-19 complications; Los Angeles ESTATE MISTAKE: Handwrote separate will, complicating the probate process.
COVID-19 Prompts Estate Planning, But Only With Younger People Many insurance agents and financial advisors saw quite a bit of activity with clients who came to appreciate a sense of mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic. But a survey found a surprising result — it was mostly younger people who recognized their risk and took action, according to Caring.com’s 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study. For example: • The number of young adults who have a will has increased by 63% since 2020. • In 2021, 18-to-34-year-olds are, for the first time, more likely to have a will than are 35-to-54-year-olds. • Despite COVID-19, the overall percentage of Americans who have a will has not significantly changed. In fact, middle-age and older adults are less likely to have a will now than they were the year before. Now, 18-to-34-year-olds are 16% more likely to have a will than those in the 35-54 age group, Caring. com said in releasing the study. The younger generation was also the most likely to cite COVID-19 as the reason they started taking estate planning seriously.
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
Larry King was a classic case of that. When he died at 87 in January, he had been married seven times and was in the middle of a divorce. His widow was lucky that the divorce was still pending, but his children, not so much. Although King had done estate-planning, he apparently handwrote a secret will that would have split his estate among his five children and did not mention his wife. Thomas J. Archer of The Archer Financial Group counts many celebrities, athletes and uberwealthy among his clients. From his practice on Manhattan’s Park Avenue and in Boca Raton, Fla., he sold $2 billion of life insurance in 2020. He says he has strategies to “divorce-proof” estates for the complicated lives he encounters with his clients. Planning starts with the basic documents and grows from there. “The will is just the basic document, and then you need the trusts and the
WHEN CELEBRITIES (STILL!) GO WILD COVER STORY powers of attorney and all of those things that come along with it,” Archer said. “Once you have all those documents in place, then you have to take a look at your assets, and you have to say all these assets are liquid or are illiquid. If they’re illiquid, you have to ask how is my family going to come up with the dollars to pay the tax on this stuff regardless of who’s getting it, regardless of if it’s a second wife, a third wife, a stepchild.” Of course, that is a wide-open opportunity for life insurance, but it also means nailing down all the details first. Maybe life insurance works in a particular case, or maybe it doesn’t. Archer said the planning exposes the need and starts the process of filling that need. That process rarely yields a simple answer. A half-prepared estate can lead to a complete disaster. Archer can reel off many high-profile examples of families that have lost professional sports teams and other large assets. “They just did basic planning, and they
didn’t buy any life insurance for liquidity,” Archer said. “They were forced to sell their assets in order to pay the taxes.” Archer says he is an insurance man but emphasized that the full scope of planning must come first for the client’s sake. “You can write a will on a roll of toilet paper. It still counts,” Archer said. “But you really have to get those thoughts down on paper with signatures and witnesses. Otherwise, it ends up in the courts, and then they decide where things go. You’d be surprised how a lot of this stuff doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to go.” The next step is to keep up with clients. Archer said he reviews his clients’ documents annually to ensure they are up to speed, even if he has not done business with them in years. He said if an agent does not do that, the clients’ plans can age poorly. “Back in the ’80s, the exemption was $600,000, so people would say, ‘I’ll leave the exemption to the kids,’ and at that time, they meant $600,000,” Archer said.
The pandemic might have just made younger people realize that estate planning is not only for old people, said Patrick Hicks, head of legal at Trust & Will. “The unknown aspects of COVID-19 were an unexpected shock that helped many younger Americans realize that estate planning is important precisely because you never can know what the future may bring,” Hicks said. “Having a plan in place is one small step to protect you and your family from otherwise uncontrollable risks.” Caring.com partnered with YouGov.com to survey 2,500 Americans to see who is engaging in estate planning and why or why not. The survey found that although the COVID-19 pandemic has increased people’s desire to get a will (35% saw a greater need), the overall percentage of people with a will hasn’t changed since the previous year — two out of three still don’t have crucial estate planning documents.
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
COVER STORY WHEN CELEBRITIES (STILL!) GO WILD
Partners For Better Planning
Estate-planning advisors and attorneys have something in common — they need each other for a sound practice. Besides providing technical assistance, one professional can help support the goals of the other. For example, Lawrence D. Mandelker is an attorney specializing in estate planning and multigenerational asset transfer and preservation for high net worth individuals from his Venable LLP office in Rockefeller Center. When Mandelker is working with clients, he is not just setting up documentation — he also is helping life insurance agents ensure that their clients’ life insurance accords with their wishes. Mandelker spots holes in planning and helps the agent learn to ask smart estate-planning questions. “Sometimes people don’t realize that they need estate planning done, so they’ll contact a life insurance agent and say, ‘I need a life insurance policy,’” Mandelker said. “And the insurance agent will say, ‘Have you decided how you’re holding this policy?’” The answer has implications not just for taxes, the most obvious impact, but also for the very health of clients’ beneficiaries. Is it enough to have a $10 million policy and name a child as the beneficiary? Legally, yes. Some people even think that is all estate planning requires. But do people want a 10-year-old to get $10 million? Probably not. Of course, for a minor, there are going to be some restrictions. How about a 19-year-old? As an 26
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
“If that client is worth only $2 million and the wording is still there that I leave the exemption, the exemption now is all the way up to $11 million, and now the wife says, ‘Oh, my God. I don’t get anything.’” In John Singleton’s case, the director of “Boyz n the Hood” had not updated his will since 1993, soon after his first daughter was born. When Singleton died at 51 of a stroke in April 2019, he had seven children, but they all may lose out on any money because only one of them was named in Singleton’s will. His mother has asked the probate court to review the estate. All of this will drain part of the $3.8 million estate and leave a legacy of disappointment no matter how the probate court works it out.
John Singleton AGE: 51, April 28, 2019 DEATH: Stroke; Los Angeles ESTATE MISTAKE: Did not update his will, disinheriting several children. adult, they can get the full amount. “Do I want my 19-year-old sophomore in college to receive a $10 million check tomorrow?” Mandelker asked. “What’s that going to do to his ability to concentrate in school? What’s that going to do to his feeling that he needs to work hard? Is that going to change his lifestyle? Is he going to think, ‘Oh, I don’t need to work. I’ve got $10 million.’” He helps in other ways as well. For example, he knows how to guide clients to see estate planning and buying life insurance as an expression of their vision and love rather than as a chore. He starts from a point of agreement on the chore perspective and builds from there. “There are things we do not because we want to but because we should. Insurance falls into that category,” Mandelker said. “I don’t want to pay my casualty insurance, and I certainly don’t want to be in a position to collect the benefits, because that means that my house has burned down, but I want to do the responsible thing to protect my family. The same idea applies to life insurance, where I’m betting that I am going to die this year. I want to lose that bet, but I want to do the responsible thing and make sure that my family is protected in the event I ‘win’ the bet.” He mentions what many people find
uncomfortable about insurance — that you are betting money that pays off only if you die. And losing the bet that year means have persisted in remaining alive. It’s an odd lose-win situation. Then he goes a step further. “There are many reasons why someone may want to invest in a life insurance policy. They may view it as a diversified investment or as a way to replace lifetime earnings and ensure that certain expenses, such as the mortgage, college or estate taxes, are paid for in the event of an untimely death,” Mandelker said. “Once you’ve made the decision that it’s a good use of your assets, then the next logical step is to make sure you get the most benefit out of it. You want to work with your advisors to reduce taxes and other expenses that affect the death benefit ultimately received and to make sure the proceeds of the insurance are paid in the way most helpful or appropriate for your beneficiaries.” Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why the Current IMO Model Doesn’t Work “Annuity commissions paid in one day. Client-facing annual reviews done for you in one click. The first end-to-end platform designed to manage every part of an annuity advisor’s business.” That was some of the gossip Robert Smith, an accomplished financial advisor based in the Denver metropolitan area, heard surrounding a new Detroit-based insurance marketing organization. A company, if word proved true, that could help increase his production and streamline his business. Skeptical after over a decade of false promises by other marketing organizations, the industry veteran had to see for
reveals. “The more successful a marketer is, the more advisors they have on their team and the less time they have for you and your business.” He would know. Patrick spent a decade as a financial advisor, built industry-leading annuity software and has partnered with nearly every top IMO in the country.
An End-To-End Platform To End Other Platforms While some IMOs offer customer relationship management systems, quoting engines and other tools, none keep everything an advisor would need under a single platform. “We’re a tech-enabled IMO that puts advisors first. We know the frustrations they have. So we completely invented our own platform to make it easier for them to run their business,” Patrick explains. — Patrick Kelly, Co-founder and CEO, Signal Advisors It seems Signal Advisors has the right team himself how this firm — Signal Advisors to pull this off. “We’ve been advisors, — was different. Armed with a single and we’ve built successful technology case, a plane ticket and a little hope, he companies. No other IMO has that DNA. If you’re building an IMO today, in 2021, flew to their headquarters. Robert had no idea that the rumors he that’s the DNA you need.” The result is the first end-to-end platheard about this firm were just the tip of form that simplifies every part of an adthe iceberg. visor’s practice, from new business and case design to marketing and commisAn IMO With NO Marketers One of the first things you’ll hear from sions. But perhaps the real icing on the Signal Advisors’ co-founder, Patrick cake is this... Kelly, is that his firm doesn’t use marketers. “We simply asked ourselves: Advisors Are Paid In 24 Hours How do we invest less in marketers and Often in the life and annuity world, commore in our advisors?” Patrick contin- missions take time, sometimes months, to ues, “Marketers are the single largest pay out. At Signal Advisors, all commisexpense for an IMO, sometimes upward sions are paid within 24 hours of an appliof 50% of revenue. If you’re going to tru- cation being submitted in good order. Paying annuity commissions in one ly reinvent the IMO, you need to follow day was what got Robert’s attention. But the money. “This is how we can afford to do things it was the end-to-end platform that would other IMOs can’t, like pay commissions have a broader impact on his day-to-day in one day, offer one-click annual reviews, business. He had a case in hand when he arrived and build out the first end-to-end techin Detroit to meet the team at Signal Adnology platform for annuity advisors. “Almost any producer can see the cur- visors — and he was paid before his plane rent IMO model doesn’t work,” Patrick left for home.
“How do we invest less in marketers and more in our advisors?”
To schedule a demo of the Signal Advisors platform, visit: www.BetterThanAnIMO.com. May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
LIFEWIRES US Individual Life Insurance Market Share By Premium – 2020
LIMRA 2020 Data Shows Mixed Results For Life Sales While total life insurance new annualized premium fell 3% in 2020, the number of Fixed UL
Variable UL Term
Indexed Universal Life
policies sold in 2020 increased 2% for the year, driven by strong whole life and term sales, according to LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Retail Life Insurance Sales Survey. In the fourth quarter, total life insurance new premium dropped 8%, compared with the record-breaking sales results in fourth-quarter 2019. Total policy sales were up 2% in the fourth quarter. Term new premium increased 4% in the fourth quarter and ended the year 4% above 2019 sales results. Six out of the top 10 writers reported increases for the year. Term policy count was 5% higher in the quarter than in the prior year and 7% higher in 2020 compared with 2019. This is the highest annual policy sales growth for term since 1999. In the fourth quarter, whole life sales were strong. WL new premium rose 5% and experienced the largest growth in absolute dollars, led by agency-building distribution. WL new premium increased slightly for the year, up 1% compared with 2019 sales.
ALLSTATE COMPLETES LIFE/ ANNUITY EXIT
Allstate finalized its exit from the life and annuity business with the sale of Allstate Life Insurance Company of New York to Wilton Re. The $220 million deal is expected to close in the second half of the year, subject to regulatory approval. This transaction, along with the previously announced agreement to sell Allstate Life Insurance Company and certain affiliates to entities managed by Blackstone, completes Allstate’s exit from the life and annuity business. Despite the sale, consumers still can obtain life insurance and related products from Allstate. The company said its agents and exclusive financial specialists will continue to offer life insurance and retirement solutions from third-party providers.
See ya ! DID YOU
QUOTABLE The silver lining to this pandemic for our industry is that the awareness of the value of life insurance is at an all-time high. — Faisa Stafford, president and CEO of Life Happens
National said in a news release. This transaction will strengthen the company’s financial position, enhance its market position, facilitate future growth and augment the capital strength of Ohio National and its insurance company subsidiaries, the release said.
BYE-BYE ‘LIFE INSURANCE MATURES’
OHIO NATIONAL TO DEMUTUALIZE
Ohio National executives cited "challenging" economic conditions in announcing an expansive reorganization plan to demutualize the company. The Ohio National Mutual Holdings board of directors unanimously approved a strategic transaction with Constellation Insurance Holdings. ONMH is the parent company of Ohio National Financial Services, a leading provider of financial products. The deal includes the conversion of ONMH to a stock company and the issuance of all of its newly issued stock to Constellation pursuant to a sponsored demutualization. Constellation, an insurance holding company, is backed by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, "two of the world’s largest, premier, longterm institutional investors," Ohio
A highlight of every Monopoly game is picking one of the 16 cards that make up the Community Chest stack and discovering whether you won some extra cash or you have to fork over some of your hard-won money. Now Hasbro announced it is changing all of its Community Chest cards to give the 85-year-old board game a more contemporary vibe. No more winning $10 for coming in second place in a beauty contest. And you can no longer collect $100 because your life insurance policy matures. Instead, Hasbro is asking Monopoly fans to go to its website to vote on new cards with messages such as “Rescue A Puppy,” “Shop Local” or “Help Your Neighbors.”
55% of women said they are likely to buy life insurance using simplified underwriting. Source: The Wall Street Journal
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
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More details are available at allianzlife.com/indexlock or call the Life Case Design Team: 800.950.7372 FIUL policies provide a generally income-tax-free death benefit for beneficiaries and the potential to build accumulation value. 1
Setting targets authorizes Allianz to automatically activate an Index Lock once the target is reached based on the index interest rate percentage at the end of the business day; clients can only lock once per crediting period. Targets need to be renewed after each crediting period and must be greater than the current index return for the crediting period. This service may be discontinued at any time.
Guarantees are backed solely by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz). Product and feature availability may vary by state and broker/dealer. This offer is not valid in the state of New York. Products are issued by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, 5701 Golden Hills Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55416-1297. (P64339) 3492262.1 M-7496-C (4/2021) May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
One Advisor’s Experience With Accelerated Underwriting A look back at the pandemic year and how it paved the way for faster life insurance underwriting.
Fast, Faster, Fastest: Types Of Accelerated Underwriting
By Peachie G. Thompson
minutes. That's all the time it took for a client to be approved preferred plus for $1 million of life insurance. Less than half an hour from the time I got off the phone to solidify her insurance design to the time her policy was approved. The case was issued the following day, and the policy was in force within minutes of our delivery videoconference. In January 2020, I canceled a trip to Southeast Asia. It was a decision I did not make lightly but, ultimately, I did not want to be “Patient 1” and spread COVID-19 in Northeast Florida. What followed shortly after was like a Hollywood movie about some virus wiping out humanity. As we all know, in early 2020 the world just shut down. My kids went on spring break not knowing they would not return to the same class. As Floridians, we are prepared to work remotely in the event of a hurricane. Our office functioned without disruption when stay-at-home orders were put in place throughout the country. Insurance companies flooded my inbox with memos about COVID-19. Carriers imposed travel, age and health restrictions, and temporarily put a halt to accepting people ages 70 and older for coverage. In some cases, younger people ages were not accepted for coverage if they were not a true standard risk. People who are highly rated or those who have medical conditions such as heart disease, significant history of cancer, pulmonary or autoimmune diseases and diabetes were temporarily unacceptable for coverage. Some carriers issued a blanket statement that stated they would not accept people who had any medical 30
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
Automated Underwriting • FASTEST No fluids and no APSs are required. A phone or online interview is done in lieu of a paper application and paramedic performing the insurance physical as well as collection of specimens in person. Most carriers accept STANDARD or better risk classes in this type of program. This is the fastest and most seamless of them all.
Lab-Free Underwriting • FASTER No fluids required. A phone or online interview is done in lieu of a paramedic performing the insurance physical and collection of specimens in person. An Attending Physicians Statement and/or phone interview may be needed. Some accept substandard rates when APSs are obtained. Some allow standard tobacco class in their low-face-amount programs.
Low-Face-Amount/Express Underwriting • FAST No fluids required. Random phone interviews may be requested in addition to the application. No APSs are requested; instead, client is either approved, rated or declined. Appears to be the most rigid of them all.
Other Programs • Efficient • High-income executives can procure up to $20 million of insurance without exam and labs. • There are also nonmedical underwriting programs in which carriers issue policies based on a newly completed nonmedical form, assuming the insured was fully underwritten by a reputable insurance company in recent years. • Hybrid/asset-based products mostly used for long-term care needs allow issuance of policies exam and lab free.
conditions or treatments that would make them susceptible to COVID-19. In addition, the regulatory restrictions and economic consequences that came with the pandemic forced some insurance companies to re-price products or take them off the market completely. By the summer of 2020, it was evident that the pandemic brought about a change that was long overdue. Insurance carriers were forced into the 21st century. Some quickly adapted, while some are still lagging. The early adaptors poured huge investments into technology and upgrading antiquated and legacy systems that
hindered the innovation required to process business in a different fashion. Compliance processes underwent major overhauls to cater to the new way of doing business. Staff learned how to work from home. The tried-and-true way of doing business in person was obliterated overnight. Insurance advisors had to learn new ways of communicating with clients. The use of videoconferencing exploded while emails and social media were overloaded. Some states threatened to rescind licenses if an agent sold life insurance in person! I know of some amazing insurance
ONE ADVISOR’S EXPERIENCE WITH ACCELERATED UNDERWRITING LIFE advisors who decided it was the perfect time to retire. Some opted for early retirement. Perhaps the pandemic made them realize that life is too short. Some candidly expressed the fear of having to learn new technology and ways of doing business. In their cases, it was easier to throw in the towel. Then there are those who are “business as usual” during a pandemic. My client who was approved within minutes of my presentation is no longer an anomaly — partly thanks to accelerated underwriting. What is accelerated underwriting? The answer depends on who you ask. Simply put, it is not your traditional way of underwriting, and it also is not for everybody. To qualify, the client must satisfy the carrier prerequisites based on health, age, face amount and product. Most programs require Medical Information Bureau reports, prescription drug history and motor vehicle report checks.
bination of such. Some carriers mandate how they want you to submit to qualify for their program, and some give you the freedom to choose. Although accelerated underwriting is not for everybody, today’s successful insurance advisor must be well-versed in all aspects of it. The investments that carriers have put into technology and the process overhauls that have been done as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic warrant your giving accelerated underwriting a second chance if you had a bad experience with it in the past. Here are my top four pointers to remember when using accelerated underwriting programs.
1. Conduct due diligence and do what is in your client’s best interest.
Thorough field underwriting is the key to avoiding unpleasant surprises. Carrier A may offer a client with a family history of heart disease preferred plus, but Carrier B
The last thing you want is for your client to finish underwriting only to realize at the end that one simple question ... may have pointed you to the right carrier.” Some carriers add their own requirements and a caveat stating, “Everything is at the discretion of the underwriter.” Some carriers pull random cases out of the program and move them to traditional underwriting even if the client qualifies. What products are acceptable for accelerated underwriting? Permanent and term insurance. Some carriers allow one, both or very specific products. What is the turnaround time? It ranges from instant approval to up to two weeks. What is the maximum face amount eligible? Most carriers allow up to $1 million, some up to $2 million and a few allow up to $3 million. What ages qualify? Mostly those between the ages of 18 and 65. A few carriers allow up to age 80. How do you submit applications? Paper, e-application, customized URL, drop tickets, phone interviews or any com-
may not. Asking the right questions and the tough questions are critical. The last thing you want is for your client to finish underwriting only to realize at the end that one simple question in the beginning such as “Have you had any DUI or DWI charges in the past five years?” may have pointed you to the right carrier that would give the client a better offer than the “spreadsheet winner” you picked.
2. Learn how to use videoconference applications.
It helps when communicating with your clients, and it also satisfies most carriers’ “face to face” requirements. With many people still staying at home, it is vital that you “see” your clients. Use any of the many video services and devices out there. My friend Bruce has been successful in the insurance business for 34 years. He was accustomed to traveling and conducting marathon in-person meetings.
When the pandemic hit, he was forced to work from home. Long story short, he now tells me how much he loves working from home, not getting onto planes, and using video to communicate with his clients. Less airplane and more golf time for Bruce!
3. Process new business remotely and securely.
Security and confidentiality are paramount to your success, so you must have a way to communicate and transmit electronic documents securely. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to be cheap when it comes to hiring a technology person. You may find yourself signing up for the latest and greatest only to find out you didn’t sign up for exactly what you need. Do not just find a “halfway decent” technology person. Find a truly competent person whose work speaks for itself. I once worked with a successful advisor who plateaued in his career. When I tried to explain to him that his way of doing business is obsolete and that he should “invest” in a competent technology person, he resisted with all his might. Are you wondering what happened to him when COVID-19 hit?
4. Be comfortable using online resources to check and follow up on your cases.
Nobody likes it when someone calls at 4:58 p.m. asking for case status or forms needed for a 5:30 p.m. appointment. Learn how to use the carrier website and check and follow up on your cases to avoid having to chase down home office staff very late in the afternoon or after business hours. Know that sometimes accelerated underwriting is not only for the super young and super healthy. Taking advantage of these programs could prove to be beneficial when used properly. It makes the insurance procurement process much shorter and a more modern experience. “I enjoy putting my clients through 90 or more days of underwriting,” said no one ever. Peachie G. Thompson, AALU, ALMI, ACS, is founder and CEO of Peach Insurance Services, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. She may be contacted at peachie.thompson@ innfeedback.com.
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
ANNUITYWIRES Americans Want Retirement Options
Americans Thinking More About Their 87% Retirement Planning
say a monthly retirement paycheck is an appealing option
say they will reach
Americans are spending plenty of energy thinktheir retirement ing and planning for retirement, surveys show, goals by the time they retire partly in response to the COVID-19 disruption. have failed to A new survey conducted by Capital Group, consider what home of American Funds, finds that investors they will do with their money in of all ages like the idea of monthly income in retirement SOURCE: Capital Group retirement, but they lack overall knowledge about planning. While nearly 9 out of 10 investors find the predictability of a monthly “retirement paycheck” appealing, notable gaps in financial education, investment confidence and employer resources may be preventing them from realizing this goal. Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents say they are confident about achieving their retirement goals. But the results reveal gaps and a need for education. Fewer than 1 in 5 respondents (19%) are very confident they understand the specific steps required to move from saving money for retirement, to spending money in retirement.
ALLIANZ NAMES FIRST FEMALE CEO The insurance industry continues to take concrete actions to promote diversity among its executive ranks. Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America recently named Jasmine Jirele as its first female CEO, succeeding Walter White. She wants to push more annuity products into the advisory space. “Building more of a footprint in the advisory market is clearly a focus for our distribution team,” Jirele told Jirele InsuranceNewsNet. On the product side, Allianz is coming out with a new annuity that will be marketed to advisors, she added. “We have a product that we’re developing that we’ll be launching later this year that utilizes our index variable annuity chassis or concept, but it’s really specifically tailored for that market,” Jirele said. “And we think that will have a lot of potential for growth.” DID YOU
S E I T I U ANN INTEGRITY MARKETING GROUP SETS ITS SIGHTS ON ANNUITIES
Annuity distribution is a fiercely competitive market and Integrity Marketing Group shook things up with its recent acquisition of Brokers International. Integrity has been on a buying spree, closing dozens of deals in the past two years, said Sheryl Moore, president and CEO of Moore Market Intelligence. But the Brokers International acquisition is the first major deal of an annuityfocused company, she added, and could propel Integrity into distribution competition with companies such as Simplicity, Annexus, TruChoice and AmeriLife. As part of the transaction, Mark Williams, president and CEO of Brokers International, will become a managing
QUOTABLE It would not surprise me to see a renewed push by the fiduciary advocates. — Jason Berkowitz, chief legal and regulatory affairs officer for the Insured Retirement Institute, on the future of annuity sales rules
partner with Integrity. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
NEW RETIREMENT FRAMEWORK NEEDED, GROUP ARGUES
More Americans will turn 65 in 2024 than during any year in history, according to the Alliance for Lifetime Income. A nonprofit consumer education organization, ALI published a new economic report that spotlights how underprepared millions of baby boomers are for today's retirement realities and proposes ideas for a new retirement security framework. The Peak 65 Generation — Creating A New Retirement Security Framework report finds that the fundamental problem is that the threelegged stool, which once served as a model for retirement income security — pensions, Social Security and personal savings — is wobbly at best and near collapse at worst. As many as 50% of households are at risk of not having enough money to maintain their standard of living in retirement, ALI said. The group endorses annuities as a potential solution to retirement needs.
68% of registered investment advisors say they would consider using annuities for clients in or near retirement.
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
Source: DPL Partners’ RIA Market Assumptions Survey
Source: American Equity earnings report
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
Annuities Give Retirees A Lifetime Of Spending Annuities can provide meaningful accumulation and lifetime income, but research shows consumers often overlook them because they don’t understand the products or how to position them to address income gaps. By Susan Rupe
hen advisors talk to their clients about annuities, the conversation usually centers on creating guaranteed lifetime income. But many clients might be more responsive to annuities if advisors turned the conversation around to discuss ways annuities can help clients spend more money in retirement. That was the word from Harry Stout, founder of the FinancialVerse Organization and author of several books on annuities. Stout spoke at a recent webinar sponsored by the National Association for Fixed Annuities. “I find that many people relate better to lifetime spending than they do to lifetime income. It gets back to our culture,” he said. Lifetime income is still an important issue to discuss with clients, however. Stout pointed to a recent study by CANNEX and Greenwald Research that showed consumers’ No. 1 fear about retirement is running out of money. “When you look at what’s going on in the market today, there are still very few if any cost-effective alternatives to annuities for guaranteed lifetime income,” he said. “Taking advantage of the guarantees that exist is really powerful.”
When planning for retirement spending, Stout likes to put retiree spending levels into two buckets: discretionary and nondiscretionary. The nondiscretionary spending bucket is all about paying for the basic expens34
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
es of daily living. Stout quoted numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that the average household of someone age 65 or older spends $4,185 per month — or $50,220 per year — just to maintain their daily lives. Those monthly expenses include the costs of housing, health care, transportation, food and entertainment. “Many folks — as they look at annuities and use annuities for planning and helping make sure they have the income to keep up their lifestyle — they try to look at what annuities can do to provide guaranteed income to help pay for some of these costs,” Stout said.
$2,500 a month,” he said. “So for very simplistic reasons, I always look at this and say, the average couple is spending $50,000 a year, but the average Social Security benefit is about $30,000 a year. They have about a $20,000 gap. How are they going to fill that gap and what are they going to do?” The $50,000 annual spending figure Stout cited doesn’t provide the entire picture of retirement spending. It does not include spending on items such as major household repairs, travel, support for grandchildren or other family members, providing a legacy through charitable contributions, or the cost of long-term care.
Senior Spending Levels Average 65+ Household
Monthly Costs Housing: $1,574 Transportation: $624 Health care: $570 ($6,840/year) Food and drink: $592
Personal insurance/pensions: $237 Cash contributions: $214 Entertainment: $198 ($2,376/year) Other: $176
Source: The FinancialVerse Organization and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The problem with planning for nondiscretionary spending, he added, is that the average Social Security benefit does not provide enough funds for the average senior household to cover those monthly expenses. “Today, for the average 65-year-old couple who’s retiring, their average Social Security benefits are a little more than
“As you help your clients prepare for their later years, you need to plan for these other items,” Stout said, adding that about 6% of households today are made up of grandparents raising grandchildren. “If you want these things to take place in your later years, you have to plan and you need to have the money and the sources of recurring income so you can spend.”
ANNUITIES GIVE RETIREES A LIFETIME OF SPENDING ANNUITY In planning for spending in retirement, Stout said, “It’s about maintenance.” “What kind of lifestyle do people want to have? What do they want to do in terms of maintaining that lifestyle? You have to look at spending and how you can direct your clients to sources of income that will enable them to have that lifestyle.”
exit the market, and at the same time, we’ve had companies significantly raise the cost of the coverage they have in place.” Stout said advisors can help clients protect themselves against LTC costs by recommending an annuity with a long-term care rider.
One of the biggest concerns clients have in planning for retirement, Stout said, is answering the question, “How much of my income should I replace in retirement?” “To me, that’s a personal question and you really need to take a look at the individuals and their income levels and lifestyle to determine what that might look like as they begin their planning journey,” he said.
After examining the cost of daily life and any discretionary spending a retiree may want to do, Stout said advisors must educate clients on the cold hard facts of medical costs in retirement. Stout cited statistics from Fidelity Investments that show the average 65-yearold retired couple may need to save
Income Replacement Ratios • Income replacement ratios are really spending replacement ratios • Much debate exists in looking at ratios • Ranges are the best way to look at the issue Annual income range at retirement
Estimated retirement income replacement ratio
Less than $50,000
More than $120,000
55% to 65%
Source: The FinancialVerse Organization
$295,000 after taxes to cover their healthcare expenses in retirement. Breaking it down further, that $295,000 equals $14,750 a year or $1,229 a month over the average 20-year span of retirement. “Overall medical costs are a huge planning consideration,” he said. “How are people going to fund this and where will they get the cash to pay for this? Annuities are a great solution.”
LTC A ‘Wild Card’
The “wild card” in planning for retirement spending, Stout said, is long-term care. “The difficulty we have in the financial world is that finding fully underwritten long-term care protection is becoming harder and harder,” he said. “The benefits have been reduced by a number of the companies. We’ve seen a number of companies
Stout cited statistics from Fidelity Financial Solutions that show those who make less than $50,000 a year might need to replace 80% of their income in retirement. At the opposite end of the spectrum, households making more than $120,000 annually may need to plan for replacing 55% to 65% of their annual income. “There’s a lot of debate on income replacement ratios, but one of the ways you can position it really depends on the client’s income level pre-retirement as well as their lifestyle,” he said. “This is a way to help people get their heads around what they should be planning, what kind of income replacement they should be looking for.”
Social Security may be the foundation of most clients’ plans for retirement income
and funding their spending, Stout said. But clients may not realize Social Security is designed to replace only 40% of pre-retirement earnings for the average person. “And when you get into the higher income brackets, that percentage drops significantly,” he said. “For most people, they just can’t live on that.” Stout said he predicts a number of changes will happen to Social Security over the next few years. 1. Increase in tax rate. The tax rate that everyone pays for FICA is likely to go up. 2. Increase limit on wages subject to tax above 2021’s $142,800. 3. Expand the types of income subject to tax. Stout said perhaps unearned income in addition to earned income would be subject to FICA tax. 4. Looking at the full retirement age being raised, maybe as high as 72. “Overall, with life expectancies increasing, I can see that happening, especially for a lot of younger people,” he said. 5. Formula for inflation-based costof-living adjustments. Stout said there is some debate in Washington “that the inflation adjustment is not based on the cost of the basket of goods and services that seniors buy and needs to be adjusted. Many people feel inflation is higher on seniors than is being reflected.” 6. A progressive approach to increase the minimum benefit for those with lower incomes so older Americans have less poverty going into retirement. Income planning for retirement is really spending planning, Stout said. “Annuities are a great tool for income planning,” he said. “And what you’re trying to do is fund senior spending to maintain their lifestyles. That’s really what we’re all trying to work for.” In planning for clients to have enough income to pay for medical and longterm care costs, he said, “Annuities hit the sweet spot by being able to provide income for these things as well as assets that can accessed.” Susan Rupe is managing editor for I nsura n ce N ews N et . She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents’ association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Susan.Rupe@innfeedback.com. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
COVID-19 ‘Mucked Up’ Insurance Marketplace “COVID-19 has mucked up the insurance marketplace as a
whole — including private employer-provided plans,” said Michael Giusti, InsuranceQuotes.com analyst. Giusti outlined a number of key takeaways for health insurance in 2021 in a recent report for Insurancequotes.com. First, he said, the pandemic made setting premiums especially challenging. Premiums are set based on the previous year’s claims data. Because 2020 was marked by a combination of huge intensive care costs but almost no preventive care costs, that model was flipped on its head. As a result, the median health premium edged up just a percentage or two in 2021. But many in the insurance industry are holding their collective breath as things get back to normal, he noted. A major worry is that deferred care will come crashing through the system by this summer, representing a flood of claims once people are willing to see a doctor again. The other question is what the long-term effect will be of having so many people defer care, Giusti said. Will a year of deferred cancer screenings, diabetes screenings, hip replacements and so on lead to worse long-term health and ultimately higher health costs? And how long into the future will those increased costs haunt the industry?
EMPLOYER-SPONSORED INSURANCE HERE TO STAY
The employer-sponsored insurance system “has been popular and resilient” and is here to stay, a policy think tank expert told attendees at America’s Health Insurance Plans’ virtual National Health Policy Conference. James Capretta, resident fellow and Milton Friedman Chair at the American Enterprise Institute, told AHIP members “the public appreciates good, high-quality employer coverage, and they are reluctant to give it up.” Capretta’s statements came on the heels of an AHIP survey that revealed more than twothirds of Americans who receive their health insurance through the workplace are satisfied with their coverage. Three-quarters of those surveyed said health insurance played a role in their decision to accept their current job, while 78% said it affects their decision to stay at their current job. DID YOU
AMAZON MAKES FURTHER INROADS IN HEALTH CARE
Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the U.S., and the online retail giant is spreading its footprint into virtual health care. In September 2019, the company launched a pilot program, “Amazon Care,” for staff near its Seattle headquarters. The program allows employees to videochat with doctors for diagnoses and referrals. It also facilitates house calls and drug delivery in greater Seattle. Now Amazon is expanding its virtual health care service to other Washington state employers and to its own employees and other businesses nationwide this summer, the company said in a news release.
QUOTABLE Virtual medicine is absolutely part of the future of how health care is delivered. — Kristen Helton, director of Amazon Care
Employers can contract with Amazon Care, offer that as a workplace benefit and subsidize health care costs for workers, Amazon said.
SMALL BUSINESSES STRUGGLE WITH COSTS
Small-business owners are struggling to cover the costs of their workers’ health care after a year of COVID-19. That’s from a poll sponsored by the Small Business Majority and patient advocacy group Families USA. More than one in three small-business owners said it’s a challenge to obtain coverage for themselves and the workers. That challenge is especially difficult for Black, Asian American and Latino business owners. Among small-business owners who have reduced insurance benefits, 36% have trimmed their employer contribution for medical premiums and 56% switched to a plan with a lower premium. Additionally, one in five small-business owners said they plan to change or lower coverage in the next few months, while only about a quarter have been able to maintain coverage for temporarily furloughed employees. 2%
Small-business owners struggling to access health insurance for 18% themselves and their employees
28% 36% Source: Small Business Majority
Major Challenge Minor Challenge Not A Challenge Not Applicable Not Sure
An estimated 37,300 to 43,000 U.S. children experienced the loss of at least one parent due to COVID-19 in the past year. Source: JAMA Pediatrics Journal
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
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How Social Determinants Can Impact Health Benefits The pandemic has brought to light the socioeconomic factors that have an effect on employee health. Here’s what benefits brokers need to know.
that impact workers, including the pandemic’s residual impacts.
By Stuart Hanson and Lynette Nelson
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine’s research found that between 80% and 90% of modifiable health-related behaviors affect a person’s health. Those behaviors are impacted by the environment people live in, their income or education levels, and other socioeconomic factors. Medical care accounts for only 10% to 20% of the controllable contributors to a
Factoring In Socioeconomic Disparities When Designing Benefits Plans
distribution efforts in minority communities, which have higher rates of infection and death. This can be attributed to socioeconomic factors including lack of insurance coverage and accessibility to sites administering the vaccine. Especially amid the pandemic, addressing these longstanding disparities will be paramount to the continued health, safety and productivity of the population and labor force, for which communities of color make up a large part. Disparities related to gender should also be considered. According to a
ith health care costs continuing to rise, employer-provided insurance and benefits are often one of the most cost-effective ways for consumers to access medical coverage and wellness resources. That said, Mercer estimates that the cost of health benefits for employers will increase by (% of respondents) more than 4% in 2021. To manage rising costs, many large firms have moved away from fully funded traditional plans to self-funded plans. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, 67% of covered workers, including 84% of those in large firms, were enrolled in self-funded plans in 2020. Nearly one in six firms (61%) offered self-funded health plans in 2019, and that percentage is increasing, Kaiser reported. Rising costs have pushed employers to take an increased interest in more holistic management of their benefits programs. That manSOURCE: McKinsey 2020 Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion/COVID-19 Executive Study agement includes plan design, wellness incentives and workers’ long- healthy population. Socioeconomic im- global study by McKinsey, during the term health. pacts such as racial disparities, food in- pandemic, women are 1.2 times as likely Workers’ health and wellness needs security, housing instability, utility and to cite acute difficulties with workload are constantly changing, and this can be transportation needs, and interpersonal increases, connectivity and belonging a result of factors beyond anyone’s con- violence must be considered when creat- in the workplace. trol. COVID-19 amplified this reality. If ing benefit packages. worker well-being is a true point of interThe pandemic magnified the dis- The Case For Mental And est for employers, they will be challenged parities in communities of color. For Emotional Health to create more robust benefit packages example, most recently, Kaiser report- Looking ahead, key issues that must be that account for socioeconomic factors ed disparities in COVID-19 vaccine considered for employee benefit plans 38
Policy changes implemented to support employees during the COVID-19 crisis
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
SOCIAL DETERMINANTS IMPACT BENEFITS HEALTH/BENEFITS include greater support for mental health and employee wellness, decentralized offerings to accommodate remote work, and expanded coverage for telehealth services. The pandemic has put a significant strain on employee health and wellness — physical and mental. Left untreated, mental and behavioral health issues can severely impact employee productivity and lead to absence or attrition. Discussion of mental health has become less taboo as well, and many workers may feel more comfortable seeking support through employer programs. In the coming years, benefits for employee wellness, including support services, personal days, etc., will no longer be an added bonus — they will be an expectation. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act required ACA-compliant plans to include 10 essential benefits — and mental health care was one of them. Amid the pandemic, many major health plans have extended specialized coverage to expand all member cost-sharing waivers for outpatient and mental health counseling services.
Remote Working Conditions And Considerations
The pandemic will also prompt employers to consider specialized programs to ensure a safe return to the office. For example, United Healthcare launched a new project with Microsoft called ProtectWell, a return-to-workplace protocol that enables employers to bring employees back to work in a safer environment. The program helps employees determine whether they are safe to go to work, ensures all workers have been properly screened, and provides employers with the confidence that their workplace is ready to operate. As remote work continues, employers also may wish to explore options that decentralize offerings in order to disperse coverage where employees are now living and working. According to research from S&P Global, 67% of companies expect work-from-home policies to remain for the long-term future. Soon, more companies may offer remote work as a permanent option and hiring incentive. This will mean offering broader health care coverage and benefits will become a priority. Employers also
may consider benefits to cover work-fromhome equipment, such as monitors and ergonomic office furniture, along with virtual wellness programs, such as meditation and yoga, to help workers maintain their mental and physical energy.
Virtual Medicine Is Here To Stay
Finally, one of the largest trends to come out of the pandemic has been the rising popularity of telemedicine. Due to convenience and efficiency, more health systems will begin to offer telehealth as part of the standard of care. Many lawmakers have pushed to mandate coverage for telehealth services across the country because of the pandemic. Government and private insurance payers have expanded their benefit plans to include coverage for telehealth. However, the explosive adoption of telemedicine has highlighted a key disparity in access. The reality of “digital deserts” has hindered rural and minority communities from taking full advantage of this virtual medical service. Nearly 21.3 million Americans — about 6.5% of the population — reside in areas with limited access to broadband internet. As the pandemic continues, employee benefits that focus on both physical and mental health as well as general wellness should remain at the forefront of employer planning. Through thoughtful design — keeping important social and economic challenges in mind — and management of benefits programs, employers can work to improve employee well-being and reduce attrition. The result will be a happier and more productive workforce.
• Place more business • Earn higher commissions • Speak to warm, free leads
Stuart Hanson is head of corporate treasury consulting and health care solutioning with JPMorgan Chase. He may be contacted at stuart.hanson@ innfeedback.com.
• Plus, cross sell an array of Best-In-Class products
Lynette Nelson is executive director, health care industry specialist with JPMorgan Chase. She may be contacted at email@example.com.
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
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Household Wealth Hit Record Highs In 2020 Despite record unemployment rates
and a number of other pandemic-related woes, the number of wealthy American households reached a The Rich Get Richer record high in 2020, according to From 2019 to 2020... Spectrem Group’s Market Insights • Households with $1M to $5M net Report 2021. worth increased by 5.5%. The study reveals that U.S. mil• Households with $5M to $25M net lionaire investors — households with worth increased by 21.3% $1 million to $5 million in net worth, not including the value of their pri• Households with $25M or more in net worth increased by 9.2% mary residence — increased by 600,000 to 11.6 million in 2020, a SOURCE: Spectrem Group 5.5% increase over the previous year. The number of wealthiest U.S. households — those with a net worth of $25 million or more — increased by 9.2% in 2020 to 214,000, compared with 196,000 at the end of 2019. Ultra-high net worth investors whose household net worth stands between $5 million and $25 million grew a whopping 324,000, or 21.3%, reaching 1.8 million at year-end. But despite this rosy picture, 30% of investors surveyed said they are concerned about potentially needing to delay their retirement, while more than a third of women said their personal mental stress has increased because of the pandemic.
Fidelity To Launch Bitcoin ETF
An investment giant is building its digital asset business as Fidelity announced it is launching a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund. FD Funds Management, a Fidelity subsidiary, said it plans to provide financial backing for an ETF called the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust . The fund will track the performance of Bitcoin as measured by the Fidelity Bitcoin Index, which Fidelity created to track the price of the digital currency. The Fidelity-backed trust does not intend to sell Bitcoin, but it will use the cryptocurrency to pay certain expenses, which under current IRS guidance will be treated as a sale of digital currency.
1 In 5 Delaying Retirement Because Of COVID-19
One in five retirement plan participants is delaying their retirement as a result of the pandemic, a MetLife study showed. This decision to postpone retirement is driven primarily by financial reasons, with respondents citing the top reasons for the delay as a continued need for a monthly income (33%) and that the pandemic has impacted their ability to save (23%). 40
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
Good News For The Economy, Bad News For 401(k)s?
Good news for the economy could mean a drag on 401(k)s, as a surge of optimism has convinced investors to revamp their playbooks for where to put money. Most stocks across the market are rising, with the biggest gains coming from companies such as airlines and banks. But all the hope at the same time is forcing a climb in bond yields, which in turn is sending a group of tech stocks back to earth after they carried the market for much of the pandemic. Because of the way stock indexes are calculated, any weakness for the biggest stocks can mask strength that’s sweeping across the rest of the market. It’s why the S&P 500 is up less than 6% so far this year: Energy stocks have soared more than 38%, and financial stocks have stormed about 17% higher, but tech stocks, which account for more than one-quarter of the index's market value, rose less than 2%.
All this has a big impact when 401(k) accounts are tied more than ever to the performance of the S&P 500 and other indexes. More than half the dollars in U.S. stock funds are directly mimicking indexes, according to Morningstar. In other words, 401(k)s could fall even if the economy — and the majority of stocks in the market — are rising.
Why Aren’t Boomers Retiring? 33% need monthly income 23% haven’t saved money due to COVID-19 14% need to keep their employer-based health insurance Source: MetLife
Conversely, one in 10 retirement plan participants said the pandemic has actually caused them to retire sooner ... 31% say they are retiring early because of a new perspective that “life is too short” and 23% state a desire to spend time with loved ones or to have more free time.
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Retirement Planning: Getting Their Attention Young professionals have competing financial priorities. How to get them to start saving for retirement sooner rather than later. • By Albert Lalonde
oung professionals have a lot on their minds these days. Perhaps furthest from it is a retirement saving and investment plan. But as a financial advisor, you must impress upon them that the earlier they start saving and investing, the better. First, however, advisors must meet young professionals where they are. Advisors should be aware that, for young professionals, putting money aside for the future can be easier said than done. After all, high rent, student-loan payments and modest junior-level salaries 42
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make saving a challenge. On top of those factors, COVID-19 and the associated global recession have added much economic uncertainty. How do you as an advisor speak to them — the new savers, the reluctant ones and the worried ones — to educate them and show them a path toward a secure future? It comes down to selling them on some proven principles of retirement saving and investing and showing them why it’s worth it to get started sooner rather than later. Here are some key points advisors should make to young professionals when guiding them on a financial plan for retirement.
Become A Disciplined Saver
The optimal savings rate toward retirement is at least 20% of gross income.
That may be too high for young savers, given their other financial obligations, but the important point is getting them to make savings a priority as soon as possible. Show them models of how much they’ll need in retirement and how compound interest works. That approach will create an incentive for them to get started. The key is to get them saving at a consistent rate within their budget and increasing that saving rate when they can. Explain to them that the best way to stick with their savings plan is to develop automated savings strategies, such as to have contributions made directly to a 401(k). Another option that’s popular is splitting up direct deposits, with one going into a dedicated savings account.
RETIREMENT PLANNING: GETTING THEIR ATTENTION
Contribute To Their 401(k) — Even Without Employer Matching
retirement and that they also typically allow penalty-free To get to $1 million in their retirement account by age 67, people withdrawals up to the Due to the pandemic, amount contributed. starting from $0 at these ages will have to save this much each many companies susThis provides some month, assuming 6% annual returns: pended or reduced liquidity as well as an their 401(k) matching excellent tax benefit contributions to save for accounts that apcash and avoid layoffs. preciate substantially. Although such a move Having a growth slows one’s accumumindset is central to lation of retirement building a good refunds, the bigger longtirement plan while term damage is done young. With many when a n employee years until retirestops contributing to ment, a young investhe 401(k) at the same tor’s accounts should time that the employer be weighted toward stops matching. stocks, with enough Advisors should exdiversification to proplain to young clients tect against poor-perhow contributions to forming stocks or SOURCE: NerdWallet a 401(k) accumulate industries. on a tax-deferred basis and why it’s market recovery when it arrives. And if Young professionals can get impaimportant for them to, at a minimum, they can afford to increase their con- tient; remind them that success in the maintain their current retirement tributions, it will keep their retirement stock market comes over the long haul contributions. Or if they can afford it, plan on track. and that they have time to ride out cyadvise them to increase their contribucles and downturns. tions to compensate for the temporary Diversify Savings And With a long time horizon and relaloss of their employer’s 401(k) match. Investment Vehicles tively low income relative to their later Another alternative is redirecting a Again, a simple explanation is in order career earnings, young investors are in portion of their retirement contribu- for young savers to have a clear grasp of a unique position to realize the benefits tions to a Roth individual retirement their options. Diversity in their plan is of these vehicles. account. This is an option some young especially important given market volDespite the topsy-turvy financial savers don’t know enough about. atility. They need to be reminded that year we’ve been through due to the Educate them, explaining how contri- qualified retirement funds are function- pandemic, advisors can be a steadying butions to a Roth IRA are made with ally locked away until they reach age influence helping young investors plan funds on which they’ve already paid in- 59½, so that money isn’t available in the wisely for their future. Educating them come tax, and in many cases, Roth IRAs event that a cash need arises. on the benefits of consistent saving and offer more flexibility when it comes to Advisors can have young investors investing, being growth-minded, and investment choices. consider balancing traditional 401(k)s diversifying will pay off for them many But whatever they do, impress on with a Roth IRA — or a Roth 401(k) if years from now. them that they need to keep contribut- it’s offered — or a normal brokerage Albert Lalonde, a fiing. The takeaway for them is this: By account. staying the course, either in their 401(k) Again, explain that Roth contribu- nancial planner and investment advisor or Roth IRA, they can continue to grow tions are made after tax, but they allow representative, is the their nest egg and take advantage of a tax-free growth and withdrawals in founder of Kaizen
Winning The Retirement Race
30 20 40 $613 $319
The takeaway for them is this: By staying the course, either in their 401(k) or Roth IRA, they can continue to grow their nest egg and take advantage of a market recovery when it arrives.
Financial Group, Shelby Township, Mich. Albert may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
Did The Pandemic Improve Work-Life Balance?
Did COVID-19 improve Americans’ work-life balance? It depends on who you ask. One year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many U.S. employees across the country to transition to remote work, the youngest and oldest generations are divided on its impact. MetLife’s 19th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study finds more than half of workers in their 20s (51%), including Generation Z and young millennials, say their work-life balance is better now than before the pandemic, while only one-quarter of baby boomers say the same. Although employees across generations feel their holistic well-being — which includes physical, mental, social and financial health — has declined, boomers are experiencing the negative impacts of remote work more strongly. According to MetLife’s research, boomers say boundary-setting issues (33%) and fewer casual conversations, such as watercooler chats (42%), are why they are less happy with their work situation now. Conversely, younger workers say the ability to spend time with their family (40%) and the ability to work in a better location (30%) are why their work-life balance has improved.
WALK OFF THAT WEIGHT
Can you really walk your way to weight loss? Walking is an easy way to shed pounds, according to walking coach Michele Stanten. But weight loss is not necessarily a walk in the park. Stanten recommends figuring out how many steps you take in a typical day and increasing the number by increments. For example, if you normally walk 3,000 steps a day, aim for 5,000, then work your way to 10,000. But steps are only the beginning. Challenge yourself with intervals — periods of faster walking interwoven with periods of slower walking. And find a hill or two. Walking on an incline increases your heart rate and helps you burn more calories.
QUOTABLE We’re always going to be faced with challenging situations, but they don’t always have to stress us out. — Dr. Monique Tello, Massachusetts General Hospital
Added sugar lurks in foods that we don’t usually think of as being sweet. Crackers, salad dressings, pasta sauces — they all have sugar hidden in them. And sometimes that sugar is labeled as something else. The Food and Drug Administration reported there are more than 60 different names used for “sugar” on food labels, including dextrose, barley malt and sucrose.
5 MINUTES TO LESS STRESS
A SWEET WAY TO CUT SUGAR
We know, the struggle is real. Sugar is one of the most seductive foods out there, and it calls its siren song to us in everything from cupcakes to caramels. It’s bad for us, but breaking up with sugar is hard to do. So how do you tell sugar “It’s not me, it’s you”? One simple rule: Don’t eat anything that comes in a package. That’s right — nutritionists say the quickest way to escape the sugar trap is to avoid eating processed foods, most of which are laden with added sugar.
Stress — it’s everywhere! But there are some quick ways to relieve some of that stress and stay calmer throughout the day. Here are some five-minute stress busters. Focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath, hold it, then exhale slowly. Repeat for five minutes. Put down that phone! Take a break from checking for texts or catching up on social media. We all have that special tune that puts us in our happy place. Listening to a relaxing song can help you cope with stress-related disorders, mild depression or anxiety. And finally, taking a quick break outdoors to soak up some sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for your mood.
A red bell pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange.
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
Source: Good Housekeeping Institute
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A Good Walk Spoiled: 6 Tips On Golf Course Etiquette Playing golf can open the door to making friends and sealing business deals. The key is showing respect for the sport and your fellow players. By John Hilton
How bad were my temper tantrums? Once I was playing golf in a casual foursome when I hit a very poor tee shot. I turned and threw my 5 wood into a nearby tree, and the tree didn’t give it back. I stood there feeling about six inches tall as my friend extended his own club high into the branches and knocked my 5 wood from the tree’s clutches.
the foundation of the sport in Scotland. It’s about showing respect for your opponent, for the venue and for the entire history of this great game. Finally, it’s a passageway to a world where undetected deception isn’t tolerated. Your opponent could be all alone when he notices his ball move and he calls a penalty on himself. Who does that? Golfers do. After a year when golf was put on the back burner by many of us, we all could use a refresher on the unwritten rules of golf etiquette. Here are a few important ones.
have been thinking a lot about golf this year, and not just because I didn’t play at all during 2020. Golf is such a wonderful game, R-E-S-P-E-C-T for a variety of reasons that would fill After this phase passed, I grew to apprea half-dozen columns. No other sport ciate the sportsmanship that is inheroffers its players myriad stunning and ently a part of the golf experience. challenging playing fields. It’s a hobby It’s not about simply wearing the that simultaneously frustrates and re- right clothes or refraining from Keep it moving. A typical laxes. Many golfers struggle for years launching your equipment. It round of golf takes about to make the slightest improvements in really is about being part of a four hours, and that is with their game. shared experience that goes back to a good, steady pace. Do not For several years in my 30s and early 40s, I traveled annually on a group golf trip to South Carolina. The variety of spectacular courses turned the weeklong trip into an annual male-bondMORE TIPS FOR A GREAT DAY OF GOLF ing trip that I looked forward to for months. • Try to arrive on the course soon • When you reach your ball, check the lie, One of the guys who enough to give yourself time to warm select your club, visualize your swing joined those trips was a up properly. and shot, and then play your shot. stickler for the rules of golf. You do not curse on • Work your way through the bag, • From the time you select your club until the course or dig into the beginning with the short irons, moving you actually hit your shot, you should greens. You definitely do wear a collared shirt and onto the mid to long irons and then the take no more than 30 to 45 seconds. you defer to faster players. woods. • You then have three minutes from My friend was a walking professor of golf etiquette. • If your playing companions suggest a the time you reach the spot where It was on one of these match, it's a good idea to make sure you suspect the ball landed to find trips — probably the first everyone is comfortable with the stakes. the ball. If it is not found within that one, to be honest — that three-minute period, you must declare my on-course temper tan• Make sure to place an identifying mark it lost and play your provisional ball trums ended and I became on your ball, and inform the other with a one-stroke penalty. a respectable golfer (more players the type and number ball you or less). You could say that are playing. I was shamed into submisSOURCE: PGA of America sion.
h e T Course r o F r a P
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
6 TIPS ON GOLF COURSE ETIQUETTE INBALANCE make it longer by being a slow-play golfer. Or else those invitations to play golf will soon start drying up. Mostly, it’s just common sense. If you lose a ball, take a quick look for it and then move on. You don’t need six practice swings before every shot. You get the idea. Oh, and you will make friends if you let faster groups play through. Smile and compliment their shots while they do. Practice good manners. Don’t talk while someone is taking a shot. Keep your eyes on all tee shots so they can be found quickly. If a fellow golfer is struggling, be that positive friend who reminds them that a bad day on the golf course is still better than the best day in the office. Manners around the green have their own category. Be sure to fix all marks left by your ball. Stand behind or off to the side of anyone who is putting, and never, ever walk between someone’s ball and the cup. In fact, a great habit upon approaching the green is to identify the locations of the balls.
score low and beat my opponent. When I began mixing a beer or two with my round, I found myself more relaxed and focused on having fun. If you drink alcohol, find your right balance on the course. Turn off your cellphone. If you can’t turn it off, at least turn the volume down. And do you really need to take that call? This one needs no further explanation. Dress your best. Everyone knows that collared shirts are required on the golf course. Don’t pay any attention to that slick, half-turtleneck shirt Nike created for Tiger Woods. He’s Tiger Woods, and he can wear whatever he wants. Beyond the etiquette of it, here is your chance to have a little fun and a lot of style. Designers such as Peter Millar, Boss, Nike and so many others have created fashionable golf wear that will turn heads on the links. And it can’t hurt to test the “look good, play good” theory, right?
Mind your golf cart. If you’ve ever played with someone who drives the golf cart all over the course, you know how annoying that can be. Often, courses will limit the cart to the path only. Be on the alert for the signs. If you are allowed to drive on the fairways, take crisp 90-degree angles across them. Around the green, park on the path (or just off it), and make the cart inconspicuous.
Ask For Help, Have Fun
To imbibe or not to imbibe? In the summer of 2019, I played in a charitable golf outing with a young friend who had three Miller Lites before 10 a.m. He was fun, well-behaved and most definitely relaxed throughout the day. (Pro tip: Plan on a round to take five hours or longer if it’s an outing.) I’ve seen other golfers turn rude and offensive after two beers. For a long time, I did not mix alcohol and golf. I was a very serious golfer, usually too serious, and I played to
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. email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
Common sense is the guiding principle in many on-course interactions. I had been playing golf for many years before I played a course with a starter and a caddy. I looked to friends for guidance on things such as tipping and other formalities. Golf is a wonderful game made better when you fit in with the norms for course behavior. Have a great season on the links!
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May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
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The ‘Monkey Brain’: Determine If A Prospect Will Accept You Why a prospect must be confident you are a member of their “tribe” before they will commit to becoming a client. By Joe Templin
merican physician and neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean pioneered the concept of the triune brain — the idea that the human brain evolved through three different stages. Those stages are known as the reptilian evolution or “crocodile brain,” the paleomammalian evolution or “monkey brain” and the neomammalian evolution or “modern brain.” We’re going to explore what are called the two F's of the monkey brain and how they separate people into their tribes. The two F's of the monkey brain also determine whether someone will accept you as their advisor. The monkey brain evolved from our earliest days of protohumanity and early societies. In that stage of our evolution, we definitely were not the alpha predators of the planet. We had no claws, fangs or armor. The only way we could survive was by banding together against the fiercer animals. And even in those early days, we would fight other groups of people when encountered. So we learned to quickly recognize friend or foe (the two F's of the monkey brain) and either attack or accept individuals and organizations. The monkey brain exists on the border between the conscious mind and the subconscious, in that fuzzy space that is slower than a gut reaction but quicker than the analytical neocortex of rational thought. This stage of our brain developed the complexity of emotions that separate us 48
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from the lower mammals (as well as the cold-blooded hunting animals that residually remain in our crocodile brain) and is the powerhouse of the subconscious and encoding and decoding memories. This is why emotions and barely recognized memories are so powerful in our decision-making processes, much more powerful than our logical conscious mind powered by the highly evolved and much larger neocortex that is the modern brain.
Each person runs every new contact with an unfamiliar individual through a series of filters that they rarely realize is the monkey brain in action. Think of it almost as if it is a T-bar analysis, barely noticing small details that are either assigned “in” or “out” check marks that are then subconsciously tallied and scored. Enough “in” ticks and you are accepted as part of their tribe, enough “out” (or certain bright line criteria violated) and
Engaging The Monkey Brain
you will be met with total distrust, and 80% of their mind is against you. In these situations, you need impressive sales skills to overcome the resistance of their entire subconscious aligned against you as their monkey brain allies with their crocodile brain. So how do you use this accounting mechanism to your advantage, to stack the votes in your favor? The mind is funny in that almost all ideas (such as core values) are assigned essentially equal weighting. So five positive assessments, no matter how seemingly irrelevant, are still five positive checks. Every little thing is valuable in the grand scheme of the relationship. For example, in a theoretical meeting the
So how do we apply this understanding of brain function to acquire clients? These days, the “tribe” is not the small community group that was dependent upon each other for physical survival in the harsh environment. The tribe is anyone who has sufficient overlap in experiences and attitudes for us to glom onto and is as dynamic and varied as our society. Some people naturally have smaller “circles” due to their mental makeup, family and experiences, while others (often attracted to the financial services industry) have a much larger or looser set of criteria that expands their network tremendously.
THE ‘MONKEY BRAIN’ BUSINESS prospect would assess me as follows: IN The Tribe Nerd like me! —
OUT Of The Tribe — Not a Red Sox fan. Damn Yankees!
1 mutual friend. Good dude.
In this subconscious calculus, this prospect would accept me even though my baseball team is much better than their poor choice. As another example, I met a young woman the other day through a mutual acquaintance to do some work. She is of a different gender and ethnicity than I am, and she is 20 years younger. Other than working heavily with startups, we apparently have few things in common. But she went to the same technical university I did, so that was a big common denominator. Naturally, I encouraged her to discuss the overlap in our Venn diagram of experiences as opposed to the differences. As we talked for a few minutes about professors we had shared and a variety of other uniquely “our tribe” things, her mental counter of connections versus differences was spinning like mad. After a few minutes of our talking, I would have had to commit a major faux pas, a bright line violation of the tribal mores, for her to excommunicate me and not want to work with me. Her monkey brain weighed the differences and similarities and resoundingly concluded I was part of “her nerd clan” and safe to drop her guard around. How do you tip the scales in your favor? Is the person introducing you to someone using similarity as a way to open the door with you such as, “You’ll like each other because you both are X team fans” and “Your kids both play soccer in Y League, I think”? Or are they making you seem foreign by focusing on your professional differences? Is your
connection establishing a mutual enemy for you to combat, be it taxes or City Hall? Train your nominator to create initial ties of shared interests that, combined with the respect factor of their relationship, will smooth the path for you. Furthermore, when you ask your client for introductions, start with asking for other members of the tribe because these are easy relationships for them to open up about, and people they generally want to strengthen their own tribe. “Who else do you know from our school that is doing X?” “Of everyone from our alma
These inclusive questions (contrasted with the exclusive one of “Who is the wealthiest person you know?”) allows the prospect to embrace you and these introductions as “part of the crew” and reinforces your bonds in their emotional monkey brain that will then tell the neocortex to do what it has to do to maintain this relationship with you, including buying products that they may not yet see the value of. Our tech-driven, overstimulated and information-saturated economy and world are overwhelming in many ways,
mater, who do you talk with the most?” “Who from where we both worked is the one that is going to lead the pack, the one that you see as having the most potential to have long-range success?” Since you are already part of the tribe, meeting other members of the group becomes much easier if you quietly reinforce that you are in the organization and trying to assist its members.
and competing in the complex but cold neocortex is inefficient. Nor is it as emotionally rewarding as focusing on those fundamental connections that people are craving — the “one of us” and “you get me” that the monkey brain controls. Build the bridges and open your arms, and clients will walk into your practice because they feel safe in your tribe.
Expanding The Tribe
Further expand the borders of their tribe with questions of similarity. Who else is about to have a kid? Who else from your old company is like us? If you and I were to do X together, who would you call to join us?
Joe Templin, CEC, CAP, CLU, ChFC, is president of The Intro Machine and director of advanced planning for Elemental FPG, a Gateway Financial firm. Joe may be contacted at joe. firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
The Million Dollar Round Table is the premier association of the world’s most successful life insurance and financial services professionals.
Finding Prospects In Places You Least Expect To Find Them Potential clients are everywhere around you if you know what questions to ask. By Cleophas Castillo
y prospecting likely looks quite different from yours. I’m not talking only about the personal style and best practices that vary among advisors, but as a Knights of Columbus insurance field agent, my offerings and prospects are limited. Not every prospect (less than half the general population) qualifies to work with me, and I can’t offer everyone the same products other advisors can. But if I can successfully prospect within these guidelines, you can certainly prospect outside them. I aim to prospect for 200-plus cases a year, so I talk to a lot of people and ask a lot of questions. Over the years, I’ve discovered some creative venues for prospecting, and I’ve found that potential clients are everywhere around you if you know what questions to ask.
Costco Truly Has Everything
Shopping trips to Costco provide ample opportunity to start a conversation. I can begin with, “How is that sample?” or “Have you used this product before? What did you think?” If I get a positive response, I can get to my go-to question, which is 50
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
simpler than you might think: “Do you have any life insurance?” Between the sample lines and the long checkout lines, I’ve found many long-term clients this way. My wife hates how long it takes to go to the store with me, as I seek out the longest lines and start talking to people, and there’s no shame in that.
Work Every Line
My lineup strategy works anywhere, really — and it carries over to waiting rooms too. Think of all the places where you find yourself stuck with a bunch of strangers: the car wash, waiting on an oil change, at the doctor’s office, school pickup and more. You may not have realized it before, but you have a captive audience in these situations. People have nowhere to go and nothing to do, and they’re looking to kill the time. Regardless of where you are, it’s your attitude and inspiration that will captivate prospects. It’s how you talk about your business, but it’s not about the exact words you say. If you are happy, friendly, positive and approachable, you’ll be amazed at what can happen when you ask that simple question: “Do you have any life insurance?”
Know Who To Approach
There is no regulation that forbids you from talking to people on the street who seem approachable. In person, you don’t have to worry about anti-spam
regulations, but you also don’t want to be a bother or end up on the receiving end of a hostile response. I recommend approaching people who do not appear to be in a hurry. I do not approach anyone who appears to be upset, rushed or angry. Similarly, I look for people who are not by themselves, so they do not see me as a threat or immediately put up a defense. As a man, I do not approach women who are alone, as I do not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, although women advisors may feel more comfortable approaching and connecting with other women. The key is having patience to ask many questions — and trusting your instincts when it comes to approaching people who look as though they might be responsive. When you love talking to people and helping people get their financial house in order, prospecting becomes a pleasure, not a burden. I know that prospecting is simply asking people whether I can help them, and that drives me to help even more people. MDRT member Cleophas Castillo, CPCA, RFC, FIC, has been an agent with the Knights of Columbus since 2008. Castillo has been a lead insurance salesman in both the order’s Manitoba and Alberta agencies and is also a lead in insurance sales across the entire order. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
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.
Why Black Women Make Good Advisors And Good Clients Statistics on wealth disparities between Black families and white give the misleading impression that Black families do not need professional financial services. By Mark Briscoe
ealth and income disparities between Black families and white in the U.S. are well documented and indicate a troubling consequence of racial injustice and financial discrimination. These statistics, however, can also give a misleading impression that Black families cannot afford or do not need professional financial services. The median wealth among Black families in the U.S. rose by 33% from 2016 to 2019, according to the Federal Reserve, and Black families in 2020 held $4.6 trillion of total household wealth. Although it remains imperative for us to explore policies and practices to close the wealth and income gaps and address social injustice, many Black Americans can benefit from the services of insurance and financial advisors. This is particularly true of Black women. According to the Center for American Progress, more than 64% of Black mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families. Government statistics show that women make up 64% of Black Americans earning college undergraduate degrees, 72% of those earning master’s degrees, and 66% of those earning doctorates or medical degrees.
Black Women Make Good Clients
Mary Greene is a financial professional with Prudential Advisors, and a significant portion of her clients are African American women who are highly educated, earn good incomes and have assets they want to grow. “If you’re not tapping into the African American female population as clients, you’re missing out on a whole different market that’s very lucrative,” she said. Greene was part of a panel discussion
presented by NAIFA on the importance of Black women advisors. Her co-panelists were Kristen Eskew, a business development executive with OneDigital; Martina Jimenez Sperry, managing partner at Centurio Wealth and Karen Holloway, a wealth management advisor with Northwestern Mutual. Many Black Americans have good incomes and significant assets, the panelists agreed. What they lack is access to financial products, services and advice. Often, when asked why they haven’t done more financial planning, their answer is that no one has asked them to, Eskew said. “Black women make great clients, if you can get in front of them,” Holloway added. To better serve these markets and provide financial security opportunities for everyone, Jimenez Sperry said financial services firms need to “make it a priority to have a diverse team to represent the community.”
The Strengths Of Black Women As Advisors
Black women are hardworking and know the importance of taking care of families, two traits that make them great advisors, according to Greene. “We belong to a lot of civic, religious and social organizations,” she said. “So we can introduce [the industry] to those organizations that we volunteer in and that we have personal connections with. “If you want to get into the Black community, you’ve got to start connecting with these African American females,” she said. There is a lingering distrust of the life insurance and financial services industry among some Black Americans because of historical discrimination. Often, people can overcome this distrust by working with an agent or advisor who shares common experiences.
“This is not monolithic,” Eskew said. “Not all Black people feel like they can work only with a Black advisor and the same can be said about other cultures. But I do think there is something here.”
How To Bring More Black Women Into The Business
A key to reaching Black markets, and particularly to attracting Black women as clients, is recruiting Black women into the industry and enabling their success. As a recruiter, Greene looks to attract advisors who are coachable, have existing networks of potential clients, and are comfortable working as part of a team. In her experience, there is a large and talented pool of Black women who share these attributes. Creating and nurturing a diverse team must be part of a comprehensive strategic plan. Firms cannot hire a Black woman simply to be able to check a box, Jimenez Sperry said. They need to provide support and help their advisors brand and market themselves. They need to create inclusive business cultures.
Why Does The Industry Need More Black Women Advisors?
“The easiest answer is because people want them,” Holloway said. “There’s a demand for it. We’re seeing more and more Black women are making money and wanting advice, and they’re looking for someone to give them advice. So it’s supply and demand. If they’re demanding that, then the market should respond.” Mark Briscoe is senior director of strategic communications at NAIFA. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 2021 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine
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.
Help Clients Overcome Inertia A knowledge of behavioral economics will give you insights on how prospects make the buying decision.
know something they do not. This is especially evident in situations where an individual has very little experience — as with many financial decisions.
By Joey Davenport and Jacqueline Lucas
ow can financial professionals truly influence the way prospects and clients make buying decisions? The answer is to talk with them about how they make decisions. This is known as behavioral economics, which is the fusion of psychology and economics to explain human behavior as it relates to financial decision-making. In other words, it’s how consumers think about and make decisions about financial matters. In order to influence consumer behavior, financial professionals must talk with prospects and clients in terms of how they really make decisions. To unearth what’s actually going on below the surface, financial professionals need important soft skills such as rapport building, adaptability and complex problem-solving. If you want to know what’s really preventing the prospect from making a decision, you must adopt an approach that establishes the kind of trust required to engage in courageous conversations. Research identifies a number of specific behavioral economics principles that help explain the buyer’s thought process when deciding to purchase financial products. The sales effectiveness program Trustworthy Selling, developed through a partnership with LIMRA and the Hoopis Performance Network, provides simple techniques to overcome these hurdles. Let’s look at three examples.
People tend to make decisions that align with what others have done. This behavior is based on the social pressure of conformity, as well as the rationale that a group of people is less likely to be wrong than an individual person is. Most people are very sociable and have a natural desire to be accepted by a group. In addition, people assume that members of the group must 52
InsuranceNewsNet Magazine » May 2021
People generally feel optimistic about the future — they don’t think losing a spouse will happen to them or that a health problem will erode their life savings. On a daily basis, this optimism bias is good, because it helps us get out of bed each day without the
better experience for their prospects and clients and achieve greater results. LIMRA research found prospects who viewed sales presentations incorporating behavioral economics techniques were more likely to recall the sales representatives’ messages and were more emotionally engaged in their decisions. These prospects viewed the presentation more positively, and they were more relaxed, enthusiastic and helpful. Moreover, they indicated they would be more likely to buy.
Overcoming Natural Human Tendencies Applying Behavioral Economic Techniques
Related personal experienced and reference what other people whom you've worked with, who are in their similar situation, have decided to do.
Avoid ambiguity and explain concepts and principles in clear, easy to understand terms.
Use generally accepted heuristics or "financial rules of thumb" to give people an idea of what others have done when dealing with the same subject.
Use generally accepted heuristics or "financial rules of thumb" whenever possible to provide guidelines against which people can make complex decisions.
Irrational Optimism Use personal experiences to help people see how others have benefited from having financial and/or protection products in place when the need arose.
Use visualization to help the prospect envision or see how your solution will get them to where they want to be.
Copyright © — LL Global Services, Inc., and Hoopis Performance Network, LLC.
paralyzing fear that something catastrophic could happen. It becomes a problem, however, when people think that bad things will never happen to them. This can cause them to avoid doing things that are ultimately in their best interest, such saving for the future or purchasing disability or life insurance.
People also have a hard time making complex decisions and tend to prefer things to stay the same. When faced with ambiguity, fear takes over and people don’t act. As humans, we’re more comfortable with inertia — not doing anything — than we are with making difficult decisions. Ambiguity breeds mistrust. Prospects worry about what’s going to happen to them. Most people would rather not find out. Knowing about behavioral economics principles is interesting, but how can they be applied? Financial professionals who fundamentally understand these natural human tendencies, and adapt their approach with techniques that help overcome these hurdles, will create a much
In fact, presentations that incorporated the behavioral economics techniques resulted in a 29% increase in consumers’ intention to buy. In this era of client centricity, aligning our presentations closely to the thought patterns of prospects and clients will provide an experience tailored to their specific needs. By understanding behavioral economics and the right soft skills, financial professionals can positively influence their prospects’ and clients’ financial well-being. They can help their prospects overcome hidden obstacles and lead them to action by guiding them through the daunting financial decision-making process. Joey Davenport is president, Hoopis Performance Network. He may be contacted at email@example.com. Jacqueline Lucas is director, product services, at LIMRA. She may be contacted at jacqueline. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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