To help advisors understand the ins and outs of guaranteed withdrawal benefit products, Qualified Financial Services is once again offering its GMWB course. This time, however, the managing general agency is marketing it to advisors both inside and outside its network. Nick Simone, president of Qualified Financial Services (QFS), says the course will take place in Toronto in September. “We’ve had tremendous, tremendous success with the certification courses…So now we (decided), let’s just get it out there. We’re really going to market it as a service because that is what it’s intended to be.”
Simone adds that some advisors from outside the QFS network have taken the firm’s GMWB and segregated fund courses in the past, however, now the MGA wants to ensure that all advisors are aware that they can participate. He believes there is an increasing need for advisors to improve their knowledge about GMWB products and seg funds. “I think with new compliance rules and people becoming a little bit paranoid about doing things properly, it’s one of those things that I feel we need to do.”
Simone says he has spoken to presidents of other MGAs about this offer, but they have mixed feelings about it, because they see it as a potential recruiting tool. “But it’s not about recruiting at all. It’s really a way of showing the industry that this is important. Advisors really need to be educated on how products work, how to present them to clients and so on. It just shows the professional side of our business and that’s really what we’re trying to do here.”
Although fewer carriers are offering GMWBs, they are still a hot item, says Simone. The carriers that do still sell GMWB products will teach advisors attending the QFS course about their products, he adds. Simone says that these sessions with carriers will not be sales pitches. “We want to get deep into the product. We really want them to understand what makes this product tick and when they’re out with the client and get asked the technical questions, we want to make sure they have the technical answers. With what is happening with compliance, we don’t want an advisor giving out a wrong answer, or giving a partially right answer and that’s really what the goal of this is – to give the advisors real education so they truly have the confidence to talk about the product.”
At the end of the day-long GMWB course, advisors will do an exam. Those who successfully complete the exam will be given a certificate. They will also receive seven continuing education credits approved by Advocis’ Institute for Advanced Financial Education. The fee to attend is 99 dollars.
David Spector, QFS’ director of Wealth Management, believes with compliance becoming a stronger factor in the future, seeking out educational opportunities to deepen their product knowledge is an “absolute must” for advisors today.
“There’s a real lack of education out there and I think that’s a major problem. My feedback from these courses is, `I didn’t know these things` and eventually that will become a compliance problem, especially with products as complicated as GMWBs and seg funds.”