Can you provide any perspective on the recent loss of insurance company “exotic” advisor sales conferences?

As the life insurance industry transitioned from “dedicated sales” to “independent advisor”, the loss of exotic, high-value advisor conferences was inevitable. The decision was accelerated by two simultaneous additional factors – the near complete abandonment of dedicated career sales forces and the continuing move for financial transparency. Dedicated sales people are expected to be dedicated to their companies. Independent advisors are expected to be, well – independent.

This conference issue is one of transparency regarding potential conflicts of interest. Given the current distribution and regulatory environment, there was no other choice. It could have happened earlier. Dedicated, career sales people are well understood to be promoting their company’s products and services. When you say you are exclusively the agent of ABC Life, the “conflict of interest” is obvious. Nothing hidden there. It’s all duly announced and accepted when you buy and there is no major problem.

This is why, in my conversations with career company executives, they are not as eager to abandon conferences for their dedicated sales people. It’s reasonable too. It may happen, but they do not have the same conflict problems brokerage distribution companies face.

Brokerage distribution has a different problem. They are expected to provide their best product to the independent advisor marketplace for proper and independent consumer placement without undue compensation (exotic conference) influence. Since life products and life compensation is essentially commoditized today, carriers could be seen as competing for business on the basis of the impressiveness of their conference, rather than the value and appropriateness of their product. A more impressive conference in a more exotic place worth more money could be seen as motivating business for that company. Obviously bad.

Presto, a potential conflict of interest becomes a real one. No carrier is going to bear that media liability any more. I expect all major carriers, distributing through the independent advisor channel to stop their high value conferences as currently constituted.

No worries though, this change can be a good one for advisor development and consumer value if companies play it right. Rather than pack the savings into the bottom line, companies can take a different tack, like I have seen in the US.

I have spoken to large US conferences where the life company has already moved to a pay to play conference model. Rather than put their investment into the travel and accommodation of only their top sales people, these firms put their money into amazing advisor education and development events. They choose good locations and then hire top speakers that rival MDRT for their program. They’ve moved their investment from location and travel to content. Advisors at all production levels pay their way to, and at, the event. The company takes care of presenting real educational value. It works. Even some regional events have many hundreds of advisors travel to them. It can work here too.

The change from the exotic conference with bad optics to a top educational event without conflict helps everyone. It creates better business for all, retains the advisor networking opportunities and may prevent further regulatory action on advisor compensation. Amen.

How can I help motivate my prospects to buy permanent life insurance before the January 2017 changes?

What if you knew of a great new investment that only increases in value regardless of what happens in the markets. An “investment” with great, long term returns and stable values used by business icons like Walt Disney and J.C. Penney to build their wealth. This is permanent, participating, whole life insurance. I’m not promoting gimmicks just the facts. You can too.

The value of asset stability increases with age. Millennials come by this naturally. If the “Great Recession” taught us anything, it’s that consumers easily overestimate their risk tolerance. It turns out that “risk tolerance” is a great concept until you test it in your own portfolio with your own emotions.

Permanent insurance is so valuable because advisors don’t really manage assets, they manage people. Whole life insurance isn’t a policy. It’s a unique piece of property.

Here’s what to say to help prospects take advantage while they still can. But remember, even with the 2017 changes, whole life will still be a great plan, just not quite as great. There’s a sale on old stock going on right now.

Here’s a short list talking points why whole life insurance is an important part of any prudent financial strategy:

  1. You can’t outlive whole life insurance. Your protection will be there no matter what, so long as your premium is paid.
  2. Once established, it can pay for itself automatically if you can’t or forget – and that means growing cash value too.
  3. Its value is predictable, guaranteed, never goes down and written down in black and white in the contract.
  4. It’s almost like an unlimited tax free savings account because much of the internal gain is tax-sheltered and contributions are not limited.
  5. It’s a financial multi-tasker and automatically converts from asset creator to asset protector to asset over time.
  6. Its tax-advantaged fund gives you peace of mind when you need cash like in health emergencies, financial losses or opportunities. Be your own banker.
  7. Its value is not directly related to markets so you can sleep better knowing you are insulated from volatility.
  8. Whole life is an outstanding counterbalance to traditional investments. It’s one of the reasons it’s always been great insurance for children.
  9. There is nothing else like it… if you can only qualify. Money may pay for it, but it’s only good health that can buy it. Buy it when you don’t need it so that when you do need it you already have it. You’ll only ever regret not buying more. I know this from personal experience. 

Finally, selling life insurance is good for you too. It’s a market-proof product. When the economy is good, money is no object and people are inclined to buy. When the economy is not so good, it underlines the difficulty people would have if the worst were to happen to them and people are inclined to buy. Good times or bad times only serve to make life insurance selling more important and not less important. Whole life insurance is just the top of the line product.