Annuities

Adversity: A Different Perspective


Annuities

Adversity can come in many forms, sneaking in slowly but then spiraling out of control. How many times have you described a sales slump just like that? I certainly have had my share of slumps during my nearly three-decade career. However, I think it’s important to look inside the problem to keep the adversity in perspective.

 

First, we have to look at the root cause of any adversity. This may seem easy, but almost always the obvious cause is not the real cause. You have to look deeper than just looking at the obvious. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a great place to start, but even KPIs might not show the heart of the problem. You have to ask yourself, “Why is this KPI looking like this? What might I unknowingly be doing that creates these results?”

 

As I frequently suggest, behavior change is not only difficult but also at times painfully slow. Recognizing the problem early is critical to lessening the effects of poor performance. But stopping the patterns of behavior that are causing the problem is only one part.

 

Once you have determined the cause of the adversity, you then have to keep that adversity in perspective. Recently, I measured our performance against different industry benchmarks in several distribution channels. Even though our activity and effectiveness were not up to our normal KPIs, I found our sales numbers were much better than industry averages. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to change, but the numbers do help me keep our current activity in perspective. And it helps me provide information to my sales team that keeps them energized. When our competition is suffering, that is the time to capture market share, not say, “Everyone is affected, so we are just fine.” We still have to focus on the root cause of adversity to deal with it.

 

At the end of the day, adversity provides an opportunity for improvement. But it’s important not to correct the same problem time after time. Each cycle of adversity generally creates unintended and unexpected consequences for our actions. Look at adversity as a chance to improve. When you do, adversity doesn’t seem as bad and can even be a sign of healthy growing pains.

 

Winning Strategy:

Don’t hang your head during adversity. Look at adversity as a learning tool. Identify the root cause and work on correcting it; but, keep the adversity in perspective to your overall business. Make sure you don’t overcorrect but use adversity as an opportunity to grow through change.

 

About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of annuities at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

Annuities Adversity

Interest Starts Change


Annuities

I recently spent a couple of beautiful days in Washington, D.C. Although many people were on fall break visiting our nation’s capital, I was not. My days were spent preparing for, and talking to, members of the Department of Labor. I found the experience intriguing, interesting and awkward—all rolled into one. But, significant change requires all those factors.

 

As financial professionals, we must always be intrigued by our fiduciary responsibilities to our clients, even if we believe we are already providing that level of care. No matter what specialty your financial services practice focuses on, you have to think about all the possible ways of improving a client’s position. This is exactly why the department allowed us to come in and discuss our concerns. They were as intrigued as we were about the opportunity to improve the distribution of financial advice. I believe that level of intrigue is good for our industry.

 

Next, in order to improve, you must have an interest in change—far more than simple intrigue. We must have a sincere interest in changing how the industry provides better options and service to our clients. The department displayed a genuine interest in improving and understanding the market for annuities and life insurance. With a genuine interest in improving, we typically move to the awkward stage—you feel you need to change your behavior.

 

The new fiduciary rule requires significant changes of behaviors at every level of our industry, perhaps even a change in behavior from the department, as well. Regardless, when you change the way you do things, there is a feeling of awkwardness. However, there is always a path to change through understanding and repetition. If you were intrigued and interested in getting better, you will do the uncomfortable things until they become comfortable. In the end, you will have to go through all the stages in order to improve.

 

Winning Strategy:

Find something that intrigues you about your business. Get interested in why the process works the way it does. Get uncomfortable with a new process or product.

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of annuities at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

DOL Fiduciary Annuities

3 Ways to Get More from Your Brain


Annuities

Like many professionals, I am trying to incorporate meditation into my daily routine. With meetings for seven to eight hours of the day and many nights taken up by client dinners, I find it difficult to be present while at home or to simply rest my mind. It’s hard to start a new habit, especially when you don’t feel results immediately. However, I know in the long run that meditation will make me healthier and help me make better decisions for my sales division. 

 

One of the reasons I started to look in to meditation was the advice from my business coach. But, I found a lot of other information about the brain and reasons why I needed to “rest my brain” occasionally.

 

Did you know the brain completes 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 calculations per second? That’s right – it’s a one with 16 zeros after it. I had to look up the proper name for the number – it’s quintillion. I just knew it was a big number.

 

Think about the brain’s capacity and its limitations. It takes the brain approximately 21 minutes to refocus on a complex task after being interrupted. But, at the same time, it can conduct 1 quintillion calculations per second. So, how do you manage this important part of the human body and maximize its use for clients?

 

Focus

Given our busy schedules (and our clients), it’s imperative we keep the mind on task. I recommend time-blocking for important activities like calling clients, client appointments and managing your business. Focusing on tasks allow you to leverage the power of your brain and its massive computing ability. 

 

Rest

It’s important to rest your brain and keep it fresh. After all, it’s really working overtime doing all those calculations. Take time to enjoy the outdoors; sit and listen to “nothing” – chirping, whispering, glistening, or whatever you hear. Enjoy the moment. Allow the brain to relax and take in the environment. By having a relaxed brain, you are in a better position to make great decisions on your business and with your clients. 

 

Challenge

Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about constraints. Challenge your brain to think outside the normal flow of business. Ask yourself, “Is there a better solution for my client that provides a better outcome than how I am doing it now?” Your clients will appreciate the ideas that your brain delivers. After all, one idea out of a quintillion isn’t all that hard, right?

 

Winning Strategy

Allow your brain to rest periodically. But, when it’s time to focus, make sure you are uninterrupted. The level of productivity you enjoy will surprise you. Practice exercising your brain just like the rest of your body. 

 

About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of annuities at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, "Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

What ‘Sesame Street’ Can Teach Us About Selling


Annuities

On Nov. 10, 1969, Joan Ganz Cooney debuted a new children’s program on public television. Up to that point, she’d been a documentary filmmaker. However, her true love was education-based television, and she wanted to create something that would resemble the highly popular “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In.” She hired a gentlemen named Jim Henson to create puppets – “Sesame Street” was born.* 

Many of us grew up with Jim Henson’s characters, and they still resonate today. “Sesame Street” probably taught you about letters and numbers, and could also teach you a thing or two about selling. The show’s success can be attributed to several of Joan’s strategies: 

  • Segments were short and to the point – it layered education and leveraged repetition 
  • They used various media – animation, human actors and puppets
  • Shows were generally upbeat and fun


When working with clients, think how you can use those elements to be successful: 

  • In today’s world of distractions, we have to be to the point. We’re trying to build long-lasting relationships, but our clients think in short bursts of attention. Let things build with time and repetition. 

  • Find ways to best communicate with each client or prospect. The options are endless – emails, letters, phone calls, brochures, handouts, slides, videos … the list goes on. You have to be prepared because clients are doing their research before they ever meet you.  

  • We must remain positive. While we have a responsibility to discuss the “not so pleasant” realities of life, there’s no reason to be negative about any products, services or circumstances. During periods of volatility and economic uncertainty, our clients want someone to look them in the eye and tell them, “It’s going to be OK” or, “This is what we need to do right now.” No website or robo-advisor can do that for them. 

 

Bottom Line

Simple usually wins. Think about making things “Sesame Street simple” for your clients to understand. It will improve your communication and your impact. 

 *Morning MoneyBeat Factoid, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 10, 2015

Mike McGlothlin is the Executive Vice President of Annuities at Ash Brokerage. His strength is helping advisors become more efficient and effective in their businesses. He and his team provide income-planning solutions focused on longevity and tax efficiency, and they also assist advisors with entering defined-benefit termination planning and structured settlement markets. 

Why Financial Professionals Will Matter Post-DOL


Annuities

While on a plane recently, I read a quick article in Money Observer, a British financial site. It was like I was getting a glimpse into the future of the post-DOL world here in the United States. With similar regulations taking effect in the United Kingdom in 2012, many clients can’t afford financial advice.  

Two facts in the article were staggering: 

  1. Half of the respondents who had an idea of how they were going to take their retirement savings thought that a drawdown strategy (systematic withdrawal strategies) would provide guaranteed income for life. Unfortunately, there are many variables that affect that strategy, including rates of return and withdrawal rates. But, I can confidently say that it will not guarantee income for life.  

  2. Twenty-five percent of respondents thought the drawdown strategy was risk free. Clearly, there’s a gap in the fundamental mechanics of receiving income from pensions. To a lesser extent, I found it interesting that 25 percent of respondents thought their pension income was tax-free. 

 

The complexities of the British pension system are no different than the complexities of U.S. retirement plans. Regardless, it’s clear that Americans will need advice. 

With some of the DOL ruling leaking out in various presentations over the last 30 days, I think it’s important not to lose sight of where commission-based products fit into the proposed rule (and, I stress that it’s still a proposed rule), which makes an attempt to focus on what is best for the client. We can’t let paperwork and regulation get in the way of what many of us have been doing for years – putting the client first and making sure there is a baseline of guaranteed income.  

Educating people and putting them in the right position to make quality decisions will never go out of favor. Because of that, I encourage financial professionals to think about how they will educate the large portion of retirement asset holders who will no longer have a wealth manager tied to the asset. Their clients will be looking for quality education, expertise and recommendations that will impact their lives for the next 30-plus years.  

Let’s collectively step up to the challenge of a post-DOL world and make a difference for our clients, their families, their co-workers and our industry. Don’t let the fear of change and how we transact business affect our view of who we do business with our or how our advice should be disseminated.  

 

Bottom Line

While we may need to be more transparent and change forms, we shouldn’t lose our core value proposition to our clients: quality advice and sensible solutions, delivered consistently through personal interaction.  

 

Learn More

Register for our webinar - Februrary 4, 2016 -  discussing the latest DOL rulings and changes to expect.

 

Mike McGlothlin is the Executive Vice President of Annuities at Ash Brokerage. His strength is helping advisors become more efficient and effective in their businesses. He and his team provide income-planning solutions focused on longevity and tax efficiency, and they also assist advisors with entering defined-benefit termination planning and structured settlement markets.