When Did We Lose Our Way?


I arrived home and picked up about three days’ worth of mail. When I picked up Insurance News Net magazine, I was shocked to see the headline, “How to add AUM Now.” And, AUM was emphasized in bright colors. While I know that this publication supports all facets of our industry, it is clearly supported by risk mitigation products. 

Sadly, I think this is indicative of our industry. We have drifted so far toward AUM, which by the way stands for assets under management, that we have lost our way. I have some questions:

When did we lose our sight of what got us into the business?

At what point did we sell our souls to accumulation and wealth building?

How did wealth management translate into just growing assets and not truly managing wealth?

As an industry, we need to get back to talking about life insurance, disability income, long-term care and longevity insurance. We can no longer talk, promote and focus on growing assets alone. In today’s economic environment, protecting assets should be more important than growing them.

We all have a responsibility to make advisors aware of the growing gap in Americans’ ownership of protection products. It begins with each one of us looking in the mirror and asking if we have the clients’ very best interest in mind when we focus on growing assets and not protecting lives. It begins with carriers focusing on new product development with ongoing commission to eliminate the exchanges of products and supporting annual reviews. It begins with a changing mindsets. 

The Bottom Line: When did we sell out to asset management as a business model versus what got us into the business?  

Retirement income opportunity ready to explode


Today, the United States has 42 million retirees, and by 2025, the number will grow to 65 million – meaning  nearly 4 million people a year will be entering retirement. LIMRA estimates that the value of assets held by those ages 55 and above will double to nearly 22 trillion by 2020. 

This opportunity was validated by a recent BlackRock Investor Pulse Survey. Key takeaways from the polled investors (defined as having investable assets of $50,000 or more) include:

  • 62% were concerned about having enough income from investments to live comfortably in retirement
  • 54% agreed with the statement “I'm worried about outliving my savings”
  • 73% agreed, “Keeping my money safe is more important to me than trying to generate returns” 

BlackRock President Rob Kapito said, "People are living longer than ever before, dramatically altering the financial challenges of retirement … Increased longevity is a blessing, but it’s an expensive one because that translates into the need for a bigger retirement nest egg and access to secure, retirement-long income. As our survey suggests, many Americans simply won't have the money they need to enjoy their longer lives if they don’t start investing differently.”

So if you aren’t educating yourself on guaranteed income options for your clients, I’ll bet they’ll be asking another advisor instead.

Ash Brokerage has access to a diverse lineup of fixed index annuities with lifetime withdrawal benefits, including predictable income and income that has the opportunity to increase based on your clients' chosen allocations. You know your clients better than we do, but we know which solutions can be tailored to meet their needs. Call us today – we’ll take it from there.

IRS green lights new Roth IRA rollovers regulations


Last week, the Internal Revenue Service provided guidance that permits employees to roll over their after-tax contributions directly into a Roth IRA, tax-free. This ruling applies to rollovers from 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plans. 

You can read Notice 2014-54 “Guidance on Allocation of After-Tax Amounts to Rollovers” at

The notice states: “The applicability date of the regulations is proposed to be Jan. 1, 2015. However, in accordance with § 7805(b)(7), taxpayers are permitted to apply the proposed regulations to distributions made before the applicability date, so long as such earlier distributions are made on or after Sept. 18, 2014."

Here’s an example of how it would work:

Retirement Plan Account Value: $200,000

  • Pre-tax Amount $150,000
  • After-Tax Amount $50,000

Total Distribution: $200,000

  • Tax-free rollover to traditional IRA: $150,000 
  • Convert tax-free to Roth IRA: $50,000


  1. Check in with clients to determine if they have after-tax money in their retirement plans, and if not, see if they can make such contributions. Not all plans are created equal – you will need to check the plan document for rules on after-tax contributions.

    Your clients can benefit from tax-deferred savings on money that's already been subject to income taxes and then convert it to a Roth IRA upon distribution. This will generally apply to higher income clients who can afford the larger contributions, but because of their income they are likely ineligible to make annual contributions to a Roth.

  2. Clients over 59 ½ with after-tax contributions in their retirement plans can take advantage of non-hardship in-service withdrawals and roll both pre- and post-tax contributions into traditional and Roth IRAs.

  3. Last but not least …. What’s better than tax-free retirement income? Tax-free retirement income guaranteed for life! If your client or prospect’s Roth IRA will be a source of retirement income (as opposed to a way to pass this wealth tax-free to children or grandchildren), doesn’t it make sense that this income should last as long as the client and their spouse live? An annuity may be the answer

    No one product is the best fit for all situations. At Ash Brokerage, we can offer a wide variety of lifetime income solutions from top-rated carriers to meet your clients’ unique needs. Contact your RVP or internal wholesalers to learn more about this opportunity.

Looking for the pothole around the corner


After the harsh winter of 2014, many streets were left with large and encompassing potholes. In my hometown, the city had to repave a stretch of a major downtown street because it was essentially impassable. With the Farmer’s Almanac predicting an even a worse winter for 2015, we’re already talking about the storms and havoc heading our way. 

Unfortunately, we as financial advisors don’t heed the same warnings, and we’re positioned to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Today, many signs point to a market correction – a potential healthy correction of 10 percent or less. While it appears to be smaller than the financial crisis of 2008-09, it nonetheless will take trillions of dollars from investors. 

Given that our clients are five to six years closer to retirement from last major correction, it should be more imperative to protect their wealth. Unfortunately, I continue to hear advisors satisfied with their clients’ account values and assets under management going up without regard to risk and the opportunity to mitigate those risks.  

With today’s product portfolios, many advisors miss the opportunity to lock in gains from existing accounts, especially retirement accounts. I would estimate that 50 percent of our clients would like to take the gains from the last five years off the table and make sure they don’t repeat the claw back they experienced in 2008-09. 

While fixed annuity returns remain low, the risk associated with a potential market correction would outweigh the loss in account value. Look at your client base. Which ones called you the most or came to you as a new client during the last correction? Talk to them about their interest in taking some of their gains off the table. You’ll be looking out for their potential pothole around the corner.

The Bottom Line: Many clients have recovered from the financial crisis five years ago, and they’d like to protect what they’ve gained. Contact them now to help take those gains off the table.   


Annuities Retirement Market

Build momentum – change the game


As I was driving home from a recent trip, I listened to an NFL broadcast. It was so good to pass the time with a football game instead of music for once. Anyway, what struck me during the 3.5-hour drive was how many times the momentum changed during the game. You could hear it in the home team’s announcers and sense it as one positive play built on another.

In sales, much like football, momentum can change at a moment’s notice. In football, momentum usually comes from a big play – a turnover, a big run, or a successful long pass. The players’ confidence builds, and more big plays tend to follow. 

In sales, why not control our momentum with big plays? When we’re working on a lot of cases or have ones that we can dig our teeth into, we seem to have more momentum to call clients, bring up possible solutions or convey confidence in our proposals. How do we hold on to that momentum? With focus.

I encourage you to focus on one big play – one idea or strategy. Give it laser focus for the rest of the year. Laser focus means that you own the idea and can tell the story backwards and sideways, you have a defined target market to share the idea with, and you have the support to execute the idea with ease and confidence. When you’re laser focused, you should definitely see a shift in momentum. 

We have to change the momentum in our business. Life insurance ownership remains at industry lows, we continue to look the other way when it comes to protecting wealth from potential market corrections, and we fail to address the 93 percent of Americans who continue to self-insure their long-term care contingent liability. Focus on one idea – one game-changing play – that can propel you for the rest of the year and springboard you into 2015.

The Bottom Line: It just takes one idea or one sale to change the momentum in your business. Find the big play closest to your heart and run hard with it! Be a game-changer for the industry. 


Annuities motivation sales