Annuities

Winning the Right Way


Annuities

Winning the Right Way

By Mike McGlothlin, EVP of Annuities

 

If you read much about the U.S. Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule, you know many people are saying it’s unworkable. While I agree the rule may be overreaching and it will be difficult to meet all the disclosure requirements, I think it’s clear the effects of the rule are making a difference already. FINRA has fined an institution for creating conflicts and incentives to sell one product, and clients are asking prospective planners if they are a fiduciary.

 

Still, many advisors feel like cannot work as a fiduciary. I believe with the right focus, you can.

 

Defining Success

As a student manager at Indiana, I worked in one of the most competitive environments in college basketball. We didn't always win. In fact, my sophomore year was one of the worst in Indiana’s history under Coach Bob Knight. Two years later, we were ranked in the top 10 in many of the polls throughout the season, and we won the national title.  

 

Coach Knight eventually retired as the winningest coach in NCAA history with 902 wins. His teams won three NCAA titles, 1 NIT championship, and 11 Big Ten conference titles, and he won numerous Coach of the Year awards – those are the accolades most people remember him for. But, I think it’s important to recognize to more stats:

  • Coach Knight graduated 98 percent of his student-athletes who stepped foot on campus
  • He had ZERO violations during his four-decades-long coaching career

 

Success in sports is usually defined in wins and losses, awards, titles and rankings. But at Indiana, we were taught that the real win is how you play the game and how you improve your chances for success beyond basketball.

 

I find our charge as financial planners very similar. Our industry has to pay attention to how we handle clients, improve their chances for success and help them enjoy their retirement in the event of major longevity issues. We have to be more cognizant of the process we use with clients and how we plan. 

 

The DOL rule is meant to protect retirement investors, but it should really be about redefining our practices. The successful planner in a post-fiduciary world will have a process that:

  • Addresses the many risks of retirement
  • Makes interaction feel unique to the client
  • Promotes the sharing of information at lightning-fast response times. 

 

That is not unworkable with a growing, caring and thriving financial services business.

 

Winning Strategy: Take a page from a legendary coach. Focus on the process and not the results. Redefine how you interact with your clients and make their experience unique. You can win by staying within the rules and focusing on what's important.

 

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.”

 

Coaching DOL Fiduciary Client Success Practice Enhancement

Why You Need to Change Your Game


Annuities

Last year, I heard Robbie Bach speak at a carrier meeting. His story stuck with me – it might stick with you, too, and inspire you to change your business model for a post-fiduciary world.

 

If you’ve never heard of Robbie, he’s the former leader of Microsoft’s Mobile Entertainment and Device division and was responsible for developing and bringing Xbox to the market. The console was eventually a success, but at one point, Robbie thought about resigning. He’d lost nearly $6 billion and was unable to penetrate the Japanese gaming market.

 

To better fit his market’s wants and desires, Robbie created an interactive, subscription-based business model. For a set price per year, players could not only access Microsoft’s games, but they could also see and hear the other players around the globe via headsets and cameras. No other game allowed that level of interaction before. 

 

The results were outstanding. In a short period of time, Robbie’s division went from billions in losses to a $1 billion profit. Even more impressive was their penetration of the Japanese market – Xbox earned a nearly 10 percent market share when no one had been able to earn more than 1 percent. His tweak in the business model and addition of value created a sustainable growth trajectory for the division. 

 

What’s Your Game Plan?

In the post-fiduciary world, a proper business model will be critical to your success. I think it’s the biggest decision you’ll have to make as you prepare for the move toward a fiduciary-based practice. 

 

You’ll need to either move up market, or become more efficient in your current market. Neither option is right or wrong – you just need to be crystal clear in your decision.

 

  • If you move up market, how will you address the concerns and needs of higher net worth clients? Wealthy individuals tend to have access to better health care, so their longevity needs will be different.  Wealth transfer and taxes may be a bigger part of their planning process. Is your model set up to deliver those types of services as a holistic package?

  • If you stay in your current market, how is it changing? Industry reports indicate more than $600 billion in assets will shake free from large wire houses and banks that have less than $100,000 in account values. That’s a lot of assets you could capture, but efficiency will be critical to success. Do you have the right vendors for technology, software and applications to deliver products and services to these clients? 

 

Winning Strategy: Review your business model and make sure it sets you up for success. No model is superior to another, but the model you choose has to be right for you and your clients. 

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 Business Model Practice Enhancement

What You Can Do While We Wait for Answers on the DOL


Annuities

Since Feb. 3, when the president signed a memorandum asking the Department of Labor to review the Fiduciary and Conflicts of Interest Rule, I’ve talked to agents and advisors from around the county. Many feel a great sense of relief that the rule is likely to be delayed – many believe this is the beginning of the end for the rule.

 

Regardless of a potential delay or revision, I don't believe we can afford to move backward in how we interact with our clients. The fiduciary standard is here to stay – market forces and regulatory agencies already act as if the rule is in effect.

 

I think it’s vital to prepare for running your office as if you are a fiduciary. While we wait for answers on the DOL, you can set yourself up for success by taking a few key steps:  

 

  1. Review your sales process. Make it repeatable and document it. Think about how you interact with your clients. Document every step and turn it into a policy and procedure manual for client interaction. The final product is less important if you follow a consistent process.
  2. Evaluate your vendors. Whether it’s software, fact finding, BGAs, or broker-dealers, are they going to be able to support your business model and help you execute what best supports your client base and growth plans?
  3. Get comfortable with transparency in fees. Most clients will appreciate your plans to remain in the business and continue to stay in contact with them. Don't be afraid to discuss your model and thoughts around compensation.
  4. Listen to your clients. Engage with them however best meets their needs. I don't believe any business model is superior to another so long as your engagement is defined by client need.
  5. Think about your compensation – in relation to time, effort, expertise and what the client is asking to get accomplished. Concentrate on neutrality when defining your fees with a group of clients.

 

These are just the beginning steps to prepare for a fiduciary standard – they represent the fundamental building blocks. As planners, we can’t defer our fiduciary responsibility any further. Instead, we should look at this possible delay as an opportunity to refine our practice and enhance our client experience.

 

Winning Strategy: Take time to prepare for a fiduciary standard. If there is a delay in the DOL rule, you can get your business in a better position for success. Make fiduciary a positive differentiator for you as you look to thrive in our new marketplace. 

 

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 Annuities Fiduciary

DOL Issues Proposed Delay


Annuities

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is likely to post the proposed delay to the Fiduciary and Conflicts of Interest Rule on the Federal Register. You can read the full 31-page document at www.federalregister.gov. The delay pushes the applicability date to June 9, 2017, which amounts to a 60-day delay to the rule. This is significantly less than what many industry professionals hoped for after President Trump’s memorandum on Feb. 3, 2017.

 

As the Fiduciary Rule continues to evolve, I want to stress that many aspects of the rule have already been implemented by the marketplace. Firms have created policies and procedures to mitigate the conflicts in their business and supervise best interest standards for clients. Advisors have begun to change their business models to adhere to the new rules. All of these movements are positives for our industry. And, we look forward to continuing to deliver products, services, strategies and solutions to our advisors in a neutral, conflict-free environment.    

 

Looking into an unclear crystal ball, our industry must accept that the rule – in some form – seems to be inevitable. How the rule is supervised and executed will ultimately change the distribution of retirement products forever. I want to encourage all members of the financial services community to stay engaged with their senators and representatives in shaping the DOL rule. Ultimately, I believe a legislative fiduciary standard is the best outcome to unify the standard across all distribution channels and geographic markets. The standard must work with NAIC regulations that govern fixed and indexed annuities, while outlining a centralized regulator to hold all professionals accountable. 

 

Ash Brokerage continues to prepare for the Fiduciary and Conflicts of Interest Rule. As we inch closer to a resolution, we will work with our independent agents to make sure they have an avenue with the least amount of disruption to their business. For our registered representatives and RIAs, we are prepared to support and assist you in the transition to a new environment. Our tools, research and expertise working in an agnostic sales organization provide the necessary support for success in the future. We look forward to partnering with firms and advisors looking to prepare and thrive in the new world of delivering retirement products and services to so many Americans who need our advice. 

 
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 Annuities

Simplicity in Business


Annuities

I’ve been traveling this past week to several different conferences, and have already picked up some great ideas to share with our advisers.  Through my travels, I was struck by a couple of comments that really hit me—about the simplicity and authenticity of business.  I’m always surprised about how the simplest and most direct statements are often the most valuable. 

 

I had the great honor of speaking at The Society of Financial Service Professional’s (FSP) Arizona Institute.  As I was preparing for the event, I remembered that FSP played a large part in one of the largest sales during my retail career.  After receiving a large lump sum of money that increased their net worth, a couple had a question about college funding and the eligibility of future assistance.  College funding and financial assistance were not my areas of expertise.  So I sent my question to the discussion board at the association and received a lot of valuable information in return.

 

I was able to discuss the case with another professional who deals in financial assistance and planning, and was an expert in his field.  I learned from that experience, and passed that learning along to my client.  The knowledge I passed along from that source added value to my interactions with my prospective client.  I also encouraged the couple to contact my source if they felt the need to explore additional information.  Because of my relationship with a network of professionals, I was able to add value beyond my expertise.  The couple elected my firm to manage their money due to my ability to look holistically at their current situation.

 

Adding value—value that is important to the person you are working with—can come in many flavors.  As I was sitting in a carrier meeting this week, I was reminded about the simplicity of business when you work on bringing value to the relationship.  The speaker commented on three things that make you successful in business, regardless of your industry:

  1. People like you.
  2. People trust you.
  3. You add value.  If you add value, it’s easier to get people to like and trust you.

So simple.  So right.  But too often ignored. 

 

After attending the Arizona Institute earlier in the week, this simple checklist for business relationships resonated with me.  Our value to our clients will be the knowledge and wisdom we bring to the relationship.  We are quickly moving to business models that require technology to make investment selections and recommendations.  However, our clients will still require value brought to the relationship in the form of personal expertise, a trusting relationship and the ability to have a meaningful conversation.  We have to find the proper expansion of our business models that can add value.  With one of the greatest fears of Americans still being running out of money in retirement, I suggest we take a hard look at the longevity issues around income planning.  This can easily add value to your relationships and provide a means of having a unique conversation with your clients and prospects.

 

Winning Strategy:

Take a look at the simple aspects of your client relationships.  Leverage the likability, trust and value propositions you can add in order to recruit new clients. 

 

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 Practice Enhancement