What Happens on The Outside Doesn’t Matter


Too often, we find ourselves caught up in the distractions around our work. Whether it’s the interest rate environment, regulations or blanket recommendations from “experts” … Many times, we let the distractions dictate our decisions. No matter the client situation in front of us, too often, we revert back to our old planning techniques. 

If we push the distractions aside, however, and focus on the needs of the people we serve, we’re much more likely to succeed. 


Hoosiers Hang Tough

At no surprise to those who know me, I was happy to see Indiana University win the 2016 men’s basketball Big Ten regular season championship. If you don’t follow IU basketball, you might be surprised to know the team was stumbling into the post-season a year prior. 

Things were so bad, Coach Tom Crean was booed when he showed up to watch his son play at a high school basketball game. At the time, many Hoosier faithful were calling for his termination, and some even offered to pay for his buyout. The players also had several off-court incidents that were not indicative of IU basketball standards.  

After coming back and winning the regular season championship in 2016, Coach Crean said the team didn’t let the outside distractions impact how they prepared for games or used their strengths. He is quoted as saying: 

“ … When you have faith in yourself and each other and what you’re capable of, it doesn’t matter what’s said on the outside.”

Why don’t we do the same thing in business? 


Focus on What Matters

No matter what happens in the months or years ahead, we have to keep the outside distractions on the outside and have faith in our financial planning process. The only thing that really matters is how our clients benefit from our recommendations. If we know (and have faith in our products) that a purchase improves the client’s situation, we must stay focused on continuing to make the recommendation – even if regulations make it more difficult. 


Winning Strategy

In all the changes to our industry, keep faithful in your financial planning process. Be open to change when it improves the client situation. And, keep distractions on the outside.  


Riding the Waves: How to help your clients cruise through retirement


Have you ever been on a cruise ship? The first day at sea can feel pretty strange, especially if it’s a windy day and the sea is churning with waves. If you’re not accustomed to walking on a ship, you might even find yourself holding on to the walls. 

Though they may rock a little, cruise ships and other large vessels will continue cutting through the water with ease – they are built with a strong foundation and designed for balance.


Riding the Market Waves

Many Americans find their retirement vacillating on market returns, and early in 2016, the markets created choppy waters for those seeking steady income. So, how can you make sure your clients don’t have to hang on to the walls through retirement? 

Like a ship, they need a strong foundation and balance to cut through the waves. With a doubt, a ship has to sway to some degree – just like a portfolio of well-balanced stocks and bonds. However, the variations in performance sometimes make things lean too far for a comfortable ride. No matter what happens, a strong foundation will bring their ship back to the middle. 


Creating Strength and Balance

I’m not advocating everyone place their assets into instruments providing guaranteed income. Instead, I think you should think of a couple points when designing a portfolio for your clients.  

  1. You should take longevity off the table with a guaranteed, long-term income stream so your clients will not run out of money for essential living expenses

  2. You should help provide inflation protection for future health care needs and overall growth


The next time you take on a retirement planning case, think about designing the portfolio like a ship. Guaranteed income will provide a strong foundation, and a selection of other assets can meet any needs that might arise and rock the ship. 

Winning Strategy

A ship must be built to withstand all conditions – a retirement portfolio should be built the same way. Build a strong foundation and create balance so your clients can have smooth sailing through retirement.  

About the Author

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.


Minutes to Memories … What It Means for Our Industry


While I was in college, John Mellencamp enjoyed a lot of success, especially in the Midwest. During my senior year, I remember going to his sold-out concert at Indiana University’s Memorial Stadium. Unfortunately, he didn’t play one of my favorite songs, “Minutes to Memories” – one of his less popular tunes off the “Scarecrow” album from the mid-’80s

The song is about a young man riding a bus overnight with an elderly man. Mellencamp eloquently shares the story that so many of us have been a part of – a wise person very senior in age gives a younger person the facts of life. The chorus repeats:

Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can

I often listen to this song because our industry stands at a crossroads. Recent legislation has the potential to sweep away not only our dreams as financial professionals, but also the retirement dreams of many middle class Americans through the loss of quality financial advice. At the same time, we all have a chance to shape the future of the industry. No matter what the future holds, we need to tough it out and be the best financial professionals we can be.  

As I have mentioned before, we must look at our business models, then adjust, adapt and grow as an industry. That means forcing carriers to be more client-friendly with ease of operations, access to information and better customer service for younger Americans. 

It also means we have to evaluate our businesses and look to change the client experience. We must fight to show regulators we are capable of change that is both meaningful and lasting for our clients.  

Stay tuned as the industry challenges regulations over the next couple of months. But, more importantly, stay focused on ways you can adapt your business to document the higher standards, act more efficiently and address the middle market concerns.  

Winning Strategy

Keep your dreams – and your clients’ dreams – alive. Let’s figure out how to shape the future of our industry and make our businesses more efficient and effective.  


About the Author

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. 


The Client Experience as an Innovation


With the new fiduciary rule in place, client experience will be the biggest differentiator of the future. Financial professionals can no longer run their business with the higher margin products and steady advisory fees we know today. We have to ask ourselves, “Is it easy to do business with me?” 

Our customers take longer to plan for a vacation than they do for the next 30 years of their retirement. They require accuracy in their advice, but they also want speed and access in their relationship. In order to attract future generations of clients, we must fundamentally shift our business to a scalable model that features customization. 

As financial professionals, our success requires that we not only reach but also communicate with a different generation. We are currently witnessing an epic transfer of about $12 trillion in wealth from the Greatest Generation to the baby boomers. And the boomers are expected to transfer some $30 trillion in assets to their heirs over the next 30-40 years. 

So, our industry must change as client needs change. Over the past 10-15 years, regulatory agencies and firms have stressed the impact of fees and assets under management. This made sense as the baby boomer generation completed its accumulation. Now, we must focus our attention on distributing the wealth our professional advice has helped to build. Those conversations are new to our clients and, in many cases, not our current expertise due to the bias of assets under management. 

The fiduciary rules do not promote a doomsday event, but the financial professionals who will thrive through this change are those who fundamentally shift their thinking surrounding their business models and how they deliver products and services. While legislation forces change, the likely innovation comes in the form of better client experiences through technology and deeper relationships. 

Improve your client experience for this generation and the next generation, and you will improve your financial planning practice. 


Winning Strategy

Innovation comes in many forms. The fiduciary standard forces us to improve client experiences in order to succeed.  


About the Author

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. 

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Business Insider:

Pension Plan Sponsors are Running out of Excuses


Most pension plan sponsors have been content to wait for low interest rates to rise before considering pension risk transfer solutions. As they wait, however, their plans experience rising costs, funding and market volatility, and the prospect of paying retirement benefits to employees who are living longer than originally planned. 

By 2019, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums will increase more than 40% compared to 2015 rates for fully funded pension plans. Underfunded plans also pay a variable premium rate based on their funding level. What makes better economic sense for sponsors – pay the costs to maintain the plan or transfer it to an organization in the business of managing risk?

Sponsors are beginning to grasp the cost realities of waiting to address their pension obligations, but they need our encouragement and guidance. Consider this: Russell Investments published an interesting research piece, “Borrow to Fund,” that examines the costs/benefits of borrowing money to fully fund an underperforming plan. In addition to potential expense and tax savings, a fully funded plan is positioned for transfer of its obligations to a top-rated insurance company through pension derisking, a strategy that’s going to help even more companies in 2016.


Winning Strategy

Now is an excellent time for you to offer pension risk transfer solutions that meet your clients’ needs and fulfill commitments made to plan participants. Be sure you’re taking advantage of a market that poised to protect thousands of companies and their employees.  


About the Author

At Ash Brokerage, Steve Pilger helps clients design and execute cost-effective risk transfer strategies for their pension plans. Need help getting started? Contact him at or (800) 589-3000 ext. 6828. He can help identify prospects and provide expertise to help you generate revenue in this growing market.


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“House approves large PBGC premium hikes in budget deal,” Pensions & Investments, Oct. 28, 2015:

“Borrow to Fund,” Russell Investments, November 2015:

“Pension Derisking Poised to Accelerate Further,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 2, 2016:

Pension retirement