Annuities

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. 

 

 

Observe. Seek Data. Share It.


Annuities

Recently, I traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where our firm hosted Thrive University with Curtis Cloke. It was a high-level training session for serious planners in the income planning marketplace. The attendees (myself included) gained a lot of valuable insights, several of which I realized are echoed by a book, “Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics,” by Richard H. Thaler. 

Nearly three decades ago, Thaler was a lone wolf talking about behavior economics and the effects of client behavior. Over the last 30 years, he’s gleaned a few key takeaways: 

  • ­The power of observation – “The first step to overturning conventional wisdom is to look at the world around you.”
  • ­The importance of collecting data – “To really convince yourself, much less others, we need to change the way we do things: we need data, and lots of it.”
  • ­The criticality of speaking your mind – Thaler brought about change by being prepared to speak up himself, but he also stresses the need for all of us to speak up.

What’s the takeaway for us as financial professionals? A few things. 

  1. Observe. Look around you and your clients. We are – and likely will remain – in an overall low-interest-rate environment. Today’s economy is drastically different than the late 1990s and early 2000s. We live in a more volatile market. The question in income planning is no longer, “How can we mitigate risk with asset allocation?” but instead, “How can we shift the risk through product allocation?” Client demographics continue to change around us and expectations have changed as well. 

  2. Seek data. We don’t know what we don’t know, so we always have to be willing to learn. Thrive University, for example, opened the eyes and minds of many of the attendees. One advisor said, “I need to go back and have a conversation with all my clients about this philosophy.” Curtis helped us remember the importance of nominal versus real returns, implied yield comparisons, fee drag and tax impact – components that make a strong income plan for life. 

  3. Share it. In the early stages of behavior economics, Thaler went against the grain. While the topic is growing, it’s important we help continue the message. The fact is, our clients do NOT act rationally. Because of irrational behavior, we must set bumpers in their financial plans to provide guidance and a level of safety in income. But, it’s important for all of us to look the two points above, recognize that we need to change our mindset, and, as an industry, change the way we deliver inflation-adjusted income to our clients.  

 

Bottom Line

By admitting that our clients need a different strategy and taking time to work on our business, not in it, we will change the security level of many Americans in their retirement.  Look around at the changes, seek answers with an open mind and change the level of security for many of your clients. 

 

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. 

Have You Adopted the Forward Pass?


Annuities

In football, the forward pass is a must by today’s standards. In fact, the highest producing NFL offenses are built around the ability to throw the ball around the field. But it wasn’t always that way. The game changed significantly in 1905 when the forward pass was approved for play … but not every team adopted the new rules immediately. 

In the early 1900s, football was pretty much a running game. Because of this, concussions and head injuries were very common. One year, 18 deaths occurred on the football field due to the severity of the game. To make football less violent and safer for college students, Teddy Roosevelt worked with school leaders to figure out new rules. Thus, the forward pass was instituted.

Unfortunately, not every school took to the forward pass quickly. Initially, if a player dropped a pass, it was a turnover, and if a pass was caught in the end zone, it was a touchback. If a pass didn’t go five yards, it resulted in a 15-yard penalty. Risks were high in being different.  

Saint Louis University’s Eddie Cochem instituted the forward pass into his offense in 1906, when most colleges continued to run the ball. They won their next game, 22-0. Pop Warner began to use the forward pass at a small college, Carlisle Indian Industrial School, in 1907. His teams outscored their competition 148-11 over the first five games of the season. Then, tiny Carlisle took on the University of Pennsylvania football team using the forward pass. Pop Warner’s team beat the mighty school in front of 22,800 fans by a score of 26-6. While that score is decisive, the yardage gain was even more lopsided. Carlisle outgained Penn 402 to 76 yards that afternoon.  

The new wave of offense was noticed by bigger eastern schools, and the forward pass began to gain traction. 

What’s my point in all this? We need to look toward the innovators within our industry. Using the same withdrawal strategies for our clients will no longer work in economic environments where bond prices and rates are unpredictable, life expectancies are increasing rapidly, and volatility creates anxiety. It’s just like running the football into the middle of the line and getting crushed. 

We have to look for new ways to make sure our clients are safe. No rule, legislation or single product can solve the concerns and multiple risks of so many Americans. Instead, financial professionals have to use combinations of products and tools to meet the income demands of retirees. If your client’s retirement income isn't safe, it’s time to change the game and look for new ways to play the game. 

Bottom Line: You can’t win the game running the same old offense that won in the past. Times have changed, economics have changed, and client attitudes have changed. Innovate and look for new ways to help your clients win in retirement. 

 

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. 

 

What’s Your Distribution Rate When It Really Matters?


Annuities

Let’s face it. Many of us have short attention spans. Whether it’s looking at our phones or tablets, quickly changing conversations with multiple people, or simply not being able to focus on a task, technology and social pressures have changed the way we interact with people and weakened our ability to pay attention for long periods of time. 

I feel we tend to keep a shorter vision on retirement planning as well. And, this could be dangerous for our clients.  

We talk a lot about life expectancies increasing and determining the proper payout for a client’s assets. Unfortunately, I see many people making plans based upon life expectancies of newborns. We need to concentrate and look at the expanding life expectancies of 65-year-olds and the complications that those extra years bring. 

Rising income needs due to inflationary pressures are greatest in retirement because of health care and housing issues. Longer retirements cannot withstand level income for long periods of time, especially with a volatile base of assets. As planners, we need to consider the impacts of our clients’  income sources in 20 years, not just in that initial five- to 10-year period. 

Over the years, the 4 percent distribution rule has been kicked around by many industry professionals and academics. Again, I don’t think the distribution percentage at age 65 is as important as what the percentage will be in 15 years. Too often, we set a withdrawal rate based upon today’s factors. And, we don’t mitigate the other risks in retirement. Eventually, due to inflation primarily, the withdrawals must invade principal. This starts a downward spiral of asset depletion, resulting in the client running out of money. 

We have to challenge our thinking about income distribution and asset accumulation so that both counterbalance one another. Today, we use one to fund the other. But, they need to complement each other throughout a client’s lifetime.  

If you’re using a simple withdrawal strategy for income, chances are the withdrawal rate will escalate in the client’s late 70s and 80s. This adds pressure to the remaining portfolio and might eliminate options. Instead, think about designing a guaranteed, inflation-adjusted floor of income and creating liquidity with funds that don't supply income. At the same, complement the plan with risk mitigation products to increase the probability for success.  

Bottom Line: You’ve heard the saying “It’s not what you earn; it’s what you keep that matters.” Well, it’s not the distribution rate when you start that matters; it’s the rate in the second half of retirement that makes retirement sustainable.  

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.