Annuities

Getting Better Every Day


Annuities

I’m not sure about you, but the Garmin advertising campaign excites me every time I see it.  It works around the idea of beating yesterday’s performance.  As I train for a half marathon, I’m constantly reminding myself that it’s about getting better after several years away from running.  Regardless of where your financial services practice is today, you should adopt the same philosophy when it comes to preparing for the new fiduciary and conflict of interest rule.

 

With more than 1,000 pages of text, the new rule can be overwhelming.  At times, I find myself wondering how our firm will be able to adapt to all our interpretations of the rule.  But, growth and change happens gradually.  I say “by baby steps” on many occasions.  You have to beat the previous day.  So, what can you do today in order to move the needle forward, if ever so slightly, from yesterday?

 

First, I encourage you to look at your books of business and review your exposure to the rule.  You should be working with your marketing organization or broker-dealer to see how their interpretation of the rule will impact your client files.  Segmenting the clients with qualified accounts would be a great start. 

 

Next, I think it is important to look at where you want your practice to be in the next three to five years.  There are two main questions I think you have to answer when preparing for the DOL rule:

 

Are you going to move up market?

Or

Are you going to become more efficient in your current market?

 

Both are viable options, but how you want your practice to look in the future should dictate how you approach your clients today.  If you are moving up market, you will need to begin addressing protection and longevity needs.  Or, if other producers are vacating your market, you need to think about how you can capture market share.  But you need to think about how you plan to grow your existing business. 

 

Neither one of those strategies happens overnight.  You must begin to take the baby steps necessary to gain control of your future business.  Think about what you have to do today that will make your life easier after the rule takes effect in April, 2017.  You will be glad you prepared. 

 

Winning Strategy:

Adapting to the new fiduciary standards takes time.  You can’t jump off the couch and run a marathon.  You need to improve little by little.  The same goes for preparing for the new rules.  Think about how you can improve today in a way that will positively impact your practice after April 2017.

 

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 DOL Practice Enhancement

Connecting to Our Clients


Annuities

Living in Fort Wayne means I can usually find very few direct flights. On a recent connection at a national “hub” airport, my plane was running a few minutes late. So I had a chance to sit down, eat my dinner of M&Ms I’d bought at a kiosk, and relax for about 20 minutes.

I chose a bench facing the middle of the concourse and began watching people pass me one-by-one. Some were running to their next connection; others dragging their children through the concourse.

A few were simply strolling through the airport, while most were walking briskly. One poor soul was just leaning against the handrail on the moving sidewalk after an exhausting day of travel.

 

Where were they all going?

Why were they going there?

What could they all be doing that had to be done at that particular location? Why was it so important?

 

For a tired annuity wholesaler, these were monumental questions. But I think these are the same questions our clients deserve. The only difference is to add  “in retirement” to the end of the question.

 

Where are you going in retirement?

Why are you going there in retirement?

What has to be done at that particular location in retirement? Why is it so important in retirement?

 

If we ask those questions, I bet we find out a lot about the lifestyles our clients want in their retirement. Where? Why? What would they be doing? Having those issues out on the table can guide us to solutions that will be most meaningful to those we serve. And, by the way, stop and say hello the next time you see a middle-aged man in a suit and tie sitting in a concourse eating M&Ms.

 

Winning Strategy:

Ask the right questions and get the correct answers to our clients’ most heartfelt goals for a successful retirement.

 

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 Client Relationships Retirement

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.”