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The Best of Plans are SMART Plans


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The best of plans may be laid to waste, poet Robert Burns taught us. But that shouldn't stop you from making them. Because while unfulfilled plans can cause regret, failing to make any plans could leave you even more remorseful.

Advisors are “planners," but how many of us actually have a formal business plan we develop, re-visit and actually follow? It doesn't have to be complicated. A plan starts with goals, so look at the year ahead (and beyond), and ask yourself:

  • What are my specialties and what kinds of clients can benefit from them?
  • What are my weaknesses and how can I address them?
  • Whom do I rely on for support and when do I need to call on them?
  • Taking the above into consideration, what are my long-term plans for my practice?
  • In order to meet my long-term goals, what are my objectives for the first quarter? And for the year ahead?

You've likely heard of the need for your goals to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Take a moment to write down your goals for the year (and beyond), and come up with a plan of action to reach them. Find a balance between hard and easy – between stepping out of your comfort zone and keeping things reasonable and attainable.

It's no different than creating plans for your clients. Your ability to plan for them is only as effective as your ability to plan for your own business. So, get started now. If you don’t have any goals, I can guarantee you’ll never reach them.

 

Learn More

“To a Mouse” by Robert Burns: http://www.robertburns.org/works/75.shtml

 

About the Author

With experience as a producer and carrier representative, Bobby Pesakoff is well versed in the variety of issues that an advisor is confronted with on a daily basis. As an Ash Brokerage RVP, he helps advisors grow their businesses, enhance their practices and serve their clients. His goal is to help financial professionals give their clients peace of mind as efficiently and conveniently as possible.

planning goals

Plants and Policies: A little care goes a long way


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Editor’s Note: Because the need for regular insurance policy reviews never goes away, we decided to re-publish this post from 2015. When you’re done reading, be sure to water your plants – then go review your clients’ coverage. 

 

It’s that time of year again! Houseplant Appreciation Day (celebrated Jan. 10) is finally upon us. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since we last took the time to celebrate the bond between man and shrub.

Houseplants offer many benefits: They filter our air, look great and can even reduce stress. As we all know, constant time, attention and care are all required to successfully tend to our green friends. Many of us are more than up to the task. 

Why then, do we neglect to care for one of our clients’ most important financial instruments: their life insurance?

Most financial professionals agree that a client’s life insurance holding should be reviewed every couple of years, or after any major life event (marriage, birth of a child, new job, retirement, etc.) If your clients own any form of cash value life insurance, reviewing the coverage regularly is even more important. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. 

Maybe it’s lack of insurance knowledge that keeps us from contacting our clients. Maybe we want to avoid the image of the “salesman.” Maybe we don’t even know who to ask for help. Whatever the reason, our Life Insurance Portfolio Analysis (LIPA) team can help you care for your clients’ policies and keep them from “wilting.” 

The Ash LIPA team is a dedicated group of people who specialize in the review of in-force life insurance. With a signed authorization from the policy owner or trustee, and a couple other items, they can order information from the issuing insurance company to “stress test” the health and viability of any insurance policy. 

After the in-force policy performance has been reviewed, the team can look at the marketplace today and determine if there are any potential improvements to be made. The life insurance industry is a fluid marketplace; products are constantly changing and evolving, just as your houseplants are constantly growing!

All joking aside, as financial professionals, life insurance review is critical for our clients. The consequences of a poorly managed policy can be devastating.  

So, on this Houseplant Appreciation Day, as you take time to celebrate the indoor flora in your life (or not) at least remember this: Your clients’ policies are like your houseplants – they don’t require a lot of upkeep, but they do require regular attention if you want them to thrive. 


About the Author

As part of the LIPA team at Ash Brokerage, Scott Behrendsen’s goal is to not only ensure clients have the best possible protection, but to also present the planning strategies and concepts in a concise format that’s easy to understand. He’s been in the insurance industry for 10 years, working in annuities, broker-dealer operations, and health insurance before joining Ash Brokerage. He has an extensive background in life insurance case design and advanced strategies. He’s currently pursuing an MBA in marketing.

 

LIPA portfolio analysis policy review life insurance

Your First Client? Your Family.


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I don’t know about you, but this is my favorite time of year. I love spending time with my family, partaking in our annual traditions of eating way too much and playing board games for hours. Every family has at least one tradition. Of course they vary from family to family, but what they all have in common is sharing love and time with the people you are closest to. 

With the holidays and the end of the year coming up, many of us will spend time reflecting. What could we have done differently? How can we grow personally or professionally? More importantly, what will we do in 2016? How can we impact more lives?

Well, have you thought about the impact you have on the people closest to you – your family? 

Many of us try hard to leave work at work. We enjoy our free time and try and not let the pressures of what is waiting for us back in the office get in the way. But sometimes, it might be OK to mix your work and your family. 

In our business, it’s all about making sure everyone is protected, in one way or another. So, your biggest client base should be your family! And what about your personal plans? Have you taken the steps to make sure the people you care for are protected no matter what happens? 

Put it in Practice

We spend countless hours, days, months or even years making sure clients are properly protected. Let’s be sure the people we love have their needs met, too. 


Meghan Cormany’s focus within the Disability Marketing team is to find available coverage for tricky medical cases. She has worked exclusively with Ash’s Disability Marketing Team for more than seven years, so she brings experience and knowledge of individual and business-related disability products and case design, along with medical underwriting with our carriers. 

Put Families First with Business Planning


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In the Advanced Markets Department, we most commonly work on cases involving family owned businesses. A death is always hearbreaking for families, but the death of a small business owner can have an especially devastating impact. Without proper planning, there can be a lot of headaches and friction among relatives and business partners. 

Unfortunately, fewer than 30 percent of business owners have a written succession plan in place. A complete plan looks at many factors, both financial and personal, but at minimum, business owners need three things: 

  1. Buy-sell agreement – A written arrangement that directs what happens to the ownership of a business and how the business is valued for the purposes of the sale. Just like a will in estate planning, this document addresses the business owner’s wishes. With no documentation, the wishes may never come to reality. 

  2. Funding for the agreement – In order to have a buyout and successful transition of the business to the new owner(s), capital is needed. Life insurance is an obvious source of funds that are guaranteed to be there exactly when needed. 

  3. Regular reviews – Once a business owner has a documented buy-sell agreement and proper funding, it’s important to periodically review the agreement and funding mechanism. Priorities and objectives can change over time, and periodic reviews can ensure everything consistently reflects the owner’s current wishes. 

Put it in Practice

You could spare the families of your business owner clients a lot of heartache and headaches. Have you asked about their succession plans lately? Be sure they have the proper documents and funding – and be sure they’re up to date.  

 

As an advanced marketing consultant, Brian takes on complex business and estate planning cases. Prior to joining the Advanced Markets team at Ash Brokerage, he helped to develop, direct and staff its Life Insurance Portfolio Analysis (formerly known as Life Insurance Audit) program, taking it from an initial marketing concept to a profitable operational arm of the life insurance sales division. 

A Year of Memories


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As we reflect back on the year, as most of us will before setting our goals for 2016, we’ll remember a lot of things – good and maybe not so good.  

Here in Indiana, we started 2015 with a very cold winter and record snow fall. It can be easy to remember how miserable we were shoveling snow or putting on layer after layer of clothing just to take the dog outside. But, think about the good memories. Maybe you built snowman and made snow angels with your kids. Or maybe you put in some miles cross country skiing with your best friend. 

We were all so eager for spring to come, then summer. But in our area, June was nearly rained out completely! We may not have cared for the wet weather, but our flowers sure appreciated it. I spent many hours talking about gardening with my mom and grandma. Did you plant flowers or a garden with your family? Or maybe you cooked a family meal with the plump vegetables from the farmers market. 

When the skies cleared, summer came and went with only a handful of days in the 90s. For my family, that’s perfect running weather. Our most favorite runs are around the lake with the rolling hills. There were lots of bon fires, cookouts, and outdoor music to enjoy with family and within the community. Did you take a family vacation? Or maybe you just spent some time together while the kids or grandkids were on summer break – school always seems to start too soon. 

Now, the leaves have fallen from the trees and we’ve come full circle, wrapping up another year. We will be gathering with friends and family more through the holidays than any other season. But isn’t that one of the reasons why it’s the most wonderful time of year?

Put it in Practice

As you look back on 2015, remember the good times with family and friends. It’s a wonderful and inspiring way to start the New Year. 

Emily Osborn’s focus within the Disability Marketing team is to illustrate available coverage for clients who need individual or business-related disability insurance. She has worked exclusively with Ash’s Disability Marketing Team for almost one year, and is always ready and willing to help however she can.