The Ultimate Gift

Jeff Stemler, CLU, ChFC, CFP – Sr. Vice President – Advanced Planning
(Asset Marketing Systems)

“He was exactly four years, six months, five days, seven hours and forty-two minutes old when he presented himself to the venerable Gatekeeper and waited for admittance to the Glorious Kingdom of God”

So begins the story of the “Littlest Angel”.

The story goes on tell how homesick and unhappy he is in heaven. When asked what would make him happy he said he had an old box hidden under his bed and it contained the things that were most precious to him.

His wish was granted, the box was returned to him and he was very happy to once again hold his beloved box and its contents. “When Jesus was born, the Littlest Angel had no gift for Jesus… except for his memory-filled box, and at the bottom of the box a limp, tooth-marked leather strap, once worn as a collar by his mongrel dog, who had died as he had lived, in absolute love and infinite devotion.”

I first heard this story when I was in the third grade and it has stayed with me all these years. Even at that young age, I understood this was an example of unconditional love, and that battered old box was the Littlest Angel’s ultimate gift.

With Christmas upon us, the thoughts of giving and receiving gifts are all around us.  But there is one gift that can only be given with unconditional love and that is life insurance.  We have nothing materially to gain by providing life insurance for our family, but we can know in our hearts that we have kept the promises when we got married and held our babies, to protect and provide for those we love.

Just like that battered old box, our gift of life insurance is our ultimate gift to our loved ones. 

Merry Christmas.

‘Tis the Season for Giving… A Look at Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs)

Sam Payne, RICP, CLTC – Vice President, Business Consultant
(Asset Marketing Systems)

As we quickly approach the end of one tax year and the beginning of another, a review of Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) and their application for some of your clients makes perfect sense.

Referrals, the holy grail of any enterprise, are a by-product of providing exceptional service and value to your existing clients.  So much so that they want to share you with their friends and acquaintances, and so you become referable.

Informing and educating clients who can take advantage of QCDs about them, and the benefit of doing so is one of those opportunities to add value.

What is a QCD? QCDs have been around in some form since the Pension Protection Act in 2006.  Their value changed as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2015, and under current tax law, they can provide an additional benefit for tax years through 2025.  Prior to 2017, the QCDs strategic importance lay primarily in the fact that it could help older taxpayers meet their philanthropic goals while also satisfying IRA required minimum distributions (RMDs).

Since the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the increase in the standard deduction, many individuals find themselves in a position where total itemized deductions do not exceed the standard deduction.  So deducting charitable contributions will not have the benefit it may have had previously.

Here’s an example: 

For the 2019 tax year, a couple plans to file jointly. They are both age 75 and anticipate adjusted gross income (AGI) of $125,000, including $60,000 in RMDs. 

$125,000 total income   (including 60,000 RMD)

Standard deduction $27,000

Charitable gift $5,000  

Taxable income $98,000  ($125,000 minus standard deduction)

If the QCD was utilized, the taxable income would be $93,000 saving approximately $1,300 in taxes.

Reach out to your Business Consultant for more information on QCDs, the rules and limitations…then start talking to your clients currently receiving RMDs.  Are they giving to a charity annually, and are they utilizing the QCD? If not, show them how to!

To get more background on Qualified Charitable Distributions, watch the video below to hear Sam Payne discuss the history of QCDs along with a case study.

Today is like any other day.

Today is like any other day. At 5:30 I woke up. At 6:00 I helped Dad out of bed to go to the bathroom. By 7:00 I dressed him and sat him down so I could feed him his breakfast. After breakfast, I put him in his chair and turned on the TV. Around 9:00 took him to the bathroom again. At noon I prepared his lunch and fed it to him. The afternoon was TV and the usual bathroom breaks. Dinner was ready at 6:00 and I finished feeding him so he could watch his favorite show, Jeopardy, which is kind of funny since he has dementia and doesn’t know any of the answers. My day ends showering Dad and getting him into bed … tomorrow will be just like any other day.

Your life doesn’t end when you need extended care; the life, as they know it, can end for your care givers.

Extended care is a life changing event that can have devastating emotional and physical consequences to your spouse and children. Providing care to you may make them as chronically ill as you are. Those you love have no choice but to put aside their lives to make sure you are safe.

When you first got married and when your children were born you would do anything to assure their happiness and well-being. Long Term Care insurance is a gift of love. It is going to allow them to have a life. Long term Care insurance will allow them to supervise your care and not be the care givers, and for them tomorrow will be a brand new day.


November is Long Term Care awareness month and this topic certainly needs more awareness in our business. Unfortunately, too many clients do not insure themselves with Long Term Care coverage because they simply think they’ll be one of the people who don’t need it (only about 30% do not need care). The risk is obvious and the consequences to your family sometimes are overlooked if you become frail and need extended care.

The Asset product team has a variety of options and sales ideas to help you plan for your client’s Long Term Care risk. From Asset Based Long Term Care to FIAs with guaranteed income enhancements, when someone gets sick we can help you provide a solution.

The important part of positioning an underwritten Asset Based LTC product is to set the stage for that client during the sale and process. If they don’t qualify, we have incredible options using Fixed Index Annuities and enhanced income riders that will not involve underwriting. While FIAs with income riders are not true Long Term Care insurance, it will certainly help replace income when someone needs care.

Click here for the life top product list, and what our product team feels are the top three Asset Based LTC products!

Click here for the annuity top product list, and what our annuity team believes are the best products based on each client’s specific goals.

Would you like to see an illustration? Call the Asset Annuity & Life Team at 888-303-8755 and we’ll be happy to help you! Or, request an illustration through our Producer Portal by clicking here.

Planning for the Female Financial Perspective

Josh Ver Hoeve, VP of Annuity Sales
(Asset Marketing Systems)

Women may represent the single largest business opportunity over the next several decades. Here is just a sampling of why:

  • Women control an ever-increasing percentage of the personal wealth in this country – with estimates as high as $14 trillion – 51% of the current total
  • 67% of the nation’s assets are anticipated to be in women’s hands by 2020
  • 40% of women out-earn their husbands
  • Women continue to statistically outlive men
  • Women’s financial lives are also often more complex than men’s as they may need advice surrounding their roles as primary caregivers for not only their husbands but also their aging parents
  • As women age, their longer life spans leave them more susceptible to suddenly taking on additional financial responsibilities later in life
  • 80% of women switch advisors within a year of their husband’s deaths
  • 73% of women report being unhappy with the financial services industry
  • 87% say they can’t find an advisor with whom they can connect

The industry needs to stop treating women as a little niche that it can possibly serve. They are the market. In fact, according to statistics, women make 80% of the purchasing choices in the current market. As baby boomers age and husbands die in unprecedented numbers, women are taking control of increasing amounts of wealth. It is no secret that women view money and money matters much differently than men do.

Women tend to view investing as a way to preserve their wealth as compared to the male view of investing as a way to increase their wealth – Men tend to be more willing to take risks, or at least risks that offer greater reward and failure than the ones women will take.

Women – especially widows – want to know how they can protect their lifestyle and not become a financial burden on their children.

The greatest risk women face in retirement is LONGEVITY! Longevity means that women have a higher risk of suffering debilitating illnesses, spending more on healthcare costs, and have a higher risk of ending up in skilled nursing care. Living longer means that women need to make sure that their money lasts as long as they do.

To help women plan for retirement, we need to help them grow and protect assets, and account for the traditional risks, like inflation, taxes, market risk, as well as a focus on longevity risk, including planning for health care costs and the likelihood of needing some form of Long Term Care at some point. Remember the goal of most women, is to never be a burden to their children. If we can help them put that fear and worry to rest, we will allow women to live their BEST lives in retirement.

Perhaps one of the best product solutions is an Asset Based LTC/Life policy or Asset Based with Chronic life insurance policy. These policies can be designed to protect women from many of these risks while adding additional protection benefits when a spouse passes the passing of a spouse. There are so many products to fill these needs.

Click here to download Asset’s new client approved brochure called Understanding The Importance of Long-Term Care and call the Asset Life Department to have us run an illustration for you at 888-303-8755.

1 Ryan Gorman. Business Insider. April 71 2015. “Women now control more than half of US personal wealth, which ‘will only increase in years to come,”‘ http://www.businessinsider.com/women-now-control-more-than-half-of-us-personal­-wealth-2015-4.
2 Judy Paradi and Paulette Filion. Strategy Marketing. 2016. “Financial advisors are failing women: What female clients really want and how to change the dialogue.” http://www.etfcm.com/womenmoney/include/wadvisors-failing-woman.pdf.

No More Estate Planning

Frank Divers, Co-founder and CEO
(Estate Documents Pro, LLC)

Remove the term estate planning out of your vocabulary.   We are out of the estate plan sales business and full throttle into the education business.

Why? Simple, people don’t understand the term estate planning and are, in fact, intimidated by the wording. People fear what they don’t understand and taking the time to explain it will, for the most part, get you nowhere. The general response will be “oh, I see”. Not what you want to hear since it gets you nothing.

Consider this, asking questions that will lead to a response of “yes”. Do you have a durable power of attorney over finance? Yes or no. They say yes, do you keep it in a handy place and is it legal and up to date? They say no, you ask the question, “do you understand why this is one of the most important documents you can have”? Yes or no and regardless you go into detail about why having this document is critically important. Give examples of what can happen when you don’t have one. In ten to fifteen minutes of explaining the importance of having a durable power of attorney over finance and closing with the question, “now don’t you agree this is very important?” and you will get a resounding “yes”!

Follow this process, “do you have a durable power of attorney over healthcare?”. Educate and close with the same question, “now don’t you agree this is very important?” and you will get a resounding “yes”. “Do you have a will?” “Do you understand the difference between the government’s plan versus your own personal plan?”   Educate through each question to get to the closing question of “yes, I agree having this document is important”.

Your job, invest some time to go online and find some stories about what not having one of these documents means versus having it. Take your time explaining the government’s plan.  Don’t skim over the subject! Go into the details and doing so will lead to you getting a “yes” I agree.   You have walked your client/prospect through the process of understanding all the documents they need in their life. That’s called estate planning.   Congratulate your client on their wise decision to make sure their life is “planned out”.

Contact AMS to learn about our solution to marketing to Estate Planning and to get access to an all-digital planning platform.

Annuities and Estate Planning

October is National Estate Planning Month and although many times we think of life insurance when trying to solve estate planning concerns, annuities are just as important of a focus. Here are a couple of items to think about when dealing with Annuities and Estate Planning:

Common Annuity Mistakes:

Most of the common annuity mistakes that are made are very simple mistakes that can be corrected by doing policy reviews. Common mistakes to look out for are things like naming correct owners and annuitants, naming primary and contingent beneficiaries correctly, but more importantly updating them as time goes on. Nationwide happens to have an advanced sales team to help you with some of these questions as it relates to both life and annuity sales. Utilize the Nationwide advanced sales team and the Asset team to assist you with any unique circumstances you might have.

Wealth Transfer via Annuities:

Still, one of the best death benefit wealth transfer annuities on the market is the Athene BCA with FER MAX rider. When planning for wealth transfer for a client who may not be insurable, be sure to ask the annuity team about this product. Another very good accumulation story and death benefit FIA option is with the Nationwide New Heights using their high point death benefit rider. This rider captures the highest daily value and uses that value as a lump sum death benefit. Other options for simplified underwritten life products are things like the EquiTrust WealthMax Bonus which issues to age 80! This is a life product but works a lot like an annuity and also has a 100% ROP.

Contact the Asset annuity product team to learn more about the above products and how you can use them as part of your clients next estate plan.

Your Personal Legacy

Jeff Stemler, CLU, ChFC – Sr. VP Advanced Planning
(Asset Marketing Systems)

“Estate and Legacy Planning is only for the wealthy,” or so many people often think. They immediately focus on wills, trusts and all of the other “legal stuff”. These are essential documents, even if you have a modest estate because ultimately we all have an estate plan – either the one we create ourselves or the one that the State dictates. So if you want to control the distribution of your assets you will need to deal with the “legal stuff”.

However, there is another side of Estate and Legacy Planning – the human and personal side. It’s about passing on your personal beliefs, ethics, and life experiences. We all have those faded pictures of our grandparents or even our great-grandparents. Many of us never met them and they’re strangers staring out from pale photographs. I urge each of you to please take a moment to read the Personal Legacy Statement Guide and think about how much you would have treasured such a letter from your parents and grandparents.

On a personal note, on my 17th birthday, my grandparents came up to me and said they had a present for me. I immediately thought “It’s a car!” No, it wasn’t, it was a letter. A letter from them telling me how proud they were of me and talked about my future and the keys to leading a good life. The keys included being honest, trustworthy, kind and considerate. Among other things they shared their thoughts on God, and their love for my parents and our Country.

I did get a car that year, from my parents, and that car is long gone. However that letter is in my house and our children and grandchildren know their great, and great-great Grandma and Grandad — not as faded photographs but as loving and caring individuals.

Please take the time to give your heirs the precious gifts of your love and wisdom.


Asset Marketing Systems has prepared a valuable guide that you can use to help your clients identify assets to add to their estate. Click here to download the PDF today. Call Asset Marketing Systems to learn about our all-digital Estate Planning software that’s opening more doors and creating more value for advisors.

Click here to download the guide.


Life Insurance and Swiss Army Knives

Sam Payne RICP®, CLTC – VP, Business Consultant
(Asset Marketing Systems)

When I was a kid, I remember getting my first pocket knife, it was a Buck Pocket Knife, and it was a beauty!  It had a 2½ inch blade that was sharp and could easily cut anything. I always carried it in my pocket and spent hours whittling anything I could think of with it.  I still carry a replica of that first knife today, but as I got older and ventured into the wild I realized that having a knife that could do more than just cut could be a real lifesaver. So I got a Swiss Army Knife.

On a recent trip while sitting around a campfire with my grandson, I was showing him one of my new Swiss Army Knives and explaining to him that it was so much more than a knife.  It has several types of straight blades, a screwdriver blade, a bottle opener and can opener, a corkscrew, a file, a Phillips head screwdriver, a pair of tweezers, and a toothpick to name a few.  Thirty-three separate tools in this one little knife.  It is an amazing knife, but it does so much more than just cut and whittle.

In my opinion, Life Insurance is the Swiss Army Knife of the financial world.  I remember when I first started selling life insurance, we sold it for one reason — “death benefit”, and it does a great job at providing a death benefit to protect the ones you love.  But like the Swiss Army Knife, this product does so much more.  Today we sell Life Insurance for the death benefit for sure, but we can also use Life Insurance for so many other purposes with Whole Life, Universal Life, Indexed Universal Life, Term Life, Accelerated Benefit Riders, LTC Riders to name a few.  Life Insurance products and riders are amazing tools.  Much like the Swiss Army Knife, it can be a solution to many other planning issues in addition to providing a death benefit, such as:

  • Business Planning for buy-sell agreements, employee benefits, and business succession
  • Wealth transfer
  • Extended care
  • Retirement income planning
  • Estate equalization

If your Life Insurance sales have declined or are non-existent, reach out to your Business Consultant, Jeff Stemler, or any of the Product Consultants in the Life Department and allow us to show you more of the tools this Financial Swiss Army Knife has to offer.

Life Insurance Psychology 101

Jeff Stemler, CLU, ChFC – Sr. VP Advanced Planning
(Asset Marketing Systems)

Life insurance agents have historically sold life insurance as a “need” product. They start by offering a “needs analysis,” which looks at a family’s needs and obligations, and then they subtract liquid assets to determine the amount of life insurance one might “need.”

This “needs” analysis then dictates the minimum or least amount someone should have in force in the event of an untimely death. At Asset Marketing Systems, we like to think about life insurance a little differently.

If you don’t want something and yet you “need” it, how much are you willing to pay for it? Probably as little as possible.

In contrast, if there’s something you “want,” how much are you willing to pay for it? Probably whatever it costs.

When you discuss life insurance with your clients, it’s important to talk about how much they “want” versus how much they “need.” Focusing on how much protection they might “want” for their family to allow their loved ones to live the lives they envisioned is important. Painting that future life picture is paramount in changing their mindset.

The difference between needs and wants is quite pronounced, and people move in the direction of their wants much more rapidly than their needs.

The next time you’re discussing life insurance, talk about how much they “want” and not how much they “need” – try it out!

Don’t forget to download this month’s latest Top Life Product Recommendations! Our Product Specialist team can run any of these scenarios for your client. (888) 303-8755

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month!

Josh Ver Hoeve – VP Annuity & Life Distribution
(Asset Marketing Systems)

We could inundate you with story after story about how life insurance has saved thousands of families who experienced unexpected deaths. However, we also understand that when dealing with retirees or pre-retirees it could be too late for life insurance.

One way to help pass the money onto an estate without having to worry about medically qualifying is by using the Athene BCA with the Family Endowment Rider Max (FER MAX) rider. This Fixed Indexed Annuity with rider has primarily been used for qualified funds when a client is not quite sure whether their goals are accumulation, income, or an enhanced death benefit. The good news is the Athene BCA with FER MAX can provide all of those benefits. However, it works best for qualified money as an RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) solution. The way the FER MAX rider works is that it credits the death benefit value by a guaranteed 2% compounded annually, plus 100% of any index credits. For example, if you average 5% annually on your accumulation value, your death benefit value will earn 7%.

Here are two main reasons why this is great for qualified money:

  • All RMDs are free withdrawals.
  • Any withdrawal up to 5% of the accumulation value will only reduce the death benefit value dollar-for-dollar up to 5%, as opposed to a pro-rata reduction we typically see in the market place

The dollar-for-dollar reduction is an important feature and the numbers prove it! Due to this type of reduction, you will find your client’s qualified account growing at an incredible rate while still delivering a substantial death benefit. Meanwhile, RMDs, or really any type of income from qualified or non-qualified assets, can be taken without significantly jeopardizing the death benefit value.

The BCA FER MAX brochure presents a couple of case studies. There is one, in particular, we want to focus on.

Bill is age 65, and his wife Susan is age 62. The first necessity for Bill is to protect his spouse when he dies by providing life insurance. However, he or his advisor believe one of three things:

  1. Because he’s 65, life insurance is too expensive, and he fears that paying the premiums will be a concern later in retirement if he needs that money for income.
  2. Bill cannot qualify medically.
  3. Bill has $1 million and doesn’t really think he’ll need money other than the RMDs at age 70.5, but he’s unsure and wants flexibility, safety, and a reasonable rate of return.

Bill is like many clients who want their money to be safe while earning a reasonable rate of return but he also wants it available for income if/when necessary. And, of course, if he doesn’t need the income wouldn’t it be nice to pass on an enhanced value in a lump sum to his beneficiaries?

The only assumption we’ll make in this example is that the Athene BCA earns a 3.70% return. Anyone reading this who has sold the BCA will be fine with this conservative assumption since the product has out-performed a 3.70%/year return since it has been on the market. (Note: If you want an even more conservative assumption view the brochure for the guaranteed numbers which assumes no index credits for 30 years.)

Bill takes his $1 million of qualified money and purchases the BCA 10 with the FER MAX rider. Bill’s RMD will be $43,714 at age 70.5. By age 80 Bill’s RMD has increased to $55,526, and by age 85 his RMD has increased to $57,452 per year. He has been taking these RMDs from his BCA contract every single year. Let’s assume Bill lives to age 87 in this example. By age 87 he will have taken out just shy of $900,000 in RMDs. After $900,000 in RMDs, his accumulation value would be $831,000, but better yet his death benefit paid out to his wife or children is sitting at just under $1,400,000. Not a bad deal, right? He started with $1 million, has taken out about $900,000 in RMDs/income and has about $1.4 million to pass on to his beneficiaries. The great part about this product for Bill is that over the 27 years that he owned it, he had the ability to take his RMDs while still maintaining a legacy for his family. If Bill needed more income he could have taken it (up to 10%/year as a free withdrawal) or after the ten-year surrender another product could have been positioned, if available, to suit any changes in his plan. Assuming he simply used this product for accumulation, he really didn’t give up much accumulation potential other than paying a rider fee for the FER MAX.

I’ll leave you with a couple of additional product notes for September. We understand rates have been declining across the board. Let’s not forget the value of FIAs for our clients. We’re planning today and tomorrow for our clients which means comparing current FIA rates from a year or two ago will not help you plan for them today. FIAs still offer reasonable rates of return, safety, and guaranteed income.

I also want to highlight the Nationwide New Heights product. The New Heights is still an incredible accumulation story, but it also has one of the best performance-based income riders, and one of the best guaranteed income riders. Because of the riders available, this is one of those products that can be designed for almost any type of client situation. If you’re not using MyAnnexus.com and the new Nationwide Lifetime Income Analyzer, be sure to contact us to gain access. This is a new client approved income report that can really help to explain the New Heights product to a client.

Would you like to see an illustration for your client? Call the product team at Asset for a customized illustration!