Set Proper Expectations and Place Your Cases

Mia Dempsey, Manager New Business


Life insurance is about protecting the things that are important to your clients. When considering life insurance, you must think about the health of the applicant. An initial review of any adverse risk(s) will help determine insurability and allow you to set proper expectations for your clients.

Want to show a client instantly what carriers may be able to offer based on their build, blood pressure, cholesterol, tobacco use, family history, and/or driving violations? Visit the Life Department page on the Producer Portal and Run a Term Quote. At the bottom of the page select ‘Enter Health Profile’ to access this quick and easy tool.

Have a client with more a complicated risk or multiple risks? Use our Health Screening Questionnaire to complete the initial review to uncover those risks. We have 125+ specific health questionnaires to then assist you with getting all the answers the underwriters will need in order to provide a tentative offer for your client. This is completely confidential for your clients, so if a carrier determines they cannot offer coverage there is nothing added to the clients MIB. The response rate for this deeper dive is only 48-72 hours.

Contact your dedicated case manager today for more details and let us help you get those hard to place life cases approved (888-303-8755)

Why Doesn’t Every Person Own One of These?

Josh VerHoeve, VP Annuity and Life Distribution


What savings and income investment vehicle exists where you are able to save $1,000 a month for ten years, and have that investment pay you back $1,000 a month in income  for the rest of your life, 100%  tax free?* Fixed Indexed Universal Life (FIUL) is the one product that can do that for you. I ask myself constantly, “Why doesn’t every single person own one of these?”

In addition to tax-free income, FIUL as a savings and income vehicle also provides you with a death benefit which would pass on to your heirs 100% tax-free. It also provides additional tax-free living benefits if you get sick with a chronic or terminal illness.

The average top tax rate in the United States the last 100 years, is nearly 60%**. We’ve had periods of time in history with tax rates over 90%. Yes, you read that correctly…90%!  Government spending and the National Deficit have grown at a rapid rate in the year 2020. Given our national debt and our current historic low tax rates, we would be ignorant to not think about taxes increasing in the near future. However, for same reason, savers in America continue to max out their 401(k) contributions. 401(k)s currently hold over $5.5 trillion in assets and make up almost 20% of retirement assets***. This leads me to believe that we are acting differently than we believe. Yes, 401(k)s allow you to save on taxes today, but by doing so you are taking serious risk on taxes in the future. The only time you know how much of your 401(k) belongs to you is when the government tells you how much belongs to them.

So I circle back to my question, “Why doesn’t every single person own one of these”? First, FIUL is not liquid in the early years. You do need ten years or more to make it work well. But, aren’t 401(k)s generally even longer term investments? A 35 or 40 year old saving in a 401(k) cannot access funds until age 59 ½.  Maybe the other answer is that you have to qualify medically. Yes this is true, but with streamlined and accelerated underwriting, medical requirements have become less of a tedious process for an advisor or client. I think the answer to this question is quite simple…Education. Not enough savers are aware of FIUL. When you start your first job out of college, there is a pretty good chance you are introduced to a 401(k), but a much smaller chance that you know what FIUL is. This means it’s our job to educate prospects and clients on how FIUL can secure their retirement income. And since we find ourselves here in September, which is Life Insurance Awareness Month, if there was ever a good time to educate, now is that time. Finding an IUL prospect is the easiest prospect to find. Ask your client one simple question, “Do you contribute to a 401(k)?”. If that answer is “YES” then you are looking at your next sale.

Don’t forget to ask for a Planning Compass tutorial from one of the Asset Life Team Members, which helps you compare 401(k) benefits to that of an FIUL.


*45 Male Std NT saving $1,000 per month for ten years projected tax-free income of over $1,000 per month from age 56 for the rest of their life. Note that at younger ages, the income benefit can be higher, assumes a 6.00% rate of return during savings years and 5.50% during income years, both less than any 10-15-20-30 year historical.

** TaxFacts.com

*** Source www.ici.org

Limited Time!! CARES Act Sales Opportunity

Bruce Beaty, RICP, VP Asset Business Consultant


It’s interesting how Life Insurance has evolved into a “multi-tool”.  Most of what we see this month is focused around the most well-known feature of life insurance, which is the death benefit.  However, we have seen life insurance used in a plethora of other applications. Deferred compensation, tax-free retirement, an alternative solution to traditional long-term care, a college funding vehicle, a get-out-of-debt strategy, a store of value, and a creditor protected safe haven.  We have seen uses that allow it to act as a proxy for disability and a wealth transfer vehicle.  We see parents pay premium on kids’ policies and the other way around.  Corporations buy it, business partners buy it, and banks buy it too. We used to even see strangers owning life policies on others.  We see banks lending the premium and companies being the beneficiaries.  So not to beat a dead horse but….

Life insurance is very flexible and can be used to fulfill many visions and goals.  Today we have a new option available designed to help clients get through tough times.  The Cares Act allows our pre-59 ½ clients to pull money out of an IRA or other qualified account and forego the pre-59 ½ ten percent penalty (excise tax). They can also spread the tax impact over three years (or pay it back).  This reminds me of when we could do a Roth Conversion and spread the taxes over three years.  I’ll bet many who didn’t take advantage of that opportunity wish they would have. 

The article, “Have You Opened your Gift from the CARES Act Yet,” by producer, Jay Beattey, explores a new resource that may be available to your clients for a limited time only.  Perhaps it’s time to rectify an overfunded 401(k) situation for your clients, to create a tax-free bucket, and/or to create leveraged death and living benefits?  Looking for a source of funding for a Kai-zen?  This may be your solution.  Ed Slott is calling Life Insurance the new Stretch IRA.  Maybe it time to explore the full range of diverse applications  that the “multi-tool”, known as life insurance, offers, and also time to check out the power of de-funding the over funded 401(k).  You have until 12/31/2020 so don’t wait!  Make sure you explore the Asset Exclusive Planning Compass to assist in comparing your options, or give our knowledgeable life team a call to discuss options and case design for your clients (888-303-8755 x2160). 

New Rules for Illustrations vs. the Real World

Jeffrey Stemler, Sr. VP Advanced Planning


The NAIC has long been charged with providing regulations regarding illustrations that project Life Insurance policies’ potential outcomes. The NAIC is very concerned that illustrations show realistic assumptions as to possible/likely outcomes. For those of us who have been in the industry for a while, we’ve experienced numerous changes and modifications to the illustrations we present. More changes will be going into effect November 25th of this year.

It should be noted that the changes have no effect on how the policies function, just how they are illustrated.  The changes are contained in AG49A and can be summarized as follows:

  • The current spread between illustrated crediting rate and policy loan rate will be decreased from 1% to .50%.
  • All riders/options will still be available including those that provide multipliers, however they will not be taken into account for creating the illustrations.

At this time, these changes will not apply to inforce illustrations.

What does this mean?

For the consumer, anytime you make illustrations more conservative you increase the chances that the projection of possible returns are understated and actual results will be greater.

For the producer, the answer varies. If the producer’s only approach to making a recommendation is to highlight the rate of return, he/she will be disappointed. The projected results for income will be reduced.  How much is not confirmed yet, but a reduction of 45% would seem possible – this is without companies coming out with new products or riders. We know through discussion with carriers, policy changes are on the way that are designed to show increasing payouts, while complying with the AG 49A regulation.

The real question is, how will IULs fit into the real world with other investment choices when we take into account the real threats to our retirement funds.

First we have to identify the key issues:

  • Many economists agree that taxes must be increased because of the National Debt. What is the impact on our retirement due to increased taxes and how do we prepare for this possibility?
  • A standard investment portfolio often contains a mix of stocks and bonds which are subject the gains and losses in the market. Economists point out the sequence of returns has a huge impact in the first few years of retirement. The exposure is not if the market goes up but if it declines. The reason declines can be so devastating is that if you need a “constant” withdrawal amount to meet expenses, you’re cannibalizing your account with no way to replenish the funds because you aren’t working.
  • Another issue that is raising its’ head more often is, the most popular qualified plans – 401(k)s and IRAs cannot accept enough contributions to fully fund a high income earners retirement.

Since illustrated rates are going to decrease significantly, will overfunded IULs still be viable compared to other investment alternatives? The answer is “YES”.

Remember, the product is not changing just the illustrations. Allianz, for example, is working on how to explain the impact of purchasing the 40% multiplier on future income payouts from the policy.

However, to begin the decision process for determining investment choices, this discussion needs to start with comparing each investment’s attributes.

Whole Life InsuranceNon-Qualified Investment PortfolioQualified 401(k)Overfunded IUL
Tax-Deferred GrowthYNYY
Tax-Free DistributionYNNY
Competitive ReturnNYYY
High ContributionsYYNY
Additional BenefitsYNNY
Collateral OpportunitiesYYNY
Safe HarborYNYY
No Loss ProvisionsYNNY
Guaranteed Loan OptionsYNNY
Unstructured Loan PaymentsYNNY
Liquidity, Use and ControlYYNY
DeductibleNNYN

Overfunded IUL is the only investment choice that covers all three of the key elements affecting a successful retirement:

  • Taxes upon distribution
  • Losses due to the market
  • Contributions based on how much you can afford

Bottom line, if we stay focused on the issues to be solved, overfunded IUL will continue to be an integral part of retirement income planning.

Allianz FIUL Continues to be a “Stand-Out” on Our List

Josh VerHoeve, Asset VP, Annuity and Life Distribution


If you’ve spoken with anyone on the Asset Life Team over the past twenty years, you will have heard a common message that we’re all big fans of Allianz Life Pro+ Advantage Fixed Indexed Universal Life, along with its previous versions. When choosing an FIUL for your client today, there are so many factors to consider. The product landscape of FIUL has changed so dramatically and so frequently over the past five years that it can be difficult to keep up.  There are many reasons that we put Allianz FIUL at the top of the list, and in this article we’re going to discuss those along with some new enhancements that you may not be aware of.  

The first thing we need to remember when choosing an FIUL carrier is that the company matters. It matters more with FIUL than it does with any other financial product you might offer your client. FIUL sales are lifelong commitments. No one purchases an FIUL without the plan of keeping it for the rest of their life. So which companies can you count on? 

As we look back on policies sold 10, 15, and even 20 years ago, we see that no carrier has treated clients better than Allianz.  About a year ago, Allianz began publishing actual policyholder credits on their FIUL policies. This was in response to the common objection that “you’re illustrating your FIUL too high”. Well if you take a look at the Allianz FIUL Credits you’ll see over 30,000 in-force Allianz FIUL policies were surveyed with an actual client rate of return at 7.19%. I will also note that this 7.19% has only increased over the last year. The PIMCO and the BUDBI II ER Index returns have rarely been less than 10% on anniversaries in the year 2020. We depend on these carriers to realistically project clients’ retirement incomes, and we depend on their renewal rates. Allianz has done it the best. 

You may be aware of a feature that Allianz rolled out almost a year ago called “Index Lock”. Index Lock gives you and your client the opportunity to lock in a gain on their FULL accumulation value before the anniversary date. This means that if you hit 10% three months into the year, you can lock in that 10% on all premium and values. In fact, you can lock in any gain at any time if you wanted to. If you have sold Allianz FIUL policies in the past, log-in to their website and take a look at where your clients are right now.

Click here to view the INDEX LOCK REPORT

The amazing thing about the Allianz BUDBI II ER Index (most chosen allocation), is they have been crediting between 8-16% returns all year long. Even at the end of March when many of us thought the economy may just continue to decline, we saw some double digit returns, not just from the BUDBI Index, but also from the PIMCO Index. Not only did those policies who had anniversary dates in March have double digit returns, but some of those same policies today are already up double digits from March through August of 2020. 

Allianz has one of the best Agent and FMO support systems. If you want a visit from them to better understand their product, let us know and they will be in your office. If you want to set up a Zoom call to help explain something to a client, they will be there. Internal Sales and In-force Support are so important when it comes to FIUL, and Allianz has continued to impress us. 

It’s time to take a look at your book of business with Allianz, and if you haven’t written with them it’s time to start! If you’re curious whether you have a policy that’s in this category, you can check the website, but also know that an Asset Team Member will be reaching out to you soon to have that discussion. Allocations to the PIMCO or the BUDBI ER are in excess of double digit returns over the last six months and this is something to talk to your clients about.  It may not mean that it’s time to lock in every single gain, but it’s certainly time to take a look to see if it makes sense. 

The Asset Life Team is here to answer any questions, run a quote, or just discuss how life policies fit into your clients’ overall plan.  Contact us at 888-303-8755 today!

4 Ways to Enhance your Client Outreach

Sheeva Izadi, Marketing Consultant


As you continue to work through the various obstacles that come with a global pandemic, it is important to remain proactive in maintaining and enhancing your relationship with clients – both current and prospective. At Asset we have continuously worked towards providing you with the solutions you need to persevere.

Here are four ways in which you can continue to enhance and strengthen your client outreach efforts:

  1. Leverage Technology
    Utilizing technology such as educational webinars, BombBomb videos, virtual consultations, and customized email and social media content will place you at the front of clients’ and prospects’ minds. Creating a series of on-demand educational webinars is an efficient way to continue to inform and engage your audience without cutting into your day-to-day.
  2. Evaluate Your Current Book of Business 
    Consider doing a thorough evaluation of your current book of business – look for clients that could benefit from contract adjustments or cases where they should consider a “Plan B” for their retirement. Sending custom messages to your clients will go a long way when they see the effort that you are putting in to make sure they are secure.
  3. Utilize Direct Mail 
    Direct mail isn’t dead! While quite a bit of the communications now a days occurs online, that doesn’t mean that you can’t market through direct mail to webinars or to advertise your firm. Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a great way to target specific areas and get your message into the hands of qualified prospects.
  4. Remind Them You Are Still In Their Corner
    It is essential to continue to check-in on your current database of clients, making sure they know you’re always working towards their best interests. When the market fluctuates and tax rates take a turn, they will look to you for reassurance and solutions. 

We have created multiple resources which can help you accomplish these goals and more. 

Call your Business or Marketing Consultant today to help you implement these tools and enhance your client outreach efforts: 888-303- 8755 

Overcoming the Fear of Commitment

Bruce Beaty, VP Business Consultant


Pandemics aside, getting a commitment to move ahead with product solutions can be difficult, especially when that action involves surrender charge periods or longer timeframe planning commitments, which in some cases can be up to fifteen years.  Throw in a swine flu, COVID, or bubonic plague, and the prospects have yet one more smoke screen that gets in the way of accomplishing their long-term objectives. 

While many will use money markets or even an AUM approach to optimizing liquidity for life’s “what ifs”, that approach can often leave certain boxes unchecked for our end user clients.  Examples could include no guaranteed lifetime income, no living benefits for health triggered expenses, no tax-free benefits, lack of safety, lack of leverage, lack of crackers (time to get crack a lackin’).  You get the idea!

So what to do?  It’s times like these when I’m reminded of the resilience and innovation of our industry.  Today’s environment is screaming for a solution that already exists.  It’s called a return of premium rider.

Katie Hsieh, product specialist extraordinaire at Asset, shared with me that EquiTrust offers great product solutions for both life and annuity cases that feature ROP riders on each side of the fence.  So which one should you use?  Why not both?  You might as well hit a home run with clients and address solutions for both their “live on money” and their “leave on money”… the two financial brothers that always compete against each other.  Help your clients overcome that fear of commitment and put some checkmarks in boxes that will accomplish their objectives TODAY. 

We’ve attached illustrations for both solutions and our team would be happy to prepare a custom illustration that addresses any state specific variations.   Make sure to call for assistance with your next case design.  We look forward to the opportunity of collaborating with you!

Links:

EquiTrust WealthMax Bonus Agent Guide

EquiTrust WealthMax Bonus Client Brochure

EquiTrust WealthMax Bonus $200K – 65 Female

EquiTrust MarketTen Bonus Agent Guide

EquiTrust MarketTen Bonus Client Brochure

EquiTrust MarketTen Bonus $200K – 65 Female

Is This The End of Social Security As We Know It?

Sam Payne, RICP, VP Sales, Business Consultant


Each year the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds report on the current and projected financial status of the two programs. This year’s report, absent the affect of COVID-19, is a sobering reminder of the financial situation the trust funds have been facing for years.

Since its advent in the 1930s, Social Security has provided a “safety net” for retiring Americans.  Its original intended purpose was to “lift” seniors out of poverty in their retirement years.  Today it benefits over 65 million Americans, with the bulk of those relying on their Social Security checks to provide the bulk of their retirement income.  Today it has become so much more than it was intended to be, yet the program has remained largely unchanged.

A pending Social Security system crisis has been forecast for years. Maybe this year the warning will be taken seriously.

According to the 2020 Trustees report, The Social Security program will see net cash outflows as early as next year (2021), and if the program continues without serious policy changes, the continued outflows will eventually exhaust the programs reserves.  Left unabated, this will eventually lead to dramatic benefit cuts. Below is a projected timeline for Social Security Benefit cuts.

There are many reasons Social Security is in this situation, here are a few that got us here.

  • We Are Living Longer 
    As financial planners and advisors, we highlight the risks in retirement and one of the top five is longevity, the real risk that you could outlive your income.  Well that same risk of longevity affects Social Security as well.  Just think about it.  When Social Security was established in the mid-1930s the average mortality for a male (at that time most workers were male) was just over 60 years old.  The Social Security full retirement age was 65.  Today with a mixed workforce paying into and expecting benefits, the average age expectations for workers is 79 years old. 
  • Lower birth rates
    Since inception of the Social Security program, birthrates have declined.  Social Security was designed to be funded by workers contributions – younger workers paying into the system fund retirees’ benefits.  As the birthrate declines, fewer younger workers are entering the workforce and paying into the system.  The number of younger workers relative to the growing number of retirees has fallen causing contributions that are insufficient to pay for current benefits. Currently this shortfall is being covered by the Social Security trust’s reserves.  Without action, there will come a time when these reserves are depleted.

  • Lower Immigration
    A low birthrate in the US could be offset with high immigration rates. Historically the US has benefitted from high immigration rates, and these immigrants were typically younger workers entering the workforce and paying into the system.  Immigration rates have declined sharply over the last twenty years further reducing the number of workers paying into the system.

  • Political Inaction
    Social Security is a “hot potato” for sure when it comes to the political arena, and despite 35 years of warning about a shortfall by the trustees, congress has been reluctant to develop a meaningful response to address the issue. Our current sharp and toxic partisan divide has made the political inaction more severe.

  • Low Returns
    As a bulk of the trust’s assets are required by law to consist of US Treasury instruments, recent years have been a key issue.  According to the fed, the rates will remain low for some time, further compounding the problem.

  • Covid-19
    The 2020 report does not account for the impact COVID-19 will have on the trust fund, but one can imagine with the number of individuals out of work (not paying into the system), there will be a substantial impact reflected in next years report.  This impact could come from increased mortality among COVID-19 benefit recipients, continued unemployment, and lower immigration.

So what are the solutions?

  • Tax increases
  • Benefit cuts
  • Early claiming age increase
  • Full retirement age increase
  • Adjust the cost of living increase

What to do?

At the end of the day, the Social Security system we know today is in peril. We don’t know for sure when or how it will change, but the likelihood is that Social Security will not look the same 10 -15 years from today.  So how do you communicate with your clients and prospects?

I suggest communicating to three groups with a different yet similar message.  

  • Currently enjoying retirement
    • This group is unlikely to be affected by changes, historically benefit cuts have fallen on those who retire after the cuts are made.
    • Nevertheless, a financial review with a budget and income projections incorporating both Social Security and other sources of income is always prudent.
    • This conversation should encompass the five major retirement risks

  • Near and looking forward to retirement
    • This group needs your help.  A timing discussion around claiming Social Security is paramount.  
    • Keeping an eye on any retirement or claiming age changes and adjusting the plan accordingly is the smart thing to do.  
    • In addition, developing a plan that incorporates any changes in the taxation of benefits is key

  • Working hard, loving life and years from retirement
    • This group 15 -20 years from retirement bears the bigger potential of adverse effects of the Social Security insecurity.
    • Help them develop a plan for their future
    • Model several scenarios that include the different benefit levels that are being discussed and published
    • Help them recognize the importance of starting their own retirement income plan now.

Bottom line, Americans need our help!  Helping them identify the real and present risks to the retirement of their dreams.  We have the tools, the strategies and the techniques to educate, collaborate, plan and help build a retirement plan to live for!

Now is the time to have Social Security educational events, highlighting the 2020 report and offering planning solutions!


https://www.ssa.gov/oact/trsum/

https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/life-expectancy

There is nothing quite like a forced shutdown of an entire economy to make you think, “So, what’s next?”

Lexie Giusti, Sr. Marketing Consultant


When it comes to your pipeline, you may have gotten lucky with loyal clients and referrals through this pandemic. But what happens when your pipeline starts to dry up? Do you have a plan to get back to marketing?

Enhancing your value and the client experience will significantly benefit your business long after the crisis is over. Asset has been forging ahead with new marketing solutions and staying committed to delivering low-cost and straightforward ways to helping you adapt. 

While it may seem counterintuitive, leveraging technology can mean becoming more patient when it comes to building relationships and making a sale; it requires a different way of thinking about communications and consumer behavior.

Watch this webinar as we discuss how you can make technology enhancements to your practice and keep marketing to gain big rewards in bringing new business through the door. 

Watch the Webinar Now

Call your marketing team today to help you discover what we can do to help you stay ahead of the curve. 

Carriers Adapting to a “New Way of Underwriting”

Mia Dempsey, Manager – New Business


In an effort to make life insurance risk assessment easier during the pandemic, carriers are continuing to streamline their underwriting processes. These methods include expanding and instituting new accelerated underwriting processes, and adding features to their websites to assist advisors with inforce business.  Below are some of the ease of business changes we’ve encountered.

Allianz 

Expanded Accelerated Underwriting from $1.5 million to $3 million, as well as including Premium Finance business.

  • Accelerated Program guidelines that remain unchanged:
    • Ages 25-60
    • Preferred nontobacco or Preferred Plus nontobacco risk classes
    • Requirements: MIB, MVR, Rx, Underwriting Consumer report, and PHI

Banner 

New Horizon drop ticket process generates an email to the client allowing them to complete an online application.  No more waiting for the client to be available for a telephone interview.

  • Carrier will then do MVR, MIB, etc.
  • This gives clients the flexibility to complete the entire application online in under 20 minutes 
  • Reflexive questions in the application reduce the need for exams and labs

LFG 

Paperless term cases; electronic ticket Tele-App process with automated underwriting and Electronic policy delivery on all cases.

National Life Group  

  • New electronic policy delivery option for annuities and life cases
  • See actions that your clients are taking with the carrier call center, website, and mobile application by using the new Client Intelligence feature on the carrier website:

Give the Life Team a call to run an illustration, answer questions, or get a preliminary risk assessment done for your clients.  We’re here to help and appreciate your business! 

Important Note:  Despite the early underwriting challenges during the pandemic, our Case Managers’ average turn-around-times from submission to approval remains at less than 38 days.