Retirees with a Guaranteed Income are Happier and Live Longer

Dee Costa, Sr. VP Business Consultant


Retirement happiness seems to be big news these days.  Economists have been doing work in the emerging field of “happiness research” and have started to publish their findings.  According to Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and LIMRA, retirees who have a guaranteed paycheck coming in every month for the rest of their lives are much happier.  These studies show they actually live longer too!  

This makes sense because the number one worry of retirees is running out of money.  Retirees who have a set income for life remove a great deal of stress from their lives.  Prior generations used to get that guaranteed income from Social Security and a traditional pension to cover their basic living expenses.  But few employers now provide pensions, putting the onus of saving on the employee.  Social Security payments equal only about 40% of the average wage earners pre-retirement income.

How do we provide our clients and ourselves the additional guaranteed income?  How do we fill that income gap to create a steady paycheck for meeting basic needs? Income annuities provide an often-overlooked solution.  Most annuities offer an option for guaranteed lifetime income

As mentioned above, research shows that annuities provide both psychic and financial benefits.  According to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute Study, retired annuity owners feel more confident they’ll be able to afford their preferred retirement lifestyles than retirees who do not own an annuity – even if they live to age 90 or older.

The study released Feb. 20th found that 73% of retirees who own an annuity believe they will be able to live the retirement lifestyle they want, compared with just 64% of retirees who don’t.  Nearly 7 in 10 retirees who own an annuity are more confident their savings and investments will not run out if they live to age 90, compared with 57% of retirees who don’t own an annuity.  An annuity offers a solution for creating long-term income security along with the happiness that goes along with that.

The world has changed in the last year and no-one can really predict what’s ahead, but retirees are less interested in having all their retirement assets at risk.

Carl Richards, CFP and Sketch Guy commented “Risk is an arbitrary concept until you experience it.  Talking about being punched in the face is different from actually being punched in the face.”

Markets shed 40% back in March as efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus drove the economy to a near halt.  Though they bounced back remarkably fast, the economic outlook is uncertain, unemployment is high, and volatility is expected to remain until COVID -19 vaccines are widely distributed and are finally bringing the pandemic under control. 

We’re in uncharted waters, and our life rafts may not work the way they used to.  After years and years of printing money, bond yields remain paltry.  De-risking into higher allocation of bonds for the “fixed or guaranteed” income appears to no longer be as effective as it once was.  Most economists are not bullish on the outlook for bonds over the near future. 

Everyone we meet has a threshold for risk, but the vast majority of those retiring today are looking for ways to create that personal pension, that flow of guaranteed paychecks in retirement.  A well-diversified portfolio allows our clients, through the use of annuities, to create that guaranteed income stream to fill the gap for living essentials, and still remain in the market for longer term growth. 

Most retirees want a steady paycheck to cover their monthly necessities, they want to know that if the market bounces around that their retirement paycheck continues regardless.  If they are telling economists and researchers that this makes them happier, and we know from the studies it actually leads to a longer life, we are in a perfect position to help our clients eliminate fear and embrace a happy retirement.  As Tom Hegna says, “Don’t Worry, Retire Happy”.

The Retirement Tax Time-Bomb is Ticking!

Sam Payne, RICP, VP Business Consultant


As Americans continue to march toward, enter, and enjoy their retirement years, many are unaware of the full impact taxes will have on their retirement income.  We call this the Retirement Tax Time-Bomb.

Like most Americans, many of your clients and prospects recognize that one of their most valuable assets is their retirement savings. They diligently put money away for years, yet most do not know how to avoid the costly mistakes that can occur when it comes time to use it. A good chunk of that retirement can be needlessly lost to taxes unless you help them plan.

What are the consequences of failing to plan, and how can you help them defuse this ticking time bomb?  These are the questions I hope to shed light on in this article.

First, what is the Retirement Tax Time-Bomb?

The tax time-bomb is the tax liability accumulating within your individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k). For most Americans, the fact that a portion of their qualified retirement accounts already belongs to the government does not even register. I say a portion because the real question is how much.   Unless we pay the tax today we really don’t know what portion of the account belongs to the IRS.

I would bet most of you, like the rest of America including myself, believe with our current government financial situation at the federal, state and local levels, taxes must go up to make ends meet. Today we are at historic tax rates…historically low tax rates.  I believe this year is the year to act to help your clients and prospects take advantage of these historic rates.  I do not believe this opportunity will last long.

Reaching retirement with an income plan that has tax-efficiency built in certainly makes sense.  Diversity of income sources in retirement makes a world of a difference in the amount of money your clients get to keep and spend.  Here is a simple example of a couple needing to pull an additional $20,000 from accounts to fund their retirement lifestyle*.  

*This example is illustrating today’s tax rates.  Keep in mind that the problem only escalates when you look at tax increases, income bracket changes, capital gains tax-bracket changes, and Medicare premium bracket changes.  Then comes the big one…one of the couples becomes single.  Now you have all the issues below based on a single filer tax rate.  This is a huge hit and often a very unpleasant surprise to the remaining spouse.

Diverse retirement income sources may help you pay less tax
As a reminder, each couple needs a total of $120,000

The question is, how are you helping your clients understand and plan for the effect of the tax time bomb?

Here are a couple of suggestions.

First, start having a ROTH conversation with every client and prospect.  A ROTH conversion is not right for everyone, but beginning the conversation puts you in the position of valued advisor identifying and educating on topics that have the potential to have a major impact on the retiree’s future.  Ask when and how they intend to use the IRA assets to see if a ROTH conversion makes sense.  Show the value for those needing income 5 – 10 years down the road of a tax-free pension type income that they cannot outlive, with guaranteed growth via an FIA with an income rider.

Second, for any client or prospect who liked the idea of the “Stretch IRA”, reach back out to them and explain how the SECURE Act eliminated the stretch ability, and show them the financial tool that allows the best tax break in the IRS code…Life Insurance with its tax-free death benefit.  Illustrate rolling a portion of their account into an annuity, turning on income and using the income to fund a permanent life insurance policy often giving the beneficiaries substantially more benefit, tax-free!

These two quick suggestions have the potential of making a major difference to your clients, prospects and your business this year.  Be sure to have the conversation with them before someone else does.  Remember, these tax rates will not last forever!  Act today!

Are Your Clients Going Green?

Mia Dempsey – Manager, New Business


Something we are seeing more of in life insurance underwriting is marijuana use by applicants. Let us look at how the carriers view this risk.

For medical marijuana users, the insurance carriers will be more concerned with the underlying condition for which it was prescribed rather than the marijuana use itself. They will also be looking to see that the applicant has a ‘recommendation card’ (Rec) signed by physician. Click here to download our general health questionnaire to help uncover the applicants’ health risk(s).

For recreational users, the underwriters will consider a few things:

  • Are you in a state that has legalized the use of marijuana?
  • How old is the applicant?
    • The legal age for recreational marijuana use is 21. However, the carriers are underwriting applicants that are 25 and older. Any younger than that and they typically will not offer coverage.
  • How often does the client smoke? Or ingest edible marijuana?
    • A few times annually? Monthly? Daily?
    • The more often an applicant smoke/ingests, the bigger the risk
  • Will THC show up on their lab work?
    • THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. 1
    • Not all carriers will test for THC during the paramed exam

Some carriers consider any marijuana (medicinal or recreational) use as smoker/tobacco even if they do not smoke cigarettes or use any form of tobacco.  Fortunately, we do have a few carriers that will offer non-tobacco rating for marijuana users.

When filling out the application, make sure to disclose the marijuana use. You do not want the carrier to uncover it during the underwriting process.  Carriers do not look favorably on cases where it is not admitted up front and can result in a decline or smoker/tobacco health classes.

Contact your AMS dedicated case manager for any questions or to request a risk assessment for your client.

1 https://www.livescience.com/24553-what-is-thc.html

Retirement Analyzer

Amazingly, 4 out of 5 Americans do not understand even the basics of how to successfully plan for a financially secure retirement.  According to a new study released by The American College of Financial Services, the 2020 Retirement Income Literacy Survey discovered major gaps in savings knowledge.

Here are some of the findings from the report:

  • 8 out of 10 people failed a 38-question online quiz on financial literacy, with an average score of just 42%.
  • Nearly 4 out of 10 consumers reported feeling highly prepared for the market downturn associated with the pandemic, and what made a difference in consumers’ perception of preparedness was having a formal, written retirement plan.
  • Only 1 out of 3 respondents reported having a written plan.

As financial advisors we have a huge opportunity to help our clients develop a written retirement plan to bring them peace and security into their retirement years. Some advisors struggle with the right program or software to help accomplish this.

Retirement Analyzer Pro and Pro+ are easy-to-use, end-to-end financial planning software packages that allow you to create and share financial plans while modeling any type of financial strategy. Your clients will appreciate the simplicity and professionalism of the plans you provide. That is why so many Asset Advisors are currently using this tool to close sales.

By signing up for this important program before 2/28/21, your relationship with Asset gives you a highly discounted rate. Normally $798 annually, you can receive an amazing price of $300. That’s a $498 annual savings! For $25.00 a month, you can be providing your clients with their written robust, yet simple retirement plan.  (Rate increases to $360 on 3/1/21.)

Click here for the Quick Start Guide for Retirement Analyzer

Planning is the Gift of Love

Bruce Beaty, ChFC, RICP – VP Business Consultant


February, otherwise known as Hallmark and florist appreciation month, is the month for love. There are different types of love; amorous, romantic love, puppy love, and the love we have for our families, children, etc. 

You are uniquely positioned to help clients express their love to their loved ones in so many different capacities. But perhaps the most important way is to help your client have a plan.  

Ask yourself, why don’t people plan?  What parent would not want to spare their child pain, or avert disaster for a surviving spouse?  What patriarch or matriarch wouldn’t want to improve the life paths of their children and grandchildren?   Who doesn’t want to create a legacy? 

Planning is the epitome of expressing love to the family. Think about it, why would someone not have a plan for retirement, long-term care, life insurance, or estate planning?  Not having a plan does not mean the prospect does not care, it means they are scared or they do not understand the topic the way you do.  If they did, they would have a plan. 

Being prepared can help avoid pain and create positive moments. Imagine facilitating conversations between clients and their heirs, collaborating on their estate planning rather than waiting for the
posthumous bomb to drop in the attorney’s office.  What if that dialogue included spending money during their lifetime to celebrate the family, for what would have otherwise gone to probate and estate taxes?

Envision the freedom that is created with a lifetime income plan, and how that frees up resources for things like helping the children start that business or buy that home?  It is all about creating value and giving permission to spend and enjoy where possible. 

Picture the gift that is created with leverage, like long-term care planning that protects the estate from spend down or protects the surviving spouse from impoverishment.

Consider also the multi-generational approach to life insurance. I cannot imagine how we get through the future without a significant increase in taxes and potentially a volatile economy.  The gift of large life insurance death benefits may make the difference between the “haves and have-nots” of the future.

Here is a closing thought, helping clients to create a Legacy is primarily about lessons and values they impart to their families, however creating the financial resources to accompany those lessons brings that transference to life. 

If you are not helping your clients protect their assets from probate, estate settlement fees, and the headaches associated with the estate planning process (both during life and after) it is time to start, and we can help you.  If you are not proficient at creating retirement income blueprints that help clients create income floors they cannot outlive, dig in with us.  If you are not yet comfortable with creating generational wealth, don’t wait!  Call us today for assistance and resources to help you master these sales opportunities.

Women in Finance
Marketing Ideas

There are many creative marketing ideas to appeal to the female consumer. This audience, which often is the financial decider in the family, craves information. But because of women’s intrinsic qualities of being relationship driven, driven by a purpose, multi taskers, and masterful communicators, you have more opportunity to attract this audience.

Consider some of these unique ideas for your next marketing event:

  • Financial workshop (still relevant)
  • February, Galentine’s event
  • Wine tasting experience (in person or online)
  • Online mixology class
  • Online cooking class
  • Create a dream board

Women thrive when interacting with others, and hands on experiences help people in general to learn better.

We encourage you to call your Marketing or Business Consultant to learn how to capitalize on these ideas and discover what tools Asset has available for you when pursuing a women in finance niche.

Purpose Driven Women in Financial Services

Dee Costa, Sr. VP Business Consultant


The country is seeing a shift from a primarily male-dominated financial industry to a rapidly growing female demographic, with both female advisors and female clients, and this growing presence has forced a cultural shift. In fact, the female demographic is stronger than ever before.  In this article, Asset Marketing Systems would like to focus on a few specific attributes that female advisors possess and also shed some light on how all advisors can benefit from understanding the differences between female and male financial decision-makers. 

Statistics show that women are living longer, earning and inheriting sizeable sums of money, and becoming more engaged in the process of managing their wealth. In 2020 women controlled $72 trillion dollars of wealth, and according to Financial Advisor Magazine, two-thirds of the nation’s wealth will be controlled by women in 2030.

Women bring a plethora of unique and natural strengths to the world, but these intrinsic qualities make women excellent clients and advisors.

  1. Women are relationship-minded
  2. Women are driven by a purpose
  3. Women are masterful communicators

Relationship-Minded

Women desire a more balanced, holistic approach to finance.  Because women tend to be relationship-minded, they are more inclined to invest in long-term relationships with their advisors, and the woman-to-woman connection with like-minded female advisors adds strength to the equation.  They want to form a true connection.  Nurtured by nature, most think of money differently than just the numbers.  Families, charities, and in general relational connections weigh in on their financial decisions.  Perhaps most important, women are usually motivated by a purpose that runs deeper than a paycheck. 

Driven By a Purpose

Many women in the industry came into the business because of a personal experience.  Either they were beneficiaries of life insurance after their spouse died prematurely, or they were left stranded by the lack of life insurance.  Some were impacted by seeing family members who suffered financially due to an absence of planning for things like Long Term Care.  These experiences, especially coming from a female advisor, create a purpose that female clients can connect with.

For any advisor, developing the “why” that reveals a little about who you are and your reason for becoming a financial advisor helps create a stronger, more intimate connection.  We all have a story inside of us that drives why we do what we do.  Before you can “speak” about your why you need to “investigate” your why, digging deep to explore your feelings and your desires to help you recognize what truly drives you.  From there, you will create a script so powerful that every word coming out of your mouth rings true and aligns with your actions, marketing, and business process.  This one story will inspire more interest in your services, create a foundation of trust, and clarify your purpose in a magnetic way that ultimately attracts your ideal clients.  The “why” is your bulls-eye!

By implementing a purpose-driven practice, you will no longer question your value.  You will have more confidence that you are earning your fees, and you will feel less stressed and more organized.  Your focus will be clear.

Masterful Communicators

Because your marketing message is a true reflection of you and your beliefs, it will hold its value for many years.  So make sure that as you market yourself and your services, you present yourself in a way that truly stands out.  Be very image conscious! 

Choose a course of marketing that fits with who you are.  If speaking in front of people makes you break out in a cold sweat, that’s probably not a good choice for you.  If you love to host webinars, make sure you plan one every few months and incorporate that into your brand.

When marketing to the female client, choose your words and images strategically. Depending on where you live and what is open, there are many creative ways to attract female clients. See the Marketing Minute for ideas.

Everything you do must be driven by what works for you and your market.  This is your business, your unique message; own it, embrace it, and broadcast it far and wide.

Leveraging female attributes in the financial world creates a profound impact. It softens the process to become more personal.  It encourages trust, communicates a sense of ethics, and forms an environment where all of your clients feel well cared for.

Asset has several marketing tools available to help you capitalize on this growing market.  We invite you to be a part of our demographic movement to meet the needs of female advisors and clients. 

It’s Annual Review Time!

Mia Dempsey, Manager New Business


A lot can change in a person’s life in as short a time as a month. Any number of events could occur ranging from a death in the family to a wedding or the birth of a child or grandchild. All of these happenings could change their financial, estate planning, or legacy needs.  

Scheduling an annual client review is often overlooked in the financial planning process. Having a face-to-face or personalized Zoom meeting with your client to go over their progress and discuss any adjustments is essential to creating that deeper connection. They want to feel like a part of the “family” and something as simple as sitting down for an hour to discuss their goals, needs, and life updates can be the difference between loyalty and switching to another advisor. Let’s also mention that increased customer allegiance leads to more referrals! The more an individual feels they can trust you, and that you care, the more likely they are to encourage their friends and family to work with you.

Meeting with your client to go over their portfolio and its performance over the course of the year will also allow you to seamlessly uncover new assets they may have come into since your last meeting.  Asset’s Annual Client Review Kit will help guide you through the process and make the experience easy and meaningful for clients.

Here is what’s included in the Asset Annual Review Kit:

  • A customizable letter inviting your client to sit down with you
  • A comprehensive checklist to utilize during the meeting to be sure you cover all necessary topics.
  • An educational video of Angela Sloan discussing why client reviews are so important to her practice and the immense benefits they provide.

Set yourself apart from the competition and create deeper, everlasting relationships with your clients. Download the Annual Client Review Kit today and be sure to contact your Marketing Consultant to get more information about Annual Client reviews. 

The Gift of “Tax-Free”

Rayna Beaty, Marketing Communications Specialist / Asset Advisor


Give your clients the gift of “tax-free” retirement by educating them on the power of Roth IRA conversions and Life Insurance. Through these concepts, clients can enjoy tax-free retirement income and leave a tax-free legacy to heirs.  Today let’s focus on the Roth Conversion.

Do you believe taxes will be going up or going down in the future? Many believe that because of the $27 Trillion US debt and change in political parties there is a greater chance that taxes will soon be on the rise. Not meant to be a political statement but more of an economic statement, if you compare previous tax tables from 2016 to current, you will find a drastic reduction.  Even if taxes revert to where they were, that will still be a significant increase. By the way, you can find the 2016 tax tables online and they work well as a sales piece to explain this concept.

How does this affect your clients plan for retirement?  Most retirement portfolios consist of 401(k)s or mutual funds — all taxable dollars.  If taxes will likely increase, wouldn’t it make sense to start looking at tax-free vehicles now? Furthermore, if they plan on leaving a monetary legacy, do you believe their heir’s taxes will be even higher than theirs?

While Roth conversions are not complicated, there are certain measures you will want to take to make sure you are minimizing your client’s tax consequences. For example, you may want to point out how much to convert to avoid bracket creep, perhaps use a laddering method if the conversion amount is larger.  

Roth IRA benefits include:

  • No required minimum distributions—you keep your money and only spend it when you want to.
  • No pre-59 ½ early withdrawal penalties—if all rules are followed.
  • Reducing or eliminating the Medicare surtax. Distributions from a Roth are not included in the Modified Adjusted Gross Income threshold that determines the surtax.
  • Contributions can be made with after-tax dollars if you continue to work, no matter what age you are.  

There may not be a better time to consider a Roth IRA or Roth Conversion than right now. Tax diversifying your client’s portfolio is extremely important.  To help you have this conversation with your clients or to attract new clients, please visit the Portal to access our turnkey Roth IRA conversion sales tools kit.

To learn more about the “how-to” for Roth conversions, and what that conversation means to your bottom line, watch this recorded webinar.

If you are looking for Roth conversion product solutions, register for our upcoming webinar on Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. PST. Register here.

The New Face of LTC – It’s a Matter of Having the Conversation

Bruce Beaty, ChFC, RICP – VP Business Consultant


Wow! This segment of the industry has changed. My grandmother sold nursing home insurance for a brief time.  When it came time to use it, it was a very good policy and it required her to be in a nursing home.  The problem was the she wanted to be at home.  She was in her mid-80s and prone to falls.  Grandfather, 13 years her senior, couldn’t care for her so off she’d go after a fall, then back home she’d come…and another fall, and back in again.  So what is the point?

People want to be at home, around their familiar belongings, nearby their families.  Let’s be honest, once someone goes into a care facility the kids don’t come around as much, and the grandkids, (you know that nursing home smell) yeah not so much either.  Besides, it’s expensive!  Institutional care can devastate a family’s finances, not to mention the impact these care costs can have on the insurance carriers.  Look at all the companies who left this space and/or sold their blocks of business.  I swear there is an island of misfit LTC actuaries out there who were ostracized for mispricing LTC and guessing completely wrong on lapse assumptions.

Enter a new world of living benefits.  We talked a lot last month about Legacy Planning.  I think living benefits are a big part of this conversation.  Living benefits allow folks to leverage their assets whether they live too long, die too soon, or their bodies quit before they do.  Who knows which risk to insure for?  Think about it.  If we are creating income floors to provide lifetime income that cannot be outlived with income riders on annuities, why not throw in a doubler that could pay for in-home care for a bit (usually up to 5 years) thereby taking longevity and morbidity risks off the table.  Besides, if I need care I’d rather the caretaker come to my house than to get stuck in a nursing home, at least for as long as it is reasonable.  Besides, think how much less it costs for a home health-aid than paying out $10-$12k per month for institutional care.  Bonus:  Since many clients are looking at Roth conversions, why not throw in an income rider with an LTC doubler so the benefits are all tax-free and you get a tax deduction if you spend more than 7.5% of AGI on health costs.  So there you go! (unless the tax code changes again).  By the way, the same conversation applies to living benefits in life policies. Actually, there is a policy with a lifetime income benefit, critical, chronic, terminal illness, and a critical injury benefit…talk about your Swiss army knife of coverage!

Don’t get me wrong, I think we all should have bought a 10-pay policy back in the 90s when everyone was healthy and the premiums were affordable, but hey, not everyone did.  Traditional LTC is not dead, but in my experience by the time most humans choose to acknowledge their own morbidity, they are either too old, too sick, or the premiums are just too high. 

I know many advisors who are “anti-income rider” and just want to sell the best accumulation product keeping the withdrawals at a reasonable level…everything will be great.  Personally, being a risk-averse and overly protective person, I like transferring the risk away.  Think about all the risks that annuities (and life) and other planning products remove from our clients’ lives between now and the day their estate is settled.

  1. Longevity risk (withdrawal rate risk)
  2. Inflation risk
  3. Morbidity risk
  4. Mortality risk
  5. Market risk (consumer behavior risk)
  6. Sequence of return risk
  7. Interest rate risk

All of this is integrated into the care continuum.  Having a strategy around declining health, its’ commensurate costs and challenges, with a focus on quality of life as we age can all be accomplished with proper planning, be it traditional LTC or innovative products with enhanced living benefits. The right answer is out there for all your clients.  It’s just a matter of having the conversation.