Filed Under:Your Practice, Practice Management

Steve Spector: The $2 billion activity man

Steve Spector is a career insurance man. Born and bred in the plains of the Midwest, he found his way to the industry – like many – not by dreaming of selling policies as a young adult, but by chance.

Armed only with the desire to help others, Spector decided to give the industry a chance.
Armed only with the desire to help others, Spector decided to give the industry a chance.

In 1980, Steve graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with law school in his sights. But something quickly changed. “I had a burning desire to find a career where I could make a difference in people’s lives, and help them,” Spector said. He never had that “a-ha!” moment where he knew life insurance would be his lifelong career. No, Spector never even thought about such a job while in college. But now, the “$2 billion activity man” can’t even envision retiring from the industry.

The beginning

It worked. From then on, Spector used the Granum system religiously and, in return, his average lives written while at Northwestern Mutual were 300-400. Fast forward to today and Spector has insured more than 7,800 people on more than 12,000 policies – and all because of constant activity. “Activity is the route to take should a young agent want to write a lot of lives,” he said.

Career choices

After one year, he knew knew the independent market very well, and also knew how to work inside an accounting firm, which is no easy task. “Gaining the trust and confidence of the CPA’s takes time and effort,” he said. “In March, 2005, however, I wanted to lead the charge. So, I made one phone call to one of my oldest friends, Mark Miller, who was the director of tax at Kolb & Co., the largest independently owned accounting firm in southeast Wisconsin. It so happened that they had a division of their firm called Kolb Financial Advisers, LLC. This was comprised of a wealth management arm and an insurance arm.”

Kolb & Co. did not have an in-house insurance specialist, but used two independent agents to help with the firm’s insurance opportunities. So, as Spector puts it, the stars lined up once again. “I knew in my heart that this was a great fit for me; to lead the insurance division of a major accounting firm, to work with CPA’s who are extremely well respected, and to take the practice to a national level,” he said. “It was my time.”

Since Kolb was the largest independently owned accounting firm in Wisconsin, it was an attractive acquisition target, which is exactly what happened Aug 1, 2014. Sikich, one of the top 30 CPA and advisory services firms in the country, with revenue of over $100 million, was the acquirer. With both firms having the same culture and similar services – the move made perfect sense to both parties. And now, Sikich has a dedicated insurance services area, with Spector at its helm.

“Over the last several months, I have, once again, been very fortunate to have shared our philosophy with all of our CPAs across the country,” said Spector. “Because this is a new service, Dave Laske, one of my tax partners in Milwaukee, and I gave ‘road shows’ to all of our Sikich offices, educating them as to how we approach insurance services.”

Sikich and Spector are also heavily involved in philanthropic activities, participating in many organizations with worthwhile causes, such as juvenile diabetes, breast cancer awareness functions, Ronald McDonald House, Wheaton Franciscan hospital boards and functions, and the Milwaukee Symphony, to name a few. Spector himself is also heavily involved in the Chron’s & Colitis Foundation of America and the Milwaukee Heart Institute. And in his spare time he works on insurance reviews for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Marquette University.

Spector plans on continuing as the Partner-in-Charge for Sikich Insurance Services until it’s Andrew’s turn. For Spector, quitting is not an option. “I love what I do so much, and still have the passion to help people protect themselves properly,” he said. “I have been fortunate to have practiced what I preached. I tell my clients the same thing: Put yourself in a position as you get older to work because you want to work, and not because you have to. I can’t see myself totally retiring anytime soon.”

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Nichole Morford

Nichole Morford
Managing Editor

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