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Profile

30 under 30: Meet the millennials who are transforming the insurance industry

A select group of math whizzes, product visionaries and sales stars are building a compelling future for the industry.
A select group of math whizzes, product visionaries and sales stars are building a compelling future for the industry.

Their parents, boomers and some seniors, told millennials they could be anything. Great songs about the children being the future were sung back in the 80s and early 90s. With such high hopes for their future, millennials embarked down a road of immense dreams.

For some, those dreams are already coming true. Across every industry, millennials are reinventing the way the world works, just as earlier generations have done. The insurance and financial services space is no exception. A select group of math whizzes, product visionaries and sales stars are building a compelling future for the industry. This list, the first of its kind for LifeHealthPro, tells the stories of 30 of them.

For more on how millennials are changing the insurance industry, go here.

melina

Melina Ahmandpour
Agent, intern, public speaker
New York Life

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I unfortunately lost my mom years ago to cancer. I had had a previous scholarship to college and I was looking for other scholarships and other ways for funding school. I looked at the Life Happens scholarship and because I was so desperate and determined to get it, I applied for three years in a row and finally got it.

Afterward, [Life Happens] asked me to speak, so I was a speaker at NAIFA National in 2013. Then, I spoke at a few other events and ended up landing an internship with New York Life. It just kind of spiraled. 

Describe what you do.

I work as a speaker for the insurance and financial industries. I speak at conferences, associations, and companies. Through that, I landed an internship with New York Life and they have licensed me. I’m under an internship contract because I am still in college, but I do work as an agent.

As a speaker, I share my personal story of loss, and how my mom unfortunately didn’t have life insurance. Every awful thing that you can possibly think of happened in my case. I talk about this in an effort to inspire people who are in the insurance industry. And for other people who think that life insurance is not necessary, I think my story gives them a second thought. Within the last two years, I’ve done about 20 talks nationally and internationally. It’s been a whirlwind.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I am very proud of the fact that I don’t give up easily. I’ll maybe fail one, two or ten times, but if I really think that I can do this, I’ll keep doing it until I succeed That’s kind of what happened with the scholarship, which ended up opening all these other doors for me. It showed me not to be afraid of failure. I’m happy that, with that kind of mindset, I was able to go from having a very difficult situation in my life to having it turn to this, which is crazy wonderful. I’m sure that there are many more exciting things to come.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

I think this is a general challenge and it’s definitely been a challenge for me: approaching people. How do you bring up life insurance out of thin air without making people feel like “Hey, I’m trying to sell you something.” Because the second they sense that, they avoid you.

We’re trained on how to overcome this challenge and we have all these workshops, and I don’t want to downplay our trainers or the people who teach us by any means. They do a great job and work really hard, but I don’t think any kind of [formal] training can really teach you. I really think that the best teachers, especially in my short experience, have been established agents. When you talk to them, they too went through the training, they experienced it, they too were new at one point; they figured out what to say.

If there’s one thing that I would like to see happening more, it's mentoring. I would really like to see more established agents taking new agents under their wings, taking them to appointments with them, teaching them. You can read books and go to classes, but you can’t learn it if you don’t experience it. You have to think on your toes.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

I think that there’s a great opportunity for people to start marketing themselves in a different way, especially with social media right now. We’re just in a whole different generation and place in the world today. I talk to agents and they talk about the old days, “I went door to door,” they say. Those days are over. No one is going to do that anymore.

I know that New York Life has a great social media platform and I’m sure other companies do as well. If you take advantage of that, it will help you approach more prospects. You make a page on Facebook and everyone there sees that you’re an insurance agent. If they see something that they might need, they might contact you because of your presence on Facebook.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

In college and on the news all we hear is that Social Security is running out and your 401(k) doesn’t mean anything any more. All the tools for money-saving and retirement are not doing what they used to do. I think millennials are looking for something concrete and permanent, something that they know that if they put their money into it, it’s not going to go away by the time that they retire. And I’m almost positive that millennials don’t want to retire at age 65. They want to retire earlier. What they’re looking for in an advisor is someone who is either young like they are or someone older that can relate to them that and that can give them something that’s not going to cost a fortune. 

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Get yourself a good mentor. I am lucky that I have a great mentor and he has helped me so much. You have to look for someone who challenges you and pushes you, and when you want to give up and you say, “I can’t do this,” they can talk to you about it. Finding a mentor will save you in so many ways. They can come with you to appointments and if you say something wrong, they are there to save you. And when you go to appointments with them, you can see how they interact with people. 

I would also make a note of saying this is not an immediate gratification kind of job. This is something that takes time. Try not to get frustrated at the fact that you may not make a ton of money immediately, but keep going at it because there are opportunities to be successful in this industry.

travis b

Travis Babb
Senior partner
Babb Financial Group, LLC

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

Both of my parents were financial planners, so I grew up around the business. The dinner table conversation involved a lot of business talk, so I like to think I absorbed most of the information through osmosis.

I also would walk to my parents’ office and help with filing after school, so I am not really sure I chose my career but rather it chose me.

Describe what you do.

I help preserve and grow our clients’ wealth in order for them to retire with confidence.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I studied Economics at ASU's business school, which I felt was hard enough as it is, but to add to it, I had my Series 7 test lined up the day after I graduated. So not only did I have to study for finals, but I also had to study for this six hour exam in addition to packing my home up and moving. It was one of the more stressful points in my life, but I passed and actually started work the very next day. That year I went on to qualify for MDRT at the age of 23.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest challenge is the complexity of the investments on the market. Apple is such a successful company because they make everything so user-friendly and intuitive as opposed to their competition. We need investments that are concise and easier to understand. The problem is consumers want to be educated now more than ever, but when I hand them a 24-page illustration their eyes begin to gloss over. As an industry, we need to get rid of all the red tape and speak in layman terms.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

When I first got into the business, it was all about the baby boomers retiring. It still is all about the baby boomers; we have had more referrals from our clients then we ever had because of baby boomers retiring.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I believe millennials are more skeptical than other generations due to the amount of information that is available. They receive a lot of conflicting information from parents, friends and the Internet. It will be hard to serve this type of client because a little bit of information can be very dangerous.

I think advisors will need to better educate millennials about their options. It will also be harder to establish relationships with people who have been stuck in front of screens for years. Regardless of age, all people want human interaction, but it might be more difficult with the millennials as they are used to communicating in different ways.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Proximity is power. It is very hard to try and get a client base by going it alone. I would recommend establishing great relationships with people in the industry that need help. There are also a ton of advisors looking to retire that are looking for someone to buy their business as they phase out. The key is finding a solid partner to buy it from who has already a great relationship with their clients. 

brenden barkate

Brenden Barkate
Senior vice president
Exclusive Insurance Brokerage

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I was playing football at the University of Redlands and my head coach brought me into his office. I wasn’t exactly sure what the circumstances were and, quite frankly, assumed I was in trouble. 

He told me that a successful alumni was starting an insurance brokerage and that he specifically asked for me. I asked my dad, who has been in the financial planning business for 30+ years, and he said it would be a great start to learn the business inside and out. I knew my father was very successful in what he did, and I wanted to pursue that same level of success.

Describe what you do.

I help financial planners, CPAs and attorneys brainstorm and find solutions to financial concerns they are facing with either their personal needs, estates, or businesses. Whether it is creating an estate plan, a tax-mitigation technique for a business owner, or simply implementing some insurance solutions for an individual; every day can be a little bit different.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I came into the business with nothing. I was given a computer, phone, and a desk in a bullpen. I was one of two people who started the company. Today, I am a Senior VP at one of the largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the United States. Two years ago, I assisted an advisor in closing one of the largest life insurance policies ever sold. I thought that was pretty neat.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The one thing I would change is adding more regulation to the insurance industry, specifically pertaining to the sale of index life or index annuity products. I oftentimes come across advisors who have a life license they obtained in 52 hours. The following week, they are persuading clients into products they know relatively nothing about. These insurance products are phenomenal solutions for certain clients and I hate to see them sold incorrectly or abused, as it gives a black eye to our industry.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

I go to insurance conferences, meetings, product panels, etc. and oftentimes I am the youngest person in the room by 20+ years. The average financial planner is aging and there is plenty of room for young professionals to come into the insurance industry and make a difference in people’s lives. The insurance industry has been around for 100+ years and is not going anywhere soon. 

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

With access to Google, I think millennials are looking for transparency in a financial advisor. With information readily available at your fingertips, no longer can financial advisors dance around the facts. Advisors need to approach millennials as extremely bright, and present solutions with all the facts — even if some are not what the client wants to hear. 

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

While there is plenty of opportunity inside this industry to start your own business, there is no shortcut for hard work. There is no “manual” for starting an insurance practice, per se.  You need to find a part of this industry that you care about and devote yourself to that cause. If you can do that and aren’t afraid to fail, then you won’t be anything but successful.

chantel b

Chantel Bonneau, CFP
Wealth management advisor
Northwestern Mutual

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I was interested in a career that focused on financial planning at a holistic level. Risk management is extremely important and undervalued by so many people. I put risk management at the foundation of my clients’ plans because it builds stability and predictability into their plans. As someone who loves both analytical work and spending time with people, this was a perfect role that combined those skills. There aren’t many careers that allow you to grow in both ways.

Describe what you do.

I work with individuals to build financial plans that reflect their ambitions, goals, and resources, both current and future. I spend my time getting to know a client and what they’re focused on accomplishing from a personal, professional and financial standpoint. From there, I assess their current financial situation and determine solutions that will get them closer to their goals.

Much of what I do is about creating a roadmap they can understand and follow. Like most goals, having a partner is beneficial and I try to be their partner in education and in execution.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I’m particularly proud of the client relationships that I’ve built. It’s extremely rewarding to have clients that I’ve worked with for four or five years and to see the impact of that planning. I have clients that feel secure in their retirement trajectory, have put important insurance products into place while they’re healthy, and feel confident in their strategies.

All of what we learn is important in theory, but a plan is only as good as the implementation, and I’m always excited to see clients who prioritize their future because of the work we’ve done. For example, I have a client who started as a single young professional with no planning at all. Over time, he has grown in his career, bought a condo, and recently got engaged. As he went through these different phases, we were able to keep his planning up to speed with his life and priorities.  

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

I wish people would share more stories about advisors who have been helpful to them. So often we hear the negatives, but there are many people who are much better off because of the relationship they have with a trusted and knowledgeable advisor. While media and social media have made us a nation of Do-It-Yourself’ers, your finances, like your health, are an area where you don’t want to self-treat. Working with a professional to take care of your financial wellness has proven rewards. Northwestern Mutual’s Planning & Progress research repeatedly shows that those individuals who work with advisors feel significantly happier and more financially secure in retirement.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

As a millennial myself, I see my generation as the greatest opportunity. We’re a large group, we’re educated and, according to research, we’re more financially disciplined and focused on building financial security than some might expect. Cultivating millennial clients now will plant the seeds for a relationship that will grow as their income and assets do. I’ve had success working with millennials because I focus on educating them about the key components of prudent financial plans. They like information before taking action and value being brought up to speed on the financial fundamentals that are often overlooked in traditional education.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an advisor?  How can advisors best serve this market?

Millennials want transparency and honesty, as they should! Insurance is extremely important and, as we know, typically the younger you purchase protection products, the more cost-effective they are. Millennials need to learn more about risk products and be given recommendations tailored to them in the context of their overall financial plan.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Ask questions of your clients that help you truly understand them and their priorities. If you know why they’re working so hard and toward what goal, you can provide great guidance as well as develop a great relationship.

karen carr

Karen Carr, CFP
Society of Grownups

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I was always interested in financial services. Finding the right financial products, including insurance, can be an intimidating process, but it is so important for someone’s overall financial plan. I was excited to be in an industry where I could be an unbiased resource and help people navigate those decisions in their best interest.

Before joining Society of Grownups, I completed a B.S. in finance, obtained my CFP®, and worked as an advisor at a boutique private wealth management firm. I specialized in comprehensive financial planning, including insurance planning, for individuals and families at all life stages. During this time, I discovered my passion for working with young professionals who offer their own unique planning opportunities and challenges.

I was excited about the unique approach to financial literacy that Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) was taking with the development of Society of Grownups, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Describe what you do.

I am one of five Certified Financial Planner professionals at Society of Grownups, a MassMutual learning initiative dedicated to fostering financial literacy among twenty-and-thirty-somethings. Our main objective is to change, and open up, the conversation about money and make financial planning more fun and less intimidating.

At Society of Grownups, I teach some of the core financial classes, including “Loans and Groans,” a student loans workshop, “Buying a Home,” a three-part series on first-time home buying, and “The Basics of Investing.” I also conduct one-on-one sessions with Grownups who come into our space, either a 20-minute checkup or a longer, more in-depth 90-minute appointment.

During these one-on-one sessions, I talk with Grownups about their individual situations, offer balanced advice and perspective, and create actionable steps to help them work toward their financial goals. This can sometimes involve providing recommendations for products and services when it’s in the best interest of the Grownup. However, we do not sell any products at our space or on our website.

I also assist with Society of Grownups’ corporate and university partnerships by teaching classes to employees or students. I also help develop curriculum for our various classes and events, work with our PR team to develop expert content for our blog and other publications, and assist with developing digital tools and resources on SocietyofGrownUps.com.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

The launch of Society of Grownups. We just opened our doors in October 2014 and weren’t sure what the reaction was going to be. This financial literacy learning initiative aimed at the millennial generation is a really new, innovative concept — we are approaching the conversation around money, personal finance, and being a Grownup in an entirely new way. I am really proud that I was part of the team that helped bring this concept to life and am excited by how well it’s been received.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

Engaging with millennials — they haven’t traditionally been the most attractive customers to the industry because they aren't always seen as a profitable demographic. Figuring out how to connect with these Grownups, and how best to serve them, is definitely a challenge when, traditionally, this generation is so distrusting of the financial industry and insurance companies. The challenge is in figuring out how we, as financial planning professionals and insurance providers, can be a resource for these twenty-and-thirty-somethings and act in their best interest.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

Innovation. The insurance and financial industries have operated one way for a very long time, and it's ripe for the opportunity to try a new approach and engage a new demographic.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

Millennials are really looking for someone who will listen to them, meet them where they are, and, most importantly, someone they can really trust. Advisors can best serve the millennial market by speaking in plain English, avoiding confusing jargon, and being a trustworthy resource who acts in the best interest of their clients.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box — there is lots of opportunity in this industry for innovation and creativity, so it’s okay to push the envelope a little bit. 

josh coleman

Joshua Coleman
Founder, CEO of Momentum Advanced Planning
Independent advisor associated with The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I’m a self-proclaimed nerd and was drawn to insurance first because of its relation to math. After graduating from Villanova University with a degree in finance, specializing in financial mathematics, I wanted to do something with math and numbers that wasn’t teaching. I wanted do something in practice with numbers. So, finance and insurance were appealing.

Secondly, I recognized an opportunity within the aging workforce in the space. To me, it was just another basic math problem. There’s a ton of people that have to be taken care of, and after advisors retire, there are fewer and fewer new advisors joining the industry to fill that role. That presents a challenge and an opportunity and I was intrigued by that.

Describe what you do.

I play quarterback, but not the type of quarterback you may be thinking of. I serve as an advanced planning quarterback for families and successful businesses. I do this through partnering with the advisors they’re already working with and acting as a financial engineer.

I supplement what the advisory team is already doing, bring potential new ideas to the table, and then play quarterback to build out any additions to the advisory team that may be necessary, and service the solutions put in place.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

What makes me most proud is my first year in the insurance space. During the span of just 365 days, I was able to make a charitable impact of over nine figures for a very small group of our initial clients. When clients are happy and a large group of charities are benefitting, that’s a win to me and definitely something I’m proud to have been a part of.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest challenge in this industry is that we implement extremely sophisticated solutions that include a lot of moving parts. This challenge has become, in my mind, the biggest risk for the industry.

The solutions are good, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be maintained properly and carried out well in the future. The reason I say this is because the industry is currently faced with an aging workforce, and we also have the upfront compensation in insurance.

How can we eliminate this risk? One thing I’d like to change is to spread compensation based on keeping solutions in place and long-term success.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

There’s an innumerable amount of families and businesses to help, and that’s exciting to me. So many advisors have become really niche, which is great, and I see it as a huge opportunity for a group like ours to weave together those niche practitioners for the broader long-term solutions. There’s no shortage of niche specialists and no shortage of clients that need help, so bridging that gap and bringing those groups together is exciting.

Also, there’s an amazing opportunity in this industry for those just stepping into the career world or those looking to make a change. In our industry, you get to build a career around your life as opposed to being forced into a career that regulates your life. At Momentum, we currently offer employees the option to work remotely which is extremely unique in the industry. You can design the life you want to live and build a career around it, and you really can’t beat that!

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

Millennials are looking for someone that’s been where they are and understands where they’re coming from. The absolute worst thing you can do for a millennial is try to convince them that you know exactly what they need.

Also, millennials appreciate someone who’s going to value their input into a solution. Their access to information is immense, and their ability to get it means that they should be part of the solution dialogue. Advancements in technology have made it simpler to include millennials in that dialogue, but at the same time, involving the millennial in the decision, to me, is crucial.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Listen to advice and learn from people who are in the space — but don’t copy it. Combine it with your own personal take on the world, and think of how you can bring something to the table that would enhance what you’re being told or shown. Providing a different perspective is invaluable.

The best advice I could have gotten starting out in this industry would have been to not be afraid and not to think that every successful person does it the same way. In reality, it’s very much the opposite. So, if you don’t start forging custom paths through the space early, you probably never will, and as a result you may not be as successful and effective.

mary d

Mary Deutsch 
Founder
MTD Financial

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I had previously been a business owner and when I learned of fixed indexed annuities (FIAs); I was working in the retail industry. Once I heard more about how they work and saw the benefit to both the client and myself, as a business owner, I knew I had to make a change.

Describe what you do.

I hold educational retirement seminars to teach people about FIAs. The presentation is very direct and honest, including the pros and cons of annuities, and also includes a history and overview of some of the common misconceptions of the stock market and the financial and insurance industries as a whole. At the conclusion of my presentation, people schedule appointments to meet with me in the following weeks. At those meetings, I use a no pressure system that helps the client and myself determine what, if any, insurance products are a right fit for them. I encourage all potential clients to start with only a small amount that they are comfortable with to begin, knowing that we can help them with more later. Finally, myself and my office make sure to follow up with and take care of our potential and existing clients to offer top-notch service and experience.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

Although I have worked in sales, management, marketing, and finance, I had never worked with FIAs prior to starting my business. However, from the time I sold my first FIA to 12 months later, I hit over $7 million in personal FIA production, which wouldn’t have been possible without continual focus on the education and assistance of others, which allowed me to help hundreds of people. The interesting thing about that achievement is that I really didn’t know it was unusual and simply kept working with the help of my marketing organization, my marketer, and my fellow producers to make that happen.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

I feel that more producers should look out for what is in the best interest of the client. Not just in regard to suitability, although that is important, but also with regard to selecting the proper product and its features, negating the personal benefit to satisfy the client’s benefit. If more people did that, I think we would see an increase in production industrywide.

 What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

In order for our industry to have continued growth, we must look to advance our products and their benefits, understanding that the change in times calls for adaptation. As the younger generations grow, more individuals are starting to look at the future and their retirement at a younger age. 

Being a younger individual myself, I think the industry could use more products that benefit the 40-and-under population to start saving for retirement earlier. If we can capture that market, the growth of our industry is inevitable, and we would see more product, company, and industry loyalty.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

They are looking for an individual who can educate them in a way that makes sense to the consumer. So many people want to understand the opportunities for growth and safety of their hard earned money, but many advisors use verbiage or double-talk that causes more confusion and distrust. We have to remember that we are the experts and professionals in our field and that is the reason that clients reach out to us for help. Remember, if our clients wanted to know everything that we do, they would go get their license and wouldn’t need us. 

Listen more than talk, ask rather than tell, and you will help more than hurt. Be honest, straightforward, and explain things in simple terms that would make sense to anyone, and you will earn trust.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

I would encourage anyone looking to enter this industry to find the most successful people who are where you want to be, and surround yourself with them. Listen, take direction, put your ego in the back seat, and help others. You will find success if your top priority is to help others and you remain laser-focused on your goals. Throw away doubt and get to work. What has made me who I am today has been the work ethic and passion that I learned growing up on a dairy farm. I’ve always followed the philosophy that those who work the hardest, who make some personal sacrifices and are willing to endure failure while maintaining confidence and a positive attitude, will see success.

amelia d

Amelia Dobson
Independent insurance agent, producer
Rice Insurance, LLC

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I was offered a full-time receptionist position right out of college, and felt that was a superior alternative to the three part-time jobs I held at the time. I soon found out the agent that hired me was ranked top 20 out of 14,000 or so State Farm agents in the country. He paid for me to get my license, transitioned me into service and then sales shortly after. The impact I made on people’s lives by being someone who was knowledgeable, friendly, trustworthy and dedicated hooked me instantly. I'm a natural people person. My clients became loyal to me because I was loyal to them. They say once you start in insurance, you'll never get out. So far, I've found that to be true.

Describe what you do.

My job is to help people navigate the world of personal insurance. I listen to them and learn about their lives and with that information I build an insurance package to fit their specific needs and budget.

As an independent agent, I work with multiple carriers, which allows me to bring many options to the table. I am all about education. I don't sell you things you don't need; I don't cut coverage to beat your current rate. I tell you what's available, how it covers you, how much it costs, but most importantly, I listen. I give people the tools necessary to build the levels of protection they want. My job is to change people’s perception of the insurance industry, one client at a time. 

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

A lot of people in our community hear the word “insurance” and think of me. I've proven, over time, that I can be relied upon and trusted. This has allowed me to write a relatively high volume and it continues to increase. The first couple of years definitely were slower. I wasn't struggling, but I chose to invest my time into activities that would pay off in the long run, not the short run. It was hard to stick it out at times, but the last year or two, it has really paid off.

The greatest thing that comes from this isn't the numbers, it's my community. Success in sales depends on what type of professional you are, and this directly relates to who you are as a person. I've learned so much about people, about life and about myself. I can honestly say my career in insurance has made me a better me. That is something I am not only proud of, I'm extremely thankful for. 

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest challenge I see in our industry goes back to what I'm actively trying to change: the perception. Too many agents out there don't take the time to really explain how policies do and don't work. People are busy, and learning about their coverage doesn't take high priority, especially when they think their agent is taking proper care of them.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

The biggest opportunity in insurance is the fact that you have the flexibility to steer your own ship. You choose how you get referrals. You choose how much time you put in each day. It's up to you to decide what type of agent you want to be.

Do you focus on volume or service, or a combination of both? Are you going after a niche market? You have to differentiate yourself, that's a fact. But how you differentiate yourself is entirely up to you. There's a lot of power and opportunity in that. You need the support of your company, but ultimately your success rides on your shoulders. I love the accountability aspect of it. When you feel accomplished, you can thank yourself for that.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I find millennials are much more interested in learning the details of their policies. They're smart, intuitive, innovative and invest in themselves. They not only want to trust the person they're working with, they want to get along with them. Maintaining a professional demeanor is key, but at the same time you have to let personalities guide the relationship. Think outside of the box. Use technology to your advantage. Save them time.

Each year that passes, our lives transition farther away from the simplicity of what was our childhood and head deeper into the chaotic reality of today. Hash out the details over email or phone for convenience, and then take them out for coffee or happy hour to thank them for their business. Work first, play later! At least, that's my motto.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Sales can be a daunting profession and if you don't see results immediately, a lot of people can't handle it. Figure out your personal brand. Everything you do is a reflection of who you are and where you're going. Treat every person you encounter with respect and appreciation. If you always give, you'll always have. All this to say, go above and beyond for your clients, prospects, referral partners and everyone in between.

Sales is about earning trust and respect, it's about being consistent and having integrity. It's hard work and your efforts should be focused on the small activities you can complete every day. Reach out to people. Stay top of mind. Provide value without expecting something in return. If you're spending your time wisely and prioritizing your integrity, there is nothing anyone can do to stop you.

conor drake

Conor Drake
Marketing director
Exclusive Insurance Brokerage   

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I was finishing up graduate school in 2011 and, like many graduates, I completely financed my education. I began to do some research as to how I should structure and pay off the loans I had accrued and realized that this was a growing problem among recent graduates. The more I looked into this issue, the more passionate I became.

In wanting to try to help others in my situation, I eventually reached out to interview at a number of different financial planning firms. I was lucky enough to catch on at one of the fastest growing companies in the country.

Describe what you do.

I operate as a consultant to different financial advisors, asset gatherers or insurance specialists to help them design, develop and implement strategies for individuals or businesses.

No two people or businesses are the same, so everything I do is extremely personalized and tailored to each particular business or individual and their specific set of circumstances.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

Last year, I helped design and implement a number of financial products and strategies that is going to help a family save up to $60 million in potential estate taxes. Being able to help a family maintain wealth for several generations was a great experience.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

A current challenge I see is people making financial decisions without all of the proper information in hand. With all of the tools that the Internet provides, many people are making important financial decisions based on flashy TV commercials, Google or Wikipedia. While I believe every client should do research on their own surrounding any important financial decision, there is also a lot of misinformation out there and it can be difficult to figure out what information is good information. I believe it is hard to replace the expertise and feedback that is available through working with a great financial services professional.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

Social media is an area I see more and more financial professionals utilizing. I am a huge proponent of staying engaged with your clientele. I think that all of the opportunities that social media provides for us to stay engaged with our clients on a more consistent basis allows us to build a more mutually beneficial relationship with our clients.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I think more than anything else, they are looking for someone they can trust. I think this is important for anyone looking for an insurance advisor, but I think millennials are particularly skeptical. I think a great way to serve this market and build this trust would be for an advisor to be proficient in managing student loan debt. I am obviously biased here, but by getting in with millennials before they are at their peak earning years and helping them when maybe it is not the most lucrative time to do so for the advisor, they can start to build this trust and create a client for life.  

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

I would tell someone that there is no substitute for hard work. I think the financial services profession as a whole is aging and that there is a very good opportunity for a young person with the right attitude and work ethic to be successful. I had an old football coach who used to love the saying, “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs” and I think that is an especially relevant sentiment for any young person looking to get into the industry.

michele fournier

Michele Fournier
PC, life & health licenses
Marketing & communication supervisor
Assurance

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

This is a funny question, as insurance wasn’t an industry I ever saw myself having a career in. Truth be told, there were a lot stereotypes that didn’t seem appealing to a young marketing & communications professional.

I originally wanted to go into sports marketing, and when I got there, realized that I needed a more stable, 9-5 environment. I sort of fell into insurance, and now I couldn’t imagine not being a part of the industry.

Describe what you do.

I’m a Marketing Communication Supervisor at Assurance – a top 50 U.S. insurance brokerage. I oversee three individuals on the marketing team and manage a portion of our external communications, working closely with the company’s staffing and construction practices.

In addition to attending and helping plan industry trade shows, I write many of our communication pieces, including flyers, RFPs, email campaigns and web content. I’m also heavily involved in the company’s public relations efforts and blog writing.

Every day is completely different as far as projects. Essentially, my job is to:

1. help clients minimize risk and maximize the health of employees,

2. bring in new prospects, and

3. attract the best & brightest talent through marketing initiatives.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I was named Assurance’s 2014 Employee of the Year. Considering I work with 350 bright and motivated insurance professionals, it was an extremely humbling honor.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

As a marketer within the insurance industry, a big challenge is bridging the gap that exists among the different generations in an organization, especially as it relates to marketing automation and other technologies in the sales process.

I have some brokers who embrace digital marketing spheres and CRM, and I have others that are still selling without using technology – and doing well. I think a lot of brokerages are challenged with reinventing their brand, trying to embrace change/technology and adding young talent while still also catering to seasoned insurance veterans.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

In the life insurance and benefits arena especially, I think there will be a bigger opportunity in how insurance brokerages educate clients and their employees on their benefits program. Generations tend to learn differently and have diverse motivators. There’s a lot of opportunity for insurance companies to work hand-in-hand with their clients to demonstrate the value of employer-sponsored healthcare and a more customized approach.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

The millennial generation is synonymous for jumping from organization to organization. As such, I think a lot of millennials are focused on instant gratification. They want to know what they can do now within their plan.

Advisors can help by being present (not just at renewal or open enrollment) and finding new and different ways to reach millennials to explain their benefits. If you think about it, millennials have the option to stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26. Going through an enrollment period, understanding an individual plan and effectively utilizing benefits is likely new.     

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

This would really be for anyone at any level entering the insurance industry: Fnd your strengths, brand yourself, but, at the end of the day, stay nimble enough to embrace change. There will be a lot of it! 

brent

Brent Gritton
Wealth strategist
Semler Financial Group

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I am the third generation in my family to work in the insurance industry. When I officially told my dad, Doug, this is what I wanted to do, he said, “Great! Brent, be prepared because this is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.”

The reasons that ultimately led to my decision were that I wanted to have the freedom to be my own boss, I wanted my income to be a direct result of performance (no guarantees, unlimited upside), and I knew at the end of the day, every dollar I made would be a direct result of positively impacting others’ lives. I wanted to help people and be significant.

Describe what you do.

I help folks navigate the increasingly complex world of personal finance through proven macro-economic principles. I show them how to increase their money supply without taking additional risk and how to position themselves for maximum retirement income without the fear of running out of money. I play the role of educator with my clients so they can confidently make decisions regarding their financial affairs.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

To this point, the achievement I’m most proud of is qualifying for Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) for the first time in 2014. I was close in prior years, but close doesn’t count. This was a goal of mine since I entered the business.

My grandfather had a ring made with a diamond for every year he qualified for MDRT. I remember seeing him wearing it while growing up, but didn’t understand the significance. My grandfather passed away before I began my career, but my dad showed me the ring at that point and told me my first goal needed to be qualifying for MDRT. It took me four years but once I did, it was a great moment.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest challenge in the industry is bringing new millennials into the business. The average age of advisors today is in the mid-50s. We need to bring on younger guys and gals and train them to take over.

In my opinion, in the insurance and financial services industry, there’s a lot of: “My daddy can beat up your daddy.” What I mean by that is that there is far too much bashing of particular products or strategies. Everyone’s situation is different. In the world of personal finance, it’s next to impossible to say “everyone should do this and no one should do that or use this product and never use that product.” The only thing that does is make the decision process for consumers more difficult.

I believe there is a scenario or set of circumstances out there for every financial tool. I would like to see more educating instead of selling. I feel that would make the decision process for consumers easier, which is a great thing for the industry as a whole.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

Without question, I believe retirement income planning is the biggest opportunity in our industry today. I feel this is the area that poses the largest problem for consumers. With defined benefit pension plans being nonexistent for most, the need for creating retirement income falls solely on the consumer. With that comes a great deal of risk.

In addition to risk, the mindset for retirement income becomes one of scarcity because of the very real fear of running out of money. Teaching consumers ways to maximize their future retirement income without taking more risk, and without the fear of running out of money is a message a lot of folks need to hear. This doesn’t just apply to someone five years from retirement. These discussions are relevant to the individual or family just starting out. After all, the reason we save money long-term is to be able to generate income in retirement. The sooner one can position their savings in ways that will maximize their future income without the fear of running out, the better.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

Certainly, millennials want to work with someone they like and feel is knowledgeable. I believe they are looking for someone to give them answers. I have to use the word 'education' again because I feel it’s so important and is the basis for a lifelong relationship with an advisor and helps develop trust over time. Someone who can play quarterback for all of their financial affairs. I don’t mean being a jack of all trades, but someone who can point them in the direction for guidance in all areas.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Wow. There’s so much I want to say and it’s hard to give just one thing. My message would be, do it. This can be a very rewarding and satisfying career, but if you are like most (myself included) there will be days you struggle. Maybe even days you question why you are doing this; just keep at it.

Always spend time increasing your knowledge. Constantly be thinking of ways to enhance your business and ways you can help your clients understand complex issues. You don’t have to be in this alone. Find mentors. Pick the brains of home office executives and producers alike.

brenton

Brenton D. Harrison
Associate, financial advisor
Henderson Financial Group, Inc.

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

When I started in the insurance business, I took a financial advisor position because I needed a job. What made me stay when I invested in the profession was the realization of how great an impact I could have on a family through insurance planning. From the people I come in contact with to the value I feel we provide as advisors, it would be difficult for me to find another field I enjoy as much as ours.

Describe what you do.

I work with my clients to maximize their savings, minimize their taxable burden and protect against health emergencies and financial downturns. To do that, I use insurance and investments.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

In 2014, I was named one of Nashville’s Emerging Leaders. It was an important achievement to me because the honorees were chosen not just by their professional accomplishments, but by the impact they have on their community. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in your work, and it was nice to know that the things I do outside the office can make a difference as well.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest challenge I see in our industry is attracting and retaining young talent. Many young advisors can’t stick around long enough to gain a passion for our industry, and finances are a big reason why. We need to find ways to financially incentivize new talent and support them until they can build a sustainable book of business. If we don’t, we will continue to see a decline in new recruits to the financial industry.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

The regulatory push for transparency creates a real opportunity for advisors. The more information a client has at their disposal, the easier it is for us to establish trust and make them feel as if they are informed and knowledgeable about their finances. These are soft skills, things that have nothing to do with book knowledge. But if we can master them, we’ll always be irreplaceable to our clients.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I believe millennials want an insurance advisor who will treat them as partners in insurance planning, rather than customers. The Internet now gives consumers access to all of the information that we have as advisors. To serve millennials, we need to be able to explain products in a way they understand. In addition, we also need the ability to get a person to act on attaining coverage they need, even when they don’t understand what that particular product is at first.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Find a mentor who will take you into meetings and situations that are over your head. Luckily, I have a mentor who not only encourages me to think bigger, but also takes me into complex situations where I can watch and learn. I’m in my fifth year and am just now coming across my own clients who need some of the strategies I watched him implement when I first started. If I hadn’t learned how to read a room and see a client’s unspoken needs, I would miss out on those opportunities to be of service.

cameron

Cameron Jacox
Cofounder
InforcePro

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

When the idea for InforcePro was hatched, I was still in college. We went into the industry to solve the particular problem that we discovered. That problem has now been solved with our software, but now we realize that there is an array of different and complementary problems that we can solve using software. 

Describe what you do.

I'm co-founder at InforcePro, which is the only software company to have built an in-force, or “post-issue” solution for policy monitoring and policyholder engagement. Technology in our industry has been laser-focused on pre-issue — getting a policy into force faster and better — for over 20 years. The dropoff of technology vendors' focus after a policy was issued mirrored the drop off in attention by the agent in that regard, but that begged the “chicken or egg” question: Did the agent fail to engage with in-force policies because he did not have adequate technology, or did adequate technology not exist because the agent wouldn't use it? At InforcePro, we've discovered that the answer is the former. In short, InforcePro can download, update, alert on, market to, and report about in-force business.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

​I think it's extremely exciting that InforcePro has, in just 12 months, developed partnerships with eight of the top ten national marketing organizations, earned over 110 BGAs as clients, and come to monitor over two million in-force policies. Our growth is probably the thing that I'm most proud of. It illustrates the really fundamental need for post-issue solutions and the pent-up demand for in-force monitoring capabilities.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The single biggest challenge that we face today is the same as our single biggest historical mistake: Saying “gotcha” to policyholders or, more specifically, the fact that the exclusive way of communicating with policyholders ​was through the use of “terse” 30-day notices prior to major policy events. This way of doing business ha​s​ corollary concepts in “buyer beware.” But the life insurance industry has hurt its reputation this way, so why has it continued?​

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

​The biggest opportunity​ is to embrace post-issue technology solutions to follow the policyholder after they become one. The foundation for that​ is information about the inforce contract; what is it, what needs to be monitored, and how can technology enable it? That needs to be readily accessible to the carrier and​ agency. Next, comes the creative aspect: The ability to connect with policyholders’ social and banking profiles online, ​generate ​periodic reevaluations of coverage and even risk. InforcePro has focused, first, on the moving parts in policy contracts. Conversion options cannot be a gotcha provision provided 30 days prior to expiration – or not at all.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

We're looking for someone who is just as tech savvy as we are. We're OK with an in-person meeting, but we don't need a policy delivered and we sure don't find it acceptable to have to call in to get a policy update, make a payment, or make a change – that needs to happen online. And once our policy is in-force, our needs  and desires are fluid and mobile as are our lives; we need to be able to make changes, evaluate the in-force policy, and increase or decrease the coverage or structure more easily. Otherwise, it will seem too static and out of touch.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Enter with your head up and keep your head up. ​Realize that the industry is driven by sales and distribution, along with data and analytics, and success in those capabilities can drive your career forward unlike any others.

karan

Karan Kanodia
Co-founder, managing partner
InforcePro

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

My career in insurance was never planned. I was always interested in the cross section of technology and finance. The road down the insurance industry was driven by naïveté, driven by the belief that it is one of the largest industries globally with extremely slow technology adoption. In addition to the specific opportunity we were tackling, I believed there was an opportunity to have a dramatic impact on this industry through technology. That's turning out to be true more and more with every passing day.

Describe what you do.

InforcePro is the first ever post-sale customer engagement platform for insurance distributors. Most technology is focused on pre-issue in our industry such as CRMs, quoting providers, e-apps, etc. InforcePro is focused on the bridging the post-sale gap. It is able to do so by automating inforce data feeds from carriers, creating the first ever database of legacy products going way back to the 80s, and finally integrating with multiple quoting providers to create an end-to-end policy review engine that enables distributors to stay on top their books like never before.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

Conversion of large enterprise customer pilots into full scale implementations. As a young company, resources are scarce while demands of multinational enterprises are multi-dimensional; they often include comprehensive product features, support, IT security, etc. Today, InforcePro has 1000+ enterprises as clients with some multi-billion dollar houses such as Scotia Bank.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

Lack of transparency and proactive customer engagement. Insurance is often seen as a static one-time purchase by consumers who have little awareness of the complexities. Through InforcePro, I'd like to empower distributors to engage with policyholders and aid consumers to take well-informed risk mitigations decisions.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

There's a wealth of opportunity to leverage data and generate insights for a stronger understanding of consumer purchase patterns, agency management, product performance variations, etc. The key pre-requisite is easy access to in-force data which is one of InforcePro's core focuses.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

As a millennial myself and having grown up with easy access to information through the Internet, we have a tendency to research topics ourselves instead of taking them at face-value. Advisors can stand out by playing to that instinct of millennials instead of the older-style information-monopoly mindset.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

This industry is a combination of data and relationships. So skills in data analytics with comfort getting out into the field and building relationships will go a long way. 

ryan mccarty

Ryan J. McCarty
Founding partner
Megastar Advisors, LLC

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

The insurance industry chose me — my grandfather, Roger McCarty, founded Brokers International over 60 years ago, which today is one of the largest IMOs in the industry. My family encouraged me to learn the insurance business from the ground up. Subsequently, that is what I’ve done.

I remember working summers at Brokers, where I saw first-hand how brokers created long-lasting relationships with advisors across the country and develop some of the most exciting products in the industry.

These experiences and values convinced me to enter the insurance industry. I am proud to be a third-generation member of this business, and now co-creator of Megastar Advisors, an IMO in partnership with Brokers International.

Describe what you do.

I’m a founding partner of Megastar Advisors, a young, progressive IMO with business model platforms that give advisors a competitive advantage over their competition. Some of these models include our Virtual Tax Platform, Social Security and Retirement Workshops as well as an innovative Federal Benefits program which are all trained by top producers in the country.

At our home office, I’m responsible for the day-to-day operations of overseeing our recruiting, servicing and contracting department. The market is always changing, so I spend a large percentage of my time staying current on the industry and using that knowledge to find and create new opportunities for our agents. If they’re successful, we’re successful.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I’m proud that our team comes to work every day with one goal — help our agents get in front of more prospective clients. We do this well because our models are successful! This has allowed our company to grow by over 50 percent every year since its founding. When you fulfill your promises to agents and back up commitments with results, you get noticed.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest challenge that I see in our industry is that we have many salespeople and not enough business owners. I find that many advisors constantly “hunt” for their next prospect instead of “farm.” And farming, or long-term growth, requires a strategic plan and mindset.

So it was clear that our biggest challenge was to change advisors’ way of thinking. We began to educate our agents about other successful business practices and models, outside of the common seminar. An example of this could be adding a tax practice, but where an advisor would lean on Megastar’s network of CPAs to cover the processing of the returns by using our secure cloud based technology. We push both ourselves and our agents on how to work smarter, not harder.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

According to the Office of Personnel Management, an independent agency of the United States government, 60 percent of the four-million federal employee workforce will be eligible to retire by 2016. This means that there are approximately 2.4 million potential clients for professionals in our industry to serve. This is huge!

Yet, there are very few advisors and IMOs that can understand and target the opportunities to help these prospects. That’s why we’ve developed a program to help advisors capture their share of this rapidly-growing market.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

Frankly, I think millennials are looking for an insurance advisor who will give them the time of day. Our industry tends to focus on the senior and boomer market over the millennial generation, so I think this is an underserved market.   

Many millennials had their first taste of the stock market in 2008 – I know I did. So how can agents better help them navigate the ups and downs and prepare for their future? Advisors can help put together a plan that fits their lifestyle and goals. They can also educate them on the multitude of products that are available outside of the common 401(k) or the powerful advantages of overfunding Index Universal Life products.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Never stop reading and learning. In an industry dominated by older insurance agents, I can’t tell how many of them have said, “If only I knew in my twenties what I know now.”  I took this to heart and constantly stretch my limits on unfamiliar topics, and you should, too. There are many advisors open to mentoring young professionals. Take advantage of this opportunity.

virginia

Virginia A. McNeil
Junior partner; director of case design
McNeil, Ahrens & Lambert Financial Group, LLC

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I grew up in the industry. I’m the fourth generation to join the firm. When we were teenagers, our parents always made us have jobs in the summer once we turned 15. When I started coming in, I realized very soon that this is what I wanted to do. I started to see how people were coming in with their problems and my father and grandfather would help them.

Then, I went to college and studied financial planning. After that, I worked for an insurance company for about a year and then joined the firm.

Describe what you do.

I am the director of case design. When we have new clients come in, I’m the one who analyzes everything and puts it all together. Then, when we go to present in the second meeting, I’m the one presenting. I do a lot of the case work and designing financial plans.

The best part of what I do is that I don’t have to come to work every day and do the same thing. Creating a plan that fits the client’s unique needs is the core of what we do. 

The other thing is that some days I do things that I’ve never done before. We treat our clients like family and I feel like when it comes down to it … if a client is going through a death or tragedy we are going to do everything we can to help them and make it easier for them.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

When I joined the firm in May 2012, I was the youngest by a long stretch. The partners are all in their late 50s and up. When I joined as an associate, I was very adamant about changing some things, implementing some efficiency in the office, updating the CRM system and going paperless and things that they were not thrilled at all about doing. But after we really were able to accomplish a lot more efficiency in the office, I feel like we were able to do a lot more business and serve our clients better.

Fast forward to two years later, I made partner in 2014. Now, in 2015, we are on track to double our production from last year, so I feel like that has a lot to do with the changes that we made and implemented. These changes have really helped the efficiency of the business and have made us able to do more.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

When a new or prospective client has been burned by another advisor. I think that is the biggest challenge to overcome because you have to make up for lost time. We’ve had people come to us and their previous advisor has either misled them or put them in investments they don’t understand. That is the biggest challenge: trying to gain their trust back.

What we really do is, when we sit down with our prospective and existing clients on an annual or semi-annual basis, we take things very slowly. We’re not trying to push and sell. We are very slow and thorough. We are doing things very clearly in their best interests. We really take the fiduciary approach, whereas it might not pay off right then, in the end it will because we’re going to keep those clients for longer and they’re going to refer clients for us. We have a lot of referrals.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

The biggest opportunity is marketing to women. Just being the only woman in the firm that is a partner, all the other partners pointed out that when I was in meetings with the clients, how I was able to connect with the wives. And a lot of times it’s the woman who makes all the decisions and she usually has the final say on which way they’re going to lean.

It used to be that the women weren’t making the money, but they were controlling it, and now, that’s not true. Now, women are making just as much if not more than men and they are underestimated.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I think millennials are looking for an independent advisor whether they know it or not. A lot of times, millennials don’t really know the value of life insurance. I think that they’re looking for an independent advisor because, really, it’s the unbiased opinion that you need. It is what fits in your plan, how much do you need, what can you afford. I think it’s really important for them to take all of these things into consideration.

Advisors can best serve this market by educating their clients early. A lot of times we focus on retirement planning with our clients because they are older, but sometimes our client will send in their kids or grandkids, and so we’re dealing with that next generation. And one thing that we do is that we’re educating our clients early so that they can prepare for retirement, even if it’s 30 or 40 years down the road.  

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

My No. 1 piece of advice would be to find a mentor. I am lucky enough to have my dad as my mentor. I know that most people aren’t that lucky to get into the family business and not be forced into it, but to actually have a mentor that cares and you know that they really have your best interests at heart.

I think that finding a mentor is the most important thing because you really can’t be an advisor just by reading a book. It’s so much more than that. You have to be able to really immerse yourself in it and be able to witness it firsthand, witness it by somebody else doing it and witness it over and over, the best way to do it.

My advice to young women entering the industry is to have the confidence in yourself. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily know more than the other person in the room. It is not how much you know. It is having the confidence, having the know-how and the resources available to find out what you need. 

anthony montenegro

Anthony Montenegro
Partner, NEA member
Freedom Dream Team, Inc.

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

The untimely passing of my father is what ultimately led me to the insurance industry. He was a hardworking, blue-collar individual and, like so many Americans, he simply didn't have the proper tools or education to set up an effective financial plan for himself and his family. The hardship of this experience is what inspired me to begin educating individuals about safer money choices for their retirement.

Describe what you do.

Perhaps it seems like this answer should be longer but it's honestly quite simple.  I help provide my clients with safer money solutions that protect their principal and interest from market declines. 

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I'm extremely thankful and proud of the position I'm in. I've had the good fortune to find success in my business career at a young age. However, more important than the success itself, are the opportunities that success has provided me with. I feel blessed to be in a position to give back to those less fortunate. My beautiful wife and I have donated to several charities. Although each one has been an incredibly gratifying experience, I would say the achievement that especially stands out was when we adopted a family of five from the Candle Lighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada last Christmas. To be in a position to provide this family with both gifts and meals to help them during such a difficult time was beyond rewarding. Seeing the family's reaction from the smiles to the laughs was without question the moment I'm most proud of.  

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The lack of education and awareness can be a frustrating and frankly sad challenge. I've had the pleasure of helping many people keep their money safe, but unfortunately you also meet far too many couples who were never aware of these products until they were no longer in a position to benefit from them. Meeting with those whom invested the majority or even all of their retirement savings in a risky investment that fell apart is a very difficult and troubling challenge to deal with.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry? 

I believe the biggest challenge can also be the biggest opportunity, so I go back to education and awareness, specifically as it relates to safer money choices. Many individuals only offer products that contain risk, regardless of their clients’ age, goals and situation. Over the last few years, the financial landscape of America has changed immensely. There is so much uncertainty in the world today, and people fear going through the same challenges they did in 2007 and 2008. The biggest opportunity I see is the ability to help educate consumers on products that can help keep their money safer, and provide lifetime income in a time where people are living longer, thus spending far more years in retirement.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I am in a unique situation as I am a millennial. I believe they're looking for an insurance advisor who is direct and keeps things simple and easy to understand. Millennials move quick, and are used to technology that does the same. Being direct and keeping it easy to understand is critical. Millennials typically seek instant gratification, they need someone to educate them as to the importance of starting to save sooner rather than later. The sooner they can start planning for the future, the better off they will be down the road, and as one myself I do feel millennials are becoming more aware of this than ever before.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

The insurance industry is tough. It’s even tougher for someone who is young. I believe you have to work twice as hard to get the same results as someone who is older. To be successful at a young age, you have to be humble and understand that you do not know everything.  You must be coachable and learn from others that have had success.  

Perhaps most importantly, you MUST be confident in your abilities.  I'd say thick skin is a necessity as well. There will be people that won't want to work with you because of your age, but you can't allow that to deter you because most people care more about your knowledge and professionalism then your date of birth.

alan moore

Alan Moore
Co-founder
XY Planning Network

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I chose a career in personal finance because I realized early on that I could help people live their great life, and we could use their finances as a way to support that life. Money is a really sensitive topic, so the relationship we have with our clients is really special. We know things about them that they wouldn't want anyone else to know, sometimes even including their significant other. They also expose their financial flaws to us, many times involving insurance protections (or lack thereof). 

Describe what you do.

Until very recently, I provided comprehensive financial planning advice to clients. We would work together on pretty much any topic that touched their personal financial life including: cash flow and debt management, student loans, retirement, investments, estate planning, taxes, college planning, and insurance needs. I realized that it was impossible for me to do an insurance analysis without really digging into the rest of my clients' financial life to really understand where they were coming from.

I say "until recently" because I recently merged my firm with a larger RIA so that I could step back from doing client work, and instead focus on helping financial advisors serve next generation clients. I co-founded the XY Planning Network, where we help advisors launch their own financial planning practice to serve Gen X/Y clients. We teach them how to work virtually, using new business models such as monthly subscription services, and give them the tools they need to grow their business.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

The launch and growth of XY Planning Network has been staggering. In a little over a year, we've brought over 100 firms onto our platform. It shows the desire among younger advisors to provide financial planning to their peers, and their desire to own their own business, and it has been a real honor to watch them grow their practices.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

We are still so focused on assets under management as the gauge of success, and I hope that changes sooner rather than later. We can't continue to only focus on providing services to wealthy individuals, because that's such a small subset of consumers. Instead, what if advisors changed their business models and rolled out a service that allowed clients to pay their advisor monthly? How many people can afford a monthly fee of $100 - $200/month that don't currently have an advisor? 

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

I see the biggest opportunity in the personal finance space being overcoming the biggest challenge of not serving younger clients and those in general without assets. If you want to build a successful and profitable business working with clients that haven't saved a lot in assets, you can, and there are very few advisors in this space. Very few advisors want the client in their 30s tackling student loan debt, and balancing mortgage obligation, college savings etc. 

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

They are look for real advisor, not a product pitch. The days of the hard sales pitches is dead, and to serve next gen clients, our approach has to change. Helping them with their entire financial picture, and seeing where insurance fits into that picture, is the service they are looking for. And it's a service they are willing to pay for, despite what many older advisors will tell you. 

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Be willing to learn from the experienced advisors, but understand that what made them successful isn't what will make you successful. The sales pitch is different, the hustle is different, the marketing challenges and expectations of our clients are all different. Learn everything you can, as fast as you can, but never get sucked into believing that the old school methods will continue to be effective going forward.

Sten Morgan, CFP, ChFC
Financial advisor
Legacy Investment Planning of Franklin, Tenn. (a part of the MetLife Premier Client Group)

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

From a very young age, I wanted to help people with their finances. It’s amazing how a comprehensive financial plan that includes insurance planning can provide peace of mind and significantly reduce stress for a family. I am blessed to be in a business where I serve my clients daily and work with them to secure and protect their financial futures.

Describe what you do.

We believe that it is becoming more and more complicated for individuals, families and business owners to manage and protect their finances in an efficient manner. This complexity, in turn, makes it harder for people to make confident decisions, and therefore many people are not creating and maintaining comprehensive financial plans. Our team works closely with our clients, along with their other professional advisors, to simplify the complexity of financial planning in an effort to create superior financial outcomes for them.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I was a part of the founding group of Tucker’s House, a local nonprofit that retrofits homes for families with special needs dependents. We make improvements such as installing ramps, roll-in showers, widening doorways, installing new flooring, etc. It was difficult in the early years to secure funding and keep up with the demand in our community, but after more than six years of work, we are going strong and have helped over 80 families. As a special needs planner, I also provide some special needs planning guidance to the families we serve.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest challenge I see in our industry is the low number of new advisors, with the average age of current advisors somewhere around 50. It is very difficult to succeed in this industry, as evidenced by the high attrition rate and aging advisor population, and I have a strong desire to help new advisors prepare themselves for this business. New advisors need to have a clear expectation of what it means to build a practice and established advisors need to serve as mentors to help with that process. I’m currently working with industry coaches on a curriculum to help attract and retain more young advisors, in part by providing greater clarity around what it means to build a career in this industry.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

The biggest opportunity I see in the industry is advisor teaming. It is becoming more and more difficult for one advisor to keep up with all of the factors that impact his or her clients. I formed Legacy Investment Planning for the express purpose of bringing together a diverse group of advisors to deliver a higher quality product to our clients. Our clients reap the benefits of the expertise of a group of advisors through a single relationship with our firm, whereas in the past they may have been forced to enlist the help of multiple advisors and professionals from a variety of firms and companies.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I believe millennials need to be educated about how insurance planning fits into their overall financial strategy. Millennials are researching on the Internet before they make most decisions and it can be information overload. Our team slows down the planning process in order to provide clarity around the big picture before we start implementing each piece of the plan.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Be ready to work harder than you ever have. I believe most people that try this business and don’t succeed did not realize how difficult it can be in the early years to educate yourself, build a network and create a practice. There can be great momentum in this business down the road, but you have to be willing to earn it. 

david nicholas

David Nicholas
President & founder
Nicholas Wealth Management

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I chose a career in financial planning because I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives. As I financial advisor, I have the ability to offer my clients a variety of services including financial planning, investment advice, insurance, retirement planning and active portfolio management. Being an independent financial advisor gives me the freedom to give unbiased financial advice that is in my clients best interests and not the interests of a certain bank, investment or insurance company. 

Describe what you do.

I help give objective advice to select individuals and families in or near retirement who want to protect and grow their assets while minimizing the risk of running out of money during their lifetime. 

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

I had a client whose husband passed away suddenly. Shortly after his death, my client became the sole caretaker for her three young grandkids. Paying the bills and meeting her monthly expenses with a decreased income and more mouths to feed almost became impossible.

I was in Scottsdale for a Social Security training class for financial advisors, and while I was there I learned about a benefit that is available for individuals who are the legal guardians of children under 18. I couldn’t wait to get back from the trip to see if this benefit could potentially work for my client. We scheduled a time with the local Social Security office and, after jumping through a few hoops, got approved for a survivors’ benefit for each of her three grandkids. The Social Security benefit would be paid to my client on each of the three kids until they turned 18. This was huge! The extra income coming from the Social Security benefit was enough to pay monthly expenses and left some available to start a college fund for her grandkids. It was one of my proudest moments as a financial advisor. 

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest problem I see in the industry is advisors who don't have the proper licenses or designations to act in a fiduciary capacity. I think it is a true disservice for the client. The incentives for all parties involved should be properly aligned and acting in a fiduciary capacity would help accomplish that. 

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

The biggest opportunity I see is for young individuals entering the industry. TD Ameritrade recently released a study that showed how less than 8 percent of advisors are under the age of 35. This is a huge opportunity for young Americans looking for a fulfilling career opportunity. 

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I think millennials are looking for someone they can trust. Someone who has the ability to take complex issues and make them understandable. Also, due to the recent financial crisis of 2008, I think millennials are more risk averse than previous generations. Advisors must have a solution for millennials to get a reasonable return on their investments while also protecting their principle. 

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

I can't reiterate this enough: Go and learn from someone who is already successful. It is worth taking a cut in pay in the beginning to learn from someone that is very successful because you will learn principles and skills that will allow you to also be successful one day. Having a successful mentor as a young person can be the difference between making it in this industry or failing. Ultimately, if you provide a service that people need, are trustworthy and work hard, you should do very well. 

victoria peterson

Victoria Peterson
Vice president of operations
Wink, Inc.

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I was very fortunate when a career in insurance chose me! I was just beginning my college career, when Sheryl J. Moore (founder of Wink, Inc.) recruited me to come work for her a year after she’d started her business back in 2006. I took a leap of faith and began my insurance career nearly ten years ago (still attending and graduating college with a degree in business administration).

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to work with and learn from some of the greatest experts in this business. If I had to ‘choose’ all over again, I would still choose insurance. It is so rewarding to work in an industry where I’m surrounded by others who choose to live a life and career with a commitment to integrity and education!

Describe what you do.

I run the day-to-day operations at Wink, Inc. This could mean anything from scheduling the fire extinguisher inspections to planning office massages and team outings. Additionally, I manage the Wink staff and oversee the maintenance of LookToWink.com’s AnnuitySpecs and LifeSpecs tools as well as “Wink’s Sales & Market Report.”

I am in charge of the upkeep and enhancements of our tools and customer service for our subscribers. I also foster an intimate knowledge of the fixed and indexed life insurance and annuity industries and utilize this to help support, and preserve, strong relationships with our clients.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

An achievement that I’m especially proud of is the success of becoming vice president of operations at Wink, Inc. Running the daily operations at this great company is an honor and I am proud of my staff, the company rebranding, implementation of website enhancements and overall growth that have occurred in the past three years!

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

I believe the biggest challenge in the insurance industry is the lack of awareness and education about these great products: life insurance and annuities. There is a plethora of inaccurate information in the media about fixed and indexed insurance products. This would be the No. 1 thing I wish I could change. Bringing awareness and testimony about these products to anyone and everyone would not only be great for our industry but for our country as a whole.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

I believe the biggest opportunity in this industry is for millennials to begin a career in this business. According to McKinsey & Co. the average age of an insurance agent in the US is 59. This opens the door to SO many opportunities for millennials to begin a long and successful career as these agents begin to retire. There are countless agents and industry experts that are willing to be mentors in this business. My hope is that other young people will take this opportunity and change not only their lives, but others lives as well!

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I think millennials are looking for someone they can relate to in an insurance advisor. Not necessarily someone their age or gender, but someone they have things in common with, that they can trust, converse with, and learn from. Millennials are also looking for someone with a good online presence or someone they’ve been referred to. Vetting online is such a norm now, I think most millennials are looking for someone whose previous interactions can be evaluated. Also, being able to have a relationship with your agent is something that I feel is important. Personally, I wouldn’t want to make large life decision, and place thousands of dollars of my hard-earned money, with someone I don’t trust or relate to.

In my opinion, buying life insurance and annuities should not be a transactional experience; it should be a relationship-building experience. I think this type of insurance agent would not only be the best type of agent for millennials, but also for this industry.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Do it! Take a leap of faith and get into this business. Whether you become an independent agent or home office employee, you are ultimately helping to educate people on the importance of insurance! It can, and will, be so rewarding for you to know that you helped save someone heartache during the death of a loved one, in retirement, while sending children off to college or in the midst of a health crisis. Not enough people know about the importance or necessity of life insurance and annuities and we need YOU to help change the lives of these people! 

missy pohlig

Melissa Pohlig
Product manager, Solutions Team
SEI

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I knew that financial services was a rewarding career, but my love for it grew when I interned one summer at SEI.

I also like that, in our specific unit, we work with financial advisors, so I felt like I was working with small business owners and entrepreneurs like my dad. To me, helping them build better businesses and grow that business, that was my connection to the small business.

Our whole gig is basically that the advisors outsource their operation, technology and investment management to us, so that they can create better businesses. I like the business philosophy of, "If they’re successful, we’re successful." We are their business partners. To me, I just really bought in to that model and I think it’s a win-win.

Describe what you do.

I always laugh because if you look at my LinkedIn, technically my role is I’m a product manager on the solutions team, which means absolutely nothing to anyone. Basically, I always assume that they give you these broad titles because it’s kind of a catch-all for all that we do in product development. What our team does is we look across the industry and ask, “What are advisors having issues with that they’re facing today?”

We do our own research and develop our opinions. Rather than admiring the issue, we actually do something about it, like my boss says. We build some type of program or develop some type of product that will help them address the issue.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

This always makes me sound like a geek, but I’m going to say it anyways. Earlier this year, we launched a workflow program and I consider that my biggest achievement at SEI.

Basically the issue that we were trying to solve for was this: Advisors use a lot of different types technologies and they are not sure how to leverage them. These advisors are small businesses, and they’re trying to become more efficient without adding more staff. Those two things combined, we were trying to figure out a way to leverage the technology to create more efficiency and help people with the integration.

Going back about 18 months ago when we first kicked off this project, our idea was basically, “Let’s take the high-end workflows that you would see in typical big corporations and sales forces, and let’s bring it to our 6,500 small business advisors via their CRM," allowing them to be more efficient with the staff that they have, allowing them to be more efficient with the technology that they have.

We went through a million project plans, feedback, testing … it was a very long process. We finally launched this past May, and we had our first group of clients go through the program. They saw spectacular results with their businesses in terms of making their business more efficient. I find it very rewarding that I was able to build a program that has helped entrepreneurs. We have a beta client that doubled their numbers in financial plans and client meetings because of these workflows.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The easiest way to explain this is by using the following example: Whenever I meet someone, they usually ask, “What do you do for a living?” I usually kind of expect their reactions, but I tend to simplify the conversation and say, “I work in financial services.” And their eyes typically glaze over and the discussion moves on to the next topic.

I think that reaction is a mixture of the bad image this industry has because it’s been tainted by Wall Street and all the press they’ve gotten over the years about bad transactions and weird behavior. But also I think that a lot of people who aren’t in the industry think a job in finance is a desk job, where you are processing paper and crunching numbers all day and it’s not an engaging career.

I think the biggest issue is that we need to do more to attract the younger generation to this industry from an employment standpoint. We should create more careers to attract and retain millennials. We are brand loyal to the core for everything. We’re also do-gooders. We want to feel like we’re making a difference in the world.

And if we were to create more empowering career opportunities, we could pump new blood into the industry, and solve these retention issues people are seeing. I think I’m a good example of that, but I don’t think workflows are the most exciting thing to work on. I do feel empowered because I’m helping small business owners. But also, I am very loyal to SEI because I feel valued at my job.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

Financial advisors should be looking at millennials and serving this market. This is actually the area of focus right now for my newest project: figuring out what millennials value and what engages them to work with a financial advisor.

This is a big issue in the industry, not because advisors should only work with millennials because they’re the ideal clients; obviously, you should also work with boomers, the retirement base and other typical clients. But the reason advisors should focus on millennials is because they’re forward-thinking.

There’s so much stuff going on right now with acquisitions and mergers, robo-advisors, the list goes on. I think that the industry is changing. If you can build something that caters to this group that is forward-thinking, then I think it can be scaled across any generation. If you are able to deliver something to this group, you are going to be able to scale it across all demographics and it’s going to be a forward way of delivering advice to the marketplace.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I think millennials are super diverse, so you can go a million ways. In our research, I’ve zeroed on this group called “The Henrys.” The “Henrys” stands for “high-earning, not rich yet” group. These are the go-getters who are coming in into high-paying professions, but don’t have a lot of assets yet.

Advisors typically go for people with more assets, but the idea here is that the “Henrys” could be your ideal client. For example, debt management is very high in their list of needs because they have a high education, and retirement planning is another big need.

These “Henrys” are also about to go through a lot of life changes: marriage, house-buying, their first kid. I would say a good example of these “Henry” types is a young doctor that is ending his fellowship and is about to go from making $40,000 to six figures. The doctor might not have a ton of assets, but he or she will be a good client down the road.

The “Henrys” need help to get back on track financially, but they don’t realize they need it nor that advisors would even pay attention to them. The areas of the advisors’ business that I would focus on to cater to them is threefold:

    1. Lead generation and engagement are going to be key here: 
      Millennials don’t even realize that they need an advisor. Breaking through and finding a way to engage them in the first place is important. It’s just not enough just getting in front of them, is engaging them.

    2. Fee structure and product packaging: 
      We are the most educated generation to date and we’re hyperaware of our decisions. Advisors are going to have to cater not only to the fact that we want to know what we’re paying for, but also to the fact that we are price-sensitive because we don’t have a lot of money. Transparency, a solid fee structure and service package will be key for catering to this group.

    3. Servicing and communications model: 
      How do you interact with the millennial? In general, we’re driven, we’re working late, and we might have kids. Advisors might have to go down the path of meeting afterhours, meeting after work, shooting emails and texts back and forth. We need to come up with a more flexible service model where it’s not the typical “we meet once a year and review our accounts” model.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

My dad always says to me, “You’re burning the candle at both ends,” and I think that’s a good piece of advice to tell people. You should be burning the candle at both ends. Meaning: Don’t be afraid to overextend yourself at this age. It’s how you’ll get exposure and how you get opportunities down the line.

Be involved in other projects, groups, organizations. The obvious thing is that they connect your skills and network, but most importantly, you’ll feel fulfilled. Try to do things that make you feel good.

Burn the candle at both ends. This is the time to do it. It’s OK to be selfish to put yourself in a bunch of different areas and get these learnings and experience.

derek prusa

Derek Prusa, CFP
Vice president, financial planning
FormulaFolio Investments LLC

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I enjoy analyzing data and helping people achieve their goals. In this industry, I get the best of both worlds. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is working on plans for clients who are in financial distress and finding alternative options that will help them to achieve their aspirations. Each time I am able to better a client’s financial situation, it reminds me why I entered the industry in the first place.

Describe what you do.

I create financial plans for numerous advisors to present to their clients all over the United States. In the planning department, we look at the clients’ current situations and determine a variety of ways they can improve their overall financial well-being and achieve their short and long-term financial goals. In order to achieve this, we look at multiple aspects of their financial life and use various products such as fixed annuities, fixed indexed annuities, and variable annuities combined with using different proprietary money management strategies as well as using multiple money managers. By blending multiple investment products/strategies together, we are better able to increase the clients’ probability of success by achieving the best risk/return possible for their complete portfolio.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

The achievements I am most proud of are passing the Level 1, 2, and 3 CFA Exams and the CFP Exam on my first attempts. I am especially proud of this because I took the Level 1 CFA Exam as soon as I graduated college in June 2012.

After passing Level 1, my former employer wanted me to forget about the CFA program and focus on my CFP designation. At their request, I shifted gears and started the CFP classes in September 2012 and passed the final CFP Exam in July 2013.

After finishing the CFP Exam, I had to reset my mind again and started studying for the Level 2 CFA Exam. Although this may not seem too difficult, the CFA and CFP programs are extremely different in the type of knowledge required. Even though they are designations within the same industry, the CFA and CFP programs do not overlap too much, which made switching back and forth extremely challenging (as if they were not challenging enough individually).

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

I believe the biggest challenge in the industry is being able to properly educate clients. Clients are able to access more information than ever due to advancements in technology and social media. This is good to an extent, but more information is not always better. A lot of the information available to clients today is not reputable or may not necessarily be pertinent to the clients’ unique circumstances.

An overload of irrelevant information can lead clients to have an illusion of knowledge, thinking they have a better understanding than they actually do about a topic. This makes it more difficult for advisors to educate the client on what is truly best for them because the client may believe they have superior information to the advisor.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

I see great opportunity in the personalized financial advising niche. People will always need advisors. Even with the increasing “Do It Yourself” mentality of the younger generations, people will still need sound investment advice and guidance. There has been a huge advancement in the robo-advisor movement to help capture this new age of independence, but these programs are still limited on their levels of customization. With the ever-increasing complexity of the financial industry, clients are going to be willing to pay a premium in order to receive a more holistic planning approach to their unique circumstances.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

Millennials are looking for an advisor who can be a partner to help them rather than an advisor telling them exactly what to do. They want to be educated with expert advice and guidance from professionals in the field while maintaining the ability to make their own decisions. The millennial market is best served by learning the unique circumstances of each individual client, then providing the client with multiple winning options. This allows the client to maintain the independence of making their own decisions while implementing a strategy that fits their individual needs.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Keep pushing yourself to learn new things and be willing to adapt with new innovations. There is no “one size fits all” in this industry, so you have to be flexible to new ideas. It is easy to do the same thing over and over again, but that is not how you succeed in the long run. You have to innovate to “winovate.”

lindsey reale

Lindsey Reale
Marketing manager
The Hartford’s Group Benefits

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance?

Being a Connecticut native, it was almost inevitable because the city of Hartford is the unofficial “insurance capital.” I started as an intern on The Hartford’s Group Benefits marketing team and wasn’t too familiar with the industry.

I think a lot of young people initially overlook insurance because it doesn’t sound as exciting as other industries. But for me, it was more important to choose an industry where I believe in the products and services that I’m marketing. Group benefits help people through difficult times, and knowing that the products make a difference when people need it the most really validates my decision to work in the insurance industry.

Describe what you do.

I work on The Hartford’s Group Benefits marketing team, focusing on voluntary benefits. I concentrate on creating communications and tools that help inform consumers about their benefit options so they can make an informed purchase decision.

One of my main responsibilities is creating custom enrollment campaigns. I partner with The Hartford’s employer-clients to plan and execute on marketing communications as a part of the overall enrollment strategy. I determine messaging, strategy, timeline and the best ways to reach employees.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

Through our consumer research we found that many people, particularly millennials, do not know what disability insurance is or how it can help them. I was involved in a project aimed to make the product more relatable to these younger consumers.

The Hartford engaged Second City Communications, a Chicago-based comedy group, to create humorous videos that engage consumers and demonstrate why disability insurance is relevant to them. I worked as the main point of contact for Second City and helped coordinate the project from start to finish. The videos were central to an integrated marketing campaign that included email, social and other targeted communications. I enjoyed being deeply involved from project initiation to final execution.

The videos helped increase awareness and drove employees to purchase, so it was rewarding seeing the positive effect they had on sales.  Plus, the videos are funny and something that I am proud to share with my friends and family.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

Many employers are switching from funding benefits, such as disability insurance, to asking employees to pay part or all of the coverage. So, this next enrollment period could be the first time that employees need to make a purchase decision for these types of benefits.

Since medical insurance is top of mind for most people, getting their attention about voluntary benefits, such as disability insurance, is an obstacle. Providing effective communications and support tools that empower consumers in making voluntary purchase decisions is crucial. I’m glad to be part of a project that introduces new decision-making tools for consumers this fall.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

The biggest opportunity in the benefits industry is a growing array of voluntary products. With medical insurance moving in the direction of higher-deductible plans, consumers are turning to ways to supplement this coverage. Products, such as critical illness and accident insurance, provide additional coverage and peace of mind for consumers. There’s a big opportunity to continue promoting voluntary products that complement medical coverage.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

It’s pretty simple – millennials are looking for someone who understands their needs and is real with them. An insurance advisor should be able to look at a millennial’s situation and explain which products are relevant in his or her current or future lifestyle. Keep it simple, but be honest. Millennials don’t care for insurance lingo, but they do want to understand the product and what it can do for them.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

You hear it all the time, but networking pays off. I landed my internship (that led to my job) by sending my resume to someone I shadowed while still in college. If you’re interested in the industry, network through a common connection (like your alma mater or LinkedIn). Don’t feel bad asking. People are happy to help out!

marty

Marty Tadman
President
Tadman Financial*

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

After graduating from college, I pursued a career in the NFL. However, a few months into my training, my wife and I discovered we were pregnant unexpectedly. After a few months of thinking, and after a brief stint in the NFL, we decided to give up that pursuit and move back to Boise to start our family and life after football.

I contacted all boosters and Boise State football supporters I knew, as well as leaders in the community I had gotten to know through the hundreds of public speaking events I participated in. I came across a man who ran Principal Financial in Boise.

He shared the pros and cons, the potential income, the flexible hours in the industry, and most importantly, shared that it was an industry where I could capitalize on my brand and minor celebrity status from football that could jump start my career, as well as use my gift and passion for speaking and being involved in others’ lives in life-impacting ways, and that really stuck out to me.

Although I had no idea about anything financially related, the job description and potential sounded intriguing enough to try it out. I had no intention of it being my long-term career, and honestly wasn’t thinking about it like that. I just needed a job, and fast, so I could provide for my new family.

After the first few months though, I fell in love with being a financial advisor and realized my experience from football of leadership, hard work, and dedication, as well as my experience from public speaking, aligned well with the job.

Describe what you do.

I am a financial advisor. I have my own small firm called Tadman Financial. Our core mission is to lead our clients, not sell to them. We are a comprehensive firm in the financial planning realm. We help clients with their overall financial goals and develop plans and strategies that incorporate cash flow analysis, debt management, real estate strategies, insurance, tax and estate planning strategies and, of course, manage investments for short term and long term, including but not limited to retirement planning or estate building and preparation.

I have run my own office since 2011 on my own. My first three years in the industry…I literally had little to no assistance from anyone in the way of mentorship and had to figure it out on my own. We slowly grew, and in the past two years, since joining and partnering with my RIA, Cooper McManus in Irvine, California, our business has exploded and I finally have mentors that I can count on that have taken my practice to the next level.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

My achievements I’m proud of are mostly non-career related. Being a good husband to my wife of nine, almost ten years, who is also my high school sweetheart. Being a good father to my two, soon to be three daughters. Being a man of faith and a leader in my community.

And having been able to share my life story and or inspirational messages over 500 times all around the country through churches, charities, schools, governments, media, TV, radio, newspapers, online, and in my everyday life. Just knowing my story and the platform that football gave me has been utilized for the kingdom of God is the main goal in everything I do and have done.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The biggest challenge is differentiating yourself from everyone else in the marketing realm. As well as how to attract new prospects and clients.

I would change the complexity of regulation. I believe in strong regulation. However, from my experience, it seems that the more regulation, the more disclosures, and the more complex the client facing documents such as marketing pieces, seminars, and simple client statements have become. Most clients don’t and can’t wade through the fine print that is overwhelming and, because of certain requirements, most are left helpless in even understanding what their statements say, as there is far too much information in far too unfriendly formats.

Clients want simple information and it’s unfortunate that we are forced to explain it simply, but every document they see is overwhelmingly complex and complicated to understand. And the process to get our own marketing or client-facing pieces approved through our regulators is expensive and difficult.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

There are two opportunities that I see. One is the younger advisors acquiring retiring advisors' practices, as the age of the financial advisor continues to rise. There needs to be viable exit strategies and transitions set up to maintain those valuable client relationships.

The other opportunity is proper retirement planning and, more specifically, distribution planning. Almost every client I see has statements and investments that are built for accumulating assets, and not one I have seen actually can show me a written plan of how they will distribute those assets over time, compensating for inflation, potential tax changes, health care costs, estate planning, and potential long-term care assistance.

Advisors need to get better at aligning clients’ assets for a safe distribution phase of life, taking risk in the long-term money, yet protecting the short-term.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

Transparency and a non-salesman approach. Our generation doesn’t like the used car salesman and prefers just the facts … which is why our generation uses online resources so often where you don’t have to worry about trusting a human being selling you something.

I think advisors need to become a lot more transparent, a lot more relationship-based, and a lot less “salesman-like” in how they market, talk, and approach younger people. Young people want to see value, not be sold.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Build a fee-based business from day one. Or if you are commission-based, always choose some sort of trail option. Commissions are great, but after your initial market runs out, you are left fighting monthly for your life. Grow slower. The first few years will be tough, but after those first few years, when you have thousands of dollars of trails and revenue continuing to come in, you will find security much quicker and be able to focus on proper growth, instead of always selling clients products just to survive.

Also, find an office that is willing to pay some sort of base salary for the first few months or year. Be willing to do the grunt work and make little to nothing that first year, but gain the experience from a successful advisor, so that you are trained as you build your business.

I had to figure it out on the fly. Luckily, I made it, but it was hard. No one showed me what a CRM was, or how to service clients, or what software to use, or how to market, or how to develop a client communication system, how to brand yourself, build a website, advertise, hire staff, or run a proper first meeting, just to name a few.

*Securities offered through Securities America, INC. A registered Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC. Tadman Financial and Securities America are not affiliated.

jack waldron

Jack Waldron
Senior vice president of Five Rings Financial
President of Family First Insurance Agency

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance?

I didn’t; it really chose me. When I was 19, I knew before I finished college that I wanted to do something else. My father was a small business owner, so I knew that was something that interested me.

I tried getting a job at a couple different car dealerships and didn’t get hired. I was waiting tables at Applebee’s and I decided to create a résumé on Monster.com and the first company that called was a company in Lakewood, Colo. I went down there and it was a fancy building with lots of nice cars parked there. I decided that I didn’t really care what it was, I was doing it. It was a health insurance company.

Describe what you do.

The reason why I love my career now is that I have an opportunity to teach my clients how money works and how they can properly handle their finances. Secondly, I get to fulfill my promises to them by showing them safe alternatives to the market and not lose their money. So they have an opportunity to build an income stream that can sustain them throughout their lives.

And third, I have an opportunity to show people the power of living benefits and how to prepare for the “what ifs” in life. Not all of us are designed to live to 100 years old. I help people prepare whether they become ill, die too soon, or live too long.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

Being able to go into business with my family and creating my own agency. My dad passed away in 2006 and only had health insurance. I didn’t sell life insurance at the time and my parents didn’t have any when my dad passed. Their retirement savings were 100 percent invested in the stock market.

In 2008, my mother had to liquidate the business to make ends meet. That’s when I quit my job and started the Family First agency with my mom and my best friend, Trevor.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

I think the biggest challenge in our industry is getting in front of "middle Americans," the people that need our help the most. I feel that we have a great solution at Five Rings Financial with our Money 101 workshops. Our agency is built on an educational process and not a sales process.

As far as one thing that I would like to see change in our industry would be to figure out how to streamline the process for application and underwriting and also for the money transfers.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry? How can advisors best serve this market?

I think that we are in it. I see middle (market) Americans being grossly underserved by the industry and that is the place where we excel. There are 280,000,000 middle Americans and no one is helping them and the vast majority have no financial plans for the future. Our mission is to reach those people and teach them about personal finance rather than just try to sell them the latest and greatest product. I cannot think of a better place to be than with a company whose mission is to help all of these people and, more importantly, has the tools and resources to achieve this mission.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor?

I don’t think that they are. I don’t think that they are really giving it much thought. The ones that I run into are actively seeking an opportunity for a career in the industry. I think that is one of the biggest challenges in serving that sector of the market.

Most people wait way too long to start saving money. The best way that we can reach out to the millennials is to have millennials in the industry, so that they can reach out to their generation and teach them why it is important to start saving early and to protect their assets and how easy that it can be.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

When I interview younger people, I try to think what I looked like when I was 19 just looking to break into the industry and being self-employed. Lots of times I probably talk these kids’ heads off because I’m so passionate about what I do in this industry. I explain to them that they are in an awesome opportunity to build a career, but it will be one of the hardest things that they will ever do and there most likely won’t be a single person in their life that will think that you are going to be successful in this industry.

Everyone is going to say, “You’re too young,” “You don’t have any experience,” “Who’s going to believe you?” and you are going to have a lot of haters. You can either give in to that or you can decide to shut them up and go to work. What you lack in experience and age you can make up for in your energy and your work ethic.

If you’re willing to go to work, I’ll back you up. That’s why what we do at Five Rings makes so much sense, because all you have to do when you start out is be a good inviter and get someone to one of our Money 101 workshops. If you can just do that, it doesn’t matter if you are 19 or 20 years old; you'll have the age and experience because we will help mentor you.

casey weade

Casey Weade, CFP, RICP 
President
Howard Bailey Financial, Inc.

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I grew up in and around the financial industry. My father was a financial advisor for over 40 years and I had the opportunity to see the value he added to the families he worked with. I saw him comfort them in times of need and celebrate in times of success. 

I wanted to create those same relationships and help add value to lives just as he did. But it also had a lot to do with my grandparents and their philosophy we have lost touch with over the last two decades. 

They weren’t rich people by any means and had more financially difficult times than many could even imagine. They never owned a stock, bond, mutual fund, credit card, mortgage or any risk or debt of any kind. Most can’t imagine a life without risk or debt, but they did it. They retired in their 50s without worry of the stock market or debt and left behind over a million dollars as a legacy when they passed on. 

I think we forgot that we don’t need to take on large amounts of debt or risk to reach our goals and I aim to bring back some common sense to the financial world.

Describe what you do.

I help the families I work with envision a purpose for their retirement and find the most efficient way to reach that purpose.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

It’s difficult to say, but there are three that stand out above all the rest, professionally speaking of course. Achieving my CFP certification, writing my first book (The Purpose Based Retirement), and launching our local ABC primetime TV Show (“The Purpose Based Retirement”).

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

The barriers of entry into this industry are disgustingly low. If I could change one thing in the industry, it would be minimum higher education levels for financial advisors. Currently you can drop out of high school, take your insurance and/or securities exams and within two weeks you can advise clients on their life savings.

This should scare the living daylights out of the consumer. Your life’s savings are equally as important as your health and you would never work with a doctor that didn’t pass his boards and have a minimum of six years of schooling. The financial industry should be no different.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

The financial industry is built on selling products. If you can offer a truly unbiased approach based on your clients’ needs rather than on your own, you are leaps and bounds ahead of your closest competition.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

Millennials are looking for someone they can trust. In the age of the Internet, the consumer can learn anything they want, and that includes their investments.

Bring them value in your education and planning without hesitation to tell them absolutely everything. Milllenials crave transparency, so don’t hold back.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

I was told many times I would never succeed in this business until I had gray hair, but I was also told in order to succeed at a young age I would have to work harder and be smarter than anyone else was willing to do or be. This is one of the most difficult businesses to succeed in, so be ready and willing to sacrifice – it will be your only path to unparalleled success.   

brian willet

Brian Willet, CMFC
Associate managing principal
Waddell & Reed, Inc.

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I never planned on it. I was an accounting major in college. I grew up in the blue collar industry of construction, so the financial industry was a totally different world, but I knew a couple of guys like the manager of a financial firm here in town. So then I started interviewing, where I thought was everywhere, at all the wirehouses and insurance companies. I remember going home and told my dad, “I don’t think I can do what they’re asking me to do. I don’t think I can get into that industry.” But the one part that made me get into it was when he said, “So, go fix it.” Ever since then, that’s what I’ve been doing.

I kind of developed this passion of really wanting to make a big impact in the industry, and influence it and try to fix some of the reputation issues it is going through.

Describe what you do.

The best way I can describe what I do is that I’m trying to positively change this industry. It’s more than titles, it’s more than job responsibilities, that kind of thing. I’m trying to positively change this industry and the way how it works.

My official title is Associate Managing Principal. I cover the state of Nebraska outside of Omaha, all the way out to Colorado. I have about 40 advisors that I lead. I’m a full-time manager, but I don’t work with any clients anymore. I did start in the industry as an advisor, so I built my book of business first.

But I really saw this need for financial planning and providing a different definition of what a lot of my industry peers use for financial planning. I understood that there is a bigger need to make an impact and change this industry quicker if I could become a leader and start influencing others who are in the industry and change the way they do business. 

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

My retention rate. I’ve been in a leadership role with Waddell & Reed coming up on six years and I have a 78 percent retention rate with anyone that I’ve hired over that whole time-frame. They’re not employees; we hire independent contractors. They are all independent advisors, they own their business with Waddell & Reed.

The industry average for new advisors’ success ratio is 11 percent. It was my own nightmare that got me into leadership because I started as an advisor in 2007 and, even with all the struggles that came with that, I was still successful. I look at that and the 11 percent ratio of people who aren’t successful and … it’s not that hard to succeed. The big reason I got into leadership was to fix that ratio.

It’s an ongoing daily battle. Just because I’ve done it so far doesn’t mean I can let up, but that just proves that we’re making progress.

The other one that sticks out is I qualified for Chairman’s Cabinet in 2013. In our organization, we have three levels that you can qualify for: Circle is the lower level where the top 600 people of our firm qualify. Then, Crest is the second level, which includes the top 100 people. And then Chairman’s Cabinet is an extremely small group. They don’t give me an exact number, but when we got together, there were about 20 of the top people in our firm. I don’t think that there were any other people younger than 40 in that room but me. 

What is the biggest challenge that you see in our industry or what is one thing you would change?

I would change our reputation as an industry. We actually have the reputation we deserve because of the way we have treated people, but that’s what I would change. If we don’t fix the reputation, we’re in trouble. It’s a huge thing that we’re trying to work on.

This year, is -- by far -- the year I’ve heard the most people that I thought should be in the industry say, “I’m really not going to join the industry because of its reputation.” This year has been the worst in those terms.

We’ve been having a great year at our firm; I brought in seven people and six people have already hit their goal for the year and are successful. But, until this year, I’ve never heard people in general or people I’m recruiting say that they’re not interested in the financial industry because of its reputation.

That comes from the 11 percent: They always have this story of that person who started in the insurance business that was there for three months. Then, this manager came along with them and sold life insurance, but the new agent failed out of business and has been burned. That is killing our reputation.

I just hired my district manager who is coming from one of these insurance companies and he can speak from that level. He says, “Just go higher X amount of people (to sell to).” It’s not quality, it’s quantity. And I’ve always had a different philosophy.

If we’re going to fix that 11 percent, we have to have retention, we have to hire quality people, we still need quantity too because we have to fix the 43 percent of advisors over age 55, but you don’t fix quantity by hiring 20 people. You fix quantity by hiring great people and help them be successful in the industry. 

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

Bill, who was here for 30 years and was the manager before me, had the vision of a lot of this stuff, but didn’t have the opportunity to change it because all these guys have always done business a certain way. But now, we have the opportunity to change it because a lot of clients are going to lose their advisors to retirement in the next ten years. Talk about opportunity!

And you think about that opportunity that’s never been there before for somebody like me, in my role. All those clients are currently working with a product-sales advisor. They’re not working with an advisor that is helping them with a written financial plan.

Here’s the chance to completely revamp the financial industry, change the reputation and, more important than the reputation, is changing people’s lives.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I think that millennials are misunderstood because they are a diverse group. You can’t put them as a unit as you can with boomers. There’s a diverse mindset there, from my experience.

The other thing is you have to have technology up and running. They are looking for tech integration in their life, and everything they do is somehow connected to an app or technology in some way. It is for me: I don’t keep anything in paper; everything is connected electronically.

Our firm is doing a lot of work to be a leader in that and making sure that we have all the technological tools to work with that. Millennials will want constant access to their financial plan. If you have can make it so that they can have instant access to their financial plan and can update it live with their advisor, that’s what they’re going to pay attention to.

I think a lot of millennials are really not looking for robo-advisors because they get the importance of a person and they actually enjoy the social part of it. But they expect everything to be done electronically. 

What is the No.1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Make sure they don’t fall for old tricks. If you go back and look at the history and the evolution the industry has been through, companies are constantly rebranding the same thing, which is: We will pay you to sell your products. Now, they don’t say that, but that’s all it is. 

They say the words "financial planning" right now and a young person thinks, “Wow, I get to do financial planning.” But the problem is they’re just rebranding the same thing which is you’re going to be paid on selling products, therefore, you’re a product salesperson, you’re not really going to be doing planning.

Make sure you know in-depth what you’re getting into and that you actually have this passion that you want to help improve this industry and take on that challenge. 

On the more positive side, make sure you work as an independent, so that you’re in control of your situation. That fixes a lot of the issues because when you’re independent, you’re not given quotas or forced to do certain things. And make sure that you are going to get trained.

justin wiszJustin Wisz 
CEO 
Vestorly

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

I wanted to bring a traditional industry into the digital age with cutting-edge technology to better connect consumers with advisors. 

Describe what you do.

I lead the team behind Vestorly, a technology company making it easier for the financial industry to communicate with consumers and expand their networks to build better businesses. On the day-to-day, I work with larger institutions and enterprises representing many professionals to bring Vestorly to more who need it. 

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

Our software helped an advisor identify a family in need of some very specific special needs planning based on the data we showed her in Vestorly. The encounter ended up changing a lot of peoples' lives for the better and we're proud to facilitate moments like that.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?

Loyalty to legacy technology and traditional practices breeds fear of new ways to engage consumers and improve workflows. Financial professionals remember long learning curves back when they bought into now out-of-date tools. The industry now has access to far more advanced and simplified ways to communicate and engage consumers, and more financial professionals need to learn about them.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

There's an opportunity in this industry to enhance how the financial professional is viewed by the everyday consumer. Are they a salesperson or are they a trusted resource?  Do they communicate a few times per year or are they real-time, mobile, and personalized? Are they part of the consumer's everyday digital habits, or just sending a newsletter four times per year? New technology is available to enable every professional to become a real-time digital brand without increasing overhead. 

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

To serve millennials, financial professionals must convey credibility in a high-tech economy.  They will need to communicate in real-time, mobile, and personalized ways with information that helps their clients understand how their services are making a difference in their lives every day not just a few times a year. Technology is available to enable financial professionals to do so now.

What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

Industries with long histories are full of opportunities to reinvent and have an impact, but you have to enter with respect for its history and its influencers who came before you. Take your time to observe the ways things are done, and look for disconnects where you can reduce friction and make peoples' lives better.  

jordan witt

Jordan Witt
Vice president, wealth advisor 
Witt Financial Corp. LLC

 

Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?

Like many kids growing up, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. When reality set in, I realized my dream as a baseball player was out of the picture.

My dad, and lifetime mentor, has been in the industry on and off since he was a young kid. I had the privilege of growing up around the financial industry and knew I could always follow in my father’s footsteps. I started doing an internship with my dad in the summer of 2009. It was then I realized this was not only what I wanted to pursue, but what I would be doing full-time once I graduated college.

Describe what you do.

I help people preserve their wealth, protect their legacy and plan for their future. My job as vice president at Witt Financial Group is to conduct periodic reviews with current clients, assist in new client meetings, marketing and handling all of the life insurance at the office.

In today’s world, investing and insurance are very complex, so my goal is to deliver world class customer service, product knowledge, and to help simplify client’s overall financial plans. Also, I pride myself in acting as a fiduciary to all clients.

Share an achievement you are especially proud of.

Being one of the top young insurance and investment professionals in my local area. Also, being a qualifying top young agent for a major insurance company.

What is the biggest challenge that you see in our industry or what is one thing you would change?

The biggest challenges I see in the industry is lack of consumer knowledge and regulations surrounding our industry. The industry needs to do a better job of educating consumers.

What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?

With studies showing that many advisors and insurance agents are over the age of 55, this makes for a tremendous opportunity for young agents to begin a career in the insurance industry and mentor under an agent who has been in the business for 20-30 years.

What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?

I believe millennials are looking for someone they can trust. While technology is also a big part of what millennials are in search of, nothing can substitute for trust and building a long-lasting relationship with their advisor. Advisors can best serve this market by networking in their local communities and integrating technology into their businesses.

What is the No.1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?

As most young agents will tell you, beginning a career in insurance is challenging. If you are committed to beginning a career in insurance, be ready to work long hours, study the industry and learn from your mistakes.

The first piece of advice I would give to everyone is to seek out a mentor and learn the business from top to bottom. A mentor can help you with business knowledge, marketing, product knowledge, how to conduct meetings, and most importantly, how to provide world class service to clients. Lastly, if you decided to pursue a career in the financial services or insurance industry, have fun and be passionate about helping others achieve their financial dreams!

 

See also:

8 ways to attract millennials to insurance

Crashing the boys' club: How female millennials can break into the advisory industry 

The 20 most creative people in insurance

The 5 best companies for millennial workers

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