Small Talk in a Big Way

The best reps learn how to relate to people in diverse settings. From boardrooms to the kitchen table, they engage others well and listen attentively, I polled some of our best communicators looking for tips on ways to improve and enliven our small talk. Most of them felt that it was a skill that you can develop and improve over time. Here are some of their best ideas, in no particular order.

  • Prepare to mingle – Before you go to a public setting you need to think first about your small talk. Create a mental check list so you can fall back on ideas when you need to. One advisor uses the acronym F.O.R.D (family, occupation, recreation and dreams) to help him remember the safest subjects to ask about in almost any conversation. All of the reps also added this; stay away from politics and religion.
  • Stay tuned to current events – The more you read the smarter you get. The more information and ideas you can comment on and be a part of the better. Don’t just read industry magazines. Read the newspaper. Read books.Watch a movie once in a while.
  • Share with anecdotes – Stories, especially personal experiences, tend to stick with people. If you’re trying to teach someone about a concept, tell a story about how you learned about it. Keep it short and simple. Remember, lecturing people rarely engages them.
  • Silence can be your friend – When asked a question, sometimes it is ok to pause, reflect, especially if you want to give a thoughtful answer. If you are searching for the right words you can do that with silence. People will listen more closely if you wait an extra few seconds to begin speaking.
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Taxes-What is Your Candidate Proposing?


Though tax policies haven’t received top billing in this year’s presidential election dialogue, they’re still part of the conversation. Here’s a quick review of each candidate’s tax proposals based on information released by their campaigns. Keep in mind that regardless of who wins in November, any changes to tax policy would require congressional action.

Note:  On August 8, 2016, Donald Trump announced a revised tax plan. Full details of the new plan were not immediately available on the campaign’s website. The following summary is based on the original plan announced by the Trump campaign and what we currently know about the revised plan.

Tax brackets

Plans released by the Trump campaign initially proposed reducing the current seven tax brackets to four, with the top rate dropping from 39.6% to 25%, and no tax due for individuals with incomes under $25,000 ($50,000 for married couples filing jointly) Trump has recently announced changes to his tax proposal, including a consolidation to three tax brackets: 12%, 25%, and 33%. This change moves the Trump campaign’s plan closer to the tax reform plan announced by House Republicans in June of this year. The Clinton campaign’s tax plans do not reflect changes to existing tax brackets, but do support a new 4% “fair share surcharge” on taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeding $5 million.

Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends

Currently, lower tax rates generally apply to qualified dividends and to capital gains resulting from the sale of assets held longer than one year. Plans released by the Clinton campaign recommend adjusting the holding period schedule for long-term capital gains, increasing the minimum holding period from one to two years and adding medium-term holding periods that gradually reduce the top long-term rate down to 20% for assets held for more than six years. Plans initially released by the Trump campaign indicated that the top rate of 20% would continue to apply, with no change to current holding requirements.

Alternative minimum tax (AMT)

The AMT is a separate, parallel federal income tax with its own rates (26% or 28%, depending on income) and rules. It is intended to ensure that taxpayers who use certain strategies to reduce their tax liability pay a minimum amount of tax. The Trump campaign has called for elimination of the AMT. The Clinton tax plan would presumably add a new tax layer, imposing a minimum tax due of 30% on those with incomes exceeding $1 million.

Deductions, exemptions, and exclusions

Proposals released by both candidates would limit itemized deductions for higher-income filers. The Clinton team’s plan would limit the benefit of itemized deductions and certain items that are excluded from income (e.g., tax-exempt interest) to 28%, which means that the benefit of these items would be reduced for individuals in higher tax brackets; charitable deductions would be excluded from this limitation. The Trump team’s plan would accelerate the limitation of itemized deductions and the phaseout of personal exemptions for higher-income filers, though the treatment of deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest would remain unchanged. The original Trump campaign tax plan also indicated that the ability to exclude earnings in life insurance contracts from income would be phased out for high-income individuals.

Estate tax

The two campaigns have very different views of the existing federal estate tax. The Clinton campaign proposes increasing the top estate tax rate from 40% to 45%, and decreasing the estate tax exclusion from $5.45 million to $3.5 million. The Trump campaign proposes eliminating the federal estate tax.

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HIPAA Desk Audit in Your Future?

Federal officials plan to start calling insurers’ ‘business associates’ in September


Federal health data cops are setting up a compliance lottery you might prefer to skip.

Earlier this month, the health data cops — officials at the Office for Civil Rights, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — started a major wave of audits of hospitals, group health plans, insurers and other entities directly covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy and data security rules.

Officials from the Office for Civil Rights are asking for big batches of information from the HIPAA-covered entities. One item on the auditors’ document-demand list is contact information for the covered entities’ business associates.

For an insurer, the list of business associates could include insurance agents and brokers.

For a group health plan, the list could include agents, brokers and benefit plan administrators and consultants.

Federal officials want to use the business associate lists to choose targets for a wave of business-associate HIPAA audits.

Federal officials conducted a smaller, relatively casual round of audits of covered entities in 2012, to look for ways to help covered entities and business associates understand and comply with HIPAA rules.

An official who’s supposed to keep tabs on HHS, the HHS inspector general, blasted officials the Office for Civil Rights for going too easy on the covered entities. Observers are expecting the current “Phase 2” round of audits to be tougher.

During a recent Phase 2 audit webinar, officials from the Office for Civil Rights said audits could lead to legal action.

“OCR could decide to open a separate compliance review in a circumstance where significant threats to the privacy and security of [protected health information] are revealed through the audit,” officials say in a webinar slidedeck.

Here’s a look at some of the new details officials from the Office for Civil Rights revealed at the webinar, based on the slidedeck and a collection of written answers to webinar participants’ questions:

1. A desk audit has nothing to do with the condition of your desk.

When Office for Civil Rights officials conduct a desk audit, they ask the targeted entity to answer questions and send it many documents.

The officials conducting the Phase 2 audits sent requests for documents to 167 covered entities July 11.

The auditors will look to see how each audited entity is complying with either the HIPAA security standards, or the HIPAA privacy and data breach requirements, but not both, according to the slidedeck.

If officials conduct a desk audit of a group health plan’s compliance with the privacy rules, for example, the auditors will look to see whether the entity has a privacy practices notice that includes all of the required elements. Auditors will also to see whether the entity posts the notice on its website in the right way.

In many cases, auditors will ask entities for screen shots of their computer screens. Officials took up several webinar slides showing the webinar attendees what the screen shots should look like.

2.  Investigators could talk to a few dozen business associates.

At the webinar, Office for Civil Rights officials said they will conduct a total of 200 to 250 desk audits.

Subtracting 167 from those figures suggests that the federal officials could end up conducting desk audits of 33 to 83 business associates.

Officials plan to begin the business associate desk audits in late September.

During the webinar, a representative from an insurer noted that the insurer has business associate agreements with tens of thousands of insurance agents. Federal officials said the insurer should send it all available contact information for as many of the agents as possible.

Federal officials hinted that they could audit some business associates even if those associates have no connection with a covered entity being audited. Officials said the business associate selection pool will be “largely drawn” from the lists provided by the covered entities being audited. The wording implies that some associate names in the selection pool could come in from other sources.

Some of the covered entities and business associates could get extra attention from the Office for Civil Rights.

“Comprehensive onsite audits of both [covered entities] and [business associates] will begin in early 2017,” according to the webinar slidedeck.

3. The covered entities getting audited do not have to say anything about that to their business associates.

The covered entities audited were supposed to send the requested documents, including business associate lists, to the auditors by July 22.

One webinar attendee asked if a covered entity being audited should notify its business associates.

Officials told the attendee: “This is not a required element of the audit program.”

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Leverage Assets With Premium Financing

As a marketing company, we are always looking for ways for our reps to work smarter and more effectively. Often that means partnering up with some of our carrier partners. When it comes to Premium Financing, Lincoln Life is our go to carrier. Often high net worth individuals and business owners need significant amounts of life insurance to protect, accumulate, and transfer wealth, but they don’t want to sell assets to pay premiums. You can help these clients accomplish their goals with this strategy. Lincoln has a variety of solutions designed to meet your clients’ unique objectives.

Talk to your clients about premium financing
Find out if your client is a good candidate for this strategy, and get the conversation started with this helpful guide.
Find the right fit for your client’s needs
Use this planning tool to match your client’s objectives and concerns with an effective accumulation strategy.

Let’s discuss how we can help your clients meet their goals.

Call us at 1-800-338-1892


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Attracting Female Clients

LinkedIn is a great resource for learning and discussing new ideas. Like many of my colleagues, I have been trying my best to penetrate the “Woman’s Market” as the statistics concerning this group show that they are underserved and need our help. I have not had much success. I have tried many ideas. I have worked with Female Advisors and tried to help them penetrate this market. Again, with mixed results. On LinkedIn I found a great discussion hosted by Annette Bau. Below is her take on the best way to Attract Female Clients. Enjoy

Attracting affluent female clients is critical to sustaining and increasing market share. Women control $20 trillion in U.S. wealth and are expected to control more than $40 trillion by 2020. Although most advisers understand the importance of attracting and retaining affluent female clients, up to 98% of women leave their adviser when they become widows.

In order to get and retain a share of this market, advisers need an executable plan. Here are five steps.

Step 1: Assess clients.

Create a spread sheet to assess clients in various categories. These may include likeability, net worth or niche to name a few. Next, create additional categories such as charities, groups, churches and organizations that they support and to which they belong, what they read or watch on TV and any other important information. Using the spreadsheet, look for commonalities that they have with other clients and opportunities to maximize exposure to people like them.

Affluent women are generally friends with other affluent women, and it is very likely that the groups to which affluent female clients belong will have other similar members.

 Step 2: Advisers should determine with which type of affluent women they are most compatible.

Determine the best fit, whether it is traditional women such as homemakers, or business owners or executives. Some women fit into more than one category.

 Step 3: Seek out the appropriate target group.

Affluent women may be found at business functions; charity events; groups that cater to hobbies such as golfing, wine tasting or hiking; church events; groups that play bridge; or school events for their children or grandchildren.

 Step 4: Attract the ideal clients.

To build market share and attract affluent women, advisers need to find out what they want.

A great strategy is to create a questionnaire that provides insight on what the ideal client wants and how the firm can best deliver it. Make a commitment to meet each week with affluent women who fit the ideal client profile to complete the questionnaire.

 Step 5: Retain Them

The key to retaining affluent women for life is to create a community. Those who have done a good job of identifying the ideal female client will find that they can retain their clients and get more referrals to those with similar wants and needs.

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Throwback Thursday- “Four Words”

That is right. Four words. Experts say that just four words can change your practice and help you gain the trust and confidence of your clients. Those four words…

“What do you think?”

By asking one question – “what do you think?” – you let people know that you value their input, respect their opinion and have an open mind toward solving problems. Clients know that you are knowledgable, but asking for their input helps form a valuable bond that leads to a more satisfying relationship.

What do you think?

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Trump Your Competition

Guest Article by Alana Kohl

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump does know how to do one thing very well: live in people’s minds rent-free. Politics aside, the ability to get people talking about you and remembering your messages is an aspiration for just about any businessperson. And doing it without a “ginormous” advertising budget can be as much an art as it is a science.

So, what lessons can you learn from “The Donald’s” bid for the White House that you can apply to your business in 2016? Here are a few key takeaways.

  1. Know what your competitors are doing (and make their oversights your digital assets):

Come on, this is business. In this day and age, you need to familiarize yourself with all the tools available to you. If you fail to purchase your own name or your company name’s URL, and you want to run for president (or even run a successful business) you’re already starting with the chips stacked against you.

What would your prospective clients think if they went to your URL or your company’s URL and it redirected to your biggest competitor? That you’re not serious about your business? That you don’t have a good team behind you? That the details get past you? No matter what it is, it’s not good. But hey, your competitor looks sharp.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to see what I’m referring to by visiting

While purchasing your competitors’ URL isn’t everyone’s style, you do want to claim, maintain and monetize your own digital assets. This goes for your URLs (your name, your business name and even a signature service-related URL), which can all redirect back to your site. If you don’t think your prospective clients are doing an Internet search before agreeing to a meeting with you, think again.

  1. Master the art of making the biggest impact with the least amount of money.

If you want people to remember you, then you have to be unique. You have to say something different, powerful and impactful to them. Hearing or seeing something new is refreshing, exciting and memorable.

Then, with those powerful messages in tow, you have to go where their attention is: You don’t want to be background noise while your prospect carries on with their life. (Advertising can often become that background noise.) You want to be on the forefront, sharing ideas and concepts that matter to your prospect and doing that in places where their attention is captive.

How do you stand apart in a sea of competitors? Many people throw more money at advertising in an effort to reach a wider audience, with the hope that their ideal prospects would remember what they had to say.

The problem with this approach is that it simply does not stand out. This approach could fall under being complacent, and if your messages could be said by any other advisor, or if they mostly apply to their business as well, then throwing more money at advertising those messages isn’t doing a lot for you. Thus, building your own brand recognition and equity becomes a slow, grueling and expensive process.

Until very recently, The Donald had not bought any airtime, such as commercials, yet he was always on the news. Your prospects tune into news sources for content of interest to them, and pass by the advertisements on their way there. If you’re not going where they are already, then you’re always going to be chasing them.

  1. If you stick to your messages, your messages will stick.

Good, bad or indifferent, if you have a platform to spread your word, stick to your story and your story will stick. Of course, be sure what you’re saying is what you want people to remember.

Off-the-cuff comments have a way of backfiring, especially if people are listening. I recommend that you identify three to five key messages that — given the opportunity to speak to your ideal prospect or the media — are the very things you want them to remember.

We live in a sound bite society and listeners will only take away a few key points from a conversation. Determine what are your most powerful messages and how they can help people, why they should remember you and what’s in it for your prospects when they do.

Then, stick to those messages in conversations, the media, at your client events, in your written collateral… There is power in repetition. If you stick to your messages, your messages will stick.

Now, of course, for these strategies to be effective you’re going to have to show up and engage with those beautiful, wonderful, fantastic people you call prospects. With these three tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to “Trump” your marketing in 2016. It will be “yuge.”

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