Sandy Hook- 6 Years Later

I got a message today from the mother of one of the boys who was killed on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary school. I happened to be in CT when that event happened and I took the time to drive up to Sandy Hook for one of the memorials. My own kids were around the same age as the children who died that day. It was a very powerful moment for me. At the time my friend Jayson and I decided to write a song about what happened and what could be done. We have shared this before but wanted to do so again. We should never forget what happened that day. We need to open our eyes and other people s eyes so that we can do everything we can to prevent this from happening again. 

Here is our tribute

A New Promise – Sandy Hook

Here is the letter from the mother who lost her son.

Tomorrow marks six years since our children and loved ones were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. It never gets easier.

We’ve spent six years wondering what they might look like now, what new hobbies they might have. Six years writing down memories so we won’t forget the tiniest detail about them. Six years replaying the last time we saw them alive – the morning of Dec. 14, 2012 – in our heads over and over again.

We would do anything to turn back time and have our loved ones back in our arms, but we can’t change what happened. All we can do now is work to change what happens to other families, to prevent future tragedies.

So after tomorrow, we’ll wake up, piece together the tattered remains of our hearts and keep doing everything we can to protect children from gun violence – because it’s the only thing that keeps us going. We know our work saves lives, but we can’t do it without you: And with just 12 hours until our deadline, we’re still $289,993 short of our must-hit goal. Can we count on you to give right now to protect more children from gun violence?

Please rush a tax-deductible gift of $10, or as much as you can spare, to Sandy Hook Promise right now. Protecting more children from gun violence in the coming year depends on your immediate donation – and we only have 12 hours left to get back on track.

Thank you for stepping up to make sure we stay on track for our year-end goal. You’re helping us honor the memories of our loved ones by protecting other children from gun violence, and we are so grateful for that.

Sandy Hook Promise

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Make A 1st Impression

As a presenter, you will never have another chance to make that first impression. Your audience will decide in the first 2 minutes whether they are going to take you seriously or not. That’s why it’s vital that you focus your attention on winning over your audience in those crucial first 2 minutes. While the remaining content of your presentation is important, if your audience is not paying attention, none of it really matters.

With that in mind I have put together 4 ways to leverage those 2 minutes and win over your audience immediately.

Share a shocking statistic. 
Opening your presentation with a shocking statistic can quickly engage your audience and get them intrigued about your presentation. In order to use this tactic effectively, your statistic must be surprising and relevant to your remaining content. If the statistic is not clearly relevant to the remaining presentation, you run the risk of your audience feeling confused or misinformed when you share the bulk of your message.

Start with a story.
Stories have a way of connecting with your audience on a personal level. They create an environment that makes your audience feel at home and comfortable. They are also proven to increase information retention in your audience. By opening your presentation with a story, you will create an emotional response that your audience will continue to feel as you share your data. It will, in essence, help bring your data to life throughout your entire presentation.

Open with quote.
Opening with a quote will help immediately build credibility and show your audience that you are well-informed and have done your research. It’s important to use a quote that is inspiring or thought-provoking to get your audience thinking right away. Bonus point if you can find a quote that is well-known as your audience will have no problem latching onto a concept or emotion they already know.

Paint a preferred future.
This tactic allows you to paint a preferred future for your audience by showing them that there is an exciting opportunity that they can be part of. Then, when you get into your content, unpack how you will arrive at that preferred future. By starting with the preferred future, you elicit hope out of your audience and inspire them to work toward that future with you.

 

First impressions matter. With such a small window to draw in your audience and convince them that the next few minutes will be worth their time, it’s important that you leverage every second. By using one of these 4 tactics, you are equipped to not just win their respect but also their trust and undivided attention.

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Voluntary Philanthropy

Lets face it…everyone has to die some day. No way around it. Most of us, when we go, want to leave as much of a Legacy for our families as we can. Much of my work with clients focuses on that idea. But no matter what we do there is always some sort of tax. Money that Uncle Sam takes and uses as he sees fit. I call that “involuntary philanthropy”. That is because there are other ways we can take control of taxes and minimize them and we can do that best by incorporating the use of a charity. Rather than letting Uncle Sam decide what to do with the money, why not voluntarily set up a program so that money will go to the charity of our choice? Voluntary Philanthropy.

Life insurance can be an excellent tool for that type of charitable giving. Not only does life insurance allow you to make a substantial gift to charity at relatively little cost to you, but you may also benefit from tax rules that apply to gifts of life insurance.

Why use life insurance for charitable giving?

Life insurance allows you to make a much larger gift to charity than you might otherwise be able to afford. Although the cost to you (your premiums) is relatively small, the amount the charity will receive (the death benefit) can be quite substantial. As long as you continue to pay the premiums on the life insurance policy, the charity is guaranteed to receive the proceeds of the policy when you die. Since life insurance proceeds paid to a charity are not subject to income and estate taxes, probate costs, and other expenses, the charity can count on receiving 100 percent of your gift. Giving life insurance to charity also has certain income tax benefits. Depending on how you structure your gift, you may be able to take an income tax deduction equal to your basis in the policy or its fair market value (FMV), and you may be able to deduct the premiums you pay for the policy on your annual income tax return. When an insurance contract is transferred to a charity, the donor’s income tax charitable deduction is based on the lesser of FMV or adjusted cost basis.

What are the disadvantages of using life insurance for charitable giving?

Donating a life insurance policy to charity (or naming the charity as beneficiary on the policy) means that you have less wealth to distribute among your heirs when you die. This may discourage you from making gifts to charity. However, this problem is relatively simple to solve. Buy another life insurance policy that will benefit your heirs instead of a charity.

Ways to give life insurance to charity

The simplest way to use life insurance to give to a charity is to name a charity to receive the benefits of your life insurance policy. You, as owner of the policy, simply designate the charity as beneficiary. Designating the charity as beneficiary may allow you to make a larger gift than you could otherwise afford. If the policy is a form of cash value life insurance, you still have access to the cash value of the policy during your lifetime. However, this type of charitable gift does not provide many of the income tax benefits of charitable giving, because you retain control of the policy during your life. When you die, the proceeds are included in your gross estate, although the full amount of the proceeds payable to the charity can be deducted from your gross estate. Another alternative is to donate an existing life insurance policy to charity. To do this, you must assign all rights in the policy to the charity. You must also deliver the policy itself to the charity. By doing this, you give up all control of the life insurance policy forever. This strategy provides the full tax advantages of charitable giving because the transfer of ownership is irrevocable. You may be able to take an income tax deduction equal to the lesser of your adjusted cost basis or FMV. The policy is not included in your gross estate when you die, unless you die within three years of the transfer. In this case, your estate would get an offsetting charitable deduction. A creative way to use life insurance to donate to a charity is simply for the charity to insure you. To use this strategy, you would allow the charity to purchase an insurance policy on your life. You would make annual tax-deductible gifts to the charity in an amount equal to the premium, and the charity would pay the premium to the insurance company. One final method is to use a life insurance policy in conjunction with a charitable remainder trust. This strategy is relatively complex (it will require an attorney to set up), but it provides greater advantages than other, simpler methods. You set up a charitable remainder trust and transfer ownership of other, income-producing assets to the trust. The income beneficiary of the trust (you or whomever you designate) will get the income from the assets in the trust. At the end of the trust term (which might be a certain number of years or upon the occurrence of a certain event, such as your death), the property in the trust would pass to the charity. You’ll receive a current tax deduction when you establish the trust for the FMV of the gifted assets, reduced according to a formula determined by the IRS. Life insurance can then be purchased (usually inside an irrevocable life insurance trust to keep the proceeds out of your estate) to replace the assets that went to the charity instead of to your heirs.

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The “Sell-by Date”

Having a big pipeline of “prospects” is typically seen as desirable. The more prospects you put into the pipeline, the more will eventually emerge as clients. At least that’s the theory!

And in principle, the theory is valid. Some of the people you put in the pipeline will become clients. But we always need to ask ourselves two important questions about our pipeline:

  • How many of these opportunities do I expect to turn into clients?
  • How long will it take for them to emerge from the other end of the pipe?”

THE TIME FACTOR

Taking so long to close-out a non-winning opportunity wouldn’t be so bad if we were investing very little of our time and energy on those dead ends. But that typically isn’t what  happens. We typically make major time investments in creating multiple proposals and following up with phone calls, texts, and e-mails.

Why do so many reps cling to opportunities that drag on or become stalled?

Part of the answer is culture. In many organizations, a packed pipeline is considered a sign of success—tangible evidence that the rep is working. The association may not always be accurate, but it exists nonetheless.

Another issue is fear. Some reps hang on to an opportunity too long out of fear that they won’t be able to find another opportunity with which to replace it. They possess a scarcity mentality—the notion that there are not enough good opportunities to go around. They believe that, in order for one person to win, another must lose. If they let go of an opportunity (they reason), someone else will capitalize on it and win, and they will have lost. So they hang on to stalled opportunities just a little longer … and then just a little longer after that.

THE “SELL-BY” DATE

While prospective opportunities don’t come stamped with an expiration date, we need to strive for the next best thing. The idea of “sell-by” dates is one that can be used to help alleviate this back log problem. It can be based on the average length of the selling cycle. If the sale wasn’t closed by that date, you would need compelling evidence that the opportunity deserved to keep its place in the pipeline. Otherwise, it comes out.

With this new approach, agents can spend less time managing their pipeline … and more time identifying new opportunities and moving them forward! As a result, closing numbers will improve.

 

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Watch and Learn

Three insurance agents and three attorneys are going to the same conference in NY City. They all decided to take the train. The three attorneys got in line and each bought a ticket. The insurance agents only bought one ticket for the three of them.

Attorney: “Why did you only buy one ticket?”

Insurance Agent: “Watch and learn.”

They all get on the train. When the conductor starts coming around and asking for tickets, the three insurance agents all go into the bathroom together. The conductor, seeing that someone is in the bathroom, knocks on the door and asks for a ticket. The insurance agents hand out the one ticket and ride onto NY for the conference.

On the way home they all need to buy tickets again. This time the attorneys have learned so they buy just one ticket. But, the insurance agents do not buy any tickets.

Attorney: “Why didn’t you buy a ticket this time?”

Insurance Agent: “Watch and learn.”

As the conductor makes his rounds the three attorneys jump into the bathroom and wait. But this time instead of the conductor knocking on the door, the insurance agent knocks on his door.

Insurance Agent: ” Ticket please.”

The rest as they say is history. Watch and learn.

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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SEC “Best Interest” Proposal

Advisors are less aware of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s best-interest proposals now than they were of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule proposal in 2016.

So says Fidelity research, which also finds that not only do 40% of advisors aware of the proposals not plan on acting until there is further clarification, some 78% of advisors say they’ll need at least some help assessing and evaluating the proposals.

Opinion is pretty evenly divided on whether the proposals will have a positive or negative impact, with a third of advisors on either side and the remaining third in the middle on the matter. And while 62% of advisors expect that a new SEC rule for standards of conduct will be put in place, their efforts to prepare for the now-defunct Labor rule have put them at an advantage.

In fact, advisors are likely to leverage a number of the steps they already took to work toward compliance with the Labor rule, and they expect to be able to use several of them to better prepare for future SEC regs.

The top five solutions likely to prove useful in complying with the SEC’s standards, Fidelity found, included tools and technology to ensure the firm’s compliance and control. Investment products based on the standard of care will also make it easier to stay within the straight and narrow, as will custom forms or disclosures to demonstrate the firm’s, and advisors’, standard of care of the client.

Tools and technology that can ensure the firm’s pursuit of the client’s best interest and account identifiers that indicate the standard of care for investor accounts will also make it easier to comply with new SEC requirements.

Fidelity points out that there’s still quite a bit of ambiguity in the SEC’s proposals, which provides “an opportunity to stay actively informed and engaged,” and suggests that as firms evaluate just where they fit in within a still-evolving industry, they take a look at areas that present a high risk of noncompliance to see how technology could mitigate those risks.

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Let’s Talk DI (Part 2)

Here are 5 common objections about income protection to help you talk about disability income insurance with your clients.
“We’ll use our savings.”
Relying on savings is a good approach for the short term. However, in some cases, depending on how long a disability lasts, savings could be wiped out in a few weeks or a few months. On top of your regular monthly expenses, there could also be medical bills. Disability insurance offers an affordable way to provide a source of income you can count on until you can work again.


“I have disability
through work.
Coverage through work is a great start. Typically group coverage pays 60% of your income, but don’t forget that money may be taxable. Your group policy and an individual disability policy together may provide you a more adequate monthly income amount to help you cover your bills. Let’s get details on your work coverage – when it would start, how much it would pay and for how long – and make sure you have the coverage you need.


“I’ll apply for Social
Security disability.”
This may be an option, but it’s hard to get approved. In 2017, only about 1 in 3 people who applied even received disability benefits from the government.   And they get less than $1,200 a month. If you were able to qualify, would that be enough to take care of your family? 


“I don’t think I’ll use it.”
We hope you don’t need it. But the facts are 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they reach age 67. Another fact – injuries account for only 9% of disabilities, most are illnesses. If you rely on your paycheck, let’s protect it with disability insurance. 


“It’s too expensive.”
Typically disability insurance costs between 1 and 3 percent of your salary, like the policy we talked about today. Where will the money come from if you’re sick or injured and unable to work? Not having disability coverage could cost you even more. For dollars a day, you’ll have the protection you need to keep your family and your lifestyle going if something happened.



Call us with your next case! 
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