Nothing Stays the Same

Twenty years ago you could buy a first class stamp for 29 cents and fill your gas tank for $1.11 a gallon. Today a stamp is 49 cents and a gallon of gas here in CA is close to $4.00. What these things will cost 20 years from now is anyone’s guess. The only certainty is that prices will continue to rise. This is especially true when we look at the costs of long-term care services such as home care and nursing facilities.

Historically, the cost of long-term care services has increased approximately 5% per year. That trend is expected to continue. So, how do people who purchase a long-term care policy today ensure they will have enough coverage 20 years down the road when they will likely need the care? The answer is inflation protection.

Adding an inflation rider allows the policy benefits to increase annually to help keep pace with the rising cost of services. This rider is must on any long-term care policy that you write. The problem for most is that the rider is very costly. For this reason we suggest a thorough examination of the different riders.

We have found that the cost for the 5% inflation rider is the most expensive. In many cases we have found it is less expensive to buy more monthly benefit now with a lower inflation rider (say 3%) to accomplish the same objective. The objective is to create a pool of money for when you need it. If you need it in 20 years we can get their with either rider, the 5% or the 3%, but analyzing the cost of buying more benefit with a lower rider is a smart move.

Call us to do this work for you…because in the LTC world…nothing stays the same.

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Finding The Yes

I work with so many great Financial Reps that sometimes I like to sit back and think about what makes them so successful. They are all so different. They come from different backgrounds, different parts of the country, different training, and they all have different methods of doing business. But when I really think about their success, they all have one thing in common. They know how to get a client to say YES. And isn’t that the hardest part ?

I spent the first month of 2020 reaching out to our top reps to find out from them what their best tips might be for getting the YES. After much discussion I came up with 4 great tips that could help us all get to the next level of success.

  1. Talk About the Problems People Have – Ask questions about how and why they have have invested in the past and how those decisions have affected their life. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What would they change if they could?
  2. Listen to Understand – Listening is a skill that all of our top reps highlighted as a key to their success. But don’t listen to respond. It is ok for them to buy for “their” reason. They don’t have to buy for your reason.
  3. Find the Benefit – Features are what a product has or does. Benefits are why someone would want those features – what is happening now that they want to change?
  4. Welcome Objections – Questions gather information, and objections disclose information by revealing what the prospect needs in order to buy today.


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Client Feedback? It Can Only Help

It may seem scary at first to open your practice to client feedback, and there are indeed some risks that come with it.

For one, the feedback can feel personal. Mulling over negative comments can become a time suck, so it’s important to realize that client feedback will help your business grow.

You also need the right infrastructure in place to respond to client feedback. Before opening the floodgates, make sure you’re equipped to handle this level of client interaction. If you respond slowly to feedback or not at all, that could negatively affect your business’s reputation just as much as poor client service.

Prepare yourself for client feedback by following these tips:

  • Respond quickly: Set aside time to check comments once a day, whether that’s first thing in the morning or at the end of your workday. Set a goal to respond to comments within 24-48 hours.

  • Set the right tone: Don’t meet rude with rude. If a client leaves an inappropriate or disrespectful comment, be gracious. Other clients will see how you interact, so it’s better to use a friendly tone.

  • Prioritize comments: Negative comments probably deserve a more timely response. However, you should prioritize specific feedback over vague comments. For example, if a customer says she hates your voice mail, there’s not much you can do about this. However, if another customer says she had to wait an hour on hold when calling your office, you can respond right away, quickly apologize, ask for more details, and promise to correct the problem going forward.

  • Show your appreciation: Don’t ignore positive comments. If a client has taken the time to leave praise, show them you appreciate it. That may also be a good time to ask for a testimonial or for a positive review for your website.

Client feedback can make your business better. Whether the comments are positive or negative, you should respond in a timely manner and make every effort to address the problem. Doing so will improve your business’s reputation and, more importantly, your client relationships.

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Your 2020 Tax Guide is Here

2020 is here. And so is your co-branded tax guide
Securian Financial (one of our carrier partners) has provided a tax guide for all to use. Their 2020 tax guide is now available. Download the generic version below or contact our sales team to get a co-branded one with your information and start marketing yourself in 2020.

This piece is one of our most popular value adds. Use it to help expand relationships, grow your business and position yourself as the go-to resource.

Download tax guide
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Who Is a Candidate for Premium Finance?

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for premium finance. After the need for life insurance is established, premium financing might be considered as a method for funding the life contract. But only if the client has the following general characteristics:

  • Has more than $5 million of net worth or $300,000 of income
  • Needs life coverage for estate tax, estate equalization, liquidity, or for business needs such as stock redemption
  • Seeks a high return on assets
  • Wants to minimize gift tax exposure
  • Feels comfortable using leverage

Although financing offers considerable value, agents and advisors must be careful not to over-promise. The strategy needs to be presented realistically so clients are NOT under the impression that the don’t have to “pay for life insurance”.

With any policy involving premium finance, clients need a clear understanding of how their premium financing loan will be paid off. There needs to be an exit strategy that takes in to account all possibilities. Consistent monitoring of the strategy (ie: yearly reviews and projections) are key to the strategy and provide a strong structure on which to build the concept.

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New Years Resolution – Make Phone Calls!

Yes. Make Phone calls !  The phone is still an incredibly powerful tool for communication. Believe it or not, some people still answer their phones — even in today’s age of caller ID. Once you get through to your potential client and talk in real-time, you’ll stand out and have the chance to build rapport — if you add value, that is. Even if you leave a voicemail message, they’ll hear your voice which provides a different level of connection than just an email or LinkedIn InMail.

Of course, the phone is only one method of outreach. Phone calls are powerful, and should be part of an orchestrated approach to gain access to your prospects. But you’ll need to leverage multiple vehicles of communication over time to successfully reach your prospects. Online connections such as social selling, email, and webinars should be balanced with offline (in-person) touch-points, such as trade shows and networking events. It’s important to be present and show up at the places where your clients might be. A cadence-based approach using multiple different types of touch-points help reps crush their metrics and build a strong pipeline.

Dedicate a calendar block each day, and be persistent.

Online research showed that, overall, 54% of initial meetings require more than five touch points to set up — and that 10% require 11 or more touches. The one thing that we know for sure is consistency is key in prospecting. Calendar management and calendar blocking are key to success. So, look at your calendar and block out times for calls and your other outreach, and then stick to it, each day.

One study also revealed that most people underestimate the number of touches required to get through to a prospect. At the same time, sales reps over-report the number of times they actually reach out, by about 50%. In tandem, this diminished effort will deliver diminished results.

At the end of the day, we need to realize that when we are prospecting, we’re interrupting people. We hope it’s a value-added interruption, but it’s considered an interruption nonetheless. As a sales professional, your goal is to get the prospect to engage with you, and ultimately, to buy from you. You want to meet their needs and add value to their businesses and to them personally.

So, when a rep asks, “How do I get more appointments?” I point out that they may be asking the wrong the question. I suggest they ask themselves, “Why would any prospect ever want to meet with me?” If they can find a way to add value for their prospect with insightful information about that prospect’s business or situation, they will succeed.

It all comes down to valuable content: not just information on your product or your company, but how you can help successfully solve your prospect’s current challenges.

We all probably get dozens of outreach emails or phone calls a day from sales reps. Although they’re asking for my time, very rarely is the content of those messages relevant to me. It’s usually, “Let me tell you about my company. Let me tell you what I do. Let me tell you how cool our new program is.” But this doesn’t entice me, and it usually doesn’t convince me to get back in touch with them.

You need the business acumen to confidently have a business conversation with an executive. If that’s a skill gap for you, it is something you should work on getting the training to resolve. I’m often asked, “What is the number one thing I need to do to sell to the executive level at my prospects’ companies?” Well, you need to become fluent in the language of business so that you can have a business conversation.

There are some real challenges in the prospecting world. In fact, today it is harder and harder to get meetings with prospects for a number of reasons. So, we must engage them by creating messages from their point of view. You should continually ask yourself, “What is the value we can add to that prospect?” Once you get that process down, it is much easier to create those value-added messages and become a value-added interruption. That is, once you pick up the phone.

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New Tax Rules? We Got You Covered

Tax Resources at Your Fingertips With the Tax Guide App

Access important tax rates, reference tables and Social Security information on the go with our Tax Guide App. Based on our popular tax reference sheet, the app includes the same valuable tables with the addition of easy-to-use tax calculators to help you evaluate specific scenarios for your clients. Our 2020 Tax Guide App includes updated indexed numbers.

Tax Calculators

For RMDs, marginal tax rates, estate tax liabilities, deductibility of IRA contributions and more

Reference Tables

For income tax brackets, AMT exemption amounts, estate tax rates and exclusions, IRA, pension plan limits and more

Social Security

Information including loss of benefits and taxation of benefits calculators

clic tax guide app updates 2019

Download the Tax Guide App Today

Stay up to date on important tax rates and information that can help you guide your clients through different tax scenarios. Our Tax Guide App is available for download on iOS and Android mobile devices.

download from the apple app store get it on google play available at amazon appstore
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SECURE ACT of 2019 (pt. #1)

We have a new law! The “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019.” That is a mouthful for sure but it did pass on December 20, 2019 and President Trump signed it into law. The Act includes a number of retirement savings and employee benefit changes. Rather than go into the whole act in this one post…I thought it would be best to focus on one piece at a time. Hence the “pt. #1” of the title.

Pt. # 1

One of the key changes is the modifications to the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Rules. That is the age where you are required to start taking money from your traditional IRA’s. The age which was formerly set at age 70 1/2 is increased to age 72. This will be effective and applicable to distributions required to be made after December 31, 2019, with respect to individuals who attain age 70 1/2 after that date. Other plans that also are modified include 401(k), 403(b) and governmental 457 (b) plans.

The RMD rules have also changed for the beneficiaries of IRA’s and defined contribution plans. The new law states that payments to non-spousal beneficiaries must be completed by the 10th calendar year following the year of the participants death. This is regardless of whether RMD’s began before death. This effectively eliminates the “stretch RMD” option often utilized to mitigate the tax effect.

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Are You a High Net Worth Investor?

Many of our reps deal with “High Net Worth Investors.” High-net-worth investors face investment challenges that some would consider unique to their financial status. The fundamental tenets of investing apply equally to them as with any other investor, but the affluent investor needs to be mindful of issues that typically arise only from substantial wealth.

Let’s examine a few of these.

Being Too Conservative — When an individual has more assets than they think they’ll ever spend, there can be a tendency toward conservative investment. This may result in lower long-term returns that may shortchange the impact of bequests to charities or the wealth that will transfer to the next generation.

Collectibles — The affluent have a tendency to invest in their passions, and many collectibles have performed well over the years. However, one common mistake is not keeping up-to-date appraisals on record, which may have adverse consequences with regard to estate liquidity and taxes.¹

Concentrated Equity — Some senior executives accumulate large stock positions in the company that employs them.² This creates a unique risk and potentially can be managed in several ways.

DIY Mentality — Some wealthy investors have achieved a high level of success in their careers in large measure due to their intelligence, hard work, and self-confidence. This very success often carries over to the belief that building or managing successful enterprises is not dissimilar to managing great wealth. In fact, it can be quite different, requiring a whole different body of knowledge and experience.

Too Many Advisors — Affluent investors often place their investment assets with multiple advisors thinking that better results will arise from that. However, many of the key needs for larger portfolios such as risk management and tax efficiency will suffer, since there is no overarching view into the larger picture of an individual’s entire portfolio. The independent actions by separate advisors, all with the best of intentions, may actually work to sub-optimal outcomes.

With increasing wealth come even more unique challenges beyond those covered by this discussion. Consequently, if you are dealing with specific challenges with affluent investors, we encouraged you to call us for guidance that may be best suited for your clients particular needs and circumstances.


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Struggling To Find the Right Gift?

‘Tis the holiday season when many of us look forward to the upcoming festivities only to find ourselves tugged into the whirlwind of over-booked calendars, copious amounts of sugar, and the crazy rush of shopping malls. The following observation by writer and social critic James Baldwin might describe how many of us feel:

If the hope of giving
is to love the living
the giver risks madness
in the act of giving.

The Real Point of Gift-Giving

During the holidays many of us find ourselves drawn into the “madness” of gift-giving because it’s simply holiday custom. But beyond the mere ritual of gift-giving is the larger purpose, as Baldwin points out, to “love the living,” or to show appreciation.

Of course, this is how “madness” and anxiety ensue as we throw ourselves into the dizzying process of determining which gift best expresses the appreciation we’re hoping to convey.

Sadly, even as we decide which gift is the right one, we might still fail at fully accomplishing the real point in giving it.

In his article, “The Real Point of Gift-Giving,” Peter Bregman points out that the act of giving presents is based on a common misconception. The misconception being: “The bigger, more valuable the gift, the more it expresses our appreciation.”

But why isn’t this the case?

“Because gifts don’t express appreciation, people do. And when people don’t express it, neither do their gifts.”

Appreciation Is Rare in Corporate Culture

If the point of giving gifts is to show appreciation, then why don’t we simply express it directly?

One reason may be that this kind of appreciation is uncommon. Unfortunately, many of us fail to see people beyond the ways they do or don’t make our lives better. This is especially true in organizations where people are hired to fulfill certain roles and serve specific functions.

Tony Schwartz suggests that another reason we fail to show appreciation is because “we’re not fluent in the language of positive emotion at the work place”…to the point that their expression can seem awkward, contrived, or dripping with disingenuous sentimentality. Sadly, we’re more likely to be practiced at expressing negative emotions such as frustration, defensiveness, and blame.

And yet, as Schwartz observes, “Whatever else each of us derives from work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter.” That we matter as people; that we matter simply for being.

A Note of Appreciation

This holiday season take a break from the hustle of the commercial mall. Instead spend a quiet night with a stack of thank you cards and write why you appreciate your co-workers. Here are a few suggestions Bregman offers about expressing appreciation:

Tell them why you appreciate them.

Not for what they do for you. Not for what they help you accomplish. Not even for what they accomplish themselves. Just for being who they are.

If you’re hesitant — maybe you think it’s too touchy-feely, too sappy — just think about what it would feel like to receive that type of note from the people around you.

Once you’ve written your notes of appreciation, all that’s left is to deliver them.

Appreciation can save us from holiday madness and, “if the hope of giving is to love the living,” might be gift enough for us all.

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