Virtual Longevity Planning

 

Writing business in a socially distanced environment presents challenges. You’ve had to adjust the way you interact and communicate with clients, and had to rely more heavily on online platforms to help you get business done.

Highland can help you simplify your virtual business. Our longevity planning experts are available, whether over the phone or via video conference, to walk you through the strategies, options, and products that may best suit your client’s needs and budget.

Our robust online resources are always accessible as well. If a linked-benefit policy is right for your client, you can simply and virtually apply through EasyLife. Client-facing materials, accessible via our website, can be shared with clients to help them understand the importance of longevity planning and which options may be best for them, all from the privacy and safety of their home.

As an additional support, join us for our Longevity Planning Town Hall on June 2 at 12:30 (CT). Highland’s Jennifer Connelly and Nationwide®’s Shawn Britt will discuss all things longevity planning, including why now is the right time for the longevity planning discussion, and how to find and service longevity planning clients given the current environment. Click here to add this event to your calendar.

For more information about the longevity planning services and support Highland provides, watch our longevity planning video and read through our point-of-sale infographic, which lays out the steps to simplified, contactless longevity planning.


Why Disability Insurance?

 

As you re-engage with clients in a socially distanced environment, it’s important to let them know that regardless of the setting, you are still committed to helping them achieve their financial objectives.

Part of that commitment means presenting clients with a thorough plan, one that includes income replacement in the event an injury or illness keeps them from earning a paycheck. Disability insurance provides a critical financial safety net necessary for anyone who earns a living.

In honor of Disability Insurance Awareness Month—and to help you start the disability insurance conversation—Highland has produced two client-ready videos that explain why this often-overlooked benefit should be considered.

The first installment, ready for download, asks clients “Why Disability Insurance?” and prompts clients to consider if they’re protecting their most valuable asset: their ability to earn.

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For more information about disability insurance, reach out to your Highland Vice President or email us at di@highland.com.

UP NEXT: Highland’s second Disability Insurance Awareness Month video, “The Reality of Disability Insurance,” presents clients with a disabilities reality check, including the frequency of and top reasons for claims.


The CARES Act and Its Implications

The CARES Act
Within three months of the passage of SECURE Act—a law intended to provide more opportunities for Americans to save for retirement—the federal government passed another historic piece of legislation that essentially does the opposite.

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a historic $2 trillion dollar emergency fiscal stimulus package and the third piece of major legislation passed since the coronavirus outbreak began.

The CARES Act is sweeping in scope. Here a few of the most important provisions as they pertain to individuals.


The Three Myths of Annuities

Three Myths of Annuities

In today’s customizable, satisfaction-guaranteed world, it’s no surprise that investors, too, want it all. They expect retirement solutions that provide guaranteed income, while still insulating them from downside risk.

There is a solution that offers both: annuities. But even though annuities are one of the only vehicles that deliver income and risk mitigation, surprisingly only 42% of financial advisors recommend them as part of retirement and income plans. Misconceptions or outdated views on annuities may be keeping advisors from offering the financial stability their clients need. Dispelling the most common annuity myths is the first step in remedying this.

MYTH 1: Consumers hate annuities

Truth: Although some clients may not fully know the benefits of annuities, or hold outdated, incorrect opinions, a growing number are becoming educated and are choosing to add fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) to their retirement plans. In fact, recent annuity sales are shattering previous records. According to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, FIA sales were $20 billion in the second quarter of 2019, 14 percent higher than prior year results.1 Indexed annuity sales are expected to grow by double digits to about $96 billion by the end of 2023, a 38 percent gain over 2018.2 Those who understand the benefits FIAs can provide — income protection and stability with little or no maintenance — are not surprised.


What are the Living Benefits of Life Insurance?

You already know the most common reason to buy life insurance—to financially help those that are left behind. But did you know that life insurance can also provide benefits during your lifetime? By purchasing a cash-value life insurance policy, you can better manage your money for what matters most: a greater quality of life for you and your family.

Tax laws change. What may be a favorable tax environment now may look completely different when you retire. But in a cash-value life insurance policy, savings accumulate tax-advantaged, helping to diversify your retirement income’s taxation, ultimately preserving more of your hard-earned money.

And, as more of us are living longer, there may be a greater need to access your cash-value policy’s death benefit for medical reasons, a decision that may help protect your assets from depletion in the event of a chronic or critical illness.

This video illustrates how carving out savings today for a cash-value life insurance policy may help protect your income in the future. Download and share this video and encourage friends and family to make an appointment with a life insurance advisor for more detail.


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Download and share this video with your online community. Spread the word about how life insurance can help your clients protect their income in the future.


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Eye on Congress: What Does the SECURE Act Mean for Businesses?

What does the SECURE Act Mean for Businesses header

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which has a laudable goal of expanding opportunities to increase individual retirement savings. The new law enacts several changes to employer-sponsored retirement savings plans, which historically have helped individuals save more for retirement than traditional IRAs.

Advisors working with business owners who have or are considering an employer-based retirement plan should familiarize themselves with the four most prominent changes laid out in the SECURE Act:

  • Offering lifetime income annuity options in retirement plans
  • Changes to enrollment requirements, tax credits, and tax-filing deadlines
  • Adoption of multiple employer plans (MEPs)
  • Eligibility of part-time employees in 401(k)s

Enhancing Lifetime Income

Several provisions in the new law encourage employers to offer lifetime income annuity options in their retirement plans. The key change of the SECURE Act is an enhancement of the fiduciary “safe harbor” protections for employers when assessing financially secure life insurance companies that provide annuities in employers’ qualified plans.


Understanding New York Regulation 187 (NY 187)

Suitability and Best Interests in Life Insurance and Annuity Transactions

The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) best-interest Regulation 187 (NY 187) is effective February 1, 2020 for life insurance transactions, and August 1, 2019 for annuity transactions within the state of New York.

What is NY 187?

NY 187 imposes a best-interest standard on recommendations to purchase, replace, or alter life insurance and annuity products sold in New York state. According to the NYSDFS, a goal of the amended regulation is to “fill in regulatory gaps” resulting from the elimination of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule.

Compliance with the duties and obligations connected with life and annuity product transactions fall on both producers and insurers. The new regulation significantly expands the producers’ duties and obligations by imposing a best-interest standard on all life and annuity products recommended to consumers. In general, producers must act in the “best interest” of the consumer with respect to purchase and replacement recommendations, and to post-issuance transactions of in-force products, including the exercise of any contractual provisions. Those transactions of in-force business that do not result in a commission are subject to “best-interest lite” standards.

The overarching theme of the regulation is to redefine the client’s best interest in insurance product recommendations in alignment with other fiduciary rules. Only the consumer’s interest can be considered when making a product recommendation. According to NY 187, this recommendation must reflect the care, skill, and diligence of a prudent person, and must not be influenced by a “producer’s receipt of compensation or other incentives.”

A dominant emphasis in the regulation is written documentation—disclosing the range of products recommended after an evaluation of the client’s needs based on relevant suitability information and consistent with the client’s risk tolerance. (A summary of the information required to support a product recommendation can be found at the end of this article.)


The Many Shades of “Maybe”

The Many Shades of Maybe

Clients fall into the psychological traps of investing all the time. They stick to old ideas and protect earlier choices, even those that aren’t financially beneficial. They follow the herd mentality, investing in the latest, hottest product without concern for how it may fit into their broader financial plan. Or they may hold as truth the advice of a friend or family member whose financial goals don’t match their own.

These restrictive mind-sets can be exacerbated by immediate access to online advice, whether sound or not. Prospective clients can search infinite opinions on a product or topic, weigh pros and cons, and—after a dash of intuition—make a decision, all before even meeting with you.

Even during a meeting, these mind traps may lead clients to say “no” before they’ve fully considered the option you’re offering. That’s because individuals are programmed for financial survival before financial growth, instinctively trying to stock and preserve.


Will the SECURE Act Affect Your Clients’ Financial Plans?

SECURE Act image

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act). The new law has the laudable goal of expanding opportunities for individual retirement savings. However, several key changes made by the SECURE Act may affect your clients’ retirement and legacy plans, requiring possible reconsideration and adjustments.

Age Restriction for IRA Contributions Eliminated

Old Law: No traditional IRA contributions are allowed in the year the IRA owner turns 70½, or any subsequent years.

New Law: For tax years 2020 and beyond, contributions to traditional IRAs are allowed at any age.

Charitable Implications—Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs): QCDs of up to $100,000 are allowed once the owner of the IRA reaches 70½ (age unchanged). If the IRA owner requests a QCD in the same year that a deductible contribution is made, the QCD is decreased by the amount of the deductible portion of that contribution.


8 Secrets of Prospecting

Prospecting

How much money could you make if you had a steady stream of quality leads and referrals? We’ve all asked ourselves that same question. The reality is that 20% of all agents generate 80% of all commissions. And the top 20% of those high-performing agents generate 80% of the commissions in that group. What separates that top 4% from the rest of the field? They spend the vast majority of their time working at their maximum-income tasks. For most of us, that means face-to-face selling situations with a client.

Before we explore how you can work toward this goal, you must first take a long, hard look in the mirror. Ask yourself, “Do I have the tools that will allow me to capitalize on that consistent flow of prospects?” For example:

  • Can you close a sale? It may seem like a silly question, but if you’re not selling something on at least 70% of your appointments, you need help in this area. Too many agents blame poor sales results on poor leads, bad referrals, the weather, the season, the phase of the moon, etc. The reality is that right now you’re either a closer or you’re not. The good news is that closing skills can be learned. And, the more clients you meet, the more rapidly you’ll learn them.
  • Do you have the knowledge? Have you taken time to invest in yourself? Have you earned professional designations? Are you securities-licensed? Do you attend practice development programs? Our industry is changing so rapidly that not staying current will doom you to failure. In addition, the clients of today are much more educated than even 10 years ago. They can easily tell if you don’t know what you are talking about.
  • Are you selling multiple products to your clients or are you a “one-trick pony?” By offering multiple products, you not only increase the average income per client, but you also create greater client loyalty and, not surprisingly, more referrals.

I hope you see my point. Putting an advisor in front of a large quantity of prospects without the proper skills or knowledge is like asking a carpenter to build a house without a hammer or saw. The house may eventually be built, but the cost would be so prohibitive, nobody would buy it!

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about prospecting.


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