Thomas R. Kestler, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CMFC®, CSA®

Author Archives

3 Keys to Producer Success

I am often asked by new and old agents alike, “What does it take to become really successful in this business?”  What I’ve learned over the years is that there is no one thing that, like a magic pill, will guarantee success.  Instead, there are three key things that, when applied consistently, can keep you on track for success and help you avoid failure.

1. Relationships. The relationships you build, nurture and value could be the single most important success strategy in your business – and your personal life.  While we cannot choose our family, we all make choices daily on who our friends are, who our idols are, who we hang out with, and who we choose to marry.  These choices have an immeasurable effect on who we become and how we see ourselves.  Just like the statement, “You are what you eat,” you become like those with whom you choose to associate.  The books you read, the TV shows you watch, the recordings you listen to, all combine like tiny threads to form a rope of bondage – or a lifeline.  Which one do you have?


Asset Distribution: The Next Big Wave

The buzzwords over the past 10 years have been asset accumulation and asset allocation.  I propose that if you jump on this bandwagon now, you may be following the wrong paradigm.

Don’t get me wrong, asset accumulation and allocation are still very important. But the next big wave in our industry will be asset distribution.

With 76 million baby boomers approaching retirement, how prepared are you to provide them with a safe, dependable, consistent stream of income?

The skills we acquired in order to have been successful in the past will continue to serve us well into the future — if and only if we use those tools properly.  If the wrong tool is used in a particular situation, the results could be disastrous!

Let’s look at an example:


401(k) Rollovers: A Legal Liability?

Did you know that, as a licensed insurance agent, you could be breaking the law by transferring funds from a 401(k) into a fixed or fixed-index annuity?

If the 401(k) was invested in securities, you could potentially be in hot water because the SEC prohibits unregistered individuals from giving investment advice. In practice, however, the SEC rarely pursues unregistered individuals. FINRA, with its focus on broker/dealers and their registered reps, has little time to oversee insurance-only agents. This type of enforcement tends to be left up to each individual state’s insurance department.

Several states have laid out specific regulations as to what advice can be provided by an insurance-only individual. Conversations around risk tolerance, goals, and general asset allocation are fine. But making recommendation to liquidate securities or which specific security to liquidate are considered investment advice and are illegal unless you are appropriately licensed.

The same rules apply to any other qualified plan rollover, annuity replacement, or brokerage account/mutual fund liquidation.


The Top 5 Questions to Ask About a Living Benefit Rider

Annuities have always been the only financial instruments that can provide an income that cannot be outlived. Historically, this meant annuitizing the contract — exchanging the lump sum account value for a guaranteed series of payments for a specified period or life.  The thought of forfeiting principal for income, however, was unpleasant to most consumers and therefore annuitization was rarely used.

Living benefits — often called income riders — first appeared on variable annuity contracts to provide a “safety net” in the event the underlying accounts did not perform as hoped. Today, living benefits are available on all types of annuities.


Tortoise vs. Hare: 3 Reasons Why Fixed Income Annuities Win the Investment Race

Tortoise and Hare Race

People love get-rich-quick schemes, from the Tulip craze of 1637 and Bernie Madoff, to lottery fever and Bitcoin. There’s only one problem: substantial research shows that slow and steady wins the race.

For example, in a recent paper by Barclays and co-authored by Dr. Robert Shiller entitled “Investment Characteristics of FIAs,” the authors uncovered three remarkable trends regarding long-term investing.


8 Reasons to Break Up Big Annuity Contracts into Bite-Sized Ones

8 Reasons to Break Up Big Annuity Contracts into Bite-Sized Ones

Do you have a client who is considering a potentially large annuity purchase? If so, you may want to consider the benefits of breaking up the big contract into smaller, bite-sized ones instead. Here’s why.