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Phoenix Launches Service For Advisors In Business-Owner Market

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The Phoenix Companies Inc., Hartford, unveiled recently The Business of Wealth, a marketing and support program for advisors working with successful business owners.

The program is useful to agents selling to all different types of businesses because it speaks to the life cycles a business goes through, regardless of the industry, says Walter H. Zultowski, senior vice president of marketing and market research at Phoenix.

“We focus not so much on the type of business as the stage the business is in regardless of the industry,” he says. “Any business passes through life-cycle stages; we try to educate advisors about the different life cycles any business falls through–that will direct the services needs that business will likely have.”

Those services include helping to provide employee benefits, offering retirement plans, and developing a family office or foundation, he says.

The product integrates the business life-cycle model and the changing needs of the business owner with an advisors practice, Zultowski says.

The first stage of the life cycle is Business Entity, the start-up and growth years, where the focus is on creating and supporting a successful business.

The second stage is Business Transition, when a company is sold or left to another owner or a family member.

The third stage, Business Family Legacy, considers strategies for using the wealth generated by a business when a family or owner wants to build a lasting legacy. This stage is unique to high net-worth business owners.

The program also provides information, direction and tools to support advisors efforts. That includes a guide that integrates practice management issues with the needs of high net-worth business owners.

The guide outlines needs at three different phases of ownership and the skills, strategies and resources advisors should have to serve this market.

At the first phase, strategies include attracting and retaining employees, funding personal retirement plans and basic estate planning.

At the second phase the focus is on advisors helping their clients formulate plans for effective business transition, which can be particularly daunting for family business owners.

The third phase discusses managing significant assets, high net-worth lifestyle issues and wealth transfer strategies.

The program also provides a business transition survey for owners and families to use to discuss operations, transitioning and wealth management matters of a family-owned enterprise.

It includes a business continuation planning kit, which outlines agreements and funding mechanisms for businesses and other technical information to allow advisors to help protect family member interests relating to a business.

The program also offers a business valuation service that can estimate a businesss fair market value, which is a complimentary service to advisors affiliated with Phoenix.

The Business of Wealth will also incorporate Phoenixs new BusinessPlan Strategies, which are being rolled out over the next year and will have more than 12 solutions to business owners facing specific challenges, in areas such as executive benefits or succession planning.

Zultowski says that even though the current economic climate is tough, small businesses are continuing to grow. And, even if some business owners might not be able to buy products or services right now, an advisor can help position them so that they will be able to in the future.

“Business in any economic period will be one of the major drivers of economy and personal wealth,” he says. “There always has been and always will be a need for these services.

“When economic times get tough, that focuses (business owners) on the need to do more planning, or at least to start working with an advisor on these things.”

Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, March 10, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.