Consider the following scenario: John Smith starts working for a large life insurance agency in Oakland, Calif. After a few years, he describes his specialty as estate planning, employee benefits, financial planning, pensions and business planning. Though John is not a specialist in any of these areas, he doesn’t know it–so the myth goes on.
Three years into his business, he leaves the agency to work independently, serving small to medium-size businesses with from 10 to 50 employees. He does mostly group insurance benefits and life insurance planning with the owners and key employees.
Later, he comes to a realization: Affluent business owners require the best advice in many specialized areas, and to compete successfully, he has to pick one concept that he can learn more about than anyone else and stick to that discipline to the exclusion of everything else.
Because he had done most of his business within group benefits, he chooses to work only within that area. Now the problem is how to walk away from other products and services without losing his group business to whoever begins managing his clients’ 401(k) plans.
A common experience
Many of us in the insurance business take the same career track. The industry’s business delivery system has changed more in the last five years than it had in the previous 20. The distribution channels are very different from those into which most of us were recruited and trained.
Today, if you hold yourself out to be a specialist in estate planning, then you better know how your products work and when it is appropriate to use a GRIT, GRAT or CRUT. How can we provide affluent business owners with all the things we used to do for them, plus expert advice and service, while maintaining control of the client and having an income stream that is meaningful and fulfilling for us?
In my business, it seemed the answer was to grow my company from a business doing only qualified plan administration and executive benefits, to one that provided all financial services. I went on a hiring spree, added lots of space and told our clients we now had departments to help with not only retirement plans but also estate and financial planning, property-casualty insurance, human resource advice, group benefits–you name it.