It’s no secret that hard work is one of the biggest contributing factors in being a successful long-term care insurance producer. But loving what you do is also pretty strong motivation, and it’s helped make Alan Stuart the top dog in the business. The Encino, Calif.-based independent producer capped off 2006 with a record-setting $540,597 in policy sales, a figure that makes him the country’s No. 1 producer, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.
While long hours and frequent weekend appointments are part of Stuart’s stunning results, an incredibly strong work ethic and a genuine appreciation and empathy for his clients hasn’t hurt matters. Stuart is a strong believer in doing plenty of up-front research, getting to know his potential clients’ needs and health history, and making presentations with those considerations in mind. Add it all together and there’s a lot of legwork involved.
What’s more surprising is that the 63-year-old Los Angeles native only launched his career in the insurance industry in 1993, having spent the previous two decades as a manufacturer’s representative in the wholesale diamond and jewelry business.
A little too much time on the road (not to mention the stress of having a million dollars or so worth of gems in his car at all times) prompted Stuart to explore new options that would allow him more time at home with his then teen-aged son Andrew. LTCI sales seemed like an honorable profession — a trait he says struck a chord after his many years in the equally honor-bound jewelry world — and he’s subsequently worked to create a profitable practice.
Nowadays, Stuart balances his schedule with plenty of time spent pursuing a hobby as something of an urban horseman: He keeps horses at a friend’s ranch in Acton, located on the north side of the San Bernardino Mountains, and has dedicated his Saturdays to trail riding and showing his prized animals.
“I get accused of working too hard, but that’s a relative thing,” Stuart says. “I frequently have to see people on evenings, but whenever I can, I check my schedule and enjoy spending time with my son, who’s now 29 and working as a manager in the music business. I also manage to spend as much time with my girlfriend as my schedule will allow — she’ll kill me if I don’t mention that.”
Jesse Slome, AALTCI’s executive director, says Stuart is a “classy, very intelligent guy,” a perennial leader and a dedicated specialist whose measured, detailed approach helped put him far ahead of the nation’s other 40,000 or so LTCI agents and brokers.
Senior Market Advisor: What contributed to your very big year last year?
Alan Stuart: Meeting with a lot of people. It comes down to having a lot of appointments to discuss long-term care with clients and, fortunately, having a lot of those people agreeing that they needed financial protection. It was really nothing special, just a lot of hard work. I work hard every year and I’ve probably been within the top 10 in any given year, but this year’s success was definitely a nice feeling.
SMA: Tell me about your start in the insurance world.
AS: Well, many years ago, when I left the diamond jewelry industry to be in Los Angeles instead of always traveling on the road, I was looking for new career opportunities and when I discussed with a few friends the concept of long-term care insurance, it felt like a good, needed product. One had gotten into LTCI and really liked it, so I did some research myself and decided to get my license.
SMA: What was it about the product that appealed to you?
AS: It was a gut feeling. It really just seemed like the product was clean and honorable and I wanted to try it. As I went out on my first appointments and discussed it with clients, I liked it. It was a fit. I always liked representing a product I believed in and this is something that has worked well for both my clients and myself.
SMA: How do you prospect new leads?
AS: My leads come through a combination of direct mail and referrals. I’ve been doing this a long time now, so I continually ask for referrals from those people I’m working with. I am in the process of looking for more financial planners so I can work with them and their clients.