Life insurance has long been hailed for the variety of benefits it provides policyholders. With tax-free death benefits, tax-deferred cash value accumulation, and tax-free income opportunities, it s value proposition as a personal planning tool is immeasurable. For advisors with a one-dimensional practice, today’s life insurance contracts can create a tremendous opportunity to present new approaches to solving more of your clients’ problems. Adding a new dimension to your practice can increase your revenue, build the inherent value of your business, and reduce your dependence on prospecting.
Some practitioners learn the hard way — through firsthand experience — that their businesses are one-dimensional. They e ventually realize the harsh reality that delivering only one solution per client means any failure or breakdown in new client prospecting creates an absence of business revenue. Most agree the model is flawed because it fails to leverage any scale within the customer base. Leaving opportunities on the table is discounted on account of “focus” or “specialization.” It’s OK if you’ve been there, but most wouldn’t go back.
A luckier few identify the limitations of their practices by examining sales ratios and implementing practice management standards. These advisors learn a tremendous amount about their practices by reviewing annual sales reports to identify gaps and planning consistencies that were hidden in the midst of battle. This method helps advisors capitalize on last year’s lost sales while identifying the best opportunities for next year. Leveraging the client-advisor relationship makes natural business sense to this type of planner: solve more than one financial problem for each customer to create greater customer loyalty and reduce the number of new prospects you have to see to meet annual sales goals.
During these times when new business is more scarce and recruiting new customers increasingly more difficult, you can leverage the trusting relationships with your customers and solve more of their planning needs. Whether you would like to provide thoughtful recommendations concerning the efficient transfer of your customers’ retirement assets to the next generation, develop innovative retirement income strategies, implement princip al preservation techniques to prevent outliving a retirement nest egg, or educate your customers on long term care strategies, life insurance can help. Use the life insurance opportunities below to deepen the relationships with your customers and generate more sales while adding an extra dimension to your practice.
Opportunity #1 – Life insurance reviews
Sounds simple, but few do it. Reviewing cash value life insurance policies during annual review meetings with your existing clients will help uncover sales opportunities. Many of your clients own cash value life insurance policies that no longer meet the intended objective or are no longer needed. Show these clients how they can eliminate premiums and protect more assets by considering a more efficient contract offered today, or redeploy the cash value elsewhere. New policy features, underwriting guidelines and death benefit options all work together to provide more opportunity for your customer.
Opportunity #2 – Long term care planning options
Most of your customers, like most of American retirees, have no plan for long term care expenses. Many retirees plan for this event blinded by ignorance believing they only have two options when preparing for long term care — traditional premium based long term care insurance or no insurance at all. Now, life insurance policies offer clients a third planning solution for long term care protection. These policies will let the customer use the death benefit portion of the policy for long term care costs when needed . If they don’t need care, the death benefit is distributed to the beneficiary at death. Many retirees are embracing this linked-benefit solution as the preferred planning option.
Opportunity #3 – IRA distribution planning
For your clients who own IRAs intended for generational planning, life insurance becomes an instrument that can reduce the impact of federal income taxes incurred on the IRA at death. The status quo relies on stretch IRA distribution rules for efficient transfer, but the strategy fails to limit the taxable consequences of an inherited IRA. The reality is that most inherited IRAs will be withdrawn completely, incurring the full brunt of our marginal income tax system. Show your customers how, by using life insurance, they can pass forward more after-tax liquid assets to the next generation .
Opportunity #4 – Capital transfer
In some instances, a client’s only goal is make for an orderly and efficient transfer of their assets to the next generation. The bellwether plans we’ve used for accumulation of our assets — annuities — generally make poor vehicles for transfer of our assets. Ordinary income taxes and limited distribution options erode the value of many annuities. Use life insurance to transfer these assets tax free to the owner’s beneficiary through a systematic distribution or single lump sum. Plus, new death benefit features can be used to build non-correlated asset positions with internal rates of return that are very competitive to after tax equity returns.
If you are operating a one-dimensional practice, consider embracing one or all of these proven planning strategies. Increase your sales, foster more client loyalty, and generate more referrals by offering new approaches to age-old concerns.
Zack Derryberry is the managing director for BHC Marketing’s life insurance division. He can be reached at [email protected].