Tom Schaefer is a LTCI specialist with Gelbwaks Executive Marketing Corp., in Plantation, FL. Tom works primarily with financial planner referrals, and his primary referral sources are fee-only and fee-based financial planners, who manage money or estates for individuals.
Q: How many phone calls do you make each week to set appointments?
Tom Schaefer: My only cold calls are to financial planners. I make sure to call to introduce myself after FPA meetings. I’m fortunate that [my] firm name is well-branded, so [financial planners] usually know me. I introduce myself to planners who have consistent contact with clients with a need to manage long term care risk. In general, these relationships are hard to earn and harder to keep. We’ve done well with discipline and consistency – for example, being in touch once a week with statuses on all outstanding referrals.
Q: How old were you when you bought your own LTCI policy?
TS: Age 29, when I first got into the business. I actually own two contracts. I have a cash plan and a traditional reimbursement (10-pay). For a young consumer like me, the advantage of a cash benefit is there’s no definition of “caregiving.” I’m also tapped out on my disability insurance, so in the right situation, one could supplement the other (I have no coordination language in my contracts).
Q: What’s your personal plan for long term care?
TS: Here in South Florida, we see a lot of equity-based continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and assisted living facilities driving their residents around in limos instead of vans. Both of my parents had LTC experiences. I can’t think of a better place in their ninth inning of their life than one if these CCRCs or assisted living facilities. You have all the comforts of laundry being done, meals being prepared, transportation being taken care of, so your family doesn’t have to worry. I think about how a future long term care need would ultimately affect my family. My family will be there in my time of need, so how can I help them do it better? If my situation is that I am cognitively aware and ambulatory, I would want to be in my home with my wife. Otherwise, we might be in an assisted living facility. We would find a community with others in our situation.
Q: Which LTCI policy do you sell the most these days, and why?
TS: It’s hard for me to answer that question, I’m really well-diversified among the top companies with high market share. The younger professional purchases a cash plan because it gives them flexibility with no definitions and can act as a supplement to income replacement if they are maxed out on disability insurance. Long term care insurance also protects retirement principal. If someone is buying at age 60 or older, I usually recommend a traditional reimbursement plan.
Q: How many claims have you seen?
TS: I’ve only had a handful of claims, and the average age of my prospect is age 59. I’ve been in the business now 11 years, so the bulk of my clients [make up] a young book of business. So, I’ll probably start seeing the bulk of claims 10 to 15 years out.
Q: Think back to when you graduated; what did you plan to be back then?
TS: In medicine. Both my older sisters are in medicine. After the military, I went to college for biology premed, did numerous hours volunteering at a hospital, and realized that I didn’t belong there. So I switched to finance.
Q: What hobby do you most enjoy or would you like to try next?
TS: My favorite hobby is woodworking (I’m a partner in a custom cabinetry company).
Q: What is your favorite drink?
TS: The first strong cup of coffee in the morning (one cup a day). Tassimo.
Q: What makes you happy?
TS: My beautiful wife Marjorie and our beautiful girls Katherine (age 4) and Victoria (5 months). Returning home in the evening is the most peaceful part of the day. That gives me peace, which gives me happiness.
Q: Can you share a resource, service, program, or piece of software that has been critical to your success?
TS: I think every agent, if they want to be consistent and service-oriented and get a lot of referrals, needs great backroom support. For my personal sales, to have Peter [Gelbwaks] with his clout in the industry, and Julie [Gelbwaks Gewirtz], who can answer any question at a moment’s notice, at the point of sale or leading up to the sale, is a huge resource. Post-sale, getting the business issued, especially if there are any issues, they can make that easier. The written application can be one-dimensional, but Peter can sometimes help me “three-dimensionalize” the applicant so that the underwriter can make a more informed decision.
Q: BlackBerry, iPhone, or other?
TS: BlackBerry, with the calluses on my thumbs to prove it!
Q: How many more years do you see yourself doing this?
TS: I love what I do and I believe in what I do. I hope my longevity doesn’t outlast the demand for the product.