Anthony C. Stratidis is managing partner of MS Consulting Group, LLC, in Westbrook, Connecticut. At the AALTCI Summit in Las Vegas this past April, he was named the number one producer in not one, but two categories: individual placed long-term care insurance and multi-life long term care insurance.

Before joining MS Consulting, Anthony was the senior vice president and one of the primary architects who developed a long-term care planning practice at Marsh and McLennan Companies. He also headed the LTC division of MassMutual Financial, managing product development, pricing and distribution relationships. Anthony is a qualifying member of MDRT, and holds his CLTC and LTCP designations.

Q: How many phone calls do you make a week to set appointments?

AS: It varies week to week. We have a unique practice. I started over 21 years ago as an Amex agent dialing for dollars every morning. Our practice focuses on consulting to health and benefit brokers and private wealth management consultants. We have a pretty good base of consultants we work with. I make 20-30 calls a week to maintain relationships. We have critical referral sources that provide us with opportunities in true group (health & benefit consultants), multi-life (200-300 life group) and private wealth management firms (clients with $20,000,000 of investable assets and above).

At any given time we have our bench team of referral sources in the waiting, so if activity flags we call upon them. It’s like baseball’s major league and minor league system.

Q: How old were you when you bought your own LTCI?

AS: (pause) Thirty-eight. The reason I had to think about that is that I’ve bought three different policies. Here’s why: I was, through the years, involved in product development for three different carriers, where I headed up sales divisions. So, as we enhanced those policies, I bought them. I bought my first policy at age 30 year and my current policy at age 38.

Q: What’s your LTC plan?

AS: It’s interesting. I’m not exactly sure what my care will look like in the future, but I know I’ll want to rely on a health care advocate to advise me and my family. One of the gaping holes in our industry is the health care advocacy service. Certainly the carriers do a good job with their plan of care, but at some point you’re on your own trying to figure out where to locate the best LTCI service providers.

My company has a strategic partnership with a concierge health care advocacy firm that helps develop in-depth plans of care, hire, background check, and monitor those resources. Some of the solutions are regional, faith-based and client-centric. We’re seeing a great deal of interest in the Ultra High Net Worth market, they’re looking for someone to manage the difficulties of long term caregiving. Their response often is, “I’m earning $3-$8 million a year, I love my parents, but I don’t have time to do it myself.” This area of our practice is being used by C-level executives, high net worth clients, and is now being expanded to worksite.

Through the past several years we identified this service as a critical missing link. Take, for example, the parent of an individual who was in his 80s. He had become depressed and disengaged from family and life in general. Instead of just taking the typical approach of medicating, they utilized his concierge health care advocate to look in-depth at his life, his history, background, faith and hobbies. Among their recommendations, they identified his love for fishing, something that the man had enjoyed in the past, but hadn’t done for years. They arranged to have him get out for a day of fishing. His family reported an amazing turnaround in his happiness, quality of life and reengagement. This program allows for families to be pre-emptive and proactive instead of reactive when it comes to challenges in aging.

Q: What LTCI policy do you sell the most these days and why?

AS: Y’know, that’s a great question. As a broker and consultant, we’re completely unbiased and product-neutral, and we provide full disclosure to our clients about our compensation. What is most important to us is to understanding their objectives, and providing them with the best options available to meet those objectives. The choice of carrier and policy comes down to the needs of the client.

Q: How many claims have you seen?

AS: The early part of my career I sold across the kitchen table for 2-3 yrs, before being hired on the carrier side, then developed my own distribution channel, and now work with the clients of private wealth managers and benefits consultants. So, over 21 years or so, there have been about 6 claims I’ve seen.

The one that stands out was back in 1990: One week after policy delivery, a client had a claim. The individual was a widow in her early 70s, had gotten up in the middle of the night, tripped and fell, broke her hip … most of us know the rest of the story.

Q: Think back to when you graduated; what did you plan to be then?

AS: It started for me sitting with guidance counselors before college. They asked “What do you want to do?” I didn’t know, but I did know what I did not want to do. I said, “I don’t ever want to sell anything!”

So, I started as poly sci major, then switched to business administration. I started in the advertising department at Southern New England Telephone (the Bell system). Then, in the late 1980s, due to long-term care issues in my own family, I gravitated toward long-term care insurance because I saw the impact.

Q: What hobby do you most enjoy or would you like to try next?

AS: I’m a bit of a golf addict. Every spare moment. It’s a great opportunity to mix pleasure with business.

Q: What is your favorite drink?

AS: During day it’s iced tea. With family and friends it’s always a glass of wine.

Q: What makes you happy?

AS: Family. Friends. Business associates. I have often said that it’s not as important what you do in life, it’s who you do it with. I’m so blessed to have so many relationships both in the industry and outside. It’s what I treasure the most.

Q: Can you share a resource, service, program, software, etc. (or two) that has been critical to your success?

AS: I don’t know that there’s any one in particular. I try to subscribe to as many outlets to keep current, including the health and benefits arena and the financial planning side.

Steve Moses does a great job keeping us current with Medicaid, etc., and I subscribe to his service (www.CenterLTC.com), and I find the CLTC monthly newsletters to be helpful, as well.

Nearly half my day is spent looking through countless emails that come in with insights into the market space.

I’ve been so privileged to have been involved in so many aspects of this industry, from selling to developing products and distribution channels, which provides me with a clear prospective on the issue of long-term care planning. At the end of the day it comes down to the proper solutions that are available for people to mitigate the risk of an extended health care event. I have found that statistics are absolutely insignificant, because no one believes they apply to them!

For example, we have an exclusive proprietary software system that takes LTCI out of a premium expense discussion and positions the risk as an asset reallocation opportunity. What we are always thinking about is this: What are the great differentiators that my partner and I can bring to our practice that separates us from the field? There are many talented people out there; we are looking to be the cutting-edge firm that provides a unique and different level of service. This is where the health care advocacy and software system comes in.

Q: iPhone, Blackberry or other?

AS: Droid.

Q: How many more years do you see yourself doing this?

AS: Y’know, the beauty of being in a vocation instead of a job is that you do it as long as you want, as long as you’re providing value and enjoying yourself. I don’t see an end game to this. As long as I’m healthy, I’ll be doing this! I may slow the pace down in a couple of years.

Marilee Driscoll is a speaker, writer, consultant and creator of the Driscoll Drip ghostwritten LTCI article program. She can be reached at web@marileedriscoll.com.

For more exclusive LTCI coverage, visit ASJ’s LTCI Resource Center.

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12 Questions for 1 Successful LTCI Agent: Gerard Goulet

Earth to Producers: To Sell LTCI, Own It Yourself

Prediction: LTCI Sales Will Climb in 2011

12 Questions for 1 Successful LTCI Agent: Terry Sandvold

12 Questions for 1 Successful LTCI Agent: Brigitte Bromberg