Close Close

Life Health > Life Insurance

Slideshow: How Producer Education Pays Dividends

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

A producer who has earned the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation makes, on average, 27% more than a non-CLU producer, according to research from The American College. A producer who has the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation and the CLU earns 51% more than the producer who has neither.

Education doesn’t cost — it pays. Here’s some quick insight about the tangible benefits of being well trained for your job from Larry Barton, Ph.D., president and CEO of The American College, and a handful of top producers who continue to reap the benefits of a solid industry education. Click the link on each page to read the entire article about each featured professional.

Next: Larry Barton, Ph.D.


Designations = Greater Compensation

Larry Barton, Ph.D., president and CEO of The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., pointed out in an April 2010 cover story in Life Insurance Selling that producers with credible designations tend to earn a lot more than agents without these designations:

“The best investment you can make in an agent is education. Our studies show that just in terms of productivity, a CLU on average makes about 27% more total income than a non-CLU. If you combine the CLU with the ChFC, it jumps to about 51%. You’re going to be a more successful agent if you spend the two to three years to become a graduate of The American College. Why wouldn’t you do that? If you’re just coming through your company training program, you’ll be good, but you won’t be on ‘steroids.’”

Next: Thomas McCleary, CLU



Thomas McCleary, CLU, president of Endow Inc., a multiline insurance services company in Chicago, has long been involved with industry organizations including NAIFA, MDRT and The American College. He recognizes that these organizations have been fundamental to his success.

“Throughout my career, I have leaned on my industry experience, with the friendships I’ve made, the people I’ve met. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that involvement. You talk about competition, but there’s not a lot of competition in the industry — there’s a lot of giving and idea sharing, and I have picked up some of my best sales ideas and techniques at these meetings.”

McCleary was encouraged to take CLU classes as soon as he started his career in the industry with Prudential, and earned the designation in 1972.

“I had a terrific manager at Prudential, John Lassiter Jr., who really cared about how I grew and developed. He was always pushing me into things that he thought would make me successful. I was kind of a shy person, and I always struggled with talking with older people. But the CLU gave me the confidence to talk to anyone — I really knew my stuff.”

Tom started Endow in 1978 and left Prudential in 1980. With the focus on small businesses, Endow worked to “take care of all of their insurance needs.” His retirement plan practice stemmed from a CLU retirement/pension course, where he got to know the instructor, Donald House, who offered to go with Tom when he visited a potential prospect.

“He taught me the pension business — not just in the classroom, but in the field. Donald went with me and we made sales, and it was a terrific way of getting involved in the retirement plan business.”

Click here to read Thomas McCleary’s entire Producer Profile article.

Next: Hugo Castro, M.B.A., CFP, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF


Training at Every Level

Hugo Castro, M.B.A., CFP, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, co-branch manager at AXA Advisors’ South Florida branch in Miami, has a selective eye for recruiting those who are ‘coachable’ and eager for success in the business. This has helped the branch maintain close to a 40% retention rate, compared to the industry’s 11% rate. The branch’s retention rate is aided by the emphasis Castro puts on training for all associates, from new recruits to veterans. AXA’s South Florida branch has a director of training who helps coordinate the instruction into four levels: pre-employment, basic level, intermediate, and advanced training. New associates go through each level, and experienced producers will continue to receive advanced training.

“Everybody who works at this branch will get ongoing training, indefinitely. We feel very strongly about that… Our thinking behind all this training, particularly for new associates, but also for experienced associates, is that the more training you give them, and the more they rehearse and role play, the greater their confidence becomes in the skills of the business. If we can drive that confidence up, that’s going to translate into sales out in the field… We want to work with our better-selling producers to enhance their practices and get them to grow in their productivity. One of the mistakes people make in management is they spend a lot of time on the ‘squeaky wheel,’ when instead they should spend as much time as possible with their best-producing associates, or biggest clients, because the end result is that that will give you much better growth and productivity for your time.

“It’s all about focusing and making the time to take the courses. The continuing education is not required, but we strongly encourage it. We have an ingrained education culture here, so it’s about setting the expectations and most people will buy into it. Our business is becoming more sophisticated, so if you have professional designations, that will lend you a lot of credibility to the public and your clients.”

Click here to read the entire Producer Profile article on Hugo Castro, M.B.A., CFP, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF.

Next: Paul Kaplan, CLU


Eradicating the Order-Takers

May 2008 Producer Profile subject Paul Kaplan, CLU, told Life Insurance Selling he is always looking to recruit and develop new agency producers. It is a part of the industry he believes needs a lot of work.

“The insurance industry has bred a bunch of order-takers because we are not recruiting and training anymore. We’re proselytizing, so if I bring in someone today and tell them to explain a universal life policy, they have no clue. If you understand what you’re selling, you’re going to be able to help clients achieve their goals and not just be an order-taker by spreadsheeting your premiums. Unless you study the differences in the products, you’re just going to go to the far left column of the spreadsheet and choose the cheapest one. You have to at least understand the underpinnings of a policy in order to market it properly.”

Next: Bob Anderson, CLU, LUTCF


Earning Through Learning

“Some people have 10 years of experience, and others have one year of experience 10 times because they don’t make an effort to grow. In our firm, we want people to be credentialed.”

So says Bob Anderson, CLU, LUTCF, of Anderson Financial Services Inc. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who was the subject of Life Insurance Selling’s Aug. 2009 Producer Profile. A Life and Qualifying Member of the Million Dollar Round Table who has attended the MDRT annual meeting for more than 20 years in a row, Anderson is a big proponent of building professional expertise through continuing education and attending conferences.

“I talked myself out of going [to MDRT] for the first five years, saying I couldn’t afford it or I was too busy. But once I went to my first one, every year I say, Lord willing, I’ll keep going. The MDRT is such a great melting pot of ideas.”

For most of the past 20 years, he’s been the lead teacher of an annual intensive three-week estate planning course. Life Investors/Transamerica sponsors the school for up to 10 experienced producers from around the United States, who come to Cedar Rapids in the early spring.

“It’s a progressive school, very hands-on. We take them through three phases: textbook, practical application, and business philosophy, including how to effectively work with other professionals. If you look at the top producers at Life Investors/Transamerica, probably 75% of them have been through that school.” 

Next: Jerry Hulick, CLU, ChFC, CLTC


Specialized Training

June 2008 Life Insurance Selling Producer Profile subject Jerry Hulick, CLU, ChFC, CLTC, leads the Special Care Planning Team for The Washington Group, one of the largest agencies in the country affiliated with MassMutual. He and his eight special care planners operate out of Fairfax, Va. Jerry and all members of his team are professionally certified through MassMutual’s SpecialCare program, which includes an intensive four-day course on special needs planning, developed in cooperation with The American College. Hulick holds two formal team meetings every month — one for operational planning, the other for continuing education (CE).

“We’ll bring in someone from Social Security or an attorney. I’m always in a development mode. That’s one reason why my team is technically so good  — we’re constantly feeding them.”

Sometimes Hulick encourages “whole person” development, too, by inviting motivational and inspirational speakers — authors of books he has read or people he’s heard at industry conferences. Attendance at the CE meetings is mandatory.

“Unless a person has a major excuse, if he or she misses two CE meetings, they’re off the team.”

Check out these other Producer slideshows:

Selling Processes of Top Producers

Why Life Insurance Producers Love Their Jobs