This year’s nominations for the National Underwriter Industry Elite Awards were stronger than ever, a who’s who of the best and brightest in the realms of market innovation, industry awareness, community outreach and young talent. Our winners and honorable mentions this year stand out for their leadership, drive and brilliance that only the Industry Elites can offer. It was an especially difficult selection process as each and every entry stood with great merit. But alas, only one can be chosen. With that, we present to you the 2014 National Underwriter Industry Elite Awards.
The best effort by an industry professional or organization to give back to the community at large.
Elizabeth Liechty, financial planner at Lincoln Financial Advisors and senior partner at Charter Financial Group, provides investment advisory services to clientele ranging from Fortune 500 executives to those receiving pro bono services, such as hospice patients and their families. Liechty also serves as volunteer, member and chair of the Foundation Board of Directors for Hospice of the Chesapeake, a nonprofit organization in Maryland that provides physical, psycho-social and spiritual support services to individuals living with and affected by advanced illness.
Her efforts span the globe. Liechty is also chair of the audit committee for the Middle East Investment Initiative, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that delivers assistance programs that stimulate economic activity and job creation in the Middle East and North Africa. Within the company, Liechty participates in several organizations including Lincoln Financial Advisor’s Resource Group, Lincoln’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Lincoln’s WISE (women inspiring, supporting, educating) Group, which aims to provide support for female advisors within the firm and female clients in their pursuit of knowledge and services within the financial planning industry. Liechty also volunteers her time to coach other financial planners around LGBT issues. NUL isn’t the only publication taking note of Liechty’s efforts. She was recently named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by the Daily Record, a Maryland business newspaper.
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“I give my time to all of these causes because I firmly believe that we ALL have a sole purpose on Earth – to serve others,” said Liechty. “All of the organizations that I dedicate my time to are doing amazing work and forever changing the lives of those they serve. In the end, I hope that all of my endeavors will leave the world a better place. As Gandhi said so well, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’”
Honorable Mention: The life division of AIG for teaming up with The Arc Davidson County, a grassroots charitable organization centered on helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities reach their goals, including the goal of becoming successfully employed, productive members of their communities.
The best new product or service introduced in 2014.
Mitchell Caplan, CEO at Jefferson National, for his role in helping to launch the JNF SSgA Retirement Income Portfolio, which addresses the three biggest retirement income challenges facing advisors and their clients: a low yield environment, maintaining adequate equity exposure and managing volatility. In partnership with State Street Global Advisors, Caplan and Jefferson National use a proprietary risk management methodology known as Target Volatility Triggers (TVT), which helps manage risk in real time. Jefferson National is the first firm in the U.S. to employ TVT methodology. SSgA’s TVT methodology is a rules-based strategy that adjusts the exposure of assets within a portfolio to target a consistent level of portfolio risk. According to a recent whitepaper by Chris Goolgasian of State Street Global Advisors in the Journal of Index Investing, over the past 20 years, a 14 percent TVT strategy outperformed the S&P 500 benchmark by 73 basis points per year while improving a number of risk metrics, including lower standard deviation, lower beta and substantially improved drawdowns.
Using an approach similar to what insurers use to manage risk on their balance sheets, but with lower fees and greater flexibility, the JNF SSgA Retirement Income Portfolio is the only fund publicly available combines TVT with a diversified portfolio of SPDR ETFs and an overlay that ensures adequate equity exposure to achieve growth but moves to the safety of fixed income or cash when prices trend down or volatility rises.
“With our years of experience driving disruptive innovation, we see the real key to success comes from truly knowing your customer and building your business from the ground up to meet their unique needs,” said Caplan. “With advisors’ rapid move to the fee-based and fee-only model, we recognized the need to re-engineer a new solution that gets back to the basics of tax deferral, to help RIAs, Fee-Based advisors and their clients unlock retirement income.”
Honorable Mention: Craig Gaitan, vice president of marketing for TIAA-CREF, for his role in helping to develop a web application, the Life Wizard, that allows prospects to determine what life insurance is, how much they need and how to get it – all in three minutes or less.