Gary Mettler has been in the insurance industry long enough (thirty years) to have seen just about every up and down imaginable. Mettler’s published a book about those ups and downs and places them in the context of immediate annuities. We sat down for lunch at NAILBA 33 to discuss it.
“How’d you decide to write this book?” I asked.
“Immediate annuities are a mystery to people,” Mettler said. “And it shouldn’t be. I have been passionate about this topic for a long time and about 18 months ago, I decided to sit down and write my book, Always Keep Your Hands Up.”
According to Mettler, “A great divide exists between financial advisors, pension economists and consumers when it comes to immediate annuities, primarily because there is a lack of understanding exactly what they are. It’s only after purchasing one that the consumer falls in love with their contract.”
He said, “The book is written for consumers, though I believe advisors can get information from it as well. In the book, readers will learn how immediate annuities help society as a whole by protecting the most vulnerable of its members from financial collapse due to life’s obstacles, such as chronic illness, unemployment, natural disasters, divorce, business and financial market failures, or any other unpredicted tragedy. Though an immediate annuity won’t make you rich, it will keep you from total financial loss.”
Mettler learned firsthand about catastrophe from being in the eye of a natural disaster. While living in Southern California, his business and home were destroyed by the Northridge Earthquake. “Here’s the thing too many people don’t understand. When your house gets wiped out, you still have a mortgage to pay. People’s lives can get turned upside down in so many different ways and they need to be prepared and SPIAs are a great way to keep them above water.”
One of the main ways that wreck people’s financial plans is divorce. In his many decades serving clients, divorce became a specialty of Mettler’s. He’s worked on well over a thousand divorce cases and seen the financial damage that can occur when the parting spouses haven’t created a financial plan for the aftermath.
As Mettler explained to me last year: “What is one sure-fire way to mess up a financial plan? Divorce! While other financial assets are being chopped up lickety-split, it’s not so fast with DIAs and SPIAs. These irrevocable and guaranteed products are “permanent” and their owners, depending on the contract, enjoy plenty of protections attributable to these contracts’ very simple and unassuming designs.
“And I know many people have divorced more than once and you probably do, too. Talk about really hammering a retirement plan! Want to do your clients a big favor? Sell them some ‘life happens’ insurance not just only investments. Because DIAs and SPIAs are insurance products, they help clients maintain their retirement plan trajectories when worlds collide.”