Joshua Coleman, founder and CEO of Momentum Advanced Planning and an independent advisor associated with the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, has a lot to say about the insurance industry, and most of it goes against societal stereotypes. Insurance is exciting, Coleman vows. Moreover, it’s an industry that rewards innovation and talent, and that is perfectly suited to millennials’ twin demands for flexibility and the chance to have an impact.
It’s a convincing argument that could go a long way toward solving the industry’s recruiting woes. We sat down with Coleman to find out how he got started, what opportunity he sees ahead and his No. 1 piece of advice for young advisors.
LHP: Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?
JC: I’m a self-proclaimed nerd and was drawn to insurance first because of its relation to math. After graduating from Villanova University with a degree in finance, specializing in financial mathematics, I wanted to do something with math and numbers that wasn’t teaching. I wanted do something in practice with numbers. So, finance and insurance were appealing.
Secondly, I recognized an opportunity within the aging workforce in the space. To me, it was just another basic math problem. There’s a ton of people that have to be taken care of, and after advisors retire, there are fewer and fewer new advisors joining the industry to fill that role. That presents a challenge and an opportunity and I was intrigued by that.
LHP: Describe what you do.
JC: I play quarterback, but not the type of quarterback you may be thinking of. I serve as an advanced planning quarterback for families and successful businesses. I do this through partnering with the advisors they’re already working with and acting as a financial engineer.
I supplement what the advisory team is already doing, bring potential new ideas to the table, and then play quarterback to build out any additions to the advisory team that may be necessary, and service the solutions put in place.
LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
JC: What makes me most proud is my first year in the insurance space. During the span of just 365 days, I was able to make a charitable impact of over nine figures for a very small group of our initial clients. When clients are happy and a large group of charities are benefitting, that’s a win to me and definitely something I’m proud to have been a part of.
LHP: What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?
JC: The biggest challenge in this industry is that we implement extremely sophisticated solutions that include a lot of moving parts. This challenge has become, in my mind, the biggest risk for the industry.
The solutions are good, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be maintained properly and carried out well in the future. The reason I say this is because the industry is currently faced with an aging workforce, and we also have the upfront compensation in insurance.
How can we eliminate this risk? One thing I’d like to change is to spread compensation based on keeping solutions in place and long-term success.
LHP: What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?
JC: There’s an innumerable amount of families and businesses to help, and that’s exciting to me. So many advisors have become really niche, which is great, and I see it as a huge opportunity for a group like ours to weave together those niche practitioners for the broader long-term solutions. There’s no shortage of niche specialists and no shortage of clients that need help, so bridging that gap and bringing those groups together is exciting.
Also, there’s an amazing opportunity in this industry for those just stepping into the career world or those looking to make a change. In our industry, you get to build a career around your life as opposed to being forced into a career that regulates your life. At Momentum, we currently offer employees the option to work remotely which is extremely unique in the industry. You can design the life you want to live and build a career around it, and you really can’t beat that!
LHP: What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?
JC: Millennials are looking for someone that’s been where they are and understands where they’re coming from. The absolute worst thing you can do for a millennial is try to convince them that you know exactly what they need.
Also, millennials appreciate someone who’s going to value their input into a solution. Their access to information is immense, and their ability to get it means that they should be part of the solution dialogue. Advancements in technology have made it simpler to include millennials in that dialogue, but at the same time, involving the millennial in the decision, to me, is crucial.
LHP: What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?
JC: Listen to advice and learn from people who are in the space — but don’t copy it. Combine it with your own personal take on the world, and think of how you can bring something to the table that would enhance what you’re being told or shown. Providing a different perspective is invaluable.
The best advice I could have gotten starting out in this industry would have been to not be afraid and not to think that every successful person does it the same way. In reality, it’s very much the opposite. So, if you don’t start forging custom paths through the space early, you probably never will, and as a result you may not be as successful and effective.
Editor’s Note: Joshua Coleman was featured on LifeHealthPro’s list, 30 under 30: Meet the millennials who are transforming the industry. View the full list here.