Travis Scribner (Photo: WestPac) Travis Scribner (Photo: WestPac)

As the 2018 Life Insurance Awareness Month draws to a close, financial services professionals are asking the same kind of question they ask at the end of every awareness month, or week, campaign: How do we make every month an awareness month?

Here’s a look at how one financial professional, Travis Scribner ,goes about trying to do that.

Travis Scribner celebrated Life Insurance Awareness Month roughly the same way he spends every month: by making families aware that they can use permanent life insurance as a vehicle for paying for college.

Scribner is a financial advisor and managing partner in the Las Vegas office of WestPac Wealth Partners, a wealth management firm

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He also hosts a weekly radio show, “Las Vegas Money Resource.”

He talked about how he markets the idea of using life insurance for college funding in a recent interview.

What does life insurance have to do with college funding (for students with living parents)?

A traditional whole life, universal life, indexed universal life or variable universal life policy pays the policyholder a dividend, fixed interest, or variable interest depending on the policy type

The rate of return may be lower than for a 529 college savings plan, but the parent can borrow against the policy value to pay for college, and the parent owns the policy and controls the cash, Scribner said.

The family can do whatever it wants with the cash, Scribner added.

When a family uses a 529 plan to save for college, the family may run into problems with using the cash if a child skips college, or a child wins a big scholarship that sharply reduces the cost of attendance.

Using permanent life insurance policy as the funding vehicle eliminates the headaches related to uncertainty about what babies who are learning how to chew on their fingers today will be doing 18 years in the future.

What’s the best target for marketing life-based college funding arrangements?

Scribner aims his marketing at upper middle class and mass affluent families that can afford to spend at least about $300 per month on additional life insurance.

Scribner focuses mainly on explaining the existence of the life-based funding arrangement, and how the arrangements work.

“With the vast majority, it’s never even been discussed with them,” Scribner said. “They are very receptive to it.”

Instead of the conversation being primarily about the rate of return, “it’s a conversation about what they want the money to be able to do,” Scribner said.

What’s Scribner’s strategy?

Scribner does not try to make clients aware of the life-based approach by running an ad in the newspaper or putting up a billboard.

Instead, he organizes seminars on topics of interest to parents of young children, such as seminars aimed at parents of 2-year-olds.

He gives the attendees a survey form to fill out. One of the questions asks whether an attendee wants to speak to an advisor. If an attendee wants to speak to an advisor, the firm sets up a meeting with Scribner.

Scribner will then discuss many college saving strategies, including strategies that use permanent life insurance, in conjunction with a holistic planning effort.

How does advertising fit in?

Although Scribner does not use advertising to promote the life-based college saving arrangements, he does use low-key forms of advertising to make consumers aware of the seminars.

WestPac itself is just 10 years old. Advisors with the firm started out marketing it with just about every available tool, Scribner said.

Now, he said, he gets most of his own leads through referrals. He adds new clients and prospects to an email mailing list. Scribner promotes the seminars mainly by using email blasts and social media posts to reach the people in the firm’s circle of contacts.

Scribner said he thinks other financial professionals should experiment with a wide range of strategies, to see which strategies work best for them.

How does Life Insurance Awareness Month fit in?

Scribner said that it’s rare that life insurance company ads or Life Insurance Awareness Month activities produce leads.

But he said any ads the life insurers and Life Happens run create a good environment for talking to clients.

“The more awareness people come in with, the better,” he said.

— Read 10 Issues to Resolve So You Can Succeed at Seminar Marketingon ThinkAdvisor.

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