Chad Parks would like to make life and annuity agents jealous of property and casualty agents.
Parks is the founder and chief executive officer of Ubiquity Retirement + Savings.
The company has been marketing a simple, standardized, flat-fee 401(k) plan program to small U.S. employers since 1999. The company has about 7,000 employer clients, with about $2 billion in plan assets, located all over the United States.
Parks visited ThinkAdvisor’s offices in New York recently to convey the idea that all insurance agents, and especially life insurance agents, should be selling more retirement plans.
Here are three things he said, drawn from what he said during that visit.
1. Plenty of small employers are buying retirement plans.
Parks emphasized that employers are really setting up defined contribution retirement plans today, and that 401(k) plan sales have not gone the way of wingtip shoes, or typewriters.
Many P&C brokers with employee benefits arms have been getting paid to connect employers with Ubiquity, and life and annuity agents could do that, too, Parks said.
The referral fee is $250 per employer per year.
Life and annuity agents could talk about retirement plans when they do things like visiting employer clients to help them set up buy-sell life insurance and disability insurance arrangements, he said.
Life and annuity agents should know about selling off-the-shelf 401(k) plans “it’s not as foreign as you think it is,” Parks said. “You don’t want you clients looking for other services from other providers.
2. The Secure Act could make the retirement plan sales opportunity a lot bigger.
The version of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act bill, or Secure Act bill, that the House passed in March included a provision that would increase a small employer’s maximum tax break for setting up a retirement plan to $5,000, from $500 today, and add an extra tax break for new sponsors that include an automatic enrollment provision.
The expanded tax credit “takes care of all of your fees,” Parks said.
3. Deferred income annuities are great.
Parks said providing a deferred income annuity (DIA) — an annuity contract designed to pay a fixed, lifetime stream of benefits starting late in retirement — is a great way to protect workers against longevity risk at an affordable price.
A DIA is much cheaper than an annuity with a benefit stream that starts when a worker retires, Parks said.
Today, he said, people have to go outside their plans to buy DIAs.
Parks would like to package DIAs along 401(k) plans.
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