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Aaron Seurkamp. (Photo: Protective Life)

Your Clients Need 3 Types of Income: Aaron Seurkamp

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What You Need to Know

  • Seurkamp sees the retirement services industry consolidating.
  • He says income guarantees still matter.
  • He says guarantees look even more important when the market falls.

Aaron Seurkamp wants you to help your clients with not just one type of income planning, but with three types of income planning.

Seurkamp is a senior vice president at Protective Life and president of the company’s retirement division.

Protective Life is a Birmingham, Alabama-based Dai-ichi Life subsidiary with about $132 billion in assets

Seurkamp, who is based in Cincinnati, has a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University. He started out working in a Protective call center 18 years ago. Since then, he has risen through the life and annuity sales and distribution ranks.

He has helped shape retirement planning ideas throughout the world by serving on the board of The American College of Financial Services for two years, and through his current posts as a member of the financial wellness steering committee at LIMRA and as a member of the board of a LIMRA sibling organization, the Secure Retirement Institute.

We asked Seurkamp a set of questions about what he’s been seeing and doing. Here are his replies.

1. What were you doing last year, and how did that go?

The past year has affected every business and thankfully, Protective’s management philosophy and approach enables us to weather unexpected storms (whether a recession or global pandemic).

Through prudent management, Protective has positioned itself well to capitalize on a consolidating industry and emerge as a preeminent player in helping customers protect what is most important to them.

That being said, during periods of significant economic volatility, it is an opportunity for us to step up and provide customers with the security they’re looking for.

We never stop problem solving for our customers’ needs.

The past year we have seen a shift in the landscape to where customers are seeking three main things to protect their retirement:

  1. Guaranteed retirement incomes.
  2. Protection of principle.
  3. Tax-favored accumulation.

These types of products are highly sought after and very valuable in periods of economic uncertainty, whether it’s the geopolitical unrest we are currently experiencing or a global pandemic like the past two years.

In addition to how we think about products, the way we support our distributors and customers has also evolved significantly through leveraging digital capabilities.

For example, instead of meeting face-to-face with wholesalers and advisors, we now have the flexibility to conduct a virtual meeting.

Our support model has evolved to provide advisors with more efficient support whether they desire efficient digital support or in-person guidance.

2. What’s your main focus right now?

Our focus will always be on protecting people.

We’ve been doing it for 115 years, and we see it as our duty and responsibility to put people first. That will never change.

Within Protective’s retirement division, we are centering around three product categories right now:

  1. Longevity-oriented solutions on a fixed or fixed index annuity framework.
  2. Equity-based accumulation and longevity solutions.
  3. Efficient wealth transfer through a simplified whole life chassis.

Two of these product categories are acutely focused on guaranteed income, with an emphasis on accumulation in a tax-deferred way.

As the client earmarks assets for wealth transfer, we can do that in a tax-friendly way through their death beneficiary.

3. What forces out there are helping, and what forces are hurting?

During periods of significant volatility and uncertainty, retirement solutions that guarantee income are attractive.

Concerns about rising income taxes leads advisors and consumers to find increased value in our products.

Protective also provides the stability and financial backing needed to offer these solutions, which helps us deliver on our promises.

However, we are coming off a 14-year bull market run. Guarantees (at the time) may not have seemed important because the market was going up.

When it turns down, underlying guarantees become very valuable and should be leveraged in a financial plan.

4. What, if anything, would you like to see our readers or other players doing to bring about positive change?

Now more than ever, it’s important for advisors and clients to take a disciplined and specialized approach to plan for retirement.

Get very specific about which asset classes fit within the different areas of retirement they want to enjoy.

There are three types of income to consider:

  1. Essential income: Enough available income to essentially keep the lights on and groceries on the table.
  2. Lifestyle income: Activities you enjoy doing that you’ll need to make room for in retirement.
  3. Legacy income: If all things go according to plan, what will you leave the next generation?

It’s very easy to fall into “cookie cutter” retirement plans, driven exclusively by high-level asset-allocation targets and systematic withdrawal rates.

Increasingly advisors will need to develop a financial picture for each client and determine what investment tools best enable clients to achieve their goals aligned with their risk tolerance.

The approach should be tailored and very specific to each person to address their unique objectives with the right portfolio needed to achieve financial security in retirement.

5. What do you think your market (or your specialty, or the world) will look like five years from now?

The industry will continue to reinvent itself to address consumer needs as they evolve.

At Protective, we are constantly aspiring for better and adapting our solutions to provide the protection, but in five years, that could look very different. It’s hard to predict.

What we can do is continue to leverage our investment expertise and financial strength to protect the retirement of the customers our advisors work with.

We can keep an eye on the aging population as many will retire in the next decade. We can also encourage customized retirement strategies based on individual and unique circumstances.

Everyone deserves a sense of security and freedom. We’re here to help them achieve it, since we see our role as protectors.

Aaron Seurkamp. (Photo: Protective Life)