(Q32012) Annuity Interview w/ Sheryl J Moore

Indexed Annuity Report – Tips and Trends from Expert Sheryl Moore!

sjmRecently I had the great opportunity to interview fixed indexed annuity expert, Sheryl J. Moore. Sheryl is the President and CEO of Moore Market Intelligence, and collects data on indexed annuity industry trends and the marketplace.  Sheryl has helped me to personally stay on top of the industry, and ahead of the curve, so I was excited when the opportunity to interview her regarding the current state of our marketplace surfaced.

The 3rd quarter, 2012 (3Q2012) AnnuitySpecs.com Indexed Sales & Market Report was just released, and I wanted to spend my time with Sheryl getting her insight into the numbers, and the trends she’s seeing. Hopefully you find her opinions as thought-provoking as I did. Without further ado…


Matt Neuman
: We’re nearly done with 2012 and 75% of the year’s sales data is in. How do you think this year has gone for Fixed Indexed Annuities?

Sheryl Moore: Are you kidding? I am absolutely thrilled about indexed annuity sales in 2012. Our third quarter, 2012 sales were greater than all other quarters in history, with the exception of third quarter, 2010. We are going to blow all records out of the water, come the end of this year. I am projecting that not only will fourth quarter close-out a record year, but that it should be a record-setting quarter as well. Not too bad considering this has been THE most challenging time to sell fixed and indexed annuities!

Matt Neuman: What trends do you see developing as we near 2013?

Sheryl Moore:  First, there will continue to be a rising demand for indexed annuities due to continued market uncertainty and historical-low rates. For these same reasons, we will continue to see many new companies entering the indexed annuity market for the first time. Rider election for Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefits (GLWBs) will continue their downward trend. As companies are forced to scale-back the attractiveness of these benefits, their popularity will decline. Lastly, there will be a continued increase in the development of new indexed crediting strategies.

Matt Neuman: Do you see any new carriers and products making a big impact in the marketplace? Why do you think that is?

Sheryl Moore:  I have seen a few new companies making a splash in the indexed annuity market. Although I do not endorse any company or product, not mentioning Allstate, Pacific Life, and Security Benefit Life’s new products would be an oversight. Allstate’s captive distribution has benefited from their simple and straightforward product designs. Pacific Life is making inroads in the bank and wire house distributions with a relatively competitive GLWB. Security Benefit Life has caught the attention of independent insurance agents with another relatively competitive GLWB in addition to a new indexed annuity based on a proprietary index. Needless to say, the indexed annuity market isn’t lacking for diversity in distribution or product features today.

Matt Neuman: Sheryl, as you know, Advisors Excel is one of the only marketing companies with a selling agreement for the indexed annuities currently offered through Security Benefit Life’s independent agents. I noticed that the SBL Total Value Annuity and Secure Income Annuity are the top two best-selling indexed annuities for the third quarter – is that right?

Sheryl Moore:  That’s right, Matt. The newer of the two products, TVA, was the top-selling indexed annuity this quarter. The Secure Income Annuity came-in a very close second-place according to AnnuitySpecs.com’s Indexed Sales & Market Report for the third quarter of 2012.

Matt Neuman:  Do you see other carriers and products declining in market share? Why do you think that is?

Sheryl Moore:  Nearly all companies and products in the indexed annuity market are losing market share as a whole. There are so many new companies entering this market due to declining fixed and variable annuity sales. In addition, the low-interest rate environment has sparked new product development, as it always does, resulting in a slew of new annuities.

Matt Neuman: Lastly, what product advice would you give financial advisors, as they decide which products to position in the future?

Sheryl Moore:  My best product advice to financial advisors would be to make certain that you understand the needs, objectives, and goals of your prospect prior to making any recommendations. Ensure that YOU know the product like the back of your hand. Then, educate your prospect on the product, in addition to providing your rationale for suggesting it as a solution for them. It is far easier to grow your practice in this manner than to be in a perpetual state of conserving business. And don’t forget to CYA – COVER YOUR ANNUITIES!”

All in all, things are looking great for the fixed indexed annuity industry. Now more than ever, clients need your help and expertise in finding ways to protect their retirements. Take this opportunity to show your clients how you can help them realize their retirement goals! There are more product options and solutions than ever before to help you solve any of your prospects’ needs.

A big thanks to industry expert Sheryl Moore for her insights into 2012 and what to look forward to in our futures. If you’d like to stay connected with Sheryl, check out www.IndexedRockstar.com (be sure to subscribe to the newsletter) or via Twitter @IndexedGirl.

Stay focused and Advise with Passion.
MJN

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45 Appointments … 0 Invitations

Another week, another incredibly successful idea from the nation’s elite producers!

Today I’ll share what Jason L. from Pennsylvania did to fill his calendar until the end of the year. He didn’t have time to schedule additional workshops and his calendar was looking too sparse. So what did he do?

  • Step 1:  Study the Security Benefit TVA, specifically the ALTVI index (and the alternative investment components of it)
  • Step 2:  Call one of his workshop locations (he used a country club) and reserve a room in 2 weeks, with light food & drinks (he paid $12 per person)
  • Step 3:  Assemble a list of clients to call who don’t have any exposure to alternative investments in their portfolio
  • Step 4:  Create a script to call the clients with; which sounded something like this:

With the election behind us, we all have a much clearer path on how to structure our investment plans. It’s safe to say the commodity, bond and stock markets were focused on the 2012 elections for a long time. This isn’t a political statement, but nearly every expert now agrees that with the “fiscal cliff” coming quickly, a true recession is on the horizon. The US debt is growing at record rates, taxes are going up and the Federal Reserve just prints more and more money everyday.

Why am I telling you all this? It’s because we’ve scheduled a get-together for our clients, for you, on ___________ at __________ and I wanted to call and personally invite you.

At the meeting we’re covering what alternatives you have for the next 2, 3 and 4 years to not be caught off guard and not be part of what looks like a financial disaster coming. We believe part of the solution is to quit relying just on how the stock markets will perform and to take a strong look at alternative investments; things that aren’t correlated to whether the stock markets go up or down. Would you agree? Again, I thought about you specifically when we put this together and want you to be there. Can I count on you make it?
We’ve saved just a couple spots for friends and you’re welcome to bring a guest if you’d like. (Wait for response). I’ll see you then!

  • Step 5:  He ordered as many “A Company You Can Trust” Security Benefit brochures as needed.
  • Step 6:  His staff mailed a confirmation letter to the guests who RSVP’d, with very little language about the topic. It was much simpler – date, time, place and letting them know food was ordered for them.
  • Step 7:  His staff mailed their “Shock n Awe” marketing kits to the 12 referral guests who’d be attending before the event
  • Step 8: Prepare the presentation that basically flowed like:
    • Thanks for being our clients, here’s an update with our firm
    • Here’s why we’re all here, status of the economy
    • This isn’t like before, it could get very bad and very scary soon
    • Here’s a few solutions that include managed money and (mostly) the ALTVI index, TVA product and how it works

The results?

171 people in attendance, 110 households, 45 appointments set and a calendar full until the end of the year! He’s only held a couple appointments and is already looking at over $600k in closing appointments into TVA.
All that with $0 invitation money spent and only $2000 in total costs (food)!!!

This should give you everything to copy this idea and do it yourself! It’s laid out for you. But if I can do anything else to help implement it, contact me.

Advise with passion & fill those calendars!
MJN

1 Seminar Handout — 3 Options

One Seminar Handout + One Small Change (3 Options) = HUGE Results!

How much impact can one small change really make? This week I’ll challenge your thinking and ask you to integrate the basic behavioral economic “dominated option” into your seminar appointment process.

A very successful advisor we consult in Louisville recently did exactly that and has experienced powerful results. Three months ago his seminar appointment ratio was declining. Where it used to be 45-50% at each event, things had started to slip closer to 40% and even more recently they were averaging closer to 35%. So only 1 in every 3 households at the seminar were setting appointments; and he knew something had to change! Matt looked to tweak the appointment process at the seminar, the message given during the event and even how the initial invitation read to prime the prospects beforehand. All of that was great education, but in the end, just one material change was made – integrating a “dominated option” to his evaluation form filled out by prospects. And success followed…

The “dominated option” of behavioral economics states if you’re persuading people to make a decision, giving them only two options isn’t optimal. Do you want a glass of water (Yes or No)? Do you like my shoes (Yes or No)? Do you want to meet with me in my office (Yes or No)?

With every choice in life, nothing is good or bad except by comparison. Every choice needs to have context. So instead of asking “Do you want a glass of water” (where most of the time you’d say ‘no’); what if I said “Do you want a glass of water? And do you like it better in a chilled glass or bottle?” What if instead of saying “Do you like my shoes” (where all of you would say ‘yes’…but that’s beside the point) I said “Do you like my shoes? And if so, would you like them better in brown or black?”

Those two small examples now give me a two in three chance of hearing a yes versus a no. So my odds are greatly improved. But let’s take it a step farther and look at the biggest advantage, the “dominated option”. What if I threw the question “Do you want to meet with me in my office” out entirely, and replaced it with “Do you want to meet with me in my office? And if so, would you like a free tax return this year/copy of my book/will established for free/(fill in your blank that’s better than just an appointment)?

Right now, I’m guessing your seminar evaluation sheet has two options. Option one is requesting a no-obligation meeting at your office and option two says no thanks. That’s polite, non-threatening and the easiest way to do it; but not the most effective. To improve, spend time crafting a third option. That third option should have someone requesting a no-obligation meeting with you AND something else in addition. Even though clients are still making the choice to “Yes or No” meet with you, adding the “dominated option” will noticeably improve the ratio of yes’s. Is it rational? Nope. Does it work? Absolutely.

Going back to Matt in Kentucky, he previously had two standard options for seminar prospects and it wasn’t working. Matt’s made the change and now has three options on his response form:  (1) No, I don’t want to meet (2) Yes, I want to meet and (3) Yes, I want to meet and a free complimentary copy of Matt’s book. Since making the change, Matt had a 70% response at their next couple events, and is consistently above 50% at each subsequent event since. Nothing else about his workshops has changed! So this is the only (and obviously powerful) variable in play.

Don’t delay in making this tweak!

And if you’d benefit from seeing Matt’s actual evaluation form – CONTACT ME – I’m happy to share it.

Advise with Passion,
MJN

Corporate Sponsorship — Sporting Client Event

Best Marketing $$$$ Ever Spent!

Sporting Client Event

I recently had the opportunity to learn from one of the nation’s top advisors about (in his words) “the best marketing money I’ve spent – EVER!”

Bill is the advisor in Ohio and he’s a big sports fan. While at a minor league baseball game with his sons, he saw corporate advertising everywhere and wondered how he could do the same thing – but bigger and better! So Bill contacted the right people and partnered with the local minor league club, becoming one of their major corporate sponsors.  The corporate sponsorship costs him only $8000 a year. With a three-year commitment to a corporate sponsorship, Bill was able to dictate what benefits he received. He negotiated the following with the baseball team:

  • “Don’t Throw Away Your Retirement” sign with his website on every trash can in ball park
  • His website, contact information and logo in every program
  • Name and contact information on the marquee scrolling sign out in front of the ballpark on Interstate-90 &
  • Sponsorship for a home game

For the home game sponsorship, Bill always picks a night that he knows the ball park will be crowded.  This year he did it on Breast Cancer Awareness night, and partnered with the Mercy Foundation who raises money for breast cancer awareness and other great causes.  They name the night “Pack the Park Pink” and over 3000 people attend the game.  Bill and his staff wear pink polo shirts with their logo on them.

The game sponsorship gets Bill several things:

  • Unlimited number of tickets
  • Bill throws out the first pitch
  • Bill goes up in the radio booth and calls play-by-play for one inning
  • Bill speaks to the crowd before the game
    • He keeps this short. Introduces himself and his business, and says if you are at or near retirement, go to www.noincomeworrries.com (the landing page for his book) and request one free
    • Bill’s business and website is announced all night throughout the stadium speakers
    • First 1000 people into the game get a give-a-way. This year it was a pink coffee travel mug with Bill’s logo. In the past Bill has done a branded tailgate chair as the give-a-way.

With regard to inviting clients, Bill calls this a client appreciation event.  Since they have an unlimited number of tickets to give away, his office does an email blast to all of his clients inviting them to the game. Each client can get up to 6 tickets to bring kids and grandkids. There is a deadline to reply if they going and how many tickets they will need.

The last game, Bill had 350 people attend. In addition, his top 20 clients watch the game from a fully catered suite in the ballpark. All other clients and guests received a ticket for a free hot dog, bag of chips, and soda. The reason Bill asks his clients to bring kids and grandkids (rather than friends) is because it’s too hard to talk business in that setting. A lot of his client’s children are now boomers and Bill gets business from the event naturally.

There is no cost to the clients and their family to attend the game but each person that attends must donate $5 to the Mercy Foundation. During the game, Bill then presents a check to Mercy Foundation/Breast Cancer Awareness for $2500. The pictures of him and the big check are then leveraged into PR.

Can you use this?!?
I challenge you to think about teams and sponsorships in your local area. The team doesn’t have to be baseball – it could be any sporting event (soccer, basketball, football, hockey, etc.) that’s looking for corporate sponsorships. Major league venues work fine, but you’re likely to get the biggest impact with minor league or independent league teams that still draw good attendance.

My last offer — if you’d use them — Contact me for the specific trashcan signs and field signage that Bill uses around the baseball stadium. I’m happy to share and AE Creative Services could customize these for you also.

Advise with passion.
MJN

50+ Millionaire Appointments … Attorney Co-Sponsored Seminar

I’ll cut to the chase. We consult an advisor who’s generating enormous seminar results this week and I felt compelled to share how. This is great stuff and it’s working right now by one of your peers! The seminars he’s currently conducting:

  1. Have costs split 50/50
  2. Use a mailing list with increased investable asset criteria to $1,000,000+ (double their normal)
  3. Off 5000 mailers, generated results of:
    1. 168 reservations within 48 hours (3.36%)
    2. 210 reservations within 5 days (4.2%)
    3. 2 additional nights needed for presentations
  4. Required only 30 minutes of speaking
  5. On the first night (2 more to follow) generated 26 appointment requests off 29 buying units!

Too good to be true? It’s not, these are facts.
Instead of trying to paraphrase how they’ve done it, I’m going to share the exact email I received from the advisor. In his words:

Here is the info on the last seminar we conducted and still are conducting based on the huge response…
First off, we partnered with a law firm who I have a relationship with an attorney we have used over the past couple years in doing our clients estate planning…1.  We split ALL the costs 50-50 including the mailing to the food
2.  We got a very prestigious location that everyone knew about,and most have never been to… www.thecastlepost.com
3.  Only sent out 5,000 mailers since this was the first time we had done anything like this through RME, Wedding style invite
4.  We went after $1,000,000 in assets and up was hoping for 50 people at best, within 48 hours we had 168 people…by the end of the week, we had over 210
5.  So we did 2 other nights and filled those up as well…over 4% response ratio and we have not been anywhere close to that with other mailers throughout the year…
6.  We had the attorney speak for 30 minutes and Kevin spoke for 30 minutes..the first night we had 29 buying units not counting clients and got 26 appts
7.  We are doing our second event Thursday the 25th
8.  All 3 nights will cost each of the attorney and us around $8,000 and based on our numbers that is half of 1 client to recover our cost

Hope this can help other guys within AE.

I love the idea and know a lot of advisors who can use it. Do you have any (the higher-end, the better) estate planning attorneys, CPAs, etc. you do mutual work with who are looking for clients? Are they willing to spend a little money to market? Is there a location you could put on the invitation that would be a BIG draw for clients in upper demographics? Lastly, are there any unique, joint strategies you could present to drive appointments?

For example, in this scenario, the attorney spoke for 30 minutes on their firm. The last part of their presentation talked about the benefits of establishing trusts. That transitioned into the advisor’s portion of the presentation, where they began with split-dollar life insurance funding inside the trust. After that, the advisor continued with a few more points and closed for appointments; which they set at the event.

But what an incredible opportunity, right?
When everything is said and done, the above advisor should have 50-60 millionaire prospects coming into his office for first appointments. That’s a game changer.

If you have any implementation questions or if you’d like a copy of the invitation they used, contact me.

Advise with passion.
MJN

Country Club Invitation

A successful financial advisor we consult from Maine was frustrated recently. He wasn’t just a little frustrated…but a lot frustrated. Most of it stemmed back to a large decrease in the response rate to his dinner workshop invitations. Nothing had changed either; we were using the same mailer and process he used regularly to prospect for new clients that’d been steadily working. Dissecting it on the surface, nothing was glaring wrong to cause the drop off: same message, same high-end locations, same mailing company, demographics and socioeconomic statuses, overall same “formula”. But thinking a bit deeper, therein we found the problem. Everything was the same! And ultimately this advisor wasn’t surrounded by enough ideal prospects to accommodate mailing area rotations that kept up with his seminar frequency, so he was saturating the area.

What’s the solution?!?
I’d like to take credit, but can’t. He found this on his own and it packed the room!

This advisor was networking with friends, one who worked at the local country club. It’s a well-known and prestigious country club in the area, attracting a high-end crowd. A lot of people in the area would enjoy eating and/or playing a round there. But similar to a lot of country clubs in this economy, they were struggling to get new members and had actually lost more members than they’d gained recently. The country club was worried. In hearing this, a “light-bulb-moment” happened for our producer!

Since the country club was a place affluent retirees hadn’t seen on a workshop invite (thereby increasing the likelihood of higher mailer response) and the club itself needed more long-term members and short-term immediate revenue (2 birds, 1 stone), they combined marketing efforts. Simple enough, right? Well yes, where most advisors could think to hold their seminar class at the club and hope for better results. But not so simple because this advisor went a couple steps farther! The process looked like this:

  • Strike a deal on seminar date, meal, price, separate room, etc.
  • Visit with the club’s marketing director about using their logo’d envelopes and letterhead for the invitation (which they agreed to) &
  • Inquire about mailing to the country club’s membership list (which they agreed to).
    • This list was mailed to in addition to the advisor’s purchased mail list.
    • The country club did this because they’d find immediate dinner revenue.
    • But even if the club wouldn’t agree to this step, the envelopes and letterhead would be more than enough to call this a success!

RESULTS?!?

The seminar set preceding this involved 7000 mailed invitations, receiving a pitiful 31 reservations (0.44%) – filling just one night.
With this new process, the advisor mailed 6800 invitations (total) and received 104 reservations (1.52%) – packing three nights of workshops!!!

He was thrilled and the results should be exponentially more appointments, business placed and clients helped. Another positive side effect is he “took a break” from other seminar mailings and should see a pickup in response when he goes back, since it’ll be more fresh.

I’ll challenge you to think about the same circumstances in your area. Could your seminar invitation “take a break” for a while and see better results down the road? Do you have local, well-respected country clubs that would benefit from immediate dining revenue and exposure to potential clients? What about other venues you could partner with? Think outside the box…jewelry stores with a giveaway? Luxury auto dealerships with a test drive? Wine markets or clubs? Where do the affluent (your target market) like to go and are they open to partnership opportunities and increased revenue?

Advise with passion.
MJN

AXA Equitable — Cashing in Death Benefits

A couple months ago (August), I shared an article titled “Variable Annuities Look to Bail on Guarantees”  from Forbes. Well just this week that’s come to fruition, as an advisor shared with me a letter he received from AXA Equitable
The letter states something the advisor thought he’d never see. He found it almost unbelievable! In AXA Equitable’s letter, pertaining to guaranteed minimum death benefit riders and earnings enhancement benefits, it specifically states:

“AXA Equitable is offering to increase the account value of these clients in return for their agreement to cancel their GMDB, standard death benefit and, if applicable EEB.”

You read that right! It basically states ‘Please Mr./Mrs. Client, don’t hold us to our guarantees. They’re too much for us! We’d like to buy you out of our promise!’ The letter then went on to say:

“Why are we making this offer now? First, providing these features is costly in this environment.”

I know the advisor we consult and a couple people I’ve shared this with are blown away! So I’ll challenge you to think about how to use this.

  • If pricing is this difficult on current policies, how confident can policyholders be?
  • How do you use this information at in appointments when variable annuities are owned or presented?
  • Have you sold any AXA Equitable VAs in the past? Are they offering this to your clients? And
  • Through your fact-finding processes in hundreds (or thousands) of appointments, how many clients can you contact who own AXA variable annuities right now and might benefit?

If you’d like a copy of the letter, contact me. I’m happy to forward it your way.

Let this be proof that in positioning safe-money, fixed annuity solutions you’re doing an amazing service for your clients! Fixed annuities have an enormous pricing advantage in their riders compared to principal-at-risk vehicles. You’re seeing separations in client benefit grow wider all the time and confidence in FIA riders gaining momentum. Stay focused and sell with passion.

MJN