NAILBA Brokerage in Motion Insurbrief - Episode 1

Audio transcription – May 27, 2021 

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  • Katie Fehlinger, NAILBA
  • Dan LaBert, NAILBA
  • Victor Sanchez, Transamerica
  • Steve Katz, Premier Brokerage Services
  • Nathan Jacobson, Simplicity Group


Katie: Hello, and welcome to the very first episode of Brokerage in Motion. I’m Katie Fehlinger. All of us at NAILBA are so excited to be launching this show, a show unlike anything the industry has ever seen.

Brokerage in Motion will bring you the news you need to know from across the industry and you’ll hear from key voices within independent distribution. All in a streamlined, digestible format, because there’s a lot to stay on top of, and your time is valuable.

So, let’s get right to it.

In industry headlines, Protective recently announced enhancements to available investment options, advancing the company’s presence in the variable annuities space. To help clients better capitalize on growth opportunities, Protective will now offer investment options from four (4) new investment managers, Alliance-Bernstein, Blackrock, Columbia Threadneedle, and T Rowe Price. In addition, a total of 67 new subaccounts to both its commission-based products and fee-based advisory products.

Earlier this month, the New York Supreme Court overturned Regulation 187, the toughest state annuity sales standard in the nation. The decision reversed a 2019 ruling that the state’s department of financial services was within its authority when it issued Regulation 187. The regulation, which is often described as similar to a fiduciary standard, took effect in 2019 as state officials bypassed efforts to create a model standard for annuity sales.

Moving up, Michael Sladek, whom we all know as “Slades”, has been promoted to Vice President of Brokerage Sales at Mutual of Omaha. Among other duties, Slades will direct, oversee, and coach national sales directors to increase sales and profits, reduce expenses, and retain business. He also oversees brokerage agile release train projects to ensure brokerage has representation.

And promotion news at Nationwide as well. The company recently announced that Frank Spencer will be the company’s new leader of life sales distribution. Frank brings extensive experience to the team. Most recently having led the Life BGA sales team at Nationwide, where he focused on developing and executing a strategy to expand Nationwide’s partner relationships and effectively drive sales performance.

And new leadership at Simplicity. Mike Ebmeier has joined the company as Executive Vice President with a charge to help drive strategic growth, develop carrier partnerships, advance proprietary product designs, and enhance product marketing. He brings 30-plus years of experience in sales, annuity product design, and product marketing and distribution in the independent financial services industry. Most recently as a Senior VP for Global Atlantic Financial Group.

A big congrats to our colleagues on all their new roles.

Some acquisition news.

Insurance Technologies, LLC, a leading provider of sales automation solutions, recently announced it acquired IXN, which provides digital data exchange solutions for the life insurance industry. The combined company will fully integrate their proven systems to offer the most comprehensive and efficient single platform capabilities and experience for sales automation.
And finally, a new face at NAILBA.

We are so pleased to welcome Kelly Maheu as the Association’s Senior Director of Communications and Professional Development and Executive Director of the NAILBA Charitable Foundation. Kelly brings a distinguished background to her new role, having most recently help leadership positions in business development and publishing at Naylor Association Solutions. Congratulations, and welcome, Kelly. We are thrilled to have you on board.

If you have any carrier or industry announcements or news to share, we’d love to hear about it. Feel free to email us at [email protected].

Turning now to a discussion on innovation.

NAILBA CEO Dan LaBert sat down with Victor Sanchez from TransAmerica to talk about how the company is pivoting as it looks at a post-COVID future. Take a look.

Dan: Hopefully, we’re on the tail end of the pandemic, but there’s a lot we’ve learned from 2020, especially as independent distribution, wholesale brokerage, the life insurance industry as a whole. 30% more than normal are thinking about their own life insurance and getting that security. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of financial security for everyday Americans. Right now, there are almost 60 million uninsured and underinsured. So, what’s new with TransAmerica? How is the company making insurance easier and more accessible, especially when now people are paying closer attention to their life insurance that they may have not had?

Victor: It’s not just about product price or product feature benefit. It’s also about the experience at the end of the day. Both for the agent, the end agent who’s selling our solution, but also the end consumer, the policyholder, the family that we’re protecting. And so, that’s really what I think where we’re going from a Transamerica perspective. We’re laying the foundation now and it actually started in March of last year.

I think you can probably attest to this with your relationships. As an industry, we all kind of dipped our toe in the water in terms of accelerated underwriting, automated underwriting, and people have run a couple of pilot programs. But it wasn’t until the pandemic hit and all businesses started shutting down and we started hearing from different states that para-meds were no longer considered essential businesses.

And so, as an industry, not just Transamerica, but as an industry, we had to look ourselves in the mirror and say, okay, are we going to literally stop doing business or are we going to get innovative and creative and how we can still process business, underwrite our cases. And so, you saw a lot of non-med programs start to roll out. Transamerica was no different. Last year we started with a million, no para-med, no stranger coming to your house. But just last week we announced up to two million across our entire product line. You can get the best class, no stranger coming to your house. So, I think as an industry, we’re all moving towards how do we get people more coverage without para-meds, but not giving them what we would, I guess, refer to as simplified issue pricing. As an industry, I think we're all working towards that. So, Transamerica is doing its part from an underwriting experience perspective making sure that people feel safe, there's no one coming to your house, right up until when the policy is delivered. One of the things we also announced is that you can get your policy e-delivery.

Dan: Let's talk about the selling experience. How has it evolved, how has it improved for the brokerage general agency, and most importantly, given your background, how is it improved for the independent agent?

Katie: We're going to take just a short break, don't go anywhere. There's more Brokerage in Motion coming up.


AD: Introducing the brand-new concierge planning writer. We are proud to announce that Transamerica has partnered with Everest Funeral Concierge, the number one funeral concierge service in the industry, to offer clients the full suite of Everest benefits. Available on FFIUL policies at no additional cost to your client. This new rider will be available on FFIUL policies with face amounts of $250,000 and up. It's not only available to new clients but will also be available to many of your existing FFIUL clients who qualify. This rider includes features like; access to will preparation, unlimited storage of legal and other documents, and 24/7 concierge funeral planning support by a Senior Everest Advisor. 50 years ago, life insurance companies offered just death benefits, Today, many offer living benefits. Transamerica is the only company to offer an IUL with death and living benefits as well as the preparation and funeral planning services that will help set you apart. Transamerica and Everest are here to help you every step of the way. If you have questions about the FFIUL or this exciting new rider, please call the Transamerica sales desk.

Katie: In our inaugural ID Why story, we learn why one NAILBA member found independent distribution the perfect fit and it's a tale even more colorful than his array of tuxedos. Take a look.

Katie: Steve Katz stands out in a crowd.

Steve: I actually have18 different colored tuxedos now. I don't own a white shirt.

Katie: His fashion sense wasn't always so snazzy.

Steve: When I first got married, I just was not coordinated at all. My wife actually thought I was colorblind, and I went actually, on an insurance company convention to Europe and saw this shirt store and I bought this crazy colorful shirt. And I came back to the office I wore this shirt and everybody's like, “wow, that's an awesome shirt,” and I went, “Aha, color!”

Katie: it's attire as blatant as his love for the Philadelphia sports scene. But he wears it for a good cause, serving as a live auctioneer for numerous charitable organizations.

Steve: Keeps people's attention, it keeps it fun, keeps it different. I'm a lot of things, I'm just not shy so give me a microphone 500 people and I am just in heaven.

Katie: The man can auction off anything, even this pen.

Steve: It's not about the pen, it's about where the money is going. If you buy this pen, you are giving money to the NAILBA foundation and all that money is coming back to the foundation. It's going to help people eat, it's going to help people be sheltered, it's going to help children, it's going to help people that are sick, and who's giving me 10 dollars? I need dollars for that pen. Now I need fifty! Who's giving me fifty dollars? And that’s! Sold!

Katie: For years, Steve's taken center stage on behalf of the NAILBA Charitable Foundation. It's one of his favorite gigs.

Steve: What I love about the NAILBA one is, I know all the people, or at least most of the people there. I'll play one insurance carrier against the other, and one agent against the other, and one producer against the other, so that we really maximize and remember what we're there for.

Katie: Over the years, Steve's donned his vibrant tuxes to help raise more than $100 million dollars for various charities.

You give back so much where does that passion come from?

Steve: My parents, they just gave from the heart. They always volunteered, they were the first one to put their hands up, they always set the example for me.

Katie: Later in life, it was a message reinforced in a quote he heard from a friend.

Steve: I'll never forget the words because I made it into a sign and put into my office. Philanthropy is the rent you pay to live the good life. And I swear to you, Katie, the more money I give, the better my life is, and the more volunteering I do, the better my life is.

Katie: It's a mantra Steve carries into his work as well, as Senior Area Vice President of Premier Brokerage Services, an A.J. Gallagher Company. But he's also affectionately known by another title around the office, Chief Optimist.

Can you talk a bit more about how you have made your work an extension of this passion that you have for giving back?

Steve: The insurance business itself, first of all, what we do is help others. I can't tell you how many times over the years, delivering a death benefit check or an annuity payment has changed - positively changed - the lives of people. I really, truly believe in what we do. There's no doubt about it.

Katie: And he's put a charge to NAILBA members and their involvement in the NAILBA Charitable Foundation.

Steve: A, you can just give for the sake of giving, B, you can give at the auction because it's a fun way of giving. You can get involved and get on the board of the Foundation, or you can nominate one of your favorite charities as a recipient of funds from the Foundation. There's a lot of ways to do it. Everybody at NAILBA - every single member - should be involved in one of those four ways. It's easy.

Katie: The way Steve sees it; you can't take it with you.

Steve: Life is short. I don't care how long you live; it is short, and you do have the ability to make an impact if you want.

Dan: Nathan from Simplicity Group, so good to have you back. Last time we got together it was during NAILBA Engage. You did keep to your promise about joining us again to talk about new products, or as this segment is defined, solutions. So, new solutions. What's going on?

Nathan: Yeah, Dan, thanks again for having us, Dan. We always appreciate the partnership. Great segue into what we're doing at Simplicity Group, Dan. I think you hit it. One of our focuses has been on delivering products that meet consumer needs. You know, it's funny, the timing of the of these types of interviews. I literally came across a survey this morning, Dan, talking about how much consumers are thinking about life insurance and in fact, you know, reading a stat right here. 36% of consumers say they plan to purchase life insurance within the next 12 months which is the highest purchase intent in the history of this particular survey. And that ties into what we're trying to deliver with our carrier partner, F&G. What's interesting is in this this was a conversation that started with Steve Sanders. What was it, Steve, 18 months ago, I’d say, that we were thinking about these types of things and the reasons why people aren't, one, buying life insurance, and I think part of it is, it's too difficult to purchase. But then also looking at why certain agents aren’t selling life insurance, and it’s “I don’t want to impact my client relationships.” So, we looked at all those things, we looked at how much people were looking at the need for what we do, and, Dan, I think we're very focused in the accumulation IU wealth space, selling that supplemental retirement income story, so how do you deliver that very quick, painless underwriting process and still deliver a very competitive product that stacks up with the fully unwritten offerings out there and that's what I believe we're delivering.

Katie: Right now, on Brokerage in Motion I'd like to welcome in CEO Dan LaBert for some updates on what we've been working on here at NAILBA.

Dan, NAILBA recently made a big announcement regarding the annual meeting. Can you tell us more?

Dan: Absolutely. This was a great opportunity for NAILBA to play a leadership role in bringing the industry back together. NAILBA40 will happen. We are pushing forward with our annual meeting. We have new dates, November 15th through November 17th, that's a Monday through Wednesday. a little different from years past. It's going to be at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. We've reviewed the safety protocols, we're monitoring the vaccine distribution, we have a schedule that will be very recognizable, and it will be in a safe- to-attend and hopefully, post pandemic atmosphere. Registration opens in June. We're excited.

Katie: Yeah, we really are. And in addition to addressing those safety protocols and also creating the event experience, this event will mark a significant date for NAILBA.

Dan: Yes. Bring out your rubies. This is the 40th anniversary for NAILBA, celebrating 40 years of independence. The traditional symbolism is the ruby for the 40th anniversary, so come celebrate our 40th anniversary and bring your rubies. Do you have any rubies? I don’t have any.

Katie: I do! You know, that's actually my birthstone.

Dan: There it is, there it is. Well, bring them along with you.

Katie: There you go. Okay, so plenty of announcements coming certainly about NAILBA 40 over the next couple of months, but until we gather in Orlando, what should members look for from NAILBA?

Dan: Sure, there's so much going on at now about we had a great 2020. I say that, obviously, in a sensitive way to what was going on, but the organization had a very productive year. We announced the launch of the NAILBA case manager certification, that's been really doing well, but save the dates for June 22nd and June 24th. This will be the return-our second annual-the return of the NAILBA Summer Symposium. It will be on the same platform that the wildly successful NAILBA Engage was held. There were over 600 registrants last year, so be sure to register very soon.

Katie: All right. So many exciting things to look forward to in the months ahead. Dan, thank you so much

Dan: Thank you, Katie.

Katie: That is going to do it for this episode of Brokerage in Motion. We look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks for watching.

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