NAILBA Brokerage in Motion Insurbrief - Episode 10

Audio transcription – March 10, 2022 

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Speaker 1: This episode of BROKERAGE IN MOTION was brought to you by Simplicity Group.

Katie Fehlinger:
Hello, and welcome to BROKERAGE IN MOTION. Your one stop guide for everything happening in independent distribution, I'm Katie Fehlinger. In industry headlines, more than three quarters of BGAs and IMOs say expanding their network of producers is their top priority. This is according to survey responses from a study conducted by LIMRA and NAILBA. The research also revealed that the pandemic altered what some firms are looking for in an ideal agent or advisor.

At a surprising find, 71% of BGAs and IMOs reported success recruiting young producers to join their firms. Principal Financial Group announced it has chosen Sutton Cayman an affiliate of Talcott Resolution Life to help it shed the risk associated with its retail fixed annuity business, and part of its life insurance business. Principal will continue to administer and service the annuity contracts and life insurance policies involved, and officials hope to close the multi-billion dollar deal by the end of June.

In other news, AIG continues to move towards selling a large stake in its life and retirement business to investors by the end of the second quarter. According to AIG CEO, Peter Zaffino the size of the initial public offering will depend on market conditions.

New leadership at LIBRA Insurance Partners. The IMO announced Jonathan Jacobs as its new senior vice president of business development. Jacobs brings more than 30 years of wealth management experience, and in his new role, he will lead the effort to better align with the company's portfolio of carriers and identify opportunities for partner BGAs.
Meanwhile, Insurance Technologies has announced to the appointment of Laird Rixford as its new CEO. Rixford brings a track record of growth and innovation to his new role and will help lead the company through continued transformation and strategic expansion. We will hear much more from Laird in just a couple of moments when he sits down with NAILBA the CEO, Dan LaBert so stay tuned for that.

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

Dan LaBert:
Thanks, Katie. Great introduction. Excited to be here with you Laird. Um, just before we dive into the questions, your new role as CEO of Insurance Technologies, first off, hold on. Insurance Technologies is a big supportive independent distribution. It's a big supporter of NAILBA. We love working with you guys. You work with a ton of brokerage general agencies. You really support the industry, but all that aside (laughs), all that good stuff aside, how has your life changed since taking over the CEO role of Insurance Technologies?

Laird:
You, you know, it, it's a lot more fun than, uh, than my previous life was because my previous life was a little bit in the PNC industry. And on that side of the business, it's, it's significantly different, uh, than the life in annuity side. However, it's all kind of the same ball of wax, but it's just as, it's the same. It has the same struggles, the same challenges, but also the same excitement of what we're doing.

Dan:
Well. What interested you in the move from the PNC side to the, to the life in annuity side? What, what drew you to Insurance Technologies?

Laird: You know, throughout my career, I, I've really enjoyed finding markets that innovation will help transform.

Dan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Laird: And the PNC industry was very much that for the past 20 years.

Laird: If you think back to the late 90s, the first insurance policy was sold online in the late 90s, a long time ago, and then you have it all these revolutions. I also worked in the banking industry with FinTech, and that was where you take a picture of your check and, with your phone and it transacts it. These are all things that, these were industries that really could use transformation. In the late 2010s or the 2010s, you actually had to switch from the FinTech being the big thing to InsurTech. And InsurTech, everybody knows InsurTech took the PNC world by storm. There was lots of people out there trying to make their waves, trying to disrupt the industry, by the way, I'm not a big fan of disruption, uh, because it, it indicates that there was something wrong with the previous model that you have to change it. And so, as it started to mature, really the next logical step was in the WealthTech market. Something that helps life annuities and l- other wealth preserving, uh, offerings. And so it's just that natural progression that really made me, drew me in to the life and annuity side of the business and the well preservation side of the business because of the opportunities to innovate.

Katie:
We are going to take just a short break don't go anywhere there's more BROKERAGE IN MOTION coming up.

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Katie:
Time now for our ID why segment, where we shine the spotlight on the people in the industry and learn what drives them. For one NAILBA member taking a chance on himself early on, helped him grow into the leader he is today, take a look.

Marty Schafer:
There was no real chance that I was gonna make the team. And, uh, you know, the belief in myself at that time to do that and take that risk and really kind of go all in, uh, with myself, proved, uh, that taking those types of risks in yourself and what it takes to succeed when you take those risks, it, it is perhaps the number one lesson I've learned.
A walk on for a top 20 division one soccer team. Marty Schafer made a successful college career as a forward at Quincy university, a path which termination.
And it was something that from a young age I, I had as a goal, an aspiration, uh, and I just continued, uh, to pursue it as long as I could.

Katie:
Pursue it, he did. After college, Marty went from student athlete to pro athlete, drafted by the National Professional Soccer League. He played pro indoor soccer in Dayton and later Columbus.

Marty:
This was all pre MLS, uh, where you were essentially living paycheck to paycheck. You had an apartment, uh, provided for you and you coached, uh, to subsidize your income. So, uh, this was nothing like what we see in the MLS stadiums today, uh, but I loved it.

Katie:
Now. And for the past two plus decades, Marty has worked in insurance, having climbed the executive leadership ladder with stops at Prudential, John Hancock and Crump Life Insurance, to name a few.
It seems like a little bit of a pivot to go from pro athlete to insurance executive (laughs).

Marty:
Yeah. So when I stopped playing, I became a teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. And we had two young kids in a house payment and, and two Catholic high school teachers, uh, were not pulling in an extraordinary amount of income.

Katie:
So to supplement Marty started selling insurance in the summers.

Marty:
In that first summer, I did that. I, it was like sports, you know, the, the harder you worked, the more you made and it just, kind of, it hooked me at that point. And, and so at that point, I knew I wanted to, to join the industry.

Katie:
Today, he serves as the chief distribution officer at Ethos, a role that aligns with what drives Marty personally in the industry.

Marty:
I, I have a deep desire and passion for helping insure Americans and making sure that that is something that we accomplish as a, as a, as an industry and we do it as easy as possible. And we've talked about it being easy for a long time, but Ethos has actually accomplished that. So when the, the leadership team reached out to me about the opportunity, I couldn't pass it up.

Katie:
Scoring goals and insuring Americans, the similarities aren't blatantly obvious between the two, but Marty says the lessons he learned through sport, teamwork, collaboration, leading and following all directly impact his work today.

Marty:
You know, the one thing that I reflect on a lot with my soccer career is I was surrounded by great leaders. You know, my high school soccer coach was there for 35 years. And my college coach was there for over 30 years as well. And they were amazing leaders and that, they transformed me as an individual. And I think that the learnings from that as, as a part of a team and, and specifically as a part of those teams, uh, you know, led me to where I am today.

Katie:
And right now I am joined by CEO Dan LaBert. So Dan, we announced back in January that NAILBA and Finseca of course share an intent to merge. Now, since that time, NAILBA has held a number of public and private listening tours to gather member and industry feedback. So how's that been going?

Dan:
Okay. That, they've been actually fantastic. I, I can't really express how well they've been going, because it's also been an opportunity to get feedback on the value of NAILBA membership, NAILBA events, what it's going on with Finseca, their events, their, you know, they have, they have best in class advocacy. So the feedback has been, um, all positive but mixed. Um, so it's been a real good opportunity to get members engaged, to get them to ask the questions like what's going on with NAILBA? Why are we considering this? How does this improve our situation? How does this improve representation for brokerage? Um, so it's been extremely healthy, but all positive, again, um, the momentum is building and as we keep doing these public listening tours, we keep getting invited to private listening tours, study groups, IMOs, things like that. So the great thing is the industry actually profession is engaging with what we're doing.

Katie:
So you mentioned professional development, some enhanced member benefits, uh, and even better NAILBA annual meeting. I'm not sure that's possible, but, uh, what specifics can you give us on some of those things?

Dan:
Some of the best member feedback we've received about an intent to merger and, and, and don't get me wrong. There's a lot of members who are on the fence, right? They're excited about it, but they just want to know more. They want to know the why? And shortly we'll be rolling out how this merger will improve, uh, professional development, the additional offerings that would be available to brokerage and members of the agency to sort of sharpen the acts and, and, and get access to professional development that candidly NAILBA could not do by ourselves. Um, Finseca has a, a ton of catalog of opportunities available and repositioning some for brokerage and then creating some for brokerage is gonna be a big hit. As far as the annual meeting is concerned, you're right. It's, it's kind of hard to top one of the best, if not the best, uh, association conference for, for life insurance and independent distribution, but we're gonna release a, a few points, both internal improvements and external improvements.

Obviously what people are gonna be excited about, you know, what is the member, or I'm sorry, the attendee experience? How does that improve? Um, but we're gonna, we're gonna discuss that. And then just the overall, hey, this new membership model will improve the value of membership and here's how it will impact you, your agency. So I think just getting out these, these three really good points around professional development, the annual meeting and the overall member benefits, um, I think it's gonna really resonate well because the initial feedback is, hey, long overdue. This is exciting. Just tell me a little bit more about this. And we could do that as, as time progresses and we, and we work closer together, but, you know, Finseca is a first class operation they have a great team over there. And, and, um, so far it's been a, a real, real, like, great momentum and great vibe working with their team.

Katie:
Fantastic to hear that. And it's clearly been a very massive undertaking as well. So what's next on the timeline for the merger?

Dan:
It is a massive undertaking we're still figuring out how to work out these hours. But, um, you know, we're still targeting, um, a May to June, uh, member, membership vote. And, you know, prior to that, we're gonna get out what you're actually voting on, we're gonna list out those number benefits. We're gonna list out, uh, the, the improved efficiencies, um, and just kind of clear up some of the confusion that, that I think exists out there just by, by human nature. You know, they're, they're running their agencies, they're, they're taking care of life. They maybe have one eye on some of our stuff that, that comes across their inbox. So I think offering just some additional clarity around it, clearing up a lot of noise, um, you know, in our space with as many associations as, as there, uh, currently is, there's a lot of noise. So I think making sure they, they hear the right message and they know exactly, you know, what we're striving toward, but ultimately it still comes down to, you know, one mission statement, financial security for all, and [inaudible 00:14:39], you know, NAILBA is 100% bought in.

Katie:
Fantastic, all helpful insight and information, Dan. Thanks.

Dan:
Thank you.

Katie:
That is going to do it for this episode of BROKERAGE IN MOTION. Thanks for watching. And we'll see you next time.
Speaker 7: Leading the financial planning business Simplicity Group is proud to support its distribution partners, advisors, and consumers with industry education and long-term consumer value. Step into the future with Simplicity Group. Visit simplicitygroup.com for more information.