NAILBA Brokerage in Motion Insurbrief - Episode 3

Audio transcription – July 29, 2021 


  • Katie Fehlinger, NAILBA
  • Dan LaBert, NAILBA
  • Frank Spencer, Nationwide
  • Sean Wickersham, The Leaders Group  


Speaker 1: This episode was brought to you and part by Simplicity Group.

Katie: Hello, and welcome to Brokerage in Motion, your one-stop guide to everything you need to know from across independent distribution. I'm Katie Fehlinger.

Katie: In industry headlines, AIG and Blackstone will be working together through two initiatives. AIG announced plans to sell certain affordable housing assets, as well as a 9.9% equity stake in its life and retirement business to Blackstone for more than $7 billion. In addition, the two companies will form a strategic partnership for a portion of its life and retirement investment portfolio. The transactions are expected to occur by the end of 2021.

Katie: More partnership news, Lincoln Financial Securities announced it will partner with AIMCOR EIG. The goal of the new alliance is to provide financial professionals and to their clients with a wide variety of insurance products to seamlessly integrate into their holistic financial planning process.

Katie: And some industry moves, Equitable has named Hector Martinez as head of its life insurance business, where he'll oversee business strategy and management of the company's life insurance products and solutions. Martinez brings more than two decades of experience to his new role. Most recently at Crump Life Insurance Services and ADP.

Katie: And OneAmerica has a new head of distribution. The company announced that Mike Domingos will take on the new leadership role designed to accelerate its latest phase of growth and amplify its commitment to the retirement business. Prior to joining OneAmerica, Domingo served as Head of Sales and Strategic Relations at Prudential Retirement.

Katie: And finally, an IMO rebrand North American Insurance Services is the new parent company of North American Life Plans, North American Health Plans and North American Advisors. The launch includes multiple promotions within its leadership team, as well as a redesigned logo and website. It also positions the company for continued growth.

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

Katie: Turning now to our industry segment. NAILBA CEO, Dan LaBert, caught up with Frank Spencer, the new Life Sales Distribution Leader for Nationwide. Take a look.

Dan: Clearly, in the last 18 months in the business, the way of doing business has changed. Lots of products have been revisited. Lots of strategies have been revisited, different budgets have been put together, but there's also a massive increase or at least awareness around the life business, both from the consumer side and obviously the advisor side. So what is Nationwide's strategy for advancing the life business?

Frank: Yes, we do have an advantage that the consumer awareness of the needs for protection, both on mortality and long-term care have been heightened. And so that's some fortune that came our way over the past 18 months. I do like to think that fortune benefits the prepared mind, and we had a lot of prepared minds at Nationwide. So I think we were probably more in a position to benefit from that good luck with the investments that we had made in building out a really robust long-term care set of products that could answer the needs of those clients. As well as being able to be digitally enabled. I mean, we saw some of our distribution partners that were not digitally enabled, March of last year, really, really struggle.

Frank: Those that were digitally enabled and came to us thrived. In the brokerage channel, which I ran for with a bunch of other people, I ran it for 18 months. We finished that last year, 150% to our own internal plan. And, I've got a tough boss who has high plans. So to go 150% above that was really remarkable. And so we benefited from great brand recognition, having a good product set, having really high consumer value and transparency. And then this digital enablement that we had been promoting and investing in for years. It's really, really paid off. And what I'm seeing is it's like a ratchet. Once we get an advisor to do business with us digitally, they don't go back. We've reset the expectation there and we're continuing to read the benefits of that going very much into this year.

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

Katie: Right now on Brokerage in Motion, our ID Why segment where we shine the spotlight on the people that make up independent distribution. And to learn their why, why they do what they do and what drives them. And for one NAILBA member, the line blurs between business and family. Take a look.

Sean: He's someone that, as soon as he would walk into a room, he always made everyone feel like they were important. They were the most important person there.

Katie: Described as a gregarious and welcoming friend by his colleagues. Dave Wickersham always brought that personality into his work. Founding The Leaders Group to focus on helping distribute variable life through BGAs.

Sean: Everyone enjoyed being around him. He works to do a lot of things to help the industry. He truly believed in what our BGA partners do and in the concept of insurance.

Katie: Sadly Dave passed away in late 2020, but not without leaving his mark. His son, Sean, now leads the family company as president to carry on what his dad began.

Sean: The whole concept of the legacy that goes along with life insurance is always really important to him. And he was very passionate about that and helping to keep that going and help the industry to help as many people as possible.

Katie: Do I hear a little one in the background? Hello.

Sean: Can you say hi?

Katie: Hi, Sloan.

Sloan: I want pen.

Sean: You want a pen. I know.

Katie: You want pen. Up time to draw, right?

Sloan: Want cards.

Sean: You want a card?

Katie: Yeah. What are you going to draw?

Katie: Driven and determined even at age two and as little Sloan grows up, she learned an important phrase. One passed down from her grandfather.

Sean: "Doing the right thing is always the right thing." That's the motto we live by. That's kind of what the company was founded on.

Katie: Nine little words with so much meaning. This is clearly a motto that you all stand very much behind. Can you talk a bit more about that? Where does it come from and a bit more about how you apply that to your business?

Sean: Truthfully, I'm not a hundred percent sure where my dad came up with that, but it's definitely a big piece of his legacy that we're wanting to carry on. And we look at it in a lot of different ways.

Katie: Part of that is compliance, helping clients achieve their goals in outside-the-box ways. It's also the knowledge and personal service, The Leaders Group provides.

Sean: Most people that are registered with us were familiar with who they are, with what they do, where they came to us from and roughly kind of what they're doing. And so, we pride ourselves a lot on that personal experience.

Katie: It's a philosophy that's allowed The Leaders Group to grow for more than 25 years. To the point, they're now the number one distributor broker-dealer of variable life products in the world. Serving nearly 160 general agencies and accomplishment that one Dave, NAILBA's inaugural ID 20 Award. But doing the right thing is also an internal principle, operating from a place of decency.

Sean: Even if we had someone that wasn't necessarily working out for the job, the first reaction would not necessarily be to fire that person, but to find a way to tailor the job to that individual and to their skillset so that it would work for everybody involved. And that's something that we've done really well. And we've had some employees that have really excelled as we've done some of those types of changes. So at the end of the day, doing the right thing is trying to work with people and make things work for them, and for you and for everybody involved, typically ends up working out better for everybody.

Katie: For Sean working toward the greater good and continuing his father's mission to do what's right will forever be the right thing.

Katie: And joining me now is NAILBA CEO, Dan LaBert. Dan, let's talk a little bit about the NAILBA Foundation for this segment, if you would. There is a new event that you actually teased in our last episode of Brokerage in Motion. Tell us about Casino Night.

Dan: Yes. The newest event to the NAILBA Annual Meeting lineup is casino night. That will help portion of the proceeds will support the NAILBA Charitable Foundation. It will take place after the Mooers Dinner. So call it 10:00 PM-ish to midnight-ish. You have to buy tickets for it. It's $99 a ticket, if you get the early pricing. $149, if you get the late pricing. But this is a great opportunity. A lot of agencies and carriers have had, or participating in casino nights before, we're already all dressed out from the Mooers Award, Reception, and Dinner. So this is a great opportunity to go in. Obviously, the bar will be open. There'll be, let's see, I actually have, I have the list and I want to read the list off, because I know we have some serious gamblers. There will be a number of, let's see blackjack, craps, roulette poker, and probably one of those big wheels you spin. So there's lots of cool stuff going on and is with prizes to win, and again, offer a great cause. Another opportunity to raise money for the foundation and spend some dollars on an experience.

Katie: Awesome. And there is some other news with regard to the foundation that I know is going to be very welcome news to a lot of the membership, the return of golf to the annual meeting.

Dan: Yes.

Katie: So give us the details on that.

Dan: We have some golfers, we have a lot of golfers.

Katie: Yes we do.

Dan: We didn't have the opportunity to have golf in 2019. Obviously in 2020, nobody was golfing, at least not with NAILBA. So with the NAILBA Charitable Foundation, our golf tournament is back in the NAILBA Classic. It will take place on Wednesday, November 17th, it's in the morning. So you're already there Monday. You're there for Tuesday night, you went to the Mooers dinner. You stayed for the casino night that we just talked about. You wake up the next morning and you can catch a later flight and get around a round of golf in at the Celebration Golf Club. There'll be free transportation in between the hotel and the club. We got a couple of nice giveaways as part of it. We're looking into hole in one insurance win $25,000. So all kinds of great stuff with the NAILBA Classic. The cost to play is $199 per player. And again, a portion of the proceeds will support the NAILBA Charitable Foundation.

Katie: Yeah. So let's do a little shop talk actually about the foundation, how are grant applications going for the foundation right about now?

Dan: Well, we're extending the deadline to get more in. There is been a lot of feedback we've received around people just getting caught back up and getting into the swing of things. So some of the deadlines have fallen off their radar. We have plenty of dollars supporting the Foundation right now. So we have money to give. So we're looking for the NAILBA member agencies to shepherd their applications for their local charities. And we're going to extend it. More information can be found on our website about that. So get your application to get your money, right.

Katie: Absolutely like there's so many causes...

Dan: Sort of like that college loan thing. Thousands of dollars of scholarships go unfunded because people don't apply for it. Well, you want to support local charities.

Katie: Now is the chance.

Dan: Right, now is your chance.

Katie: Absolutely. And so it's such a vast variety too of different organizations that this money goes to too.

Dan: Right.

Katie: So bring them in. Would love to hear from you.

Dan: All good.

Katie: Yeah. And thank you so much. We'll see you next time.

Dan: All right. Bye 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.

Speaker 1: 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 for more information.