NAILBA Brokerage in Motion Insurbrief - Episode 4

Audio transcription – August 26, 2021 


  • Katie Fehlinger, NAILBA
  • Dan LaBert, NAILBA
  • Thomas Olunloyo, Legal & General America
  • Dexter Umekubo, Producers XL


This episode of Brokerage In Motion was brought to you by Simplicity Group.

Katie Fehlinger (00:11):
Hi, and welcome to Brokerage In Motion, your one-stop guide to everything you need to know from across independent distribution. I'm Katie Fehlinger. In industry headlines, LIBRA Insurance Partners announced a new VP of Operations. Rick Buteau will lead the IMO's efforts to develop, negotiate, and manage new business resources and processes for its Libra partner firms and carriers. Buteau brings more than two decades of industry experience to his new role, most recently with Symetra.

Katie Fehlinger (00:42):
Meanwhile, Genworth Financial is firming up plans to return to the U.S. long-term care insurance market in 2022. The company will work with other highly rated insurers to set up a new insurance company with services most likely geared toward older people still living in their own homes.

Katie Fehlinger (01:01):
Simplicity has announced the acquisition of Advisors Resource, a leading provider of insurance, annuity, and long-term care products, making it the 26th distribution business to join Simplicity. As part of the transaction, several Advisors Resource leaders will also join the company as partners and continue the day-to-day management of the business.

Katie Fehlinger (01:24):
More acquisition news. The Savings Bank Mutual Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts announced its acquisition of LegacyShield, a platform that helps people store, organize, and share important and personal information. Included in the deal is Link by LegacyShield, a dynamic B2B platform that provides a digital toolkit for SBLI's distribution partners to more effectively connect and collaborate with their customers.

Katie Fehlinger (01:52):
And July numbers in 2021 are facing tough comparisons to 2020. According to MIB, individual life insurance application activity figures for July this year look bad because July 2020 was a particularly good month. MIB says applications this July were 5.8% lower than the previous year, partly because July 2020 was a month when COVID lockdowns were easing, mortality was fresher in consumers' minds, and more life insurance business was being done online.

Katie Fehlinger (02:26):
And finally, congratulations are in order for Advisors Excel. For the first time, the financial marketing organization has appeared on Fortune Magazine's top 100 best small and medium workplaces for millennials, ranking at number 92. The award is based on an analysis of survey responses from over five million current employees. 96% of Advisors Excel's employees said it's a great place to work, with the millennial generation making up 64% of its total workforce.

Katie Fehlinger (02:58):
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 evolution, NAILBA's CEO Dan LaBert spoke with Legal & General America's newly appointed deputy CEO about how everything from COVID to technology is driving decision making.

Dan LaBert (03:25):
Thanks, Katie. Here with Thomas. I want to say congratulations on your recent promotion to deputy chief executive officer of Legal & General America. Just for those who haven't had the opportunity to meet you yet, can you just give us a little background about yourself?

Thomas Olunloyo (03:38):
Fantastic. Thank you, Dan. Thank you for having me. It's a real pleasure to be here with you today. I've been with Legal & General now for about seven years, the whole time in Bermuda, where I was CEO, and I grew that business from a startup to about 30 billion in assets. And when I got the chance to come to the United States to work for LGA, I jumped at it. I think America is great multiple life insurance, and I think with lots of opportunity, lots of innovation, and just really great potential. So I'm just really excited to be here and working in the U.S., working for LGA, and looking forward to hopefully achieving some great things here.

Dan LaBert (04:13):
All right, well, you hit on something there, and I'm going to throw the first question at you. Not even a few months old and I'm already coming at you here. [inaudible 00:04:20] the United States is a great market for life insurance. Well, you know there's a coverage gap probably of about, I don't know, last check, maybe 60 million uninsured and under-insured. So let's just talk a little bit about Legal & General America, a lot of the NAILBA members of course will remember the banner name, what is Legal & General America doing to help close that coverage gap? Why is it a great market, and how does LGA fit in?

Thomas Olunloyo (04:46):
Well, absolutely. So I think to answer that question, I think about what has happened over the past year and a half since the pandemic started. And one thing we've seen, as I'm sure your other guests have spoken about over the past couple of months, is just the switch in the market to a different way of working, a digital journey, automated underwriting, and so on. And I think all these things speak to something more fundamental, which is how can we provide better coverage more easily, more quickly, to more people. I mean, our mission at LGA is to provide protection for as many American families as possible.

Thomas Olunloyo (05:18):
So really, at the heart of what we're trying to do is to broaden the net of what we offer to ensure that we have a product for every market segment, that anyone who wants life insurance, who wants term, which is our specialism, can get it from us, and that we make the journey to buy and to get covered as easy and straightforward as possible, to move away from medical, to move away from other [inaudible 00:05:41] that have existed in the past.

Thomas Olunloyo (05:43):
Now, of course, that is a journey that the whole industry is on. We think we have a really great proposition right now, and we're developing that, but there's of course more work to be done. But I think the way we close the gap, the way we provide coverage to a large number of uninsured and under-insured, is to make sure that we provide them with products that they want, that they can get easily, and that really address the challenges that they have.

Katie Fehlinger (06:11):
Thanks, Dan. We are going to take just a short break. Don't go anywhere. There's more Brokerage in Motion coming up.

Katie Fehlinger (08:26):
Right now on Brokerage in Motion, our ID Why segment, where we shine the spotlight on the people that make up independent distribution. In this ID Why installment, we learn how one NAILBA member transitioned from the stage to sales. Take a look. Dex Umekubo has sung and played guitar since his teens, strumming in rock and roll bands throughout high school and college, from crowds of 6,000 to Tuesday nights at the local steakhouse.

Dexter Umekubo (08:55):
If you know anything about the steakhouse business back in the seventies, the good man, they play Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So if you're the Tuesday night man, you're not the A band. But it was a great gig. And in between songs, you'd have to say, Baker, party of four, your table's ready.

Katie Fehlinger (09:13):
He's loved every second.

Dexter Umekubo (09:15):
I do it because it makes me happy. There's something that inside makes me very happy. And if one or two people are tapping their foot or smiling and I'm bringing them some joy, then that makes it kind of worth it. Obviously, I'm not doing it for fame or fortune.

Katie Fehlinger (09:32):
Although Dex did hope to pursue music as his primary gig for a while, but making ends meet became too difficult.

Dexter Umekubo (09:46):
You know, you had a gig at the beer bar and you had three part-time jobs to support yourself, it's kind of rough. So I got into the insurance business because frankly, I couldn't make it as a musician.

Katie Fehlinger (09:57):
But he was able to bring his music experience into insurance.

Dexter Umekubo (10:01):
If you don't pass the audition, it's like not getting a sale. So you get used to it. It's part of the job.

Katie Fehlinger (10:08):
And for Dex, it also became a blessing.

Dexter Umekubo (10:11):
It's afforded me the opportunity to do my passion, which is music, but I don't have to worry about putting food on the table.

Katie Fehlinger (10:17):
The business proved gratifying, something Dex realized early on when he had his first death claim.

Dexter Umekubo (10:23):
I realized I wasn't just selling insurance. I was helping people. That experience, it was quite humbling to have somebody be so thankful that their loved one actually bought some insurance.

Katie Fehlinger (10:33):
Now an industry veteran of more than 40 years, Dex is a past board chair for NAILBA. He's even performed at annual meetings in the past. A senior managing partner at Producers XL, Dex is a bit of a Renaissance man in his work on his broker business.

Dexter Umekubo (10:48):
Well, I mentor them on sales and how to approach people, how to prospect, how to close, how to deal with objections, how to problem solve.

Katie Fehlinger (10:57):
And when he performs for a crowd, which he still does regularly.

Dexter Umekubo (11:01):
I play anything from country and soul and oldies and standards, and the whole gamut, because that's what people want to hear, as best I can, anyways.

Katie Fehlinger (11:12):
I know so that you don't like the spotlight, yet you perform on stages. So what is it that draws you to perform?

Dexter Umekubo (11:24):
So it's something that I just love doing. It's the moth to the flame. I'm not sure why.

Katie Fehlinger (11:26):
No matter the reason, music will keep him coming back. That was fantastic.

Katie Fehlinger (11:47):
Right now I am joined by CEO Dan LaBert, and Dan, let's talk a bit about the NAILBA annual awards, the Douglas Mooers Award for Excellence, and of course the NAILBA ID 20. There are some deadlines coming up.

Dan LaBert (11:57):
Yes. So Douglas Mooers Award, what NAILBA is known for, it's a well-known industry event. The application process has opened. It will run through mid to late September. So it's a time to honor someone's contributions to the industry. It's obviously extremely prestigious. So people need to be aware of that and submit your nominations before mid to late September.

Dan LaBert (12:25):
And the ID 20, Independent Distribution 20, this is a new set of awards that NAILBA started back in 2019. It's been wildly popular. The deadline almost coincides with the Mooers Award. So if you have someone who is a trailblazer in the industry, a visionary in the industry, completely the opposite from the Mooers Award, Mooers Award is more on the tail end of people's career and their contributions, and the ID 20 is the current visionary trailblazers. Both of them are open and both of them have deadlines of mid to late September, so get your nominations in.

Katie Fehlinger (12:57):
I would imagine just given the current state of affairs, there's probably a lot of trailblazing going on in the industry right now.

Dan LaBert (13:03):
There really is, and the last few years with the ID 20, I mean, we've received almost a hundred nominations each year. So it's very difficult to pick out 20 fantastic people. There are so many good things going on in our industry, especially the last few years. Talk about innovation.

Katie Fehlinger (13:18):
No kidding. And a few months ago, NAILBA announced there are some new dates for the 2021 annual meeting and a move of days to a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday timeframe. So can you talk about what that updated NAILBA 40 annual meeting schedule is going to look like this year?

Dan LaBert (13:34):
Sure. This has been wildly popular, one of those opportunities where we get to say you spoke, we listened. A lot of hotel rooms are already sold out. We did add an extension to the NAILBA hotel block, but I'm worried that that's going to sell out. Just put it this way, at time of this discussion, registration's running almost 20% above where it has in the past few years.

Dan LaBert (13:58):
The exhibit booths, almost sold out. And when I say almost sold out, I think there are single-digit remaining. I want to say two, maybe three, booths. This has been a very sought-after space. The days are working for everybody. So right now, it's perfect as far as our timing, our schedule. Obviously, we're hoping everything else aligns with us, but right now, get your hotel reservation, get your event registration, because we are selling out.

Katie Fehlinger (14:30):
Good to know. And we did talk earlier about the Douglas Mooers Award for Excellence. How does the updated schedule affect that event? Are there any changes or additions?

Dan LaBert (14:40):
There are. So this schedule for NAILBA 40 is going to be pretty fluid. We have seven keynote speakers, seven carrier updates from the C-suite on what's going on with those organizations and how they're addressing things in independent distribution. The seven keynotes are fantastic names. We're covering so many different buckets of information. So that impacts the Mooers Award. So things like the ID 20 Awards, things like the Foundation Grant Awards, things like even the Chairman's Award, we're all moving that into the Mooers Award dinner. So this will be a pure awards dinner with the pinnacle of the night being the Douglas Mooers Award 2021.

Dan LaBert (15:25):
But talk about a jam-packed schedule that needs to be very fluid. There may be some limits on capacity in the grand ballroom. We want to keep everyone safe. We have some great protocols in place. The venue is phenomenal to work with. So look for the schedule to be released. There may be changes as you get closer, so you have to keep an eye on it, but come prepared for a full awards dinner with the Mooers Award. I think we're going to be bursting at the seams for that event.

Katie Fehlinger (15:50):
Exciting stuff for sure. And you mentioned that people seem to like this date change. So is this going to stay this way for 2022?

Dan LaBert (15:59):
Yes. So the contract with the Gaylord Texan, everybody knows NAILBA loves Gaylord, so the contract with the Gaylord Texan will have a similar date pattern of a lot of people coming in Sunday, Monday, some of the schedule being Monday, most of the schedule being Tuesday, and out on Wednesday. That will continue for 2022 at the Gaylord Texan. So right now, outside of everything else going on in the world, NAILBA is hitting on all cylinders.

Katie Fehlinger (16:25):
Love it. Fantastic info. Thanks again, Dan.

Dan LaBert (16:30):
Awesome. Have a great night.

Katie Fehlinger (16:31):
That is going to do it for this episode of Brokerage In Motion. We look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks for watching.

Katie Fehlinger (16:37):
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