NAILBA Brokerage in Motion Insurbrief - Episode 09

Audio transcription – February 2, 2022 

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

 

Katie Fehlinger:                
This episode of Brokerage in Motion was brought to you by Simplicity Group.

Hello and welcome to Brokerage in Motion, your one stop guide to everything happening in independent distribution. I'm Katie Fehlinger. In industry headlines, NAILBA and FINSECA have announced their intent to explore a merger. The move would result in stronger brokerage distribution, accelerate efforts to reunify the profession and ultimately uplift its overall significance. We will have much more on this big announcement throughout the show.

NAILBA is also pleased to announce its 2022 Board of Directors Chair, John Gilbert. Gilbert spent two decades working in the industry, currently as President at the National Benefit Corp and has long been active in NAILBA as part of the board, as well as receiving the Chairman's Award in 2017. Congratulations, John, we look forward to your leadership.

In acquisition news, Integrity Marketing Group has announced it has acquired Lion Street, a national network of agencies and professionals providing life insurance, wealth management and financial planning solutions to high net worth clients. The strategic partnership is designed to optimize insurance and financial processes and create innovative solutions that help protect American consumers.

More acquisition news. Highland Capital Brokerage has announced the acquisitions of Hallett Financial Group, an independent insurance brokerage agency, and Quotacy, an insurtech firm and Hallett Financial's sister company. The move will enable Highland Capital to scale its business while expanding the segments of the life insurance and annuity markets the company currently serves. In other news, some positive numbers. US life insurance application activity finished 2021 with annual year-over-year growth up 3.4%. That's according to the US MIB Life Index. This is now the second consecutive year of growth, following 2020's record breaking 3.9% increase.

And new leadership at Transamerica, Wendy Boyd has been appointed Head of Life Distribution for Transamerica's Individual Solutions Division. In her new role, Boyd will be responsible for sales strategy and execution across a broad portfolio of life insurance solutions. Boyd brings more than 30 years of expertise, most recently at Lincoln Financial Group.

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]

Marc Cadin:                      
Happy New Year Finseca members. I'm so excited to be joined by my good friend, Dan LaBert, CEO of NAILBA. As many of you saw earlier this week, we announced Finseca and NAILBA an intent to explore a merger as part of the effort to reunify the profession and bring these two great institutions together. So Dan, let me turn to you and just, you know, maybe give some Finseca members some perspective about why NAILBA's board voted unanimously to take this step.

Dan LaBert:                      
Awesome. Thank you, Marc. I'm excited to be here. These are definitely exciting times. Um, before- as I said at- on the stage at NAILBA 40, we wanna look forward to where we're going, but never forget where we've been and I think it's important that the viewers get a chance just to know a little bit about NAILBA and- and how we w- how we were formed, but more importantly the- the- the update that was given by Douglas Mooers in 2006. And he said, "In September 1981, the time was ripe and the seeds were planted to create NAILBA." And why did they create NAILBA? They wanted to get a bigger seat at the table when industry leaders gathered, they wanted to get a more powerful seat at the table when interacting with our carrier partners and candidly become more of a professional group of agencies to share ideas, laughs and- and continue that NAILBA spirit and that NAILBA family.

Doug ended his speech by saying, "NAILBA has earned a leadership position with the industry." Now, that was 2006, Marc, and- and as you know, NAILBA's grown from there, but, you know, unprecedented times give rise to ample opportunities and this was- this is now a time for our profession where they're just- you know, we need a stronger, collective voice and, you know, that- but depends on tax changes, the- the- the, um, um, threats to the industry remain. The- I'm sorry. The threats to the profession remain. You know, this is not going to go away and having a unified voice is just simply the way to achieve what Doug Mooers said in 2006.

And when you look at expecting influence to drive better outcomes and- and having greater relevance across the profession, this will advance the cause of financial security for all, which is the mission of Finseca and that's why NAILBA voted unanimously to be part of this movement forward.

Marc Cadin:                      
Well, Dan, it's so well said. And from a Finseca standpoint, you know, there's just no question that, you know, not only have you done an extraordinary job with NAILBA... You know, I was at NAILBA 40, it was the best NAILBA meeting I've ever been to in my 20 plus ca- years, uh, representing this profession, uh, but there's no question that as we think about the history of Finseca, you know, Gama represented those career agency leaders, ALU represented producer groups and the top producers and NAILBA is the leader of the brokerage and independent marketplace. There's just no question about it.

And if we can bring all of the best and brightest from within all segments of distribution, there's no question, as you've said, that we can get better outcomes on behalf of this noble profession. You know, we know there aren't enough people with enough life insurance. We got s- a $12 trillion protection gap. We know there's a retirement savings crisis in this country and, you know, what we also know is that having a whole bunch of smaller, different organizations with different messages and competing value propositions and inefficiencies, we know that we can do better. And so, I'm just so grateful for the leadership, Dan, that you and the- and the NAILBA board and and the Finseca board have supplied to this because I think that we have the ability to- to produce better outcomes with greater scale and greater efficiency for this noble profession.

So as we think around the corner now, we made the announcement, Dan. What's next.

Dan LaBert:                      
Well, first, NAILBA being part of your leadership, Bonnie's leadership, the, uh, fabulous Board of Directors for Finseca, we wanted to be part of trailblazing that path forward, right. We- we have to look different where we're going if we wanna have that relevance and influence, but you know what? Part of having that relevance and influence is having a collaborative process moving forward. NAILBA's going to announce, we've already announced the dates of four listing tours, there may be more added. We wanna hear from the NAILBA members, we wanna hear from the Finseca members, we wanna hear from our carrier partners. We wanna have everyone be engaged in this because it's vital to closing the gap on the uninsured and underinsured.

We cannot have financial security for all without a collaborative process and it will start the listening tour, so I'm excited to hear the feedback. But I'll let the cat out of the bag a little bit, the feedback already has been fantastic.

Marc Cadin:                      
Yeah. It's just been extraordinary really and- and I think that, you know, we're gonna have listening tours, Dan, as you said, b- for the Finseca members, for the NAILBA members and we're just really excited, uh, to- to continue the process to hear from our members collectively to calibrate accordingly to make sure that we're preserving communities, right, the brokerage community, the career leader community, the advanced markets community. We gotta preserve those communities and what makes people respect what makes aspects of the profession different, you know, having separate meetings because that's important for the communities, but then we're gonna have the ability to bring people together around issues of common importance.

So, on behalf of the entire orginization, not just Finseca, but NAILBA as well, you know, we're excited to hear from you. Please let us know your thoughts. Because again, this is your organization, and we're just stewards, helping serve your cause. So thank you to Dan for joining us.

Dan LaBert:                      
You're welcome.

Marc Cadin:                      
And have a great- have a great day.

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

Speaker 4:                         
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Katie Fehlinger:                
Time now for our ID Why segment, where we shine the spotlight on the people that make up independent distribution. So many in this industry have a personal connection to it that them and this NAILBA member is no different, having been forced to face his own mortality not once, but twice.

Chuck Anderson:             
I was so lost, I wasn't even sure if I was on the road anymore that I started on and I was- that was the- the critical moment where I literally laid down on the soft sand, uh, and really did some soul searching about, "Why did I get myself into this?"

Katie Fehlinger:                
A road trip gone horribly wrong. Back in 2011, Chuck Anderson found himself lost in the middle of the desert.

Chuck Anderson:             
Before I knew it, um, I figured out I was going the wrong way.

Katie Fehlinger:                
Trusting his GPS, Chuck tried to get back on track. What he didn't know-

Chuck Anderson:             
If you go onto Google and type in death by Garmin or Garmin Death Valley, there's a lot of people that have gotten lost in the Death Valley area. It's kind of like the Bermuda Triangle. The further I went, the more desolate it became. Finally, a- a- after driving for quite a while and realizing how lost I was, I did pull over and I was thinking, "I'm gonna get myself organized here," and sure enough, when I went to start the car again, it would not start.

Katie Fehlinger:                
And so he started walking. After more than 20 miles with no sign of civilization, no water and poor reception on a phone that was losing battery, a ray of hope.

Chuck Anderson:             
I finally saw lights on the horizon, then I zeroed in on those lights and kept walking.

Katie Fehlinger:                
Chuck made it out safely, but just 10 years later in 2021, another scare when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Chuck Anderson:             
A never smoker with a- a tumor that was growing rapidly in my right lung. I had one of the best cancer recovery, uh, stories that you can have where they got the cancer out and, um, didn't need chemo or radiation.

Katie Fehlinger:                
Facing mortality twice over, experiences that have filled Chuck with gratitude.

Speaker 6:                         
I did it.

Katie Fehlinger:                
But he can still spend summers swimming and winters sledding with his grandkids, but he also felt relief knowing his family would be protected no matter what happened.

Chuck Anderson:             
It just really taught me the importance of planning and- and that when you come that close, it was just the peace of mind that our products provide that's just so important.

Katie Fehlinger:                
Chuck's always recognized the value of life insurance, he spent 40 years in the industry, beginning at Prudential in 1981 [crosstalk 00:13:22] and helping to launch the company's effort in the independent space.

Chuck Anderson:             
One of the ways [crosstalk 00:13:26].

Katie Fehlinger:                
From there, time at Securian Financial, to now as the National Sales Director for Diversified Brokerage Services.

Chuck Anderson:             
I feel like I'm in a role now that really l- leverages my strengths, but also lets me do the things that I like to do with people, with our products and, uh, being part of a great industry.

Katie Fehlinger:                
All the ingredients for a rewarding job, but it's not all work and no play. Of course, we could not have this discussion and- and not talk about NAILBA Rockstar (laughs), you're definitely a karaoke, uh, aficionado. What began as Prudential Idol, then Prudential Rockstar, to now NAILBA Rockstar, Chuck and several other colleagues have helped bring the party to NAILBA's Annual Meeting for years.

Chuck Anderson:             
Why not have fun? I've always loved music and I think probably the most fulfilling part of the NAILBA Rockstar event is friendships and relationships that you have in the NAILBA community that's really like family.

Katie Fehlinger:                
Family, friends, fun, fulfillment and good fortune, all important values that Chuck hopes to pay forward.

Chuck Anderson:             
I've always used the mantra, "Low ego, no drama and big impact" and, uh, I think one of the things I learned and what- when you go through a experience like surviving cancer is to really put things in perspective. I really believe in the protection that life insurance provides, so that is a driving force for me.

Katie Fehlinger:                
And right now, I'm joined by CEO, Dan LaBert. And Dan, big news that NAILBA has announced an intention merge with Finseca. Uh, so how did this all come about? And also, why is it the right move to be exploring a merger?

Dan LaBert:                      
Well, what an exciting way to kick off 2022, right? I mean, we just came off celebrating 40 years of NAILBA, we had an phenomenal Annual Meeting and the engagement around NAILBA is- is at an all time high. So right, that's a great question. Why now? And I think it comes, uh, from 18 months of due diligence, of- of a taskforce meeting, uh, monthly, sometimes, uh, twice a month, so it was a lot of things were looked at and we just came to the conclusion that financial security for all is a unified mission that the entire space should embrace. And NAILBA represents such a large, uh, portion of financial security, it made sense to partner with a group like Finseca because that is where financial security for all, uh, could be found. That is their core mission statement. We believe in it.

As we work through the process and discuss parameters like governance and bylaws and membership, it just grew an overwhelming excitement of the resources that NAILBA could deliver to its member agencies when partnered with a first class orginization like Finseca. So, um, there was no shortage of meetings, there was no shortage of discussion, like everything came up and, uh, which is great and we're g- we're gonna be, um, sharing more and more of that as people ask, but it was a great opportunity to look at the value prop of each orginization and relationships we have with our carrier partners and our tech partners and talk about the bigger why, the bigger why of we are better together than we are apart.

I came into this space out of the accounting world, the legal world, the, you know, the- beer world-

Katie Fehlinger:                 (laughs)

Dan LaBert: 
...all different types of associations, we are way too fractured. Um, we will never have a unified voice with so many voices. Um, if you look at other industries or other professions, they have a unified voice and when it t- comes time to march up the steps either in your local state capital or at- in Washington DC, a unified voice, a strong unified voice, is how you protect, defend and advance your membership. And, um, it was clear that the people around the table at Finseca, uh, and NAILBA, we- we identified those opportunities and we are excited.

Katie Fehlinger:                
Yeah. And I'm sure a lot of the membership is really curious what this is going to mean for the NAILBA member agencies.

Dan LaBert:                      
Yep

Katie Fehlinger:                
What stays the same? What changes?

Dan LaBert:                      
That's the question that has b- come up the most since our announcement on January 4th and I gotta say, the feedback from the January 4th announcement has been through the roof. I mean, I was expecting there to be some positive feedback, you know, some of the usual suspects, "Hey, this is great," but the individuals, um, for the C suite, on down to team heads and- and just people that have watched the space for a while, the feedback has been tremendous, so, um, I actually was surprised by it, so that's great. Um, but the number question that keeps coming up, especially on the NAILBA side, is, "Hey, what's in this for my agency? You know, I may not be an advocacy agency or I may not be an annual meeting agency," um, and- y- you know, those things you have to say, "You're not an advocacy kind of person and so advocacy impacts you and you wanna know who's protecting you and who's doing that and a- a unified voice between Finseca and NAILBA will be protecting all of brokerage as legislative or regulatory challenges appear."

But I think the easy way to answer that question is you can just take the member benefits of being a NAILBA member right now and look at the member benefits of- of members in Finseca and for the most part combine them and that's more-

Katie Fehlinger:                
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dan LaBert:                      
... than a NAILBA member agency has ever got. There's everything there for you as of right now, if we take that approach. Now, obviously, that's casting a wide net. We're gonna be much more strategic on figuring out what are the best member benefits for each agency and then we're gonna share that as we move throughout, um, this- this process. So on the surface, it's exciting because there's- there's professional development at a- at a all time level, there's advocacy, first class advocacy at an all time level, um, there's of course the NAILBA, uh, Curve member benefits and what we're working on, so right there, just on the surface, there's a lot more than we've ever been able to offer, but now we have a bench of professionals and resources and just a collaborative spirit to ensure, uh, that return on membership investment. Uh, I'm excited about that as well.

Katie Fehlinger:                
Yeah, definitely. And I know you're going to be doing some listening tours on this, so can you talk about the timeline on that and give a bit more detail on that?

Dan LaBert:                      
Right. Um, so as of, uh, February, and you could NAILBA.org, there are opportunities for members, um, partners, um, to participate on listening tours that will take place with, um, via Zoom and, uh, both myself and the Finseca CEO, Marc Cadin, and some members of the NAILBA/Finseca taskforce will be there. We want this to be a- a- a two way street, a transparent process. We wanna hear the feedback because, you know, when you get inside something, you get all excited, right, and- and you wanna roll this out and you think it's gonna be the greatest thing ever since penicillin and then you realize, "Uh, we missed something," right-

Katie Fehlinger:                
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dan LaBert:                      
... um, there's enough experience out there that we wanna avoid that as bewst as possible, so I think getting the feedback, having the open forums, um, where people could listen to our presentation and then ask questions, um, and this is really for, um, members in particular. I'm sure there'll be others who- who can listen in and- and we welcmoe that because we wanna demonstrate how (laughs), just how powerful this unification, uh, will be. Um, but those listening tours will be a transparent process. And then, of course, uh, Dan LaBert On the Road Show, right? You- you-ve been on the- at that road show as well, wh- where NAILBA is insight, on person at various IMO meetings, so, uh, they'll be in-person, they'll be via Zoom and, of course, um, I'm- always accessible to NAILBA member agencies, so we'll- we'll welcome that.

But yes, listening tours are the next big part of the intent to merge, so check out NAILBA.org and RSVP for your time to, once again, Zoom with us (laughs).

Katie Fehlinger:                
(laughs) Some great information, Dan. Thank you so much. This is gonna be a very exciting year and a very busy one for you, though (laughs).

Dan LaBert:                      
It is. It is and we're excited.

Katie Fehlinger:                
That is going to do it for this episode of Brokerage in Motion. Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.

Speaker 4:                         
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