What Advisors Should Know About The SECURE Act of 2019

The 116th U.S. Congress took office on January 3, 2019. Since that day, the spotlight has been permanently affixed on Capitol Hill. With all the attention Congress has been getting this year, it seems one very significant piece of legislation has gone largely unnoticed – The SECURE Act of 2019.

Introduced in late March by Rep. Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act restructures current retirement and pension laws. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the bill passed the House in late May and has since been waiting to be picked up by the Senate.

The SECURE Act consists of nearly 30 provisions, many of which would have a direct impact on small businesses and their employees. As summarized on Congress.gov, the bill would bring the following changes to employer-provided retirement plans:

  • multiple employer plans;
  • automatic enrollment and nonelective contributions;
  • tax credits for small employers that establish certain plans;
  • loans;
  • lifetime income options;
  • the treatment of custodial accounts upon termination of section 403(b) plans;
  • retirement income accounts for church-controlled organizations;
  • the eligibility rules for certain long-term, part-time employees;
  • required minimum distributions;
  • nondiscrimination rules;
  • minimum funding standards for community newspaper plans; and
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums for CSEC plans (multiple employer plans maintained by certain charities or cooperatives).

In short, Congress is trying to make it easier and more affordable for small business owners to provide their employees with retirement plans. This would boost retirement security for nearly 60 million American workers by loosening the rules dictating multiple employer plans. Currently, MEPs are allowed for employers who are connected through various professional associations or share similar economic interests. The SECURE Act would remove those restrictions and make it easier for unrelated employers to enter these types of arrangements. This would cut costs, cut red tape, and reduce legal liability for businesses.

Additional items included in the bill, many of which advisors should keep an eye on, involve lifetime income options. The bill would open the door for employers to offer annuities options as part of their retirement packages. Also of interest to many of your clients are the incentives it gives to employers to give part-time workers access to 401(k) plans. For advisors, this could mean a new segment of prospects whose employment status has limited access to retirement products.

Something else that could impact clients with retirement accounts is the provision that raises the Required Minimum Distribution age from 70 to 72. According to the Tax Policy Center, this will help offset the cost of longer lifespans, which have risen significantly since the current RMD rules were enacted in the 1970s.

While the SECURE Act brings numerous additional changes to the current retirement laws, advisors should pinpoint those that will most directly affect their clients and work to ensure they understand the ins and outs, pros and cons of the bill should it be passed into law. Will it survive the Senate and land in the White House? Only time will tell. Use that time to do your homework and be ready in case it does.

Read the full text of the bill here.

 

 

Five Ways Advisors Can Sell More Annuity Products

Annuities have been a hot product as of late. In the final quarter of 2018, total annuity sales topped $62 billion (Insurance News Net). This was a 22% increase when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. Most of that growth came from fixed annuities, while variable products in Q4 2018 dropped by 3% from the previous year. But that has little bearing on the fact that annuities are on the rise. According to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, annuity sales are projected to jump by another 5% this year. This trend is expected to continue through 2023. What does this momentum mean for advisors? The answer is obvious. Strike while the iron is hot. Here are five ways to do so.

Watch Your Language
With the wide variety of options available, annuities can seem complex, even confusing, for many people. For those whose long-term financial well-being hinges on making the right decision, sorting through the intricacies can be overwhelming. This is why you should choose your words carefully when educating clients and prospects. Use clear, concise language and try to put things into layman’s terms. Jargon and industry terms can be intimidating for the average consumer. At the same time, under-explaining can be just as confusing as being overly verbose. Find the middle ground between dumbing it down and going over their heads.

Seminars
Seminars are ideal for reaching multiple prospects at once. Take a room full of people who walk through the door interested in annuities, add in a well-spoken expert advisor such as yourself and you have a recipe for conversion. Use the same smooth and concise delivery as you would during a one-on-one meeting, but don’t be afraid to turn up the volume. Keeping an audience engaged for the entire presentation can be tough if charisma is not your strong suit. Be personable, maybe even a little excited about annuities. A little humor never hurts either. When it comes time to get to the nuts and bolts of annuity products, use slideshow presentations and other visual aids to add clarity.

Social Media and Web Content
No matter what product or service you’re offering, social media is your friend. Eye-catching ads and well-crafted posts targeted to the appropriate audience are valuable tools. Use your social platforms to pique consumer interest and drive traffic to your website. Whether you’re pushing out an educational blog post or article, a seminar registration page, or your home page, make sure your content is as flawless as possible. Even the smallest typo rarely goes unnoticed and can kill your credibility. The key here is to know the audience you’re trying to reach and post content relevant to them. You also want to be consistent across the board. If your social media post delivers one message, but the linked page says something different, the consumer will likely move on almost immediately.

Be Casual
Asking the right questions and being an active and engaged listener are two keys to any productive conversation. Before you even start chatting about annuities, spend some time getting to know the person sitting across from you. Without getting too personal, find out who they are and why they came to you. Ask about their career, hobbies, or interests. Be relatable. Try to find some common ground between you and the client and use that to break the ice and make them more comfortable. A smooth transition from casual conversation to annuity awareness can boost your chances for conversion.

Reading Materials
Whether it’s a one-on-one appointment or crowded seminar, you’re going to put forth a lot of information for the prospect(s) to take in. Chances are, you aren’t going to make the sale right then and right there. Most people will want to go home, process it all, and put some dedicated thought into their final decision. However, it can be difficult for many people to retain and recall the details of your conversation. Send them home with a packet of informative materials (brochures, one-sheets, booklets, etc.). Encourage them to spend some time with materials, take some notes, and call if they have any questions. And, again, consistency is key. The information you deliver in person should match that of the reading material you hand them afterward. It might not hurt to keep a highlighter handy to mark anything that pertains directly to their situation.

If you need access to any consumer-facing marketing resources, our complimentary 2019 Annuity Awareness Month Sales Kit features up-to-date and comprehensive content that has helped many advisors with annuity sales.

The kit includes:

  • Annuity Basics Guide
  • Annuity Slide Presentation
  • 2019 Quick Tax Guide
  • 2019 Annual Tax Equivalent Tax Yields
  • CD Alternative V. Split Annuity Concept Sheet

Annuity Awareness Marketing Kit

Digital vs. Traditional Marketing

Marketing is a necessity for agents and advisors. If consumers don’t know you exist, you aren’t going to get their business. Those of you who have been in business long enough probably remember when your options were limited to what we now call “traditional” marketing methods. For years, we had to rely upon TV, radio, print, and direct mail to get our messages out to consumers.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case. The digital era has opened us up to a wide variety of ways to get in front of prospects and communicate with consumers. But that doesn’t mean digital is the be-all-end-all of marketing your business. Traditional methods are still viable and, in many cases, necessary. A good marketing strategy requires balance. And balance, in turn, requires insight. To help agents and advisors make the most of their marketing efforts, we look at some the key difference between digital and traditional marketing.

Cost

Traditional:

The money you spend on traditional methods will depend on the medium used and the frequency of the campaign. For TV or radio ads to be effective, they need to run multiple times a day and during times when more people are tuned in. This can get expensive as most outlets charge more for peak air time. When you factor in production costs (or layout, print and postage fees for direct mail), these campaigns can quickly consume your marketing budget.

Digital:

By comparison, digital marketing and advertising is very cost-friendly and flexible. Social media platforms allow you to set a budget before launching the campaign and make adjustments as needed. While it will cost more to run an extended and high-frequency campaign, you have the ability to dial things back and change course mid-stream if the campaign isn’t going as well as expected. This is where the benefits of analytics come into play. You can get real-time results on the performance of your campaign, measure ROI, and gain valuable, data-driven insights so you know what’s working and (more importantly) what isn’t working.

Reach, Control & Presence

Traditional:

Unless you buy ad space/air time with an outlet that caters to a niche audience, you have little to no control over who might (or might not) be exposed to your message. Even then, there’s no guarantee that your target market will be actively watching or listening when your ad runs. The same concerns apply to print and direct mail. Will the consumer stick your mailer on the fridge so they can come back to it later? Or will it land in the recycling bin?

Digital:

Digital ads and sponsored posts follow the consumer and can be shared across multiple channels. Social media, Google AdWords, email services all provide the benefits of segmentation, customized audiences, and geo-targeting. This hyper-focused delivery allows you to target specific demographics, regions, and markets. Digital also comes with an inherent “always on” factor. This means that anytime a consumer is online, they could potentially come across your content.

Interactivity

Traditional:

Traditional methods of content delivery are a one-sided conversation. There is little to no opportunity for active participation or engagement from consumers. Basically, once you launch the campaign, it’s up to the consumer to respond and start the conversation.

Digital:

Consumer experience is a key ingredient to a successful marketing campaign. Digital content provides an opportunity for businesses and consumers to interact and communicate with one another. This is a great way to build credibility and foster real relationships with your prospects before they sit down for the first appointment.

These comparisons aside, traditional marketing still has a place at the table. Print and radio ads are great for brand awareness and can help boost your professional status within your community. But this is the digital era. With more and more people abandoning print and broadcast in favor of their online and streaming counterparts, you need to consider how many eggs to put in each basket. That balance largely depends on your services, target market, budget, and other factors. This can be a difficult, but important decision to make.

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Did these points speak to you? Stay tuned for information on how we can help turn you into a digital marketing rockstar.

 

 

 

Annuity Awareness Month Marketing Tips

Thanks to a calendar full of finance and retirement-related awareness campaigns, agents and advisors are rarely short on reasons to reach out to consumers. Most of you have probably taken advantage of the resources made available by Life Happens for September’s Life Insurance Awareness Month. April and October, both recognized as CD Renewal months, offer two chances to discuss products that might serve clients’ needs better than a Certificate of Deposit.

As May comes to a close, so too does Disability Insurance Awareness Month (covered in a recent edition of Marketing Corner). Fortunately, you don’t have to wait long for the next round. June is designated as Annuity Awareness Month, a campaign that serves to educate consumers on, you guessed it, annuities. Use this time to start the conversation with clients and prospects about how an annuity might help their retirement goals.

Two big features they might find appealing are 1) The ability to accumulate tax-deferred cash value (as with fixed and fixed indexed annuities); and 2) The ability to trigger a source of income that cannot be outlived (as with a lifetime income rider).

Of course, some consumers may not even be familiar with the fundamental structure of an annuity. So successfully selling a prospect on an annuity can depend on educating them on the basics and clearly illustrating how an annuity product can fit within their retirement goals. However, you need to make the connection before starting the conversation. Try these simple engagement tips to reach more consumers during Annuity Awareness Month.

Social Media

Social Media marketing is an absolute necessity for agents and advisors. So, it makes sense that a good portion of your Annuity Awareness Month efforts take place on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. One of the most effective ways to do so is by sharing articles that cover the ins and outs of how annuities work. Ideally, at least a few of these articles will be original content posted to your blog/website. But any well-written, consumer-facing pieces will work if they catch the consumer’s attention. When crafting your posts, use relevant hashtags to help boost engagement. A few trending this month include:

#annuity

#annuities

#AnnuityAwareness

#AnnuityAwarenessMonth

#retirement

#retirementsolutions

Email

Take a quick look at your email distribution list. Do you have a segment of subscribers who have previously expressed interest in annuities? Or maybe you already have a drip campaign going for those prospects. Now is the time to crank up the volume on those campaigns just a bit. While you should avoid overdoing the email blasts, an extra message this month might be enough to get a few prospects to pick up the phone. Make sure to use personalization and a strong call-to-action to make the email a little more enticing. Additionally, those of you who blast out a monthly newsletter should definitely focus on annuity education this month.

Pick Up the Phone

Calling existing clients or even prospects who might be close to conversion is perhaps the most straight-forward and personal way to get them thinking about annuities. Start with clients who are due for a policy review or any you might need to catch up with. From there, work through your list and strike up a conversation. This is much more time consuming than other marketing efforts, but it never hurts to reach out and say hello to your valued clients anyway, right? Even if they aren’t interested in annuities, this is your opportunity to chat about other products that might match their current needs.

Additional Resources

Whitepapers, fact sheets, presentations, and other consumer-facing materials can all be very powerful and effective marketing tools. These resources are a great visual aid and, oftentimes, help consumers better understand how an annuity can benefit their situation. Emails and social media posts that offer free downloadable resources are not only more engaging, they drive traffic to your website and can be a great way to get their contact information. Customizing these materials to your brand and business is a subtle, yet effective way to boost your credibility and professionalism in the eyes of a potential client.

If you need access to updated and comprehensive annuity marketing resources, we can help. Our complimentary 2019 Annuity Awareness Month Sales Kit includes:

Annuity Basics Guide

Annuity Slide Presentation

2019 Quick Tax Guide

2019 Annual Tax Equivalent Tax Yields

CD Alternative V. Split Annuity Concept Sheet

Fill out the form to request your copy of our Annuity Awareness Month Kit.

Annuity Awareness Marketing Kit

 

10 Simple Steps to Generating Online Leads

In an ideal world, your agent website is enhanced for both passive and active marketing activities. If there is good, SEO-rich content, your target market will naturally engage with your web collateral. And if you’ve got great calls to action and active marketing processes, you can lead consumers to your web properties, which may inspire them to take further actions (such as submitting their information or calling you directly).

Below you will find ten simple steps to optimizing your website to generate good online leads.

Appeal to Your Target Market

A clean, well-designed website is the key to making a good first impression to online consumers. Generally speaking, your site should be user-friendly, responsive, easy to navigate, and support multiple devices. It’s also important that your contact information and social media links are easy to find. Now consider what your specific target market would find appealing and adjust the content and design of your site accordingly. You want prospects to visit your site and feel like they’ve found someone who understands—and can provide solutions for—their needs and concerns.

Identify & Use Pertinent Keywords

Make a list of keywords and search terms that relate to the products and services you provide. When a consumer in your target market is searching online for information, you want them to land on your site for the answer, right? Think about what those consumers might be searching for. Are they looking for ‘top annuity rates,’ ‘how does life insurance work’ or ‘financial advisors in my area?’ Identify those keywords and layer them into the content of your site. This will better index your site, making it more likely to appear near the top of the consumer’s search results.

Say NO to Templates

You’ve seen those ads that offer quick and easy business websites. Avoid these at all costs! You want your website to be unique and stand out from the competition. What you don’t want is for the consumer to see a generic website and leave with the impression that you aren’t invested enough in your own business (or clients) to sink any resources into a quality online presence. Furthermore, template sites offer limited functionality and do not allow for proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Contact us if you’re interested in a functional, custom-built website.

Create a Call to Action

The prospect is on your site, now what? Why should they pick up the phone or submit their information? Your Call to Action should give them that answer before they ask the question. An effective CTA is concise, visually-appealing, and tailored to your target market. You could offer anything from a white paper, video or complimentary appointment; just give the prospect as many reasons as possible to contact you. See our recent post on landing pages and calls to action.

Avoid Jargon

Work to minimize jargon, acronyms and complex terminology from your content. Write to the consumers, not over their heads. Jargon-heavy content can be intimidating or confusing to many consumers. If they struggle to grasp the meaning of your message, you’ve lost them. Additionally, buzzwords like “turnkey” and “cutting-edge” will likely find the prospect rolling their eyes as they exit your site. What you say, and how you say it, plays a huge role in whether or not the prospect contacts you.

Create a Blog

Fresh content drives traffic. All things being equal, the website with the freshest, most relevant content will index better. Well-written and informative blog posts can also do wonders for your credibility. Sending e-newsletters with a link to your blog is another good way to drive additional traffic to your site.

Implement Email Marketing

It’s unlikely that prospects will make visits to your website a part of their daily routine. This is why we recommend sending regularly scheduled email blasts. Keeping your prospects updated with your latest blog posts and relevant news can be a good way to convert them into clients. If you have questions about how an e-newsletter campaign can benefit your business, or if you’d like us to design one for you, call us today.

Leverage Social Media

Spreading your message across all mediums is key to generating measurable results. The average prospect has to be touched 6-9 times before they buy. Many of those prospects spend roughly one-third of their time online actively engaged in one or more social media platforms. Use your social media channels to boost your online presence, interact with consumers and build a loyal following.  Additionally, sharing links to your blog, website, landing pages, etc. will boost web traffic and search engine ranking, which ultimately leads to more conversions.

Test & Track

Your website has a call to action, but how effective is it? You can’t just put it up there, walk away and expect results. Keep track of how well (or poorly) your CTA is performing and make changes as needed. Switch out different gives and see what generates the highest conversion. If you’re curious about what offers and gives typically yield the highest response rates, call us for a complimentary report.

Partner with an FMO

Work with an FMO that understands how digital marketing works and can help implement your plan. This can be the difference between having an online business card and an online marketing engine. Contact us now if you want to take your business to the next level.

 

Overcoming Disability Insurance Objections

Disability insurance is perhaps one of the most overlooked, yet valuable, products available to consumers. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, roughly 51 million working adults will have nothing but Social Security to rely upon should an injury or medical condition leave them unable to work for an extended period of time. To call this lack of additional coverage risky is an understatement. Without proper coverage, many people would drain their savings in less than three months. In fact, medically-related work loss accounts for around 45% of all bankruptcy filings.

So, why are so many people willing to roll the dice on their financial stability? As an agent or advisor, a better question to ask would be “what can I do to convince them otherwise?” With May designated as Disability Insurance Awareness Month, we are here to help answer that question.

Facts Matter

A client might have a variety of reasons to decline DI coverage, but they can’t argue with facts. A straight-forward, research-backed approach can be an effective way to overcome objections. The CDA has provided several stats to help agents educate clients on the risks involved with an unprotected income.

  • Nearly 50% of adults say, if disabled, they could not pay an unexpected $400 bill without taking out a loan or selling personal property.
  • 6% of working Americans will experience a short-term disability of six months or less per year.
  • Only 40% of US households have at least $6,275 in liquid savings.
  • Most short-term disability claims are non-work related:
    • Pregnancies (22%)
    • Musculoskeletal disorders (20%)
    • Digestive disorders (7.8%)
    • Mental health issues (7%)
  • The same can be said about long-term disability claims
    • Musculoskeletal disorders (30%)
    • Cancer (15%)
    • Mental health (8.6%)
    • Circulatory (8.1%)

Make an Emotional Appeal

If the cold, hard truth isn’t enough to budge the client, try the emotional approach. Ask questions that make them think about how a loss of income might impact the well-being of their family.

  • How long can you be out of work and still keep your home?
  • You say you can’t afford coverage, but can you afford to cover living and medical expenses while you aren’t working?
  • How will your family react to a sudden and drastic lifestyle change?
  • What’s your backup plan if/when your savings account runs dry?
  • Does that backup plan involve dipping into your children’s college fund?

While some people might take offense at this straight-forward line of questioning, that’s no reason to avoid asking them. For many, the decision to go without adequate DI coverage stems from a lack of awareness. The DIAM campaign is your opportunity to start a conversation that, hopefully, opens their eyes.

 

Four Ways To Get More Conversions From Your Landing Page

The intent behind nearly any tactic you might use in a digital marketing campaign is to drive web traffic. For lead-gen and conversion purposes, those email blasts and targeted social media ads probably include a link directing people to a campaign-specific landing page on your website. Advisors use landing pages for a variety of reasons – seminars registration, downloadable content offers (whitepapers, fact sheets, etc.), or consultation requests. Whatever the reason, the ultimate goal here is conversion.

However, no matter how successful those emails and ads are at driving people to your landing page, it’s often the page itself that will determine whether you’ve added a new name to your list of potential clients. In other words, a bad landing page can drive consumers away just as quickly as they arrived.

While there is no secret recipe for the perfect landing page, implementing the following practices can significantly boost your chances of turning a click into a conversion. We will draw from one of our most recent landing pages to illustrate.

Copy

Like any other piece of content you put out there, the copy on your landing page needs to concise, clear, and free of any grammatical errors and typos. Use strong and compelling headlines to catch and keep their attention. And always have a fresh set of eyes check for errors you might have missed.

Avoid using too much (or any if possible) jargon and technical terms. This sort of language can easily go over a consumer’s head and bring more questions than answers. Your audience shouldn’t have to read your copy more than once to get a clear idea about the offer.

The copy on your landing page should be consistent with the copy used in your ad/email. Inconsistent messages can make people skeptical of your offer.

 

 

 

 

Submission Form

Your landing page will likely have a form that requires visitors to submit personal information. At a bare minimum, these forms typically ask for name, email, phone number, and the best time of day to call. Because people are often hesitant to share too many personal details, requiring more than the basics might be a deal breaker. While the average number of fields on a form is 11, cutting that down to 4 can boost conversion by as much as 120%.

Some advisors might want to weed out any unqualified leads by including fields that require additional information, such as age and income ranges. Use your own judgment here, but keep in mind that you might lose a good lead by asking them to submit information online that could easily be discussed during a follow-up phone call.

Video

Video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by as much as 86%. Keep your video short, simple, and use it to expand upon your message. Consumers are more likely to watch a 1 -2-minute video than they are to read a 1 -2-paragraph block of text. This can also help associate your face with your brand and make you seem more trustworthy.

The video should be placed above the fold (near the top of the landing page) and embedded on the page itself. If clicking your video redirects the visitor to your YouTube channel, they will be less likely to come back and fill out your form.

 

 

 

CTA

Keep your call to action simple, strong, and easy to locate. The copy on your CTA should be as or more compelling than your headlines. Oftentimes, people who read a strong headline are more likely to check out the CTA as well.

Design is also an important factor with your CTA. It should stand out from the rest of the page, look professional, and be placed below the fold.

You can also increase the clicks on your CTA by keeping any secondary links that might direct visitors away from the page to a minimum. In fact, removing the navigation bar can boost conversion by 100%.

 

B2B Life Insurance Marketing Tips

When it comes to life insurance, many agents and advisors focus most of their efforts on consumers. This can be a wide-open market that consists of young families, those nearing retirement, and everyone in between. However, it would be a mistake to overlook the equally-open territory of small businesses. Many business owners may not be aware of how life insurance can be used to enhance their operations. Marketing to these entrepreneurs often requires a different approach than you would take with the average consumer.

Use the following tips to enhance your B2B life insurance marketing efforts.

Networking

Credibility and trustworthiness are two crucial elements of any relationship. When targeting consumers, agents and advisors often rely on various content marketing tactics (educational materials, articles, etc.) to establish a sense of trust. However, converting a business owner might require extra effort on your part. Don’t be afraid to get out there, shake some hands, and do a little schmoozing. Face-to-face networking is one of the most effective B2B marketing tactics an agent or advisor can put to use.

Chamber of Commerce

Joining your local Chamber of Commerce can be a good way to get face time with a wide variety of business owners, non-profits, and economic development entities. Attend chamber meetings on a regular to build relationships with other members. Doing so will also show you have a vested interest in the local economy. This can go a long way with other entrepreneurs.

Additional Business Networks

Most communities have loosely-knit groups that exist for this exact purpose. These are usually established by other local business owners looking to establish B2B relationships of their own. In many cases, these groups consist of business owners who don’t belong to their local Chamber of Commerce but still seek networking opportunities. These casual get-togethers are great chances to exchange marketing ideas, meet local media personalities, and make new B2B connections.

Knock and Talk

There’s something to be said about the straight-forward approach. Keep an eye on new businesses opening up in your area. News outlets and your chamber of commerce can be a good resource for this. Attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies can be a great opportunity to show support and introduce yourself to the owner(s). If the business is located near your office, make it a point to stop by on occasion. Simply popping your head in the door to see how things are going can lead to a productive, professional relationship.

Presentation

Small business owners know how important it is to make a first impression with customers. From physical location to digital presence, successful entrepreneurs will pore over even the smallest details to make sure they come across as professional as possible. Why would they expect any less from you?

Be Organized and Professional

It doesn’t matter who the prospect is, or what they do for a living, your overall presentation is a crucial part of the sales process. That said, you should expect a higher level of scrutiny from business owners than the average consumer. In other words, professionals expect professionalism from other professionals. Assume you will be under a microscope from the start. Even the slightest hint of disorganization or poor etiquette can hinder a potential B2B relationship. When approaching business owners, it’s crucial that you put your best foot forward and strive to make a flawless impression at every point of contact.

Bring the Right Materials

Consumer-facing materials are a necessity when presenting life insurance information. Giving the prospect a brochure, pamphlet, or one-sheet to take home will give them the chance to go over details without feeling pressured by your presence. When pitching to a business owner, make sure you have materials that pertain to their business needs. Don’t overload them with extra brochures that aren’t relevant to the business applications of life insurance. Keep things on topic until they decide they’re interested in additional products, such as a personal policy.

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Request our Life Insurance Overview guide, which includes sections on:

  • Types of Life Insurance
  • Benefits Beyond a Death Benefit
  • Business Application of Life Insurance
  • Life Insurance at a Glance

The $35 Billion Divorce: Where Advisors Fit In When A Marriage Ends

DivorceCelebrity gossip columnists have been working overtime since early January when Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced via Twitter that their marriage was ending. It’s somehow fitting that one of the most publicized divorces in recent memory, involving the world’s wealthiest man, ended with the most expensive divorce settlement ever. When the dust settled, the now ex-wife of the Amazon founder and CEO revealed that she was leaving the marriage with roughly $35 billion in her pocket.

As an advisor or agent, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with retirement planning, life insurance, or anything else related to your profession. It’s safe to assume that billionaires don’t sit up at night, worried about a steady stream of retirement income. However, this is a concern that has probably resulted in sleepless nights for many of your clients. After all, that’s why they came to you, isn’t it? That’s why you worked so diligently to outline a plan that would alleviate those concerns, right? But what happens to that plan after a divorce?

When Clients Divorce

It’s been said that there are only two ways to end a marriage – death or divorce. The reality of being an advisor is that, eventually, you’ll have to help clients get through one or the other. Unless, of course, that client is worth billions of dollars. They might not need much from you in either case. For the rest of us, divorce can turn into a nightmare. Aside from the emotional impact, there are legal fees, moving expenses, and countless other loose ends to tie up. As their advisor, some of those loose ends will involve you.

Divorce laws differ from state to state. This is why it’s important that advisors are familiar with those laws before getting involved. It’s also important to decide if you even want to get involved, especially if you don’t have any specialized training financial divorce planning. There’s also the personal relationship you’ve established with both parties to consider. Beyond that, there could be conflicts of interest or other legal issues that might arise.

That said, it’s possible that a divorced client will come to seeking advice on how to move forward. Especially if they weren’t as involved in the family’s finances as the other. This situation might call for you to provide some education and guidance.

Beneficiaries

Following the divorce, the client will likely want to remove the ex-spouse as the beneficiary to any life insurance policies or retirement accounts in their name. However, this might be the furthest thing from their mind in the weeks and months after the dust settles. This would be an appropriate occasion to offer a policy review to revise how the beneficiaries are restructured.

Social Security Options

Your client might not be aware of their Social Security options. Under certain conditions, they may be able to collect benefits based on the ex-spouse’s work record. Doing so will not reduce the benefits the client’s ex-spouse is entitled to receive and could possibly be more advantageous than claiming based on their own work record. Check SSA.gov for updated rules pertaining to divorce.

Workplace Pensions

If one spouse has a 401(k) or similar employer-provided pension plan, the divorce agreement may include a qualified domestic relations order. The QDRO determines how the account is split between the two parties. While the lawyers need to fight that battle, advisors should help make sure the recipient can make an informed decision on how to handle those assets. The QDRO might state that funds are transferred from the 401(k) into an IRA. Depending on the situation, this might be the better long-term option. If the divorce is causing financial hardships, the recipient needs to know that they can collect the money directly without incurring any early withdrawal penalties.

Picking Up the Pieces

Even the most amicable of divorces can leave one party with more pieces to pick up than the other. Jeff Bezos agreed to the $35 billion settlement, but still has around $110 billion more in the bank and his company. In short, MacKenzie was left with the short end of a very, very big stick.

When a recently divorced person starts to put those pieces back together, their short- and long-term financial outlook should be part of that puzzle. This is where an advisor can step in to help. A recently divorced person may need guidance with setting up a new monthly budgeting and savings plan. Or advice on how to best manage any assets or property they got in the divorce. This could also be the right time for a complete reassessment of their goals and how to achieve them.

Geo-Targeting Tips for Advisors

A 1-mile geo-fence around Chicago’s Willis Tower, within Facebook’s ad platform

Geo-targeting has become one of the most powerful digital marketing tools businesses have at their disposal. This game-changing tactic uses data from a consumer’s mobile device to deliver highly-targeted and relevant content. To make a broad analogy, think of geo-targeting like the tech-savvy grandson of direct mail marketing. But instead of spending good money to cover a broad area of mailboxes, geo-targeting allows you to build a customized audience of consumers based, not only on where they live but where they work, shop, eat and anywhere else they go.

Two or three years ago, geo-targeting was considered to be the “next big thing” in digital marketing. Today, it is the big thing. Businesses that have made geo-targeting a part of their digital marketing strategy are making better use of their ad budgets and enjoying a higher return on that investment. Are you geo-targeting?

Facebook, Google, and other platforms have for years allowed businesses to deliver ads to consumers within a specific geographic region. It’s effective but does little to account for relevancy. Your ad might reach a lot of people, but how many of them will actually care? Geo-targeting works to solve this problem by providing insight into the consumer’s interests and behaviors based on real-time, or historical location. For example, someone who makes daily trips to their local gym is probably going to be more interested in a health food store ad than someone who doesn’t frequent that location. While both people might live in the same zip code, the ad is only relevant to one of them. By geo-targeting the gym, the ad is more likely to hit the right target.

So how can agents and advisors put geo-targeting to use?

Consider Your Target

Think about who you’re trying to reach. Pre-retirees? High-net-worth professionals? Using generalized parameters like age or education to build your target audience is a good start, but that only tells part of the story. However, where these consumers spend their time can paint a much clearer picture. Where do these consumers work? Where do they spend their free time? That C-level executive you want to connect with can might spend their day in a nice office building downtown and Saturdays at the golf course.

A 1-mile radius around Legacy Financial Partners HQ

Create a Geo-fence

Once you’ve determined who you want to reach and where you’re most likely to reach them, focus your ad on those locations. For more precise targeting, include any additional demographic information that might be relevant.

Use the Right Platform

The platform you use for your geo-targeted campaign can play a big role in the effectiveness of your geo-targeted campaign. Which social media channels are popular with your target? You probably won’t find too many baby boomers on Twitter, but there are plenty on Facebook. And that executive? Try LinkedIn.

Analyze and Experiment

Geo-targeted campaigns can be complicated and often call for a little tweaking as they run. Pay close attention to the analytics, measure your results, and act accordingly. If that geo-fence you drew around the downtown business district isn’t generating any new leads, try making a few changes. Maybe you need to expand your geo-fence or revise the content of your ad itself. Digital marketing is not a science, especially when it comes to a data-rich tactic like geo-fencing. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t strike gold right away. Keep experimenting until you find the strategy that works for you.