Happy Thanksgiving

Legacy Financial Partners would like to extend a hearty thanks to you. We hope that your Thanksgiving holiday is full of food, family, and fun.

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, our Topeka office will be closed Thursday, November 23rd, and Friday, November 24th.

Please check out our latest Marketing Corner, our weekly blog which helps advisors with tips on marketing and growing your business in an ever-evolving age.

Marketing Corner – Understanding Your Value Proposition

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Understanding Your Value Proposition

As important as prospecting and marketing are to your practice, these activities can be all for naught without a good understanding of your value proposition. Surely you’ve heard this phrase before and have some idea of what it means. But clearly understanding the term and how it specifically applies to your business, can enhance your operation.

Many Uses

There are many ways people think of a value proposition. First, as a broad, general idea of what distinguishes you from your competitors. What does your firm excel at or specialize in, that others in your area don’t? Why should consumers seek you out over XYZ Financial Group down the street? What service levels are inherently promised to new clients?

Often when discussing marketing plans with new agents, they will emphasize they want to highlight their “value proposition,” but really mean to simply market whatever they do. This is the more casual use of the term value proposition.

But there is a more specific and detailed use of value proposition that many firms ignore. In its more proper usage, a value proposition is a written statement, along the same lines as a mission/vision statement.

This statement can be focused internally, as a way for you and your team to align your business. The statement can also be focused externally, as a way for consumers to understand why they should come to you.

What’s In A Good Value Proposition?

At the most basic level, a value proposition explains the benefits your firm provides to your target market and how well you specifically do this. A value proposition condenses the whole arc of your business into a few sentences. It is the recipe for your operation.

There are four basic elements to a value proposition statement:

  • Your consumers
  • The specific problem(s) you solve
  • The service you provide
  • How you are distinguished from competitors

Writing A Value Proposition

Understand Your Target Market

Advisors and agents often have a very vague idea about who their target market is, especially if they can service many consumer segments. You can have value propositions for each consumer segment you target, or one overarching value proposition the encompasses your whole practice. The point is to have a definite idea of the individuals you want as clients—what do they need, why do they need this, when do they need it, and why is what you do relevant to them.

Understand The Problem

What problems/needs are facing your consumers?

Understand Your Service

How do your services solve the problem? Why does a consumer need your services?

Understand Your Uniqueness

Sometimes what distinguishes you from your competitors can be experience. Sometimes it can be a specialty or area of focus. Sometimes it can be an approach. But you should really consider what makes you unique with as much specificity as possible.

Example:

With 20 years’ experience, XYZ Financial Group helps Federal Employees optimize their pension choice for a better retirement.

Target – Federal Employees
Problem – implicit, but Fed retirement can be difficult.

Service – Pension Optimization

Uniqueness – 20 years, experience, fed employee specialty

Example:

Our Retirement Planning process involves a custom 5-step approach to uncover what really matters to you.

Target – Individuals planning for retirement.
Problem – Individuals may not know how to define what matters to them in retirement.

Service – Retirement planning

Uniqueness – A custom approach, a process

Example:

Finding a Medigap policy shouldn’t be a hassle. XYZ incorporates healthcare plan consultations into our retirement planning so Boomers like you are ready for retirement.

Target – Boomers, specifically pre-Medicare age

Problem – Finding a Medigap policy can be difficult

Service – healthcare plan consultations, specifically Medigap

Uniqueness – (implicit) Healthcare planning may not always be included with retirement planning, but this company does.

Certainly, there are many, many different ways to construct and use a value proposition. By considering your target market, the problems you solve, and the uniqueness of your business, you can better calibrate your services and market yourself to consumers. You may discover through the process of crafting a value proposition statement that what you offer isn’t all that unique or that you are overlooking a more distinguishing element of your firm.

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Marketing Corner – October 26th, 2017

5 Tips For Using A Facebook Business Page For Your Practice

Earlier this year, we discussed five reasons why advisors should use Facebook. To summarize, although you might not feel that Facebook is all that relevant to your practice, it can be an affordable platform to build an audience, leverage content, and promote yourself. (And in 2017, not having a Facebook business page can work against your credibility and SEO rankings.)

So now you know that you should have a Facebook page for your business, but how do you use Facebook for your business? Here are five tips.

Create A Complete Business Page

Since some of our readers may be unfamiliar with Facebook, it might be helpful to distinguish what we mean by a business page. Spun from a personal page, a business page is created to build a profile for your firm. You can set multiple admins (so that others in your firm can contribute) and contributor roles.

When you log in to your personal page, look to the upper right at the navigation drop-down menu.

Here you should find many different options, including the tab to “Create A Page.”

On the next page, you’ll find options for many different versions of a Facebook page. The two that will be most applicable to you will be “Local Business or Place” and “Company, Organization, or Institution.”

From this point, the process is fairly easy and self-driven. But make sure to complete all relevant fields, including website, phone number, address, hours of operation, and so forth.

In the About section, you will be able to include a number of things. The About subsection on the About page allows you to write a 225-character summary of your page. The Impressum provides a spot for you to include disclaimers. Even if you do not have to run things pass compliance, it still may be a good idea to include a basic disclaimer, something to the effect of:

This Facebook business page may contain concepts that have legal, accounting and tax implications. It is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice. You may wish to consult a competent attorney, tax advisor, or accountant.

In the Story section, you will be able to include a longer bit of text. This is a good spot to include your company’s bio, mission statement, core values, as well as more about you specifically.

Once your page is created, make sure to create a unique and memorable username. Otherwise, your page URL will be a random string of numbers.

Use Quality Images for Profile and Cover Photo

Too often when advisors use Facebook, they grab whatever picture or copy of their logo they have. Unfortunately, these images may not resolve well on the business page, weakening the page’s impact to visitors. You don’t want to leave a bad first impression to a potential client, especially if the fix is as simple as having a properly sized logo or photo.

For the square profile picture, use a photo that is at least 170×170 pixels. Cover photos must be at least 400 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall, but will display at 820×312.

Facebook suggests photos or logos incorporating text may display better when uploaded as a PNG file (versus a JPG image file).

Get Posting!

One of the hardest things for business owners—especially financial advisors—to balance is the personal and professional. Social media provides a venue for fluid and casual engagement, and the best content demonstrates personality while maintaining a professional tone.

A good way to get started is to leverage relevant content. Share an article from a reputable source with a few sentences of commentary. For example, “this article gives consumers good insights on the challenges facing the next generation of retirees.”

As you build a digital trail and begin to gain an audience, consider what topics you can write about, in a competent and accessible manner. Once you have good back-trail of posts—leveraged and your own—consider boosting the page for likes and boosting the post to reach a wider audience.

Maintain Activity

We’ve mentioned many times before when discussing content marketing that regular activity is key to a successful digital presence. It’s worth repeating here. There are a few reasons why consistent, regular activity is important:

• It puts your content and profile in the feed of your followers with regularity. A consumer may not be ready to do business with you upon seeing one of your pieces, but may down the line, as you keep pushing out relevant content.
• When a new consumer first checks out your digital profile, recent content will help with credibility.
• Recent content, from your main website and social media platforms, can help with SEO

Use The Pin Post Feature

You have the option to pin a post to the top of your business page’s feed. This can be a good spot to highlight content that you want new and old visitors to view since it won’t be lost in the feed. Even better, you can use this spot to park an intro video. Consumers get a mix of media on your page and a way to see and hear you directly.

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Marketing Corner – Highlights from The New Genworth Cost of Care Study

Marketing Corner – Thursday, October 12th, 2017

New Genworth Study – Need to Knows

One of the most important things for retirees and pre-retirees to consider is the impact long-term care can have on their retirement. The trade-off of our longer life expectancies is the increasing likelihood of a long-term care condition or other medical situation. Obviously, a persistent medical condition can reduce the quality of life, but with high costs, a long-term care condition can result in significant financial damage.

To illustrate this, each year Genworth conducts a comprehensive survey of long-term care costs from sources all over the country. Here are some key highlights from the 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Study.

Cost Increases Since Last Year

Across numerous long-term care categories, such as home health aide services, homemaker services, adult day health care, nursing home care and more, the 2017 Genworth study found significant increases over 2016 figures. For example, the national median hourly rate for home health aide services is $22 per hour, an increase of 6.17% over what the survey found last year. The National median for semi-private nursing home care is $235 per day, a percentage increase of 5.50% since 2016.

Cost Increases Over A Five Year Period

The study also looked at increases over the last five years for the categories mentioned in the previous paragraph. While not as sharp of an increase, they do trend upward. Homemaker services experienced a five-year annual growth rate of 3.08%, while nursing home care (private room) experienced an increase of 3.76%.

Projected Cost Increases Over The Next Ten Years Are Alarming
The national medians for long-term care costs are projected to increase significantly over the next 10 years. For instance, the annual median cost of care in an assisted living facility is projected to climb to $60,476 from $45,000. The 2027 national median for private room nursing home care is expected to rise to $130,971 from $97,455 in 2017.

Highs and Lows By State

The US state with the highest median for home health aide? Got to be New York or California right? Actually, it is North Dakota, at $63,972 per year, with Alaska, at a close second of $63,492. This actually makes sense, given the low population and lower service providers of these states. With people leaving large cities for the suburbs and rural areas, this may become a problem down the line. Curiously, Kentucky has the lowest median for home health aide at $34,892 and a 0% 5-year growth rate for this category.

This is only a snapshot of one category the study looked at. You can see the state by state breakdown here.

To take an interactive look, and to drill down to select cities, use this tool available on Genworth’s website.

**

What does this all mean? While the numbers are specific to one study (a comprehensive one, for sure) they do show clients the high cost of long-term care. Without sufficient protection, retirement can be derailed, exhausting resources and burdening families.

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Marketing Corner – Millennials and Retirement

Marketing Corner – Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Millennials and Retirement

There’s no definite age range that defines the Millennial generation. Typically, you’ll find that many sources, publications, and institutes will offer a range somewhere between 1982-1995, though we’ve seen ages as far back as 1978 and as far forward as 2000.

This generation is relevant to financial advisors for many reasons. For one, some Millennials are now reaching their peak earning years, starting families, and otherwise presenting planning opportunities. Some Millennials may have a ways to go before hitting their financial stride, but will present opportunities in 5-10 years. Along with members of Gen-X, Millennials are set to receive the largest transfer of wealth ever. And, with retirement further off, Millennials are primed to benefit the most from early planning, with room for a mix of strategies.

You may be asking yourself, though, what do Millennials really think about retirement? How prepared are they for retirement?

Here is a quick shot of important facts about Millennials and Retirement.

Millennials Do Save For Retirement…

82% Millennials surveyed participate in an investment savings account. This actually outpaces what Gen X (77%) and Boomers (75%) reported in the survey. The explanation? Auto-enrollment in employee-sponsored plans. While this indicates that some Millennials may have an eye on retirement, the likely situation is that many Millennial employees accept their simple choices without further thought toward higher contribution levels. This can be great for Millennials to get a jump start on their retirement, but may mean they could benefit from dedicated, managed planning solutions.

…But They Do Not Save Enough, And Some Have Nothing

In a survey conducted by GOBankingRates, 61% of “Older Millennials” (defined here as those aged 25-34) have $1000 or less saved. The majority of this group (41%) have nothing saved. However, the number of those with $10,000 saved rose 5% over the previous years’ study (20%). Millennials do save earlier than previous generations. In contrast to Generation X and Boomers (age 27 and 31 respectively) the average Millennial with access to a defined contribution plan starts at age 23. This according to the 2016 Natixis Retirement Plan Participant Study, which also finds that most Millennials only contribute between 1% and 4.99%.

A Majority Are Unsatisfied With Their Financial Lives

A recent survey conducted by Wells Fargo found that the majority (69%) of Millennials want to get over their anxiety regarding money. And while nearly all surveyed (98%) indicated that feeling financially secure was important to their lives, only 32% stated they were satisfied with their financial lives. What’s more is that the study found that while 77% of Millennials do not have a financial advisor, nearly 40% state they want one.

Some Millennials Have Redefined Retirement

Another study found that Millennials save, but not necessarily for retirement. Rather—reflecting Millennial values—this generation saves for life experiences and desired lifestyles. Paradoxically almost, as quoted by head of Merrill Edge Aron Levine, “Young adults…are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve freedom and flexibility, even if it means working for the rest of their lives.”

Saving, But Not Planning

A recent Insured Retirement Institute report echoes what the Merrill Edge study found regarding this redefinition of retirement:

“Millennials want flexibility and choice during retirement: the majority associate the word ‘freedom’ with their feelings about retirement, and 50 percent believe retirement means being able to decide whether, and/or how much, to work.”

And as IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford put it “While Millennials are saving, most are not planning.” What does this all ultimately mean? It suggests that the Millennial generation is primed for smart retirement strategies and for financial advisors to help them actualize their retirement goals.

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Marketing Corner – CD Replacement Month

Marketing Corner – Thursday, September 28th, 2017

CD Replacement Month

30 Years Ago The Markets Crashed. Why Does This Present A Sales Opportunity for Advisors Today?

October 19th of this year represents the thirty-year anniversary of a significant event in market history, the effects of which as still being felt today. Black Monday (October 19th, 1987) is the name ascribed to a large market crash that not only affected America but countries all over the world, where it is sometimes referred to as Black Tuesday, because of time zone differences.

So what happened on Black Monday? Well, for one, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell a staggering 22.61%, the index’s largest percentage drop, a record that still stands today. The damage was wide-spread, not just impacting specific sectors or segments of the market, but affecting markets as a whole. There’s a reason why October 19th is sometimes referred to as the first modern crash.

There are many proposed causes—program trading, overvaluation, illiquidity, market fears about inflation, interest rates and more. Many at the time thought Black Monday was a precursor to another Great Crash. Markets did eventually rebound, but there still remained a great deal of volatility, culminating in aftershocks and mini-crashes, such as the Friday the 13th mini-crash (Oct. 13th, 1989).

How does this relate to Certificates of Deposits and the opportunity for you, the advisor? As markets dived in 1987, consumers withdrew their exposed investments and transferred their money into Certificates of Deposit. With guaranteed interest rates and FDIC backing, CDs seem like a safe place to place money and immunize against market volatility.

However, due to their low rate of return, CDs, do not hedge against inflation very well, when compared to other products, like certain annuities. This is especially true with long-term CDs that many consumers automatically renew out of habit. This means that some consumers may be losing real-world value that could be parlayed into another solution that works better against inflation and could provide lifetime income. Because six-month and twelve-month CDs are up for renewal, October and April are often referred to as CD replacement months.

Consider the impact of inflation during the time period between 1986 and 2016. Using inflationdata.com (which bases its tool from the CPI calculator published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) the total inflation for this thirty year span of time is 119.08%. This means that something that cost $50,000 in 1986 would cost nearly 120% more in 2016 ($109,540.83). For your clients or prospects that are nearing retirement, this represents a significant loss of real value. Consider also that in the thirty years since Black Monday, average CD interest rates have, on the whole, decreased.

Obviously, every consumer presents a unique situation. For some, CDs may still meet their needs. Others may be unaware of other options. However, this means that October gives you a good opportunity for review, discussion, and product sales.

To help agents and advisors take advantage of these CD replacement opportunities, Legacy Financial Partners is offering a complimentary CD replacement kit.

Click here or go to https://legacy-financial-partners.com/cdreplacement/ to claim your copy.

Complimentary 2017 CD Replacement Kit

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Marketing Corner – Five Ways Advisors Kill Their Marketing Effort

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Five Ways Advisors Kill Their Marketing Efforts

Compared to tangible products and services, such as cars, retail, or plumbing, marketing financial services can be very difficult. Add to this that most advisors don’t want to deal with marketing—they want to focus on what they do best, meeting clients and advising. Consider also the level of trial and error that can come into play with small business marketing, it’s easy to see how marketing and prospecting can become discouraging. In this week’s Marketing Corner we wanted to highlight ways advisors sabotage or undermine their own marketing efforts.

Having Too High Of Expectations

There are many different kinds of marketing activities an advisor can use to engage their consumer base and build brand awareness. However, it’s crucial to have a balanced expectation of the results you can receive. What’s a good baseline to determine expectations? That will depend. Every type of activity will have its own metrics for measurements. A decent mail response rate can be between .5% and 1%. Good click-through-rates for display advertising may be somewhere between .5% and 2%, depending on the nature of the campaign. You might only care about one metric—new clients—but typical rates can serve as benchmarks for you to evaluate your marketing. Keep in mind that other factors can complicate results and a campaign can succeed (or fail) for any number of reasons.

Not Utilizing Multiple Approaches

One big reason advisors get discouraged when a marketing campaign goes bust is that they rely on one single platform. If you have one marketing activity that consistently works for you, you certainly don’t want to fix what isn’t broke, but having multiple approaches to your marketing can enhance what works and provide coverage for what may not. For instance, if you are interested in trying seminar marketing, how else can you promote your event, besides direct mail? How can you target a group of individuals through multiple means to increase the likelihood of response? Generally, there won’t be a single marketing activity that builds your brand and attracts new prospects (though there may be one or two that works better for you), which is why having multiple marketing activities can help you see positive results.

Letting Leads Decay

No matter what business you are in, leads decay the longer you wait to follow-up with them. The duties that come with running your practice and serving your current clients can certainly make timely follow-ups difficult. This is why you should have a defined lead follow-up process. Automation can help, especially if the lead is digital.

Avoiding Social Media

Many advisors will avoid some (or all) social media platforms, simply because they don’t see the benefits for their line of work. And a few years ago, it might have been true that a Facebook page for a financial advisor or agency would have been unnecessary. But in our current environment, social media platforms can serve as important hubs to engage prospects, build digital presence, and develop credibility. You might not build a large audience right away or get new clients banging on your door, but social media activity of some sort is crucial to your overall marketing strategy.

Not Doing Enough Volume

It is important to perform marketing activities at a high enough volume (or spend) to let averages come into play. If a vendor quotes a .1% response rate for a mail campaign and you only do a volume of, say, 500 pieces, then the number of responses you might expect is 5. When you consider other factors that can impact a campaign—such as weather, timing, messaging, and geography—then that typical response rate of 5 at 1% can easily be whittled down to 1 or 2. Without a high enough volume, your response rates can become statistically (or effectively) zero.

October is CD Replacement Month

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Marketing Corner – The Financial Life Spectrum

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

The Financial Life Risk Spectrum

When working with prospects and clients, advisors often focus on one specific need and one specific solution. This is generally because consumers don’t seek out financial services until a pressing need arises, like say the birth of a child, loss/gain of a job, or other significant life events. For consumers in this position, it can be hard to have a long view of their financial life. We know that, while financial needs change over the course of one’s life, they do not disappear as a consumer ages from peak earning years to retirement.

One way to illustrate the long view with a consumer is a yellow-pad concept called the Financial Life Risk Spectrum. This concept follows, somewhat, the basics steps of financial planning, with three main phases: Accumulating Assets, Protecting Assets, and Extending Assets.

Accumulating Assets (45-65)

Most consumers typically build their assets around age 45-65. The main risk in this phase is that an individual could die prematurely. The emotional loss would certainly be devastating, but the financial impact to the consumer’s household could be significant. Life insurance will protect the consumer’s family should this happen.

 

Other risks:

Risk

Solution

Consumer may experience a long-term care or disabling condition

Consider LTC/Disability coverage, especially if there’s a family history

Assets may not accumulate fast enough to meet retirement time horizon

Consider cash value accumulation products (FA, permanent insurance)

Consumer may be over-exposed to market changes

Consider products with limited market exposure (FIUL, FIA)

Protecting Assets (65-85)

As a consumer transitions into retirement, the main risk they face becomes an expensive medical situation. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, most Americans age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. A long-term care or chronic illness condition can be extremely costly, drain important retirement resources, and burden family members. Chronic Illness Protection can help defray this risk.

Other Risks:

Risk

Solution

Taxes upon distribution of assets

Tax-advantaged products

Misallocation/improperly structured assets

Restructuring assets/delaying Social Security

Gaps in Medicare coverage

Medicare Supplement (Medigap)

Extending Assets (85-100)

As life expectancies extend, more and more individuals need to consider what their resources will be in ages 85-100. While thinking about what life will be like at age 90 may be abstract to younger consumers in their peak earning years or those phasing into retirement, it is important that steps are taken as early as possible. So even if our consumer didn’t die early or face a difficult medical situation, they still have a challenge in retirement: outliving their money. Most people don’t want to have to return to work and at this age (85-100) may not be physically able to. Longevity protection solutions can secure a guaranteed source of income that cannot be outlived.

Other Risks:

Risk

Solution

Lower interest rate environment

A mix of asset classes

Inflation

Products with guaranteed returns and/or accumulation

Death of a spouse

Survivorship benefits

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Here’s what the yellow-pad concept looks like as a diagram:

Marketing Corner – The Road to Retirement

Marketing Corner – Thursday September 7th, 2017

The Road to Retirement, sometimes called “The Bridge” or “Bridging The Gap,” is a useful yellow-pad concept for a number of reasons. It illustrates many of the challenges a consumer faces as they drive toward retirement, the tools that can be used to address these challenges, and a specific product (Indexed Universal Life Insurance) that can provide the final layer of protection.

In Step 1, we see that there is a gap between now and retirement.

How does one cross a large gulley like this? With a bridge of course (Step 2).

Unfortunately, as we see in Step 3, there are many factors that can weaken or break our bridge. These downward forces include:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Market Volatility
  • Taxation

The bridge can be strengthened with the trusses of tax-deferral and insurance, as we see in Step 4. Tax-deferral allows a consumer to accumulate a greater amount of funds before facing a tax-liability, while insurance protects against some risks.

However, even with these extra protections, should there be a market downturn, the consumer can swerve right off the bridge, just as retirement appears on the horizon.

This is where Indexed Universal Life Insurance—with its guaranteed return and upside potential—can provide the guardrails needed to keep the consumer on the road. (Step 5).

The final interpretation of this yellow pad concept should look a bit like this:

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Marketing Corner – Life Insurance Trivia

Marketing Corner – Thursday August 31st, 2017

Life Insurance Trivia

You Can Use Life Insurance To Give Whiskers
The Good Life After You’re Gone

While most insurance carriers won’t allow you to directly name your cat or dog beneficiary since states generally consider pets to be property, you can use life insurance to fund a pet trust. This will make sure that your beloved animal lives out the remainder of its life in style. Since other family members (and even courts) may find this arrangement distasteful, a pet trust will need to be properly structured. Trouble Helmsley, the Maltese recipient of $12 Million from Leona Helmsley, famously had his inheritance reduced to a mere $2 million after the hotelier’s grandchildren contested.

The Apollo 11 Astronauts’ Unusual Life Insurance Policy

Certain occupations and hobbies can incur high-risk ratings or preclude life insurance coverage altogether. But what if your job is an astronaut and your mission is to go to the moon? This is what the astronauts of Apollo 11 faced. With prohibitively high coverage options, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins resorted to a creative solution—autographed “covers,” signed envelopes post-marked on significant days. In the event of their death, the astronauts knew their autographs would fetch a great sum.

The Largest Life Insurance Policy Ever

According to Guinness World Records, an anonymous, but “well-known,” Silicon Valley billionaire purchased the most valuable life policy ever in 2014. The coverage amount? $201 million. This doubles the previous record of $100 million set in 1990. The most valuable policy was unsurprisingly complex, involving 19 different insurance companies for the underwriting.

Unclaimed Benefits Amount

According to Consumer Reports in 2013, the amount of unclaimed life insurance benefits is “at least” $1 billion. How can this happen? There are a few reasons. For one, consumers may be unaware of their beneficiary status. Policy owners may have poor record keeping. Insurance companies recently got themselves into trouble by failing to be more proactive in seeking out beneficiaries once policyholders died.

Life Insurance Ownership and Marriage Rates

Comparing data from the U.S Census and the American Council of Life Insurers Factbook, Bankrate found that states with a higher marriage rate generally had a lower life insurance ratio and vice versa. As the article postulates, this could be because the states with the highest marriage rates also have the youngest median ages for marriage, and life insurance may not be a priority for young newlyweds. Southern states had high policies-to-population ratios, with Alabama topping the list for life insurance ownership.

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