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What Are The Odds?

Agencyservices_bio_jack_10_1What Are The Odds?

The following was published as a guest column post in the Memphis Daily News on January 13, 2016.

Written by:  Jack Dewald  | President of Agency Services, Inc.

I am writing this article on the day that the Powerball lottery jackpot is expected to pay out $1.3 Billion to some lucky fool – I mean lucky winner.

I’m always amazed at the long lines and hype surrounding these potential payouts from the lottery. It seems Americans just can’t pass up the possibility that “I might win it.”  So they stand in line, buy a ticket (or several) and hope.

I read that there is a better statistical chance of dying from being hit on the head by a falling coconut (1 in 250 million) than there is in winning the lottery (1 in 300 million). Heck – there’s only a 1 in 112 million chance of a vending machine falling on you and killing you, and 1 in 12 million chance of becoming an astronaut.

Here’s one thing I know for certain – there is a 100% chance you will die. I know that’s tough talk, but when logical people make the seemingly illogical choice of believing that the lottery just might pay off for them, then perhaps they need to be confronted with the true reality – that when you die, your loved ones who count on you will need the income you earn each day to be replaced.

When you buy that lottery ticket – all that is left for you to do is hope and keep your fingers crossed that you will that 1 in 300 million people that wins. There’s really nothing else you can do – no amount of planning or scheming can help you in any way.

When it comes to protecting those you love, there’s a lot you can do. Hoping and keeping your fingers crossed is certainly one way to manage your family’s financial future. But I doubt that your spouse and kids would agree that “playing the lottery” with their future is the best way to go.

A more sensible way to protect those you love is to talk to your financial advisor about life insurance and how it can protect your family’s future.

In just a few weeks, Valentine’s Day will be upon us. February is a great month to “INSURE YOUR LOVE”.

I can think of no better way to show someone you love them than to take the real step involved in planning for their financial future by buying life insurance.   For the cost of a few lottery tickets per week, a significant amount of life insurance can be acquired.  Which is the better investment?  Which has the best odds of “paying off?”

Or — you can continue to play the lottery.  It’s fun, it’s exciting — and dare I say it — it’s a very dangerous way to express how you feel about your loved ones.

 

 

Tough Questions for Life Insurance Awareness Month

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The following was published as a guest column post in The Daily News on September 16, 2015.

Written by: Jack Dewald | President of Agency Services, Inc.


Each September, Life Happens, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping educate Americans about the need for financial security, helps more than 100 insurance carriers and hundreds of thousands of agents and advisors spread the word about why Americans need to make life insurance a key part of any sound financial plan.

The sad fact is that over 40% of Americans own NO life insurance. That is simply not acceptable, and it’s so easy to remedy.

Think about it this way: Do you have someone who counts on you for financial help? If so, what would happen to your family or loved ones if you were no longer here to help provide? Do you really want your family to count on the charity of others or to count on underfunded and over-stretched governmental safety net as a way to get by in the event you die prematurely?

Why don’t people own enough insurance? Some think it’s just too confusing. Some think it costs too much. Others don’t know where to get started or who to call or ask. Others naively believe they can put the decision off to a more convenient time.

May I boldly suggest: What’s more important than being sure your family is taken care of?   Here are a few quick ways to get started:

  • Visit lifehappens.org to use the free needs calculator to help determine how much insurance your family might need. A good rule of thumb to start with is 10 times your annual income.
  • Lifehappens.org also has a well done “Insurance 101” section that provides basic information on the various types of coverage and how they work.
  • If you know a good agent or advisor, ask them to help you. There’s even an agent locator tab on the lifehappens.org  website if you need help finding an advisor.

I’m at the age (55) where I could attend a funeral almost every week. Many of my friends’ parents are passing away. I’ve lost too many of my peers, and I’ve even attended a few funerals of the children of my friends. One thing I’ve always noticed about us Southerners…..we are pretty good at bringing casseroles, flowers and other food items to people in their times of need. But food and flowers only last a few days.

Instead of bringing a covered dish or a bunch of daisies, I’d much rather be the advisor bringing a check to a family in their time of need. I’ve never met a widow who said “You brought me too much.” I’ve never seen a family panic when I told them “It’s going to be OK….your father loved you and bought life insurance to take care of you if he couldn’t be here to do it himself.”

Life Insurance Awareness month is all about asking those hard questions.

Don’t you want your legacy to your family to be one of financial security and peace of mind?

Jack Dewald, CLU is President of Agency Services, Inc. and a native Memphian. Dewald has more than 35 years’ experience as an insurance advisor. He served as the volunteer National Board Chairman of LifeHappens.org in 2010/11 and is a member of the prestigious Top of the Table of the Million Dollar Round Table.

 

 

The Only Thing that is Constant is Change

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We’ve heard that before, but WOW! are things happening fast in the Life Insurance world:

  • The Department of Labor (DOL) is considering new regulations that may drastically impact suitability issues for certain clients and most advisors.
  • Actuarial Guideline 49  (AG 49) will have significant impact in IUL illustrations and newly issued policies
  • Interest rates remain at historically low levels – impacting product pricing and many inforce policies
  • We are seeing several carriers “adjust” inforce mortality rates
  • The always-moving “who’s in / who’s out “ wheel spins:
    • Protective Life was acquired by Dai-ichi  Life and remains a viable carrier and real player  in our marketplace
    • Symetra Life announced this week their acquisition by Sumitomo Life of Japan
    • ING did an IPO and is now known as VOYA – and has effectively exited the brokerage life marketplace
    • Genworth has announced the likely sale of its European subsidiary to AXA, and many speculate parts of the US operation may be re-tooled.
    • Banner Life (LGA) had a CEO change, and re-confirmed their commitment to our marketplace with new pricing and tools
    • Carriers too numerous to mention tweaked products, added features and introduced new tools
    • Many life carriers continue to improve LTC riders and living benefit features
  • The coming fall selling season in the Medicare marketplace means we are busy with certification and product evaluation.  Are you?

All this means that keeping current and staying relevant to your clients and prospects is a never-ending process.

Agency Services, Inc. is here to help.  We have product and technical experts on staff that can help.  We have excellent point-of-sale assistance available if you desire that level of service.

Click here for a staff directory, or email us for help on a case you have on your desk.

 

Good selling –

Jack

Insure Your Love

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The following was published as a guest column post in The Daily News on February 25, 2015.

Written by: Angie Pettinger | Partner and Chief Operating Officer of Agency Services, Inc.

 

 

Ahhh, February. The month that we proclaim our LOVE to the ones that we hold dear.

Now that the roses are withered and the chocolates have been devoured, with only a few extra pounds to show for it, do you still feel the love? Our love is the glue that keeps our family close, but it won’t pay the bills if we aren’t here.

We insure a lot of the things in our lives like our cars, our homes and our valuables, but what about something less tangible, such as our love for our family? Can we insure that?

The cost of raising a child born just two years ago in 2013 is estimated to be $245,000 (not including college). The yearly price tag for contributions made by stay-at-home parents has reached $59,862. How do we compensate for the loss of the family wage earner or the stay-at-home parent if the unthinkable happens? Providing for our family’s financial needs is one of the few things we can control when it comes to an untimely death. Being prepared provides peace of mind and a way for our family to know that we loved them enough to safeguard their future.

We spend our lives telling and showing our family we love them in a million different ways. That shouldn’t change when our time here on earth ends. Life insurance is like sending a love note from the Great Beyond and can be our final love letter to them.

If we love someone or have someone dependent upon us, we need life insurance.

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, I encourage you to be a true Cupid and insure your love with the financial security of life insurance. Contact an insurance professional or visit lifehappens.org for information on how to start the process and calculate your future financial contribution to your family.

The loss of a parent is one of life’s most difficult ordeals. The emotional strain can be devastating to children and young adults. Ultimately, death also creates financial stress for far too many families, making recovery all the more difficult. If you are a student or know a student between the ages of 17 and 24 years of age that has experienced the death of a parent and are currently enrolled in, or have been accepted to a college, university or trade school, check out the Life Lessons scholarship program. To submit an application, click here. The deadline to submit an application is March 3, 2015.

Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Americans take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. Life Happens also seeks to remind people of the important role insurance professionals perform in helping families, businesses, and individuals find the insurance products that best fit their needs.

You Know It When You See It

Myra

Myra Palmer

Sometimes, it’s hard to accurately describe just how well a meeting went, or how much you enjoyed a certain aspect of a presentation or a speech.

Two weeks ago, ASI hosted our annual Sales Symposium here in Memphis. One of two keynote presentations was from my very good friend and peer, Myra Palmer from Atlanta, GA.

Myra’s family has owned The Palmer Agency for more than 40 years. I knew so much about Myra’s story of love and loss because of our longtime friendship and our joint membership in our industry study group, and I wanted others to hear her powerful message. So, I asked her to come and share her very personal and emotional story that she has lived for the past 6 years or so.

Myra has overcome a series of events that began with the sudden death of her younger brother and business partner, Alan, due to heart problems at age 39. Faced with this loss, she then watched her aging parents go through years of long-term care needs.  As she dealt with the death of both parents, her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and ultimately lost his battle as well.  All within a 6-8 year period.

My wife, Beth, and I watched and tried to help Myra through all of this loss and sorrow. I have attended too many funerals for the Palmer family.  I knew Myra was strong….but, candidly, I was overwhelmed by her resilience, strength and courage.  I knew intellectually, but WOW, did I see it laid bare when she shared her powerful and gripping story with our audience!  To say that the people in attendance were spellbound and overwhelmed is a huge understatement.

Myra’s story of love and loss and the many lessons she learned about succession planning, LTC needs, estate equalization and family business have been enough to keep our advisors busy thinking for weeks. Her final story about her husband Dave’s life insurance providing her security and peace of mind was the crowning summation to a riveting example of what insurance DOES…not what IT IS.

Almost every day since I’ve had a comment from someone who heard Myra tell her story a few weeks ago. What that confirms to me is that we all (yes, even those of us in our industry) need that periodic reminder that life insurance has that magical ability to provide—like no other product—the liquidity, dignity and promise of assurance which surviving business partners, families and spouses need at the time of their deepest losses.

Call any of us at ASI if you would like to know more about how we can help you help your clients so that you can rest easy knowing your clients are prepared for the unimaginable.

 

What’s it all About?

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Morgan Reeves — 2014 LIFE Lessons Scholarship Recipient

 

Last week, my firm hosted our annual Sales Symposium “Constant Connections” here in Memphis.

It’s an event for our brokers and advisors where we cover the newest and best product features available in our marketplace.  I always enjoy the day because it’s full of excitement and energy.   For 80 to 100 of our brokers to give us a half day of their time is a real confirmation that we are producing value to them.

The newest bells and whistles from our carrier friends are on display, and there are lots of informative presentations.  My favorite time of the day is when we give our annual scholarship presentation.  My involvement in the LIFE Foundation as National Chairman in 2010 exposed me to one of the coolest programs I’ve ever seen.   “Life Lessons” is a national scholarship contest where college-aged freshman write an essay about how one or both of their parents died with not enough or zero life insurance.  These kids pour their hearts out, telling gut wrenching stories about overcoming obstacles due to lack of planning by their parents.  Each essay is poignant and personal.  More than 3,000 kids apply each year.

 ASI wants to help more. Each year, we select one of these students from the Memphis area and award a scholarship to that student.

 This year, Morgan Reeves from Bells, TN told our audience the story of how her father died from cancer when she was 6 years old.  Morgan is now a college freshman and is planning to be the first person in her family to earn a college degree.  Our audience was spell-bound as Morgan poured her heart out by wondering aloud what might have been had her dad owned life insurance.  Many people in the audience were in tears.

 Now – here’s the really cool part!  Over the years, more and more of our brokers have asked to financially participate in the scholarship program.   Several brokers contributed a total of $800, and ASI matched that, making the total amount of $1,600 we were able to present to Morgan.  She was speechless.

 Folks – storytelling is what takes the mundane subject of life insurance and makes it come alive.  Morgan’s compelling story is one you can use to motivate your prospects to take action to protect their family.

 Our newly updated website, www.agencyservices.com will soon have a PayPal tab on it where you can contribute to next year’s scholarship fund.  As usual, ASI will match your contributions.

 Look for updates throughout the year as we seek to increase the visibility of our scholarship program and give you opportunities to participate.

 And be on the look for my next blog – “Lessons of Love & Loss” – which will recap the powerful story shared by our guest speaker Myra Palmer.  Myra shared her personal story of losing 4 separate family members in a 5 year span and how life & LTC insurance allowed her to move forward.  It is a mesmerizing story about the lessons Myra learned through her grief and sorrow.

 What’s it all about?  IT’S ABOUT WHAT LIFE INSURANCE DOES….NOT WHAT IT IS.

Good selling,

 Jack

Who was Heraclitus?

The only thing that is constant is change…so said the 5th Century philosopher, Heraclitus. More recent titles on the same general subject include the best seller Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson.

Recently, I helped my parents pack up their memories as they prepare to move from their home of 42 years into a newer, downsized home.

As we carefully sorted, wrapped and packaged box after box, we came across my senior thesis paper I wrote in 1982 as a prerequisite to graduate from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance & Insurance. Unbeknownst to me, my parents had saved it all these years in a box of my old belongings. Yep, you read that right – I majored in insurance. Nerd, I know.

Anyway, the topic of my thesis was “An Analysis of Universal Life Insurance”. Back in 1982, Universal Life (UL) policies were essentially brand new – having been introduced to the marketplace in 1979 by California Life Insurance Company, which later became E.F. Hutton Life. Yes, I realize…the more I type this blog, the more dated I make myself sound.

As I sat and read the paper, the truth of my title of this blog became abundantly clear with the turning of each of the 34 pages of yellowed, hand-typed text.

I had included a spreadsheet of 5 carriers – E.F. Hutton Life, First Colony Life, Security Connecticut Life, Veterans Life and Penn Mutual. The illustrated interest rates were showing 4.0% guaranteed, 8.5% assumed and a whopping 12.5% current interest rate.

Thirty-two years later, there is essentially NOTHING that is still the same. Typing by hand has been replaced by word processing. Of the 5 carriers reviewed, only Penn Mutual still exists in its same business form. And, most notably, 4%, 8.5%, and 12.5% interest rates are all so far from our current economic reality, that I actually chuckled as I read.

My point: everything changed. They say that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. Over the past 32 years, I’ve witnessed so much change that it’s mind-numbing. ASI has adapted to serve the changing needs of the agents and advisors that work with us. In turn, those advisors who have adapted have flourished, while too many to count have dropped by the way-side.
Let us help you adapt your practice to the only thing that is certain… change. Count on us to keep you up-to-date on the most current products, ideas & concepts. Our staff members are experts and can help you grow revenue, diversify your practice, and give you confidence with new carriers, new products and fresh concepts. Most of all……we love to help advisors meet the changing needs of their clients.

12.5% interest rate…..really? Now that’s funny.

What about death by another means?

I read in today’s Memphis newspaper, the story of a lawsuit filed by the widow of a well-known businessman here in my hometown. The man died tragically in an auto accident a few weeks ago.  The story in the newspaper tells about the $7.5 Million lawsuit being filed by his widow against the 16 year-old driver of the car that hit and killed this gentleman.

In graphic terms, the lawsuit for $7.5 million describes all of the widow’s loss and specifically states in the filed claim, among other things:  “loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, and the present cash value of the pecuniary value of the deceased’s life”.

Now, I have NO IDEA how much life insurance the man did or did not have, but it brings a very interesting thought to mind…and one every person should consider:

If you were to die due to the negligence of a third party, how much would you want your family to sue for?

Should your family have any less if you were to die by other means?

Said another way, if the family of the deceased thinks his “economic value” is $7.5 million, it would be interesting to know if the gentleman had insured himself for anything near this amount.

“Loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, the present cash value of the pecuniary value”…..that’s EXACTLY what LIFE INSURANCE is for!

Here is the reality:  when you’re no longer here, your family or business will likely have an economic loss due to your death.  Should the amount they receive vary based on the manner in which you die?

Think about it…

Ten Sales Concepts to Relish, Remember & Repeat

I’m proud to announce the publication of a sales tool for our agents and advisors.

Last week at our Sales Symposium, every attendee was given a free copy of a short 50 page booklet I have written & published: 10 Sales Concepts to Relish, Remember & Repeat – Using Life Insurance to Provide Security to your clients while Securing your Relationship with them.

Over my 30 year career, I’ve been lucky to be exposed to great ideas and great minds. We’ve worked with hundreds of advisors and placed many millions of life insurance in force. Many of our brokers/advisors have requested that we consolidate some of the better and more effective ideas we’ve come across –thus the idea for this booklet was born!

If you would like a FREE copy, please email me directly at jdewald@agencyservices.com or call 901-818-4301, and I’ll send it along.

I’m also happy to come and share the stories and ideas in a sales meeting or presentation that you or your team is involved with. I’ll bring copies for everyone and we’ll discuss some of the timeless concepts and ideas I’ve presented in this booklet.

So far, the response to this project has been overwhelming, and I’m happy to pass along many of the best success stories we’ve been involved with over the years.

I hope the booklet can be helpful to you!

Best,

Jack