From Antiquity to the Future: Financial Security Is Always Part of the Quest

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“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” This powerful quote by Malcolm Little may quite possibly be the cornerstone or central message upon which your financial practice is built. So how can you deliver what’s essentially a promise of financial certainty while exploring and embracing the many complex solutions offered to you and your clients? The quest for financial certainty begins when you ascertain your clients’ goals and dreams, and this desire to help your clients craft actionable strategies in addition to offering them a unique and personal journey is indeed the path to a multigenerational village of satisfied clients.

For the first time in recent history, both you and your clients are viewed by insurance companies as one in the same with regard to marketing new insurance products. As a financial professional, you may relish the idea of choice; however, that choice can become overwhelming with so many annuity products and services that all claim to be “the best solution.” How can you select appropriate solutions to help your clients achieve their goals and dreams? You will maintain your focus on the task at hand, tune out the marketing noise and start utilizing innovative insurance technology tools and literature that are readily accessible with just the click of a button or mouse. To that end, this article will discuss technology, comparative analysis, educational websites, interactive marketing materials, and even inspirational industry gurus and thought-leaders,

Thank the Egyptians and the Roman Empire for Annuities

Fixed annuities are one of the many financial tools available that help your clients achieve peace of mind and prepare them for their future income needs. In fact, the central point of discussion for this magazine, NAFA Annuity Outlook, is annuities. For those of you who haven’t yet heard, annuities were created by Roman speculators around 200 A.D. Many historians credit Domitius Ulpianus, an ancient Roman jurist and empirical official, as the father of the life expectancy table as well as the first annuity. But some documents may suggest that annuities actually got their start even earlier, during the time of the Egyptian pharaohs. So as much as we’d like to think annuity products have changed in the insurance industry, they all share the same historic DNA that’s helped them evolve of almost two millennia.

Become an Annuity Scripophile

The word “annuity” is derived from the word “annua,” which is from the Latin for an annual stipend or annual payout. Many people enjoy collecting unique and rare artifacts such as stamps, books and fine art, but others actually collect financial documents that can include stock, bond and annuity certificates. Those who pursue the collection and study historic currency called scripophiles or scripophilists. To wit, the Annuity Museum (www.immediateannuities.com/annuitymuseum/historyofannuities) maintains that scripophily can be tremendously beneficial for those interested in learning how the financial instruments of yesteryear, and specifically annuities, have impacted today’s world of finance. The site curator, Hersh Stern, has developed an impressive online collection of rare and possibly never-before-seen historic documents and memorabilia dealing with annuities, including some annuity documents dating back to the late 1500s. If you’re a purveyor of annuity products, a visit to the Annuity Museum will prove both edifying and enlightening.

Going Virtual

The annuity industry continues to utilize new technology, as more and more “face-to-face” interactions are conducted online. And when it comes to helping you find more efficient ways to deliver the best and most competitive solutions to your clients, believe it or not, insurance companies are now reengaging you, the financial professional, with some of the best agent-friendly tools to help your clients achieve their desired lifestyle and legacy. Both you and your clients now have access to many different insurance tools via mobile phone apps, mobile web apps and full desktop websites. While some agents may still prefer to use the trusty pen-and-paper route, there’s a whole new generation of agents and clients who neither want nor have the time for more traditional interactions. That’s why there are thousands of mobile insurance applications readily available to consumers and agents alike. In fact, some of the larger insurance companies that develop and market annuities, such as Allianz, American Equity, Security Benefit Life and Great American Insurance Group all currently have or are developing these highly effective tools.

Your Greatest Allies: Competitive Analysis and Education

If you really want to stand at the crossroads where unbiased information, competitive analysis and quick solutions that use both old and new technology meet, then consider putting the following two industry professionals and experts on your radar as well as adding their myriad materials to your arsenal of resources.

Jack Marrion is president of a research consultancy that publishes the “Index Compendium” newsletter. His site, www.indexannuity.org, is quite useful, since it allows you to see a visualized side-by-side comparison of the many index annuities currently available. In addition, you’ll likely discover that Marrion’s consumer education materials, such as his “Safe Money Places” and the “Advantage Compendium” research resources, not only merit reading them yourself, but also to be passed along to and then discussed with your clients. In fact, information published in the “Advantage Compendium” has been featured in hundreds of publications, including such heavyweights as Business Week, Money magazine, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal, to name just a few.

Additionally, certain regulators and many Securities and Exchange Commission rule filings that pertain to annuities often reference or cite Marrion’s work on the subject. A gifted expert writer, his books include Index Annuities: Power & Protection, Change Buyer Behavior and Sell More Annuities and Index Annuities: A Suitable Approach. Each of these popular books can be purchased directly from Amazon.com. Change is the only true constant in this industry, making it imperative to keep a constant lookout for new tools and technology to strengthen your professional understanding of annuities as well as their latest innovations, trends and strategies. Dig in to some of Marrion’s articles, newsletters, research and books, and you’ll not only help speed your mastery of the annuity industry, but also to accelerate your sales figure.

If you want to discover a trailblazing comparative analysis group, simply “Wink.” Sheryl Moore is the founder, creator and president & CEO of both Wink, Inc. and Moore Market Intelligence. Moore’s mission — in her own words — is “to provide the best darned competitive intelligence to the life insurance and annuity industries. Period.” A licensed insurance agent who’s long been an annuity thought leader, researcher and development consultant with many insurance carriers, Moore’s been sharply focused on annuities for nearly a decade and a half. In addition to crafting blogs, articles and other helpful resources, her profound understanding of the industry has helped the Wink team develop a few innovative comparative analysis tools, which you can find at www.looktowink.com.

Wink has two proprietary comparative analysis tools that help financial professionals determine a simple and concise result. This portal allows you to compare insurance products without any bias by extracting marketing lingo and allowing an exact apples-to-apples comparison. Both tools, AnnuitySpecs, and LifeSpecs, are available through a web-based portal and can be accessed after signing up for a modest annual subscription. What’s more, this dynamic and thought-provoking site is a wonderful resource that offers 24/7 news, social media and newsletters, all delivered with a fun, vibrant and simple landing page.

Certainty, Security and the Future

The next and final step beyond technology, unbiased comparative analysis, educational websites and interactive marketing materials may well be a paperless experience from the origination of the application to the policy delivery. More companies on the life insurance side of the business are quickly adopting a paperless procedure from top to bottom. So why hasn’t this happened in the annuity universe? Unfortunately, most good things take time to come to fruition. The entitlements required to achieve a paperless experience by the annuity industry will be left in the hands of the individual state insurance commissioners. Once the insurance commissioners hammer down a secure and proven process, it will rapidly propel our industry into the next century. As you know, innovation and mass adoption take time. That’s why it’s always better to be cautious, systematic, and compliant as well as to deliver the highest level of certainty possible when serving as your clients’ trusted point of contact.


Bryan Mills is a financial consultant who has been working with private investors for over two decades. Building on 20 years experience as an entrepreneur and producing broker he launched AdvzrTek, a practice management technology site designed to help other financial professionals. His mission with AdvzrTek, is to connect other financial service professionals with innovative and useful ideas, to enhance their practice and save them time. He can be reached at advzrtek@gmail.com or www.advztek.com.

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