From rebuilding after a fire to striking out into a new business venture, 2015 was a year of challenges and rewards for advisors.
As we move ahead into 2016, InsuranceNewsNet talked with a number of advisors about the highs and lows they experienced during the past year.
Some focused on the lows, others the highs. In many cases, though, there was an appreciation for hard work and the reward it brings — to advisors themselves and to their clients.
Jon L. Ten Haagen found himself facing numerous challenges after a fire gutted his Northport, N.Y., office on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. He is founder and principal of Ten Haagen Financial Group.
“My client files were saved in the cloud, my personal memorabilia was all lost,” he told InsuranceNewsNet. “Trying to deal with the insurance company and holding the business together and continuing to build has been difficult.”
Ten Haagen said the experience has taught him a lot about business continuity and property loss, lessons he’s willing to share.
Kudos to Ten Haagen for keeping files on the Internet cloud, though. A decade ago, when documents lived in filing cabinets or on hard drives, he would have lost those too.
For Chad Chubb, the year 2015 will forever be etched in his memory because it was the year he passed the rigorous examination process for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. It also was the year that Chubb opened his own practice, WealthKeel in Philadelphia, with his “crew” of nine employees.
Creating a financial plan is analogous to laying a keel, the initial step in building a ship, he notes on the firm’s website — hence the name WealthKeel.
Chubb, who holds life and health insurance licenses, is the poster boy for an insurance agent setting sail for the broader world of financial planning.
Members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard learned the basics of financial planning and using the government’s Thrift Savings Plan in 2015 thanks to the efforts of LaKhaun McKinley, an owner of MNM Vested and Screen Past in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Erin T. Botsford, founder and CEO of The Botsford Group, said her company had a record number of new clients join the firm in 2015. The Botsford Group has offices in Frisco, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga.
Not surprisingly Botsford’s firm also reported record revenue.
Her company also received “best practice” media accolades, a sign that her advisory was committed to improving its systems, processes and services, she added.
“We feel blessed to be in this business at a time where we can serve our clients in a world filled with such uncertainty,” she told InsuranceNewsNet.
Certainly, advisors who earn the rewards of the marketplace can go to sleep secure in the knowledge of a job well done. But for Karen K. Roberts, it was the pro bono work that made 2015 one of her most memorable years.
“So much good happened last year, but I will say my most memorable moment was winning the Foundation for Financial Planning’s Pro Bono Advisor of the Year award for my work with single moms and girls aging out of foster care,” said Roberts, a wealth planning specialist with The Emerald Financial Group in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
“I put a program together to teach them about budgeting, spending, savings, wills and insurance,” she said. “I touched the lives of more than 150 women and made a difference in their lives.”
Roberts said her second most memorable moment of the year was when she received a picture of clients sitting in a new mini roadster convertible.
“They never thought they would be able to retire, but we put a plan in motion 10 years ago and today they are living their dream,” she said.
Among the most important headlines for advisors this year was the introduction of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. This will affect the management of retirement assets to a greater degree than at any time in the past 30 years.
The rule leaves advisor Brock T. Jolly — about as upbeat as they come — a little subdued.
Jolly, an advisor with Capital Financial Partners in McLean, Va., is carving out a niche for himself by helping families finance college. He said that from now on, when he thinks of 2015, he will think of the DOL fiduciary rule.
Sheryl J. Moore, who knows nearly all there is to know around indexed insurance product data, said 2015 represents a significant milestone: the 10-year anniversary of her two companies Moore Market Intelligence and Wink Inc.
In the policy trenches, Moore said she slogged some hard hours to bring fairness to consistency in the crediting rates. Otherwise, 2015 was marked by some slogging on the front lines of fixed index universal life (FIUL) illustrations.
“I fought hard for fair illustration rules in regards to indexed life with the NAIC’s AG 49 regulation,” said Moore, who also served as president of the Society for Annuity Facts and Education.
Actuarial Guideline (AG) 49, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ uniform guidance in IUL illustrations, was approved earlier in 2015.
And finally, Susan L. Combs, founder of Combs & Co. in New York City, said she will look back at 2015 as the year she was the youngest national president in the 80-year history of Women in Insurance & Financial Services.
But 2015 is also a year Combs said she’d like to forget as Health Republic Insurance of New York, a nonprofit consumer-oriented health plan set up under the Affordable Care Act, went belly up.
The demise of Health Republic affected about 200,000 policies.
Combs said she and her staff were told in September that the insurance cooperative would be shutting down Dec. 31, only to be told in October that Health Republic would be shut down a month earlier.
That meant Combs and her staff had to continue arranging health coverage for policyholders, but without collecting commissions, which stopped coming in August. Combs suspects she won’t see a dime in commissions.
“We, in essence, had to go through two open enrollments in New York as we had to scramble to get groups and individuals moved by Dec. 1 and then again for Jan. 1,” Combs told InsuranceNewsNet. “What a cluster!”
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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