Question: What is the greatest threat to your practice this year, and what is the greatest opportunity?
“The greatest threat to my business is adverse legislation at the state or federal level. The debate over requiring the fiduciary standard instead of the suitability standard is an example. It is crucial that we keep fiduciary expansion legislation away. The same goes for the ongoing movement by the current administration to have more regulations. Regulations don’t protect consumers — NAIFA does. The biggest opportunity I see is the opportunity to serve the retiree market, both those who are anticipating retirement and those who are retiring now. We can offer them solutions that will protect them throughout their retirement years.”
–Jim J. Van Ham, Naperville, Ill.
“The threat that I see is the potential for over-reaching regulation from the federal government in the effort to get more tax revenues. We live with this threat every day. The government regulators think it’s all their money; that includes the money that consumers put into permanent life insurance policies, which have had preferential tax treatment since 1913. The products have this tax treatment because the people who are purchasing our products are providing for themselves and their families so the government won’t have to. Tax expenditures are not the problem; overspending by the government is the problem. As for the greatest opportunity for my firm, it is the opportunity to help people protect their lifestyles through life insurance. It protects college degrees, homes and other aspects of lifestyle. It’s magic. And for us, this is a tremendous opportunity to be of service to society.”
–Tom Cothron, agency manager, Farm Bureau, Ocala, Fla.
“The threat is the apathy of clients regarding taking responsibility for protecting themselves and their families against risk. This stems from lack of education and fear that the insurance agent will sell them something they don’t need. That leads to the greatest opportunity. This is the opportunity to see our clients and get them up to speed on how to take care of their lives and be ready when the bad things happen. Our work isn’t always about selling insurance but rather about letting them know about what the possibilities are. For example, we don’t start a discussion about long-term care by saying ‘here is a policy to buy.’ Instead, we ask the client to ‘tell us who will be around to take care of you if you need care. If you don’t have anyone, let’s look at the options you have.’ We identify the need and move on from there. That is the opportunity.”
–Jill Judd, State Farm, Capitola, Calif.