Thursday, February 26, 2015

Navigate the World of Annuity Suitability Using These Eight Tips

With annuity suitability measures becoming more rigid and seemingly more complicated and confusing in recent years, there are several, pro-active, common sense steps you can take to help avoid roadblocks when taking an annuity application.

1. Complete Your Product Training and CE – Why wait until you have an annuity application pending to take the required product training? Similarly, if you haven’t already taken the required four-hour course covering all-things annuity, schedule the appointment today!
2. Get to Know Your Clients – Build a level of trust and comfort that extends beyond the “one-transaction” model.
3. Ask Your Client Pertinent Questions – Familiarize yourself with the 12 critical questions in the NAIC Suitability Model Regulations. This forms the basis of all suitability forms across all carriers.
4. Document Your Meeting & Analyze Your Client’s Information – It’s absolutely vital to create a paper trail. Document everything that was discussed and all fact-finding efforts leading up to a product recommendation and sale.
5. Recommend a Suitable Product – While most agents have a specific product they prefer to sell, understand that one-size does not fit all. Work with the marketers at Partners Advantage to find the most suitable options for your client.
6. Understand the Insurer’s Suitability – Know in advance what specific issues might trigger a heightened suitability review at the carriers you are sending your application to. Different carriers have different emphasis on areas of importance when it comes to reviewing for suitability. Become familiar with their thresholds and guidelines before taking an application.
7. Complete the Suitability Form in Its Entirety – Simple enough – an incomplete form will stop your pending business in its tracks.
8. Write a Cover Letter to Support the Sale – Tell the client’s story in a simple letter that gives relevant information about the application, further details about any replacements and financials goals motivating the purchase. A little more info goes a long way when these applications are getting reviewed for suitability.

Request our Annuity Suitability white paper written by Partners Advantage Director of Suitability and Compliance, Ria Cruz, to obtain in-depth information on the Eight Tips outlined above. For more information and case assistance, contact Partners Advantage at 888-251-5525.

For financial professional use only. Not for use with consumers.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Annuity Sales Trends in 2015

Annuity products continued to witness another banner year perhaps, as reports indicate, due to consumer cravings for more ways to avoid market risk and help build retirement savings. Looking back, the second quarter of 2014 saw 10 percent year-over-year growth in sales to $119.5 billion.1
Here are some additional annuity sales trends you should know when evaluating where and how annuities should fit into your 2015 business plan:
• Fixed annuity sales were up an extraordinary 34% in the second quarter from the same period in 2013, while on the other side of the spectrum, variable annuity sales declined 5 percent.1
• Second quarter fixed indexed annuity sales soared 40 percent from 2013 for a total of $13 billion. Furthermore, a good deal of this growth has been fueled by banks and broker-dealers entering the indexed annuity distribution market. 1
• More consumers are electing guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits on fixed indexed annuities. The election rate reached 72 percent in this year’s second quarter, a 4 percent year-over-year increase. 1
• Immediate annuity sales in Q2 of 2014 gained 37 percent over 2013, reaching $2.6 billion.
• Deferred income annuity sales rose to $710 million in the second quarter, marking a 33 percent improvement over 2013’s sales figures. 1

Fixed annuity products offering protection from market declines with the opportunity for interest-crediting continue to lead the charge in the annuity marketplace, and the demand for indexed and income annuity products signals the overall shift of the industry to the fixed side of annuities. Some variable products with living benefits have seen this benefit decrease or even removed completely, leaving the product practically stripped down to the basic variable annuity. Fortunately, the fixed side of the industry has several products and rider options for consumers seeking the protection of lifetime income benefits.

For financial professional use only. Not for consumer use.

Guarantees provided by annuities are subject to the financial strength of the issuing insurance company; not guaranteed by any bank of the FDIC. Guaranteed lifetime income is available through annuitization or the purchase of an optional lifetime income rider, a benefit for which an annual premium is charged.

Annuities are designed to meet long-term needs for retirement income. They provide guarantees against the loss of premium and credited interest, and the reassurance of a death benefit for beneficiaries.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

February is an Opportunity to Share the Love of Life Insurance

People buy life insurance for many reasons, but in many cases it is because they love someone and want to protect them financially.

February—the month of love—is a good time to reach out to clients and prospects about their life insurance needs. The "Insure Your Love" campaign, coordinated by Life Happens, is now in its seventh year. It allows financial professionals to bring emotion or humor into a conversation that is usually serious or dry.

February and Valentine’s Day provide you with a good opportunity to remind clients and prospects of their need to protect the ones they love through proper life insurance strategies. But keep in mind, love is eternal, making the "Insure Your Love" theme appropriate all year long.

Partners Advantage is a corporate member of Life Happens. Insurance professionals can access materials for "Insure the Love" or other campaigns at You can register insurance professional resources referencing Partners Advantage Insurance Services from the list of member companies. Contact the Life Team at Partners Advantage for complete assistance 12 hours each business day (7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Central) at 888-251-5525, Ext. 704.

Partners Advantage is an independent insurance marketing organization and a nationally recognized leader in the life insurance, annuity and linked benefit products marketplace. Our MISSION is to deliver solutions and opportunities for financial professionals to succeed with the highest standard of integrity. Working with dedicated financial professionals, we strive to achieve our VISION of American families protected and secured.

For Financial Professional Use Only. Not for use with the public.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Life Insurance Sales Trends in 2015

There are numerous key trends that play strong roles in the insurance services industry that may ultimately affect how you plan for 2015.

When reviewing life insurance sales trends, it’s important to pay close attention to the policy count for a clearer picture of the overall situation. Consider these data trends:

• Life insurance premiums fell 7 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to Q1 2013, which equates to a 4 percent decrease in policy count. 1
• First quarter 2014 total universal life premium was down 15 percent year over year, with losses largely driven by sales declines in guaranteed rate universal life products. 1
• Indexed universal life sales did show positive growth, gaining 15 percent in the first quarter over the same period in 2013. 1
• Indexed universal life now represents 39 percent of all universal life premiums. 1
• Indexed life sales totaled $366.6 million with an average policy target premium of $6,367. This is a substantial decline, as just one year ago, the average policy premium was greater than $11,000. 2
• Whole life insurance sales were down 3 percent for the quarter, and term life insurance sales also dropped, with sales and policy count down 4 percent from Q1 2013. 1
• Interestingly, variable universal life sales realized 20 percent year-over-year growth in the first quarter of the year. 1
• Combination life products, or those with long-term care or chronic illness riders, are now in their fifth year of double-digit growth. Since there is only annual reporting on combination products instead of the customary quarterly breakdown for singular products, in 2013, combination life product premiums grew an astonishing 12 percent over 2012 premium levels. 3

For financial professional use only. Not for consumer use.
1LIMRA:FirstQuarter2014U.S.IndividualLifeSalesStumble,”LIMRA: Quarter_2014_U_S__Individual_Life_Sales_Stumble.aspx
2 “Second Quarter 2014 Indexed Insurance Sales,”WINK:
3 “LIMRAStudy:IndividualLifeCombinationProductsSeeFifthConsecutiveYearofDouble-DigitGrowthin2013,”LIMRA:


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Advanced Markets: Positive Options for Difficult Medical Underwriting Situations

Many leading carriers are providing product choices that could help enhance financial professionals’ ability to deal positively with difficult medical underwriting situations, and at the top of the list is the survivor universal life (SUL) or indexed universal life (IUL) product. This is crucial because in many business  planning situations, necessary business continuity plans are often put on hold due to one owner or key employee being either uninsurable or heavily rated. Now, an SUL policy covering a standard risk owner can also provide coverage for a rated or even uninsurable owner.  These products, when coupled with a first-to-die rider, can help serve two purposes:

1.      In business cases, when an entity agreement is used it spreads the cost among owners equitably, and also helps implementation of continuity plans. In estate planning situations, the SUL policy on both spouses dovetails nicely with the portability feature of the $5,000,000 exemption. In other words, the major tax impact will typically arise upon the second death, which is precisely when the policy proceeds will be available. 
2.      In addition to basic policy design, leading providers in the advanced markets and/or business planning segments are now providing table increases for rated clients. Often, these credits are offered to clients who are willing to seek medical attention and enlist a physician to monitor their condition. In other words, clients are given credit for paying attention to their health. 

Excerpt from Using New Developments in Medical and Financial Underwriting to Help Place Challenging Cases, by Bill Jackson, JD, CLU, Senior Advanced Markets Consultant and Lisa Morris, Vice President of Underwriting, of Partners Advantage. Featured in the November 2014 issue or Broker World magazine.

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For Financial Professional Use Only. Not for use in advertising or solicitation to consumers.

Indexed universal life and survivor life insurance policies contain fees and expenses, including cost of insurance, administrative fees, premium loads, surrender charges and other charges or fees that will impact policy values. Guarantees and benefits are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Insurance policies and/or associated riders and features may not be available in all states, and policy terms and conditions may vary by state. Partners Advantage Insurance Services and their representatives do not give tax or legal advice. The material in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax or legal advice. Discussions of the various planning strategies and issues are based on our understanding of the applicable federal income, gift, and estate tax laws in effect at the time of publication. However, these laws are subject to interpretation and change, and there is no guarantee that the relevant tax authorities will accept Partners Advantage’s interpretations. Additionally, the information presented here does not consider the impact of applicable state laws upon clients and prospects.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Advanced Concepts to Address Clients' Retirement Income and Tax Challenges


Partners Advantage Features Advanced Training and "I-DIAs" from Curtis Cloke

Riverside, CA (January 26, 2015) - Advanced concepts to help address clients' retirement income
needs and tax challenges are a hallmark of the training and techniques utilized by financial services professional Curtis Cloke. Now he is bringing his special approach to product positioning and retirement strategies through a strategic alliance with Partners Advantage.

Cloke's "I-DIAs" help financial professionals understand the special roles that Deferred Income Annuities, Single Premium Immediate Annuities and Fixed Indexed Annuities can play in helping clients develop more strategies to close their retirement income gap. Financial professionals are continuing to enter the program which provides advanced training to a select group throughout the country. Last year's class of approximately 50 financial professionals learned techniques through ongoing training sessions with Tom Hegna and Anthony Morris.

This program is part of the Partners Advantage Academy which offers a variety of training and sales concepts to help financial professionals grow their practice. Cloke's sessions will highlight the Advanced Coaching and Business Building program, which is complemented by additional sales training tracks including a weekly, live online training program at These programs which support the company's "training and education first" philosophy are enhanced by its in-house specialty services - an underwriting team, compliance and suitability team and advanced markets consultants.

Curtis V. Cloke, CLTC, LUTCF, RICP®, is an international speaker author and trail-blazer on deferred income annuities (DIAs). He is the founder and developer of Thrive Income Distribution System, launched in 2009, which helps financial professionals and clients focus on strategies to create more retirement income. Cloke is also a key contributor to the curriculum of the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) program developed by The American College of Financial Planning were he serves as an adjunct instructor.

"Our program was developed in response to an important need that financial professionals have, which is to receive ongoing, professional coaching to continually build their business to new levels," stated Partners Advantage President James Wong. "This is a key component in fulfilling our commitment to provide financial professionals with top shelf training, technology and service."

For more information, contact Partners Advantage at 888-251-5525, Ext. 709.

About Partners Advantage Insurance Services
Partners Advantage Insurance Services, LLC, is a national insurance marketing organization with 70 associates located in offices across the country. The company's Advantage Division is a one-stop brokerage for licensed agents and agencies throughout the United States who sell annuities and life insurance. The company's Platinum and Premier Divisions work to enhance insurance marketing organizations and agencies throughout the country. For more information about Partners Advantage, visit

This Advanced Coaching Program is designed to provide general information about the subject matters covered. It should be used with the understanding Partners Advantage is not rendering legal, accounting, or tax advice. Such services should be provided by the client’s own professional advisors.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Curtis Cloke's "I-DIA" Offers a Strategy to Help Close the Retirement Income Gap

The term "Divide and Conquer” addresses the logic of breaking up one issue or challenge into smaller chunks and then conquering all of the little pieces to try and help resolve what might appear as an overwhelming challenge.

In many ways, anyone can follow this logic. It doesn't matter whether it’s a complex problem or entity; it can sometimes be much easier to handle the issue piece by piece, rather than as a whole. This is why many financial professionals are finding this helpful in reviewing retirement income options for their clients, especially when considering Deferred Income Annuities (DIAs).

When following the divide and conquer strategy with retirement, it helps to break it up into two specific goals: first is to create a retirement income floor based on the client’s basic income needs. It means taking a look at the client’s lifestyle and time horizon, current income needs and figuring out what needs to be done to help maintain a certain standard of living. The second goal is to work to enhance the other strategies taking into consideration the client's desire for growth, legacy, and liquidity. Make sure to take into consideration inflation risk and taxes, while calculating the client’s net income needs and consider unforeseen emergencies and short-term discretionary income.

Once the client’s objectives have been divided, it’s time to consider strategies. Deferred Income Annuities can offer options for minimizing some risks and may offer opportunities for additional options to close up retirement income gaps. They've also been found to help alleviate some risks while protecting a client’s strategies dedicated to producing floor income.

Once a Deferred Income Annuity has been properly positioned, it helps protect principal and provides a precise level of income at a predetermined start date and adds a variety of inflation adjustment options. This rider is an additional feature available on some annuities and generally comes with additional costs that many times simplify strategies which can help close your client's retirement income gap.

Curtis Cloke, CLTC, LUTCF, is a pioneering advocate for Deferred Income Annuities (DIAs). He provides training through the Partners Advantage Advanced Coaching and Business Building program and is a licensed financial professional, speaker and author. His contributions toward the discovery, development, and delivery of the DIA have been nationally recognized and widely embraced as part of the retirement income puzzle by the financial industry. Curtis is the founder and developer of Thrive Income Distribution System and ThriveU. To learn more contact Partners Advantage at 888-251-5525, Ext. 700.

For financial professional use only. Not for use with consumers.

This information is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. Pursuant to IRS Circular 230, it is not, however, intended to provide specific legal or tax advice and cannot be used to avoid tax penalties or to promote, market, or recommend any tax plan or arrangement. Encourage your clients to consult their tax advisor or attorney.

A Rider is an additional feature available on some annuities, and generally comes with additional costs. Insurance policies and/or associated riders and features may not be available in all states, and policy terms and conditions may vary by state.