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Think Big

Here are some tips for ramping up your business from two of the convention’s educational workshops.

By Maggie Leyes

During NAIFA’s Convention and Career Conference this past September, great speakers weren’t found just on the main stage. One afternoon was filled with educational workshops covering everything from health savings accounts to sales ideas. Here are highlights and tips from two of those sessions.

Gregory B. Gagne, ChFC, of Affinity Investment, asked attendees to reconsider how they were helping their senior clients manage their nest eggs during his session, “Group Tax Trap Avoidance in the Senior Market.” Without realizing it, seniors are making mistakes that bump them into higher tax brackets, Gagne said, when, in fact, this tax burden is avoidable. The seniors of today—notorious savers—are not spending their money. While this frugality helped get them to a comfortable retirement, unwittingly these seniors are lining Uncle Sam's pockets with their cash. Gagne gives the example of IRA distributions; he calls IRAs “tax-deferred time bombs.”

Without realizing it, seniors are making mistakes that bump them into higher tax brackets.

Many seniors, afraid of outliving their savings, take the required minimum distribution from their IRA. In their thrift, they often decide to save it, putting it into a CD. Wrong, says Gagne. This merely increases the interest they must declare to the IRS, which often (and easily) bumps them into a higher tax bracket. Instead, Gagne counsels seniors to take the optimum distribution and then channel that money into a Roth IRA. “They have to pay taxes to get it into that Roth IRA,” he said, “but then it can grow tax-free.”

Delivering more than he promised, Gagne even gave audience members some sound prospecting tips that were not senior-centric.

1. Do profiling. Map out who you want to work with; be specific with factors like age, assets, personality and level of client involvement. Institutionalize this as a process in your business.

2. Get a para-planner. It’s not worth your time, says Gagne, to meet with the prospect for the introductory meeting; a para-planner can do the initial factfinder for you. This allows you to spend more time closing the case.

3. Use a “smart office.” Gagne rents a series of “executive suites” located in office centers where he can have clients come and meet him. This eliminates house calls, which are not an effective use of his time, and long commutes for clients to reach him.

Banish “small” thinking
The point of Larry Klein’s session, “Advanced Marketing for Top Producers (and Those Who Want to Be),” was to help attendees “distinguish themselves from the morass of other advisors.” Klein, who is a CPA, CFP and president of NF Communications Inc., explained that you accomplish that by specializing. “People pay more for expertise, for a specialist,” he said. Then he gave the example of doctors: Specialists far outnumber generalists, and make a lot more money. “Once you pick your specialty, the rest falls into place,” he said. “People want to go to a specialist.”

Of course, you also need to get the word out about you and your business, and Klein suggests ways that you may think are out of your reach, such as writing a book, creating a radio program or local-access cable TV show. It is easier than you think, because it’s about hiring the right people—a specialist in that area—to help you do it. For example, a ghostwriter can help you write that book (ghostwriters pen 22 percent of books on the market said Klein), and a local arts college is a great source of eager television professionals who can help you put together your show. Think about how much easier would it be to close a sale if you could tell your client you are a book author or the host of a TV show, said Klein.

“Please stop thinking small,” Klein admonished. “It shouldn’t be about: What two or three people am I going to talk to this week. Think big. If you want big business, it’s about visibility. … Remember that writing a book, being on radio and TV counts big in our culture.”

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