I’d like to bestow continued best wishes from our First Protective team to you, your families and your clients. Even as we all continue to adjust to the unprecedented circumstances associated with the COVID-19 spread, I am heartened as this situation proves once again that adversity does indeed bring out the best in so many people. I’ve been moved as I’ve witnessed the selfless outreach Americans everywhere are exhibiting daily, helping their neighbors, acquaintances and even complete strangers deal with these uncertain times.
Many of you have heard me speak about the noble cause and the essential mission we are all engaged in as insurance and financial services professionals. Never has that been so apparent as now, when so many Americans are concerned about health, welfare and financial security. We should all be honored to serve in professions that enable us to help them solve these issues, particularly amid the heightened uncertainty we all face today. First Protective continues to stand at the ready to help you serve your clients in these unique times.
Our industry has adapted incredibly to the quickly changing circumstances of recent weeks. For example:
- First Protective, along with most of our partner insurance carriers, quickly executed an almost 100% work from home capability.
- First Protective has quickly pivoted to leveraging all the best technology at our disposal to enable our employees to work remotely, while maintaining full connectivity with our customers, partners, networks and systems.
- Our Regional Directors continue to stay highly engaged with producers, and are available for phone consultations, virtual meetings and other support activities as needed.
- Producers are increasingly taking advantage of electronic submission capabilities, and when that is impossible, are using electronic means to avoid mail and other paper delivery, by using faxed or scanned documents
- Many life insurance carriers have substantially enhanced their business processing capabilities, policies and procedures to better enable business when face-to-face client engagement is impossible. This has included:
- Higher coverage limits on simplified or accelerated underwriting; including substantially relaxed limits on fluid-less underwriting and evidence requirements
- Substantially expanded time windows to use previously collected lab results and other medical evidence in the underwriting process
- Enabling expanded product choices available for drop ticket and other electronic submissions
- New electronic signature capabilities and policy delivery options are supporting the sales and fulfillment process without requiring face-to-face engagement
Of course, with these sorts of changes, it’s more important than ever to stay current on changing product, underwriting requirements and business processes among our life, annuity, long-term care insurance and disability income insurance providers. That’s why we have expanded our communication capabilities and outreach at First Protective, including:
- Updating our website to provide “at-a glance” updates on these quick-breaking developments regarding business processes, product changes, and other carrier news
- Continuing and expanding our updates, including our weekly video newsletter and bulletins
- Equipping our Regional Directors with state-of-the-art virtual meeting capabilities
- Continuing our proactive outreach efforts to our producers and partners, using phone calls, email and social media to ensure we’re doing all we can to provide the support they need in these unusual times
- Continuing to offer unsurpassed engagement and support across the spectrum of sales, support and service. This includes all our functional areas including case design, illustrations, product recommendations, underwriting, case management, contracting and appointments, and commission processing.
We are here for you. We appreciate your business, and we will do our utmost to earn it every day. Thank you for your partnership with First Protective.
Valued First Protective Partners,
With the spread of COVID-19, I want to assure you that First Protective is committed to doing all we can to support you and your business even during this period of anxiety and uncertainty. We remain confident in our ability to maintain a “business as usual” posture as we deliver the sales support and service you both expect and deserve.
While the novel coronavirus is undoubtedly causing us all anxiety, concern and uncertainty, First Protective is taking special steps to both minimize business impacts on you and your clients while doing our part to contain the spread of the virus. This includes:
- We encourage you to use electronic life insurance submission tools like Vive and iPipeline’s iGO.
- Many of our employees are working from home with full access to our systems, as well as virtual meetings and teleconferencing.
- We have suspended our employees’ business travel by air, rail and public transportation, and we are encouraging them to avoid personal travel to virus hotspots.
- We are not permitting visitors at First Protective offices, as well as those of our parent company, Protective Life.
- All large meetings have been suspended for the foreseeable future. Internal meetings are limited, and we are adhering to appropriate social distancing practices.
These measures are in effect until April 15 and will be continually revisited by the First Protective and Protective Life leadership teams. These are all significant measures, and we don’t take them lightly. But clearly, we take our commitment to our employees, our producers and our partners very seriously, and we will do what it takes to support health, welfare and civic responsibility – while ensuring business support and continuity.
In situations like these, your clients need your advice and guidance more than ever. Your ability to provide proactive counsel and valuable financial solutions is critically important – times like these enable the best advisors to shine and really prove their value. While you can’t control this coronavirus situation or its impact on the financial markets, you can control your reaction and communications. Let your clients and prospects know your expertise and experience are available to them.
We will continue to closely monitor new developments, and we will share new insights and updates as we work though this situation. We are proud of our partnership with you and we will continue to support you and your clients.
Thank you for your partnership with First Protective. My best to you and your family,
The financial services industry, along the Gulf Coast, lost one of the most honorable, hardworking and class-act men with whom I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Jonathan Charest was a true professional, taking care of the needs of others for his entire career. Forty-four years old is way too early for the Lord to take a man like him. But it’s not in our hands, the plan is in His.
Jonathan was a graduate of the University of South Alabama. He affiliated with Principal when he entered the financial services industry, teaming with his father, Don. He would eventually purchase the business from him. After earning his MSFS, Jonathan focused on building a consultative practice. He affiliated with ProEquites and First Protective in 2010 and built his business by purchasing other advisors’ books of business. Jonathan quickly became a regular Elite Producer with First Protective and reached the Elite level with ProEquities.
Jonathan enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. In his spare moments, he would venture outdoors and target practice. If you knew him well, he would share with you his thoughts on the world issues and how those might impact the markets and financial plans of clients. He was often right about many significant market corrections.
Jonathan was a true friend to others in this business. He was always willing to assist and provide his thoughts on a situation. But he was also a man that knew he didn’t know everything and would seek counsel when he needed direction. While I am deeply saddened by this loss, I’m extremely grateful for being his friend and associate.
Please join me in praying for his wife Ashlie, and his daughters Emily and Kimberly during this time as they grieve the loss of a tremendous husband and father.
Written by guest blogger, Jay Stubbs, CLU, Regional Director, First Protective.
The First Protective family is saddened by the loss of our good friend and colleague, Jeff Looney. Jeff passed away on January 13 after a valiant battle with cancer, which he faced with courage, dignity and an indomitable spirit. Jeff’s tremendous impact on his family, friends, colleagues and clients will live on, even as all of us mourn the loss of such a good man. Please remember Jeff, his wife, Bellamy, his daughter, Mary Jayne, and his son, Van, in your thoughts and prayers.
Jeff began his career in financial services in 1985 after graduating from Birmingham-Southern College. He demonstrated amazing commitment to all he served in his family, his community and his profession. As a long-time elite-level advisor at both First Protective Insurance Group and ProEquities, he provided his clients with invaluable financial solutions to prepare them for every stage of their financial lifecycles. Jeff earned the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation from the American College, as well as the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation from the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. He had served as president of the Birmingham Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and was a recipient of many of the industry’s highest awards.
A long-time resident of Vestavia Hills in the Birmingham area, Jeff was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Advisory Board of the Birmingham Southern College Office of Planned Giving and a board member of the Vestavia Swim Association. He was also a board member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was co-founder of the Rebel Football Foundation. He was highly engaged as a member and volunteer at Shades Mountain Baptist Church. He loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter, fisherman and golfer.
While we are saddened by Jeff’s passing, we are heartened by the wonderful impact he had on all those who knew him. His selfless approach to life and serving others will stand as a legacy that will never fade.
I can hardly believe we’re already in the heart of the holiday season. As we turn the corner to 2020, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for your partnership with First Protective this year. We’ve had a full year of growth and expansion, and our ongoing success simply is not possible without the wonderful relationships we share with our producers, distribution partners, and sponsor companies. The amazing power of collaboration enables us all to deliver vital financial solutions to all those we serve together. Your commitment to serving your clients is so important, and we are honored to be your ally on this important mission.
2019 was a real year to remember from a life insurance product standpoint. Never in my career have I seen the magnitude of product changes that occurred this year as literally every life insurance carrier built new products to comply with new Principle-Based Reserving requirements and mortality tables that must be in place on January 1, 2020. The timing associated with the implementation of new products was complicated enough – even before adding in a dose of new (and often complex) indexed universal life interest crediting strategies and ongoing continued price competition in the term insurance arena. Despite all of that chaotic product activity in 2019, we shouldn’t expect things to slow down much in that arena in 2020, as carriers take stock of the new product landscape and jockey for competitive advantage.
Who knows what else is on the horizon in 2020? Interest rates continue to drop to historical lows, new laws and regulations continue to change the financial services industry, we’re still in the midst of the longest bull market run in history, and another election season is heating up.
While no one can predict fully how those factors may impact our business, one thing is certain: the solutions we offer are more important than ever to the families and businesses we serve. Far too many Americans are still uninsured or under-insured and unprepared for a serious illness, disability or untimely death. And while we’re generally living longer, healthier lives, too many are woefully unprepared for retirement and risk outliving their asset. We are all fortunate to be in a business that lets us deliver solutions to these problems by providing expert advice and levering the tremendous insurance products at our disposal.
On behalf of all of us at First Protective, we sincerely wish you and your families the most wonderful of holiday seasons, and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. Thank you for all you do.
First Protective has partnered with the life insurance industry’s most groundbreaking paperless term solution yet – Vive. Vive has disrupted the process of obtaining term life, allowing carriers to issue term policies in a matter of days without traditional underwriting and with no paperwork. We’re asking our producers to give this innovative platform a try, because we’re convinced, you’ll discover a dramatic change in the order process and your clients will love how fast they get their policies.
Here are five new ways that Vive will save you valuable time, every time:
- Quote, compare and submit an order in just 5 minutes.
Vive gives you the industry’s fastest way to write term life insurance. Watch the 90-second demo at getvive.com.
- Get Accelerated Underwriting decisions in days instead of weeks.
Vive’s groundbreaking technology feeds data directly to insurance carriers. The direct feeds allow Vive to immediately determine your client’s AU eligibility. It’s a breakthrough that allows carriers to make more non-medical underwriting decisions in a matter of days. No exam, no blood, no medical records.
- The Vive Score.
Because price isn’t everything. In an industry first, Vive creates a weighted score to rate the overall consumer value of each product above and beyond price. No other online tool does so much to make consultative selling so easy!
- Real-time case status at your fingertips.
Vive automatically aggregates all of your case statuses across all Vive carriers in one location. Auto alerts via email or text let you focus on cases that need special attention. More cases stay on schedule with a lot less effort.
- We want to hold your hand with quote sharing.
Just contact First Protective today and ask us to run your quotes for you. We’ll start your order and send a Share-a-Quote link by text or email. You get instant access to the order for internal review, revision or finalization.
- Quote, compare and submit an order in just 5 minutes.
Join the term revolution. Log on to firstprotective.com and get Vive today!
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. We at First Protective are very proud to partner with Life Happens, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Americans take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products.
Like Life Happens, First Protective seeks to remind people of the important role insurance professionals perform in helping families, businesses and individuals find the insurance products that best fit their needs.
Nearly all of us have firsthand experience with the loss of loved ones, and those who have been around this business for a while have witnessed the incredible power of life insurance in helping to protect the financial security of those impacted by the loss of a family member or a business partner. Sadly, we have also seen the terrible toll that can occur for survivors when appropriate life insurance protection is not made a part of a long-term financial plan.
There’s simply no other product that can do what life insurance can in securing the hopes and dreams of the most important people in our lives. We should all be proud of our roles in reminding those we serve that life is for living, and they should make sure that their loved ones live on…with life insurance.
Throughout September, you’ll see plenty of First Protective promotions around Life Insurance Awareness Month, working with Life Happens and our carrier partners to give you impactful tools to carry this important message to your clients. But let’s remind ourselves that we should consider every day Life Insurance Awareness Day, as we carry out our noble purpose and mission to help those we serve deliver financial security to those they will leave behind.
The First Protective family mourns the loss of long-time friend and valued producer, Calvin Fleming, who passed away on April 12 at the age of 69. Calvin was a great lover of the outdoors, and it is somehow fitting that he passed away while working in his yard, which was one of his passions.
Calvin’s association with Protective Life began in 1979 as part of Protective’s Birmingham General Agency, which became the First Protective Insurance Group in 1983. Calvin worked closely with other founding members of the First Protective family, including Steve Briggs, Bill Dowell, Ben Coker, Park Lee and Buddy Stanford, and was one of the first registered representatives to join ProEquities. His loyalty to Protective Life and ProEquities and First Protective never wavered – he was a perennial First Producer Elite Producer and a familiar presence at our other events.
Calvin was well known for his enthusiasm, sense of humor, can-do spirit, and tireless dedication to serving his customers. He was also a great proponent of helping others, preserving nature, and reading, so his family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Jimmie Hale Mission, the World Wildlife Fund, or the public library of your choice.
We will miss Calvin tremendously, and our thoughts and prayers are with him, his wife Donna, sons David and Adam, and the rest of his large and loving family.
Life Insurance Awareness Month brings to mind a chance encounter at a wedding reception a few weeks ago. I had not seen Brian in years, so we spent some time catching up. He told me about the terrific life he enjoys, the great business he has built, and how much he and his wife Jane are looking forward to traveling in retirement in a few years.
I enjoyed bringing Brian up to date about my family and all the changes we’ve been through recently and was delighted to listen as he painted a wonderful picture of how he and Jane are doing, in terms of health, wellness, and financial fitness. I told Brian about my role at First Protective and the ways we help agents, brokers, and advisors solve their clients’ financial and insurance needs. Imagine my surprise when Brian looked me in the eye and said, “Life insurance? I don’t need that anymore.”
After some follow-up questions for Brian, it was clear to me that he had a very narrow and misplaced view of what life insurance is for, and what it can do. He appreciated how life insurance provides income protection, particularly for young and growing families. But he thought he had outgrown that need since his kids were grown – and he had no understanding of the wider spectrum of solutions life insurance can provide.
In Brian’s case, just a few minutes of chatting revealed that he had some gaping holes in his financial plan that could have devastating impacts on both his business and his family — but he had no idea that he even had a problem! You see, Brian was making a very common mistake – confusing financial comfort with financial preparedness.
Like so many Americans, Brian and Jane had outdated views of life insurance, believing that its only real purpose is to replace the income of a family’s main breadwinner in the event of an early death. They had no idea that life insurance can be a vital tool in solving a wide spectrum of financial problems across the entire financial life cycle, let alone the tremendous improvements and innovations that have been made to life insurance products, purchasing processes and ongoing service capabilities. Most of all, they were clueless about the value of expert advice in employing life insurance as a critical element in a lifelong financial plan.
There’s a happy ending to this story. I was able to connect Brian and Jane to a First Protective elite producer in their particular area who is helping them review their insurance situation. Now, they’re well on the way to using life insurance to help solve three critical problems they didn’t even know they had – preparing for potential long-term care expenses, estate planning needs and a business continuation strategy. In other words, they’ve discovered that life insurance can provide solutions across all ages, stages, and phases of life.
There are a myriad of ways life insurance can deliver different protection and financial solutions across the decades of changing needs. Since it is Life Insurance Awareness Month, l hope this story and my chance encounter motivates you to think of some of your clients that need their eyes opened to the value of life insurance in providing effective solutions to some of life’s most critical financial problems.
Our team at First Protective stands ready to help – we’re uniquely equipped to provide you with the solutions, sales support, and service you need to help your clients answer long-term planning needs – across all ages, stages, and phases of life!
Happy summer, everyone! June 21 marked the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer.
Alabamians know that summer arrives early here. We’re already getting a taste of the “dawg days” – those wonderful stretches when temperatures and humidity both approach triple digits! After living for years on the New England seacoast with its cool, refreshing ocean breezes, I will admit I am still having trouble re-acclimating to the Alabama air you can wear. But even that heat and humidity won’t dampen our summer spirits!
Of course, for many of us, Memorial Day really marks the beginning of summer. That long weekend at the end of May is usually filled with tremendous family moments, parades, cookouts and great outdoor activities. But let us never forget the real meaning of Memorial Day – remembering those who have given their lives in service of our country.
Now Independence Day is upon us. With the Fourth of July falling mid-week this year, I’m sure many of us will be stretching the holiday into family vacations. Shari and I are planning a visit to our family in Georgia, spending some time on the lake, watching fireworks and remembering what Independence Day truly is about.
My dad is a bit of an ancestry buff, and he’s done a great job of researching the Miller family tree. He traced our roots back to Hampton, New Hampshire, where Aquila Chase arrived from England in 1639. Aquila was my great-great-great-great grandfather (honestly, I don’t know how many “greats” to include) and was a founder of the town I just happened to make my home 372 years later! When I think of Independence Day, I can’t help but think about Aquila Chase and the other brave newcomers who built our country, fought for freedom, and created the greatest nation on the globe.
As a young man I served in the United States Air Force, and I’m proud to have grown up in a family with a long history of military service. My older brother is a Navy veteran, my dad was an Air Force officer, and all three of my mother’s brothers served in the military, including one who was a prisoner of war in Korea. My paternal grandfather immigrated to our country as a small child and went on to serve in the U.S. Army in both World Wars. One of my favorite family stories is that as he marched toward Paris with American troops in 1944, he was given a homemade American flag by an ecstatic young French woman, joyful and thankful for the Allied liberation of France and overwhelmed by our country’s selfless dedication to doing what is right.
That hand-sewn flag is still proudly displayed today in the Miller home, and every time I look at it I’m reminded of all that makes our country so special and great. Just as France regained its freedom in 1944, our own country declared its independence in 1776 – and won it only after a long, deadly and divisive war with England. Then, as in every other chapter of its history, our nation of immigrants has continuously demonstrated its greatness and deep commitment to human values. As we celebrate the Fourth of July and savor the spirit of summer, let’s also take a moment to count our blessings, reflect on the sacrifices so many have made on our behalf, and remember the words of our founding fathers:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. [See full text here]
Enjoy your summer and God Bless America!
For more about First Protective, please visit our website at www.firstprotective.com.
First, I want to thank Eric for allowing me to serve as his guest blogger during Disability Insurance Awareness month. My goal is to let you know how important disability insurance planning can be for you and your clients. I would like to give you a couple of ideas to help you and your clients plan for potential loss of income due to a disabling accident or illness. Of course, no one really believes that it will happen to them, but it is our job to help them plan and prepare for such life events.
If you watched the video, you saw that it happened to me. The good news is that I had planned and invested in three individual disability policies over the years. Did I like paying the premiums for this coverage? Not really, but I had a disability specialist convince me early in my career that if my income were to suddenly stop as a result of sickness or accident that I would have a real serious problem that would affect all my other planning. I am very grateful to this agent for educating me about disability income insurance.
If disability insurance has not been a regular part of your practice, I would recommend that you consider developing a relationship with a disability carrier representative to help you get started with the education process.
The magic question to ask is: If your income were to stop today how long could your family survive financially?
This question is the basis for the strategy I use to place individual disability coverage in force. You can use this technique to help educate your prospects and clients about the benefits they have at work. During the fact-finding process, ask them directly if they have any disability coverage through work. If they say they do, ask them how it works. Be sure to ask questions like:
- How much would you get a month?
- Is your monthly benefit taxable?
- How long do you have to wait before you get your first check?
- How long are you entitled to receive the disability checks?
- Do the checks stop if you qualify for social security disability?
This system works great and I have found that they really appreciate your efforts to help them understand what they currently have in place.
My experience is that most people have no clue how their group long term disability actually works and that this process is a great way for you to start the conversation. Ask them to get you their plan booklet or a summary plan description from their employer or they may be able to access this information online.
After reviewing the plan information, schedule another appointment to go over both the positives and the negatives of employer provided disability and life insurance. I have often found that once they understand the limitations of their group coverages, they are interested in purchasing individual policies to fill the gaps.
They tell me that May is Disability Insurance Awareness month, but based on my experience I propose that every month should be Disability Insurance Awareness month.
Bill Miller | email@example.com
We hear a lot about changing demographics and the way that increased longevity continues to impact our lives and lifestyles. Just in my lifetime, we’ve seen incredible advances in life expectancy, and I’ve witnessed them firsthand in my own family.
When I was growing up in the 1960s, I was fortunate to spend many wonderful moments with my grandparents and I have heartwarming memories of them throughout my childhood. But I didn’t get to know any of them, as I became an adult. Only one of my grandparents lived past age 70, and she suffered from debilitating illnesses for many years before passing away.
Let’s fast forward to 2018. My wife, Shari, and I are the proud parents of a 29-year old son who remarkably has four living grandparents, all around age 85. We’re incredibly blessed that both my parents and Shari’s are living, active and play big roles in Colin’s life, just as he does in theirs.
All of Colin’s grandparents have benefited mightily by the amazing progress that’s been made over the years in fields like medicine and healthcare, as well as new attention to physical fitness, healthier diets and generally more active lifestyles. And people have become more diligent and prudent about their fiscal fitness: working hard, saving well and planning for longer, healthier retirements than were ever imaginable to previous generations.
Financial and insurance planning are hardly new concepts. Among my parents’ generation, many have long appreciated the value of life insurance, as these policies provide such important death benefit protection that can be so critical to maintaining the financial security of loved ones who survive them. My own grandfather once said, “the trouble with worrying so much about your security in the future is that you feel so insecure in the present.” But now more than ever, Americans have access to insurance tools that provide for security now and in the future.
The insurance solutions we now have at our disposal can deliver incredibly valuable benefits like funds for retirement and coverage for disability, critical illness, chronic illness, and long term care. We’ve seen terrific advancements in pricing and underwriting of life insurance products in recent years, making these living benefits more affordable and accessible than ever before. Across our entire portfolio of insurance products, we can now deliver enhanced value and relevance across the complete spectrum of our clients’ financial life cycles.
I love my family more than I can describe, and I count my blessings every day for all the wonderful people in both my personal and professional life. I am prouder than ever to be in this business, working with people like you to deliver long term financial security to clients and loved ones – including all four of my son’s grandparents.
Happy Valentine’s Day! 2018 is already off to a furious pace, and my head is spinning as I realize that Valentine’s Day is already upon us. It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, so l’ll try to catch up with a little bit about a lot of things!
What better time than Valentines Day to remind your clients that life insurance is the best way they can insure their love?
Thanks to all of you who have participated in our Regional Road Shows in January and February. We also would like to thank our tremendous carrier partners for making these events so successful as we continue to share the great solutions First Protective offers across the spectrum of life insurance, annuities, disability income, wealth transfer, and asset-based long-term care products!
We’ve seen a plethora of product news from our carrier partners lately, including updates and enhancements to many term, universal life, and indexed universal life plans. Combined with improved rates on fixed annuities and higher caps on indexed annuities, there is no better time than now to review your clients’ needs to help them solve for their critical financial needs with the outstanding product portfolio from First Protective! Call your Regional Director or our excellent team of Marketing Assistants for more information! We are standing by eager to help.
Have you heard about Sales Up? First Protective is proud to be an innovation pacesetter by rolling out a groundbreaking new mobile tool that will keep you and your staff informed about the status of your First Protective business. Proactive text notifications will keep you in constant touch with the progress of your business from submission to delivery – and that’s just scratching the surface of the capabilities of this incredible new system. Click here for more info about Sales Up and how First Protective puts you First!
Congratulations to our qualifiers for the upcoming Elite Producer Conference in Dove Mountain, Arizona! We’ll have a full house in April as we celebrate the tremendous accomplishments of our top 2017 producers at the fabulous Ritz-Carlton resort. This will be another truly world-class event with great fun, food, and fellowship. We look forward to seeing our top producers, sponsor carriers, and strategic partners for another outstanding First Protective event to remember!
We just announced the details about our 2019 Elite Producer Conference! We look forward to hosting our Elite Producers at the spectacular Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island Resort on June 24-27, 2019! Do not miss the chance to join us for the southern charm, magnificent scenery, and casually elegant surroundings that exemplify the gentle ambience of this barrier island’s luxury beachfront resort. Located on a grand stretch of pristine coastline, this North Florida resort is the perfect place for the First Protective family to reconnect! We want you to be there. Learn more about how to qualify over this upcoming year.
That’s all for now – thank you for your partnership with First Protective!
Happy Holidays from all of us at First Protective! I can hardly believe that 2017 is nearly behind us, but I count my blessings every day as I celebrate being back in Birmingham as part of the First Protective family.
This has been an eventful and rewarding year as I have settled into First Protective and had the good fortune to meet so many wonderful producers, partners, and sponsors – and to become reacquainted with so many long-time friends. I’ve been lucky to have been a part of so many terrific events over this last year where I have made new friends and rekindled old friendships. These events included the First Protective Open House in the spring (where we were able to show off our tremendous new office in Birmingham), our New Producer Conferences, the Advanced Sales Symposium in New Orleans, the 2017 Elite Producer Conference in New Hampshire, our Road Show events throughout the country, and our Fast Start Conference in Destin, Florida. Wherever we’ve been, I’ve been delighted by the tremendous relationships we enjoy with so many of you. And I’m more enthused than ever about our opportunities ahead!
2018 should be an absolutely terrific year for First Protective as we build on our relationships with you and take our success to even higher levels together. We’re continuing to invest in new and exciting tools and support, spanning our product portfolio, marketing services, education tools, and hands-on service and support. In coming days and weeks, you’ll hear exciting news about many new tools and initiatives at First Protective. These include SalesUp! (a tremendous new mobile tool that will make doing business with First Protective even easier), the ‘reveal’ of the location of our 2019 Elite Producer Conference, and a host of new value-added marketing and educational initiatives we’ll take on collaboratively with our carrier sponsors and strategic partners. I have no doubt that we’ll continue our growth trajectory across the spectrum of life insurance, annuity solutions, and hybrid long-term care products – while we advance our capabilities in areas like disability protection and executive benefits.
I want to thank all of you for your generosity, friendship, and welcoming spirit as I have gotten my feet on the ground in 2017. I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for a terrific New Year!
Warmest holiday wishes,
The holiday season is always busy – amidst Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays, packed turn lanes getting into the Summit in Birmingham and, often, rude shoppers who will almost take a product out of your hands so they can have it, you may find it challenging to see these holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s – as “a season of peace.”
When First Protective asked me to be a guest blogger I was highly complimented – and at the same time a little concerned about what I might say that might prove valuable and of interest to the advisors who read “Millers Musings.” So I glanced at the current issue and recognized quickly something that really brought a sense of joy.
It was a great privilege to have been involved at the creation of First Protective back in the 1980’s. The company was founded on principles of service and hard work, dedication – “doing the right thing,” as we used to say – always exhibiting a “servant’s heart.” And now, 30 years later, that really hasn’t changed at all – it is bedrock and has been so with the various leaders who have directed the company over the years – and Eric continues that tradition and is taking it even further to help advisors prosper in a challenging and changing industry.
So I paused and said a word of thanksgiving for a tradition that creates relationships that survive the volatility of the marketplace. After all, when all is done our relationships with each other and with our clients are what matter because our impact on people’s lives is our real legacy, what lives on.
Christmas is simply a special time in itself – a special spiritual season for Christians, but also a special time of giving for almost everyone – of taking the time to find that special gift. There is a Biblical reference that reflects so clearly both the spirit of this season and the spirit of the life insurance business itself – “This is true and undefiled religion, to visit widows and orphans in their distress.” How thankful we all can be that we work in a business that has such embedded value – and that we have chosen to take the time to help clients give a special gift to those they love.
Currently, I am engaged in a new venture – Longevity Quest – and the advisors at First Protective will hear more about our work in helping them discuss and manage longevity risk in the months to come. Some have been involved in our testing and development phase and we are thankful for their advice and patient support.
The New Year will provide you a new tool – to help you provide even sounder advice for life insurance, retirement, financial and estate planning – our longevity analysis. We are looking forward to introducing both the Complete Longevity Analysis and the Baseline Longevity Analysis to you soon.
So, even with all the noise around us, there is much to be thankful for, much to celebrate, and much to look forward to in the New Year. Here’s hoping that 2017 concludes as one of your best, that the holiday season proves to be peaceful and energizing, and that you look to 2018 as an exciting new adventure with new opportunities to explore.
As Shari and I settle back into life in Birmingham amid this beautiful fall season, we are reminded every day of all the blessings in our lives. With Thanksgiving upon us, we are particularly thankful for amazing friends and family, including our family at First Protective.
The beauty of this fall season was on full display in Destin, Florida, where First Protective hosted our Fast Start Conference meeting at the magnificent Henderson Beach Resort and Spa on October 23rd through the 25th. This meeting for some of our newest producers was terrific – offering up a plethora of actionable sales ideas, solutions-focused presentations from our partner carriers, and an update from Marketing Underwriter Robin Vigliotte. An Elite Producer panel featured industry leaders Michael Cowart, Jonathan Charest, and Ricky McQuiston, all of whom demonstrated their generosity and selflessness by offering tremendous insight and best practices on how to grow an insurance practice with tips on how to take advantage of all the resources First Protective offers. Best of all, we enjoyed wonderful fun and fellowship among the team of new producers, their guests, and your First Protective team! Just another example of how First Protective puts you first!
As I reflect on Thanksgiving and the changing of the seasons, I want to recognize some other milestones among the First Protective family.
- Buddy Stanford is transitioning to a new chapter in his life. An industry veteran of 38 years, Buddy has been with First Protective since the start and has contributed mightily to our success as he has served his clients. Buddy has decided to align with our good friend Bill Dowell and his team at Vision Financial Group so he can spend a bit more time with his wife Patti, their three grown children, and eight grandkids! We’ll miss seeing Buddy every day in our First Protective office, but we know we’ll see him often as he continues his great service to our industry. As a distinguished recipient of the Spirit of First Protective award, Buddy epitomizes what being a member of the First Protective family is all about.
- Many of you remember Coleman Lipsey in his role as First Protective’s Director of Advanced Underwriting from 1994 to 2003, and as Regional Director from 2004 on. Coleman recently made the decision to retire to spend more time with his wife Georgia, their four grown children, and seven grandchildren. Coleman has been a tremendous contributor to First Protective over the years and is well known for his tremendous understanding of life insurance solutions, love of our business, and passionate support and advocacy for his producers. We’ll miss working with “The Professor.”
- We were recently treated to an office visit from another long-term member of the First Protective family, Bill Miller. For 35 years as an advisor, Bill has provided important financial solutions for his clients and has always given back to our industry, and to the community, even as he and Donna raised their four sons. In fact, Bill’s selfless involvement as a Boy Scout leader had a wonderful impact on my own son, Colin, who became an Eagle Scout in large part due to Bill’s personal involvement, leadership and attention. Bill Miller knows firsthand about the incredible benefits insurance can deliver. About three years ago, he was badly injured in an accident that left him paralyzed. Disability income insurance that Bill acquired through First Protective enabled the Miller family to move forward without the potentially catastrophic financial consequences they may have otherwise faced. Bill’s experience should remind us all that our business is not about selling products – it’s about providing long-term financial security solutions to the families we serve. Bill is eager to tell his story, and we look forward to opportunities soon for Bill to share his own experience with you and other First Protective producers, emphasizing the nobility of our mission and the positive impact we can make on those we serve.
All of us at First Protective are grateful for your business, partnership and your many contributions to all of those we serve together. We send you our heartfelt thanks and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.
What a great time to be involved in this business we have all chosen! Just when you think you have the field covered, not only does the field change, but the whole game changes.
Where would we be if we were trying to go solo in this endeavor? The past few weeks have been a whirlwind experience including study group meetings with a great group of bank advisors being led by Alan Simonis, the ProEquities National Business Builders meeting in Chicago, and then the opportunity to attend the ‘crown jewel’ event of First Protective, the Elite Producer Conference.
Speaking as one with over 40 years in the financial services business, I cannot say enough nor emphasize strongly enough the opportunities afforded by networking with, and learning from our peers in this business. In addition, I cannot think of a time during my career when my personal needs in these areas have been greater. I have been slow and determinate in making the necessary changes in my practice, but when I get it, I get it! Sorry, First Protective gang! Without the patience and encouragement of all of you, my present practice would be nowhere near as multi-faceted as it now is. The opportunities afforded us in this great business are endless if we will just embrace the magnitude of products which are available to us through our chosen business affiliates. We have the privilege of having a team of true specialists available to us at all times enabling us to concentrate on our clients and deliver the problem solving solutions, which they deserve.
I would be remiss not to mention the great privilege of attending the recent Elite Producer Conference and to be in the company of so many incredible elite producers. My congratulations and thanks to all of you. Thanks to First Protective for the hospitality afforded us at such an amazing venue in that beautiful area of our great country.
Most importantly, thanks to my peers and First Protective for the honor of being the recipient of the “Spirt of First Protective” award. Just being in the company of the previous recipients of this is far beyond any expectation I could have hoped for or imagined. Magnifying this is the fact that I was in the company of so many others who were also deserving of this award.
Thanks to Eric for this opportunity to express myself regarding my peers and this great organization!
Financial Advisor, HCB Wealth Management Division
We’ve just wrapped up an incredible week in New Hampshire at the First Protective Elite Producer Conference. This was an absolutely amazing conference for me in more ways than I can describe.
It was truly a cosmic coincidence that had me hosting this gathering here this week. Shari, Colin and I have spent the last six years in New England and our home in Hampton, New Hampshire is literally just a few miles south of this historic and grand hotel. We absolutely love this area, and we fully expected to be New Englanders for the rest of our lives. We couldn’t imagine anything that could actually lure us away from the Seacoast of New Hampshire — but amazingly that happened! We could hardly believe our blessings and good fortune when the unforeseen chance arose to return to Birmingham as part of the incredible First Protective family.
All week, Shari and I were delighted to get to know our elite producers, recognize their amazing accomplishments, and to show off this scenic and historic area. Shari and I enjoyed a special moment when our son Colin joined us at the welcoming reception and was able to reconnect with old friends and meet so many of our new friends and colleagues.
We shared so many fun moments together as we enjoyed wonderful weather, amazing food, and tremendous fellowship. From lobster rolls to fine dining, from golf to harbor cruises, from baseball at Fenway Park to sightseeing in Kennebunkport, we had countless ways to revel in the spectacular fall weather and New England hospitality.
We were able to recognize the incredible accomplishments of so many elite producers while we were here together. I want to thank all of them for their valuable service to their clients and their partnership with First Protective. I’d especially like to recognize this year’s recipient of the “Spirit of First Protective” award, Doug George of Savannah, Tennessee. Doug is so deserving of this honor which reflects his genuine servant’s heart, his deep generosity, the profound contributions he has made to his clients’ financial security, and his wonderful partnership with the First Protective family. Doug, thank you for all of your amazing contributions to your clients, this industry, and to First Protective.
Our business partners and sponsors were so supportive and instrumental in making this meeting a success, and I thank them for spending this time with us and sharing their best ideas on how we can do even more to help our clients and customers with solutions to their critical needs for long term financial security.
I would be remiss if I didn’t note that while we enjoying the tremendous events here on the New Hampshire Seacoast, our thoughts and prayers were going out to all of those impacted by the recent hurricanes. Our hearts ache for those left in the wake of these enormous forces of nature — and we’ll do all we can to help all of our compatriots on the US mainland, Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean as they regain their footing.
You may know that the next Elite Producer Conference is scheduled to take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico in April of 2018. We are happy to report that the Ritz-Carlton has let us that all of their employees are safe and accounted for, even as they deal with the incredible devastation on the island. Even in the midst of all of this, Ritz-Carlton is working with us on contingency plans, and we’re assessing an array of alternatives for both the location and dates for the next conference. Look for big news on this soon — I promise you we’ll have a world-class event in a spectacularly location, and we look forward to seeing you there!
Thank you for your partnership with First Protective!
President, First Protective
Eric has over three decades of experience in the financial services industry with extensive life insurance and annuity expertise. His sales, marketing and distribution responsibilities have spanned independent producer, brokerage, broker-dealer and financial institutions channels. Prior to joining First Protective, Eric most recently served as the chief distribution officer for the U.S. life and annuity business of Foresters Financial.
Eric has a long history with Protective Life, having served as vice president and national marketing director in the company’s life and annuity division from 2001 to 2011. He has held other key leadership roles with Liberty Mutual, Irish Life of North America, Zurich Kemper Life, GE Capital Assurance and Confederation Life. Eric is also a decorated veteran of the United States Air Force, where he served as a Russian linguist and intelligence analyst in the U.S. and overseas.
A magna cum laude graduate of Georgia State University, Eric also has executive education experience at both Harvard Business School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is active in many industry and community organizations, and resides in Birmingham with his wife, Shari.