2019 Carrier Forecast
Luke Cosme
January 2019

What’s Your Story?
When we speak with agents and agencies about their growth goals, the number is usually in the 10 to 20 percent range.  Yet LIMRA projects that life insurance sales will grow by only two percent in 2018 and, through November 2018, MIB said that application activity was actually down 0.9 percent in 2018.  In what is a slow growth industry by any measure, it is difficult to reconcile those expectations with the results that we are seeing, which begs the question:  How do we get the growth that we need from a market that is barely growing at all?  I think that we need to begin with the story that we tell.

For many years now, the stories that many in our industry have told sound remarkably similar.  “Zero is your hero.”  “Market upside with no market downside.”  “Guaranteed death benefit for the cheapest guaranteed premium.”  Make no mistake—those are good stories and they have value for the client and for agents, but when everyone is telling some version of the same story it’s hard to stand out.  From a client’s perspective you sound like the three financial advisors that were there before you and the three that will follow you.  The same applies to an agency trying to recruit agents.  You probably do have a great marketing system and some of the best products in the marketplace, but so do the three agencies that called before you and so do the three that will call after you.  It’s hard to differentiate yourself under those circumstances.  It’s also hard to grow.

One way to stand out is to tell a different story.  One way to tell a different story is to add different products to your offering as well.  This is where Mutual Trust can help.  We are The Whole Life Company and our competitive portfolio of participating whole life products brings a lot of new stories to tell.

“The first day is the worst day.”  Whole life provides guaranteed cash value, guaranteed cash value growth and guaranteed death benefits.  Those are contractual guarantees and not dependent upon interest rates or market returns or caps or participation rates.  What your client sees in the policy is what they get.  The only way it can change is if the company pays a dividend and then the policy changes for the better.  For the client that uses the dividend to purchase paid up additions, that dividend increases the guaranteed cash value and the guaranteed death benefit.  When’s the last time you saw a client’s policy increase on the guaranteed side of the ledger?  With whole life, the first day of your policy is the worst day it will ever have.  How many of the products that you currently offer can say the same thing?

“Instead of whole life or IUL, why not whole life and IUL?”  There’s a quote that has been attributed to Aristotle: “Probable impossibilities are to be preferred to improbable possibilities.”  This piece of advice was for writers and poets on how to elicit the very best emotional response from their audience.  In short, reasonably believable stories are better than those that, while not impossible, are highly unlikely to happen.  When put another way, the same concept can elicit a positive emotional response from many of our clients: The probable is preferred to the possible.  These clients, who are looking for something that’s guaranteed (the probable), have instead been presented only “market upside with no market downside” or “zero is your hero,” as if those are contractual guarantees and there is only a binary choice to be made.  When you use both whole life and IUL, you have a plan that grows when the market is down (whole life guarantees) and a plan that can take advantage when the market is up (IUL returns).

“Are you 100 percent sure that you’re going to have a great retirement, or do you have some doubt?”  There is no shortage of retirement savings and distribution options in our market.  Many are excellent and provide value to our clients, but most have one thing in common: They do nothing to address one of the biggest obstacles to all retirement savings plans—debt.  Do you have clients or agents that would be interested in a program that helps clients tackle their debt, that significantly decreases the amount of interest that they pay and that captures the interest they do pay to make it work for them?  We have a program and a product that will help your agents and your clients do just that.

“The Power of Renewals.”  Many of the most successful agents in our business got into the business because of the possibility of ongoing income from their renewal streams.  However, many agents today are earning renewals of less than two percent on much of the business that they write.  If the client pays a premium every year, shouldn’t the agent earn a respectable commission every year as well?  Our answer is yes.  With products like Horizon Guarantee and Horizon Blend, our newest addition, we provide price-competitive alternatives to the guaranteed UL products in the market, with the additional flexibility that guaranteed cash value growth provides and a renewal commission that far exceeds what most guaranteed UL products pay.

According to LIMRA, whole life was 37 percent of the life insurance market in 2017 and is projected to have the highest annualized premium sales in 2018 and 2019.  At Mutual Trust, we see a lot of opportunity in 2019.  As it has been for well over 100 years, our focus will continue to be on participating whole life—the guaranteed benefits and the guaranteed growth it provides to clients.  We will continue to share the whole life story and the opportunities for growth that it offers for agents and agencies.  What will your story be?  If you’re looking for something new, and if whole life isn’t a significant part of your production, take a new look at an old friend and let the team at Mutual Trust help you write a new story in 2019. [LC]

Author's Bio
Luke Cosme
is senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer at Mutual Trust Insurance Company, A Pan-American Life Insurance Group Stock Company, where he manages the company‚Äôs distribution and sales development and support efforts. Cosme joined Mutual Trust in February 2014 after serving for a decade as sales vice president at North American Company for Life and Health, where he was responsible for the recruitment and development of MGA relationships, sales strategies and case placement. Cosme started his career at North American in 1997 after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he majored in economics. At North American, he held positions as sales director, financial institutions, and worked in client services before being promoted to sales vice president in 2004. Cosme can be reached at Mutual Trust Insurance Company, 1200 Jorie Boulevard, Oak Brook, IL 60523. Telephone: 800-323-7320, ext. 5300. Email: [email protected]















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