Independence Day

Independence Day

By: Gary Bleetstein
Partner, Agent Support Group


Last week, we celebrated Independence Day.

Independence is defined in the dictionary as the state or quality of being independent, freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.

I am not sure if I agree 100% with the definition, however most of it appears valid and true. Sometimes we do need the aid and support of others. 

As a free nation, we all have so much to be grateful for, especially our independence. There are many nations where their people have no independence and are controlled by the likes of dictators, autocrats, fascists and totalitarian oppressors.

So how does the word Independence fit into the lives of Life Insurance Advisors.  

Most of you are independent to help your clients make great decisions for themselves and for the future of their families and their business’s. You have the independence to choose the best solutions, plans, and products that will fit your client’s long term needs, whether it is for Life Insurance, Annuities, Long Term Care or Disability.

In thinking more about the word Independence, two major items come to mind:

  • The new DOL rules and your job as an advisor to give advice to your client’s based on the best interest of the client – I believe this has always been the case.
  • The importance of Long Term Care and knowing that your clients who will all want as much independence as possible can achieve it with a good Long Term Care Solution.

Let us all be thankful for our independence as a great nation, as well as our independence to assist our client’s in achieving their goals without undue control or influence of others.

A Legacy That Endures…….
By: Jay Scheiner
Partner, Agent Support Group

Legacy 2Often, as financial advisors and insurance professionals, we get so caught up in the minutia of the products we offer that we lose sight of how our products can be structured to make a difference to our clients and their heirs.  Here’s a story and a planning idea that you can discuss with your older successful clients and put a smile on their faces

My former boss at the broker-dealer I worked at, Lee, was a wise and giving man.  Lee was also an astute financial planner blessed with the gift of good timing.  After all — like George Steinbrenner — Lee died in 2010, the sunset year of the estate tax, which allowed him to pass-on assets to his children free of federal estate tax.  Ever the planner, he left a unique gift to his three daughters, which enables them to remember him in a very special way each May, around the time of his birthday.  Every year each daughter receives an insurance company check for approximately $10,000 from their father – a sweet legacy from a man who would have just turned 96 this year.  These distributions will continue for at least 20 more years.  Lee set up this plan deliberately, reasoning that the impact of an extended bequest would be a legacy that endures vs. a lump-sum that would have faded into a memory.  I keep in touch with the daughters and each has commented what a special gift it was that their father created for them.

Agent Support Group can help you set up a similar plan for your clients.  New York Life’s annuities are well suited for this.  The have the flexibility to carry out your client’s desire to leave funds after they are gone to one, two or more beneficiaries.  Just as important, they have strong financial ratings so your clients can feel comfortable making a multi-decade bequest backed by the strength of New York Life.  *Note – New York Life is available to our approved producers only.

·        Attached (NY Life PDF) is another example of this concept:  Grandpa, age 85, purchases a $500,000 income annuity today with income payments to begin just prior to the holidays – December 15th.  Each year while alive Grandpa receives $25,995 with most of this coming tax-free.  Upon his death his heirs (it can be one or many more than one) will receive the $25,995 payment for the balance of thirty-years – until December 15, 2046!  It will be the ultimate Christmas or Hanukah present funding device – and Grandpa will be remembered for this long after he is gone!

To structure a creative annuity legacy plan for your client please contact me or one of my ASG partners or our annuity specialist, David Tornabene 212.292.7934.

Wishing you a wonderful Summer 2017!   ~Jay

The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation
By Sam Kaufman
Senior Partner, Agent Support Group-May 2017

sandwich generation I







The Carnegie Delicatessen in New York defined the meaning of a “Sandwich”. Anyone who has been to the Carnegie understands that it was truly a contest to devour an entire sandwich in one sitting. In fact, it was a wonder that so much could be put between two slices of bread making it impossible to fit the entire sandwich in your mouth. For many today their daily life seems to even make the Carnegie Delicatessen sandwich appear to be miniature.   Many parents are finding themselves emotionally and financially squeezed between their children and their parents. If you are one of those parents you can easily relate to feeling like the corned beef that was jammed between the two pieces of rye bread at the Carnegie.  

sandwich generationFamily dynamics need to be included in every advisors discussion with his or her client to determine the multiple financial needs that the new “Sandwich Generation” is facing or dealing with on a currently.   Planning for their retirement, many are also dealing with the cost of education for their children and caring for their parents. What happens if the breadwinner who is financially supporting both their immediate family and elders is lost or disabled?

What happens if the “Soccer Mom” is no longer able to run between taking the kids to after school events and providing care for aging family members? If you thought the corned beef sandwich at the Carnegie covered the plate from corner to corner, just think about those who are personally sandwiched stretching themselves both financially and personally.  

As advisors we need to be sensitive to these situations while assisting in providing solutions. There is a greater need than ever to focus on the living benefits that can be provided by life insurance. Tax deferred accrual of cash value for retirement, Long Term Care Benefits and a host of new enhancements make life insurance more than simply death protection. These benefits can help the new “Sandwich Generation” plan for themselves while protecting their family both short and long term.   

At Agent Support Group we are constantly designing new concepts to assist our advisors. Advisors are welcome to come in and meet to discuss these new concepts and learn how they may be helpful to you in your practices and for your clients. Look at the total picture and provide solutions. 


By: Gary Bleetstein
Partner, Agent Support Group-Mar. 17

Leprechaun going for the gold



John Hancock Life Insurance Company is the first and only Life Insurance Company in the US to offer Vitality – a rewards and premium saving program for new life insurance sales – Permanent and Term (outside of NY) and Permanent Insurance in New York.


Here is a quick summary on how the Vitality Program works and you should be looking at this program for all of your current and future sales opportunities. 

  • Apply for a John Hancock Life Policy and if you apply for Vitality- receive a FITBIT or APPLE WATCH from John Hancock plus
  • Have the opportunity to save 10- 15 % on your life insurance premiums
  • As you earn Vitality Points while staying healthy via Health Reviews, Check ups, Physical Activity, Eating Healthy Foods, healthy screenings and online education- use the points to Earn Rewards and Discounts for
  • Healthy Food, Gym Memberships, Health Gear Discounts from REI, Adidas, Garmin, Fitbit Walmart  plus
  • Apple Watch
  • Half Price Hotel Stays at Hyatt
  • Up to 50% off Cruise Rewards – Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Crystal, and Seabourn
  • Shopping and Entertainment Gift Cards from Amazon, I Tunes, Whole Foods and others. 

The program is easy and all your clients need to do is complete a one time registration, use the John Hancock Vitality App, earn the points by living a healthy lifestyle and this will assist your clients in obtaining Vitality Status in 4 areas-

Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum

Here is an example- to qualify for Gold Status- your client only needs to  

  • Annually have a health review, see a doctor for health screenings, workout 2 times per week, have a flu shot, and eat healthy –
  • This will save your client 12 -15% on their life insurance premiums and all health information is between the client and Vitality- NOT JOHN HANCOCK LIFE


Gary Bleetstein

threeltcchronicillnessconceptsBy Jay Scheiner, JD, CLU
Partner, Agent Support Group-Feb. 2017

Its a new world now, as the traditional Long Term Care (LTC) marketplace has evaporated, replaced by innovative new life insurance policies with comprehensive LTC and Chronic Illness Riders and linked benefit products.

      Survivor Life w/LTC Rider Nationwide: This rider allows your clients (a couple) who desire LTC with guaranteed premiums first (and have less interest in life insurance) to obtain a large amount of LTC benefit for a far lower outlay than individual life policies with LTC riders.

*Note: This option is not approved in New York.

 o How it works: Each insured is entitled to 50% of the death benefit for LTC. Example: $2MM policy provides $1MM each for LTC – paying a Maximum Monthly Benefit of two times HIPAA or 2% of each partners half of the face amount ($20,000). The residual life insurance may be left to the insureds next generation or a charity of choice, etc…

     Term Insurance w/Chronic Illness Conversion Agreement Minnesota Life (Securian in NY):  For clients who plan to convert their term policy to permanent coverage in the future and desire chronic illness protection.

o  How it works: Client buys 10/15/20 year term w/Extended Conversion Agreement and CICA may convert to a policy with Accelerated Death Benefit for Chronic Illness prior to age 65.

o Allows conversion to UL w/Chronic Illness even if disabled!

o Perfect solution for one planning to purchase a policy with comprehensive Chronic Illness in the future and wants to qualify for it NOW.  *This option is approved in NY and most states.

     Life Insurance AS a SUBSTITUTE for LTC/Chronic Illness Insurance: Your clients who can afford to pay the outof-pocket costs of an extended illness can use life insurance to REPLACE the funds expended:

o  How it works: Show your welltodo clients how the purchase of a life insurance policy WITHOUT an LTC/Chronic Illness Rider can accomplish a similar or even better economic result as one with a rider resulting in cost savings so long as the client and his or her spouse/heirs can tolerate the delay in the payment of benefits.

o  Example: Male 60 NS STD $1MM w/LTC = $26,900/Yr. IRR of Death
Benefit Age 85 = 4.0% / Age 90 = 2.3% vs. $1MM w/o LTC =
$19,700/Yr. IRR of Death Benefit Age 85 = 5.1% / Age 90 = 3.2%!

o  Concept works so long as client has the assets to pay outof- pocket. Even spending down some principal, the assets can be replaced on a guaranteed basis. This opensup the insurance companies that may have the best life insurance rates for your client, but no LTC rider or in cases where your client may be shavedto Standard on life insurance but not on an LTC rider.


By: Sam Kaufman
Partner, Agent Support Group

A new beginning is upon us as we enter 2017….

A new President will take over the reins of our government promising changes, many of which may have profound effects on our industry, some positive and some negative.    While the banter about Estate Taxes gets most of the headlines, the life insurance industry overall may be the beneficiary of many of the changes being proposed.

Estate Taxes always seem to grab the biggest headlines, but in the past trade-offs such as, ending the stepped up basis, have ended the discussion and Estate Taxes have remained, albeit targeted at a very small percentage of Americans.    It is likely, that the fight to extinguish Estate Taxes will have the same historic ending it has in the past.    Of more concern are changes in 1031 and 1035 Exchanges.   Can you imagine the impact of gains in annuities and life insurance no longer being sheltered when exchanged for a like-kind.    This would obviously have a major effect on future sales as we have always counted on being able to shelter the gain when replacing a cash value life insurance policy or rolling over an annuity.   Be on the lookout for these changes which tend to appear only in small print, these would be the true “Death Taxes”.

The biggest proposal is to reduce the corporate tax rate, a potential bonanza for life insurance sales.    For years, advisors have tried to devise techniques to make life insurance premiums tax deductible.  Those of us who were around in the heyday of Sec. 79 clearly remember the bonanza.    If the corporate tax rate is reduced to 15 – 20%, the need for “tax deductibility” becomes less significant leading to an increase in non-qualified plans, split dollar and other life insurance concepts utilizing corporate dollars.  It also would not be surprising to see more corporations electing “C” status as opposed to “S” to take advantage of the spread between the personal and corporate tax rates.

It is important that we all stay tuned as our new President enters his first hundred days.    This is usually a time when the Houses of Congress tend to be favor a new President and given the majority of both Houses being Republican many tax reforms will be given a fast track.  We can count on business expansion, leading to perhaps the most favorable employment figures in decades.   Need we forget the DOL legislation which affect all those selling annuities. This will lead to more people needing advisors to guide them on how to provide for their families and future supplemental retirement benefits.

Get up to speed on new life insurance products that can provide a myriad of solutions from Long Term Care to Supplemental Retirement Benefits.    Get familiar with indexed based products that offer true crediting transparency.   Upward trending interest rates will have a positive effect on products using “New Money Crediting” as opposed to “Portfolio”.   We are here to assist you in navigating through what promises to be a very exciting year.  A year filled with many new opportunities for you as advisors to bring to your clients.    Don’t be left at the station as this turbo charged train pulls out.









By: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU
Partner, Agent Support Group-Dec. 2016


asg-advisor-channelWARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

A forecast is always helpful. It helps us prepare for events that can severely impact our lives. That’s why millions of us look to The Weather Channel when there is a storm coming. We want to know the facts. We want to know what is headed our way so that we can not only stay safe but properly prepare so that we can mitigate risk. So why should this be any different?

As a leading General Agency, we feel an obligation to you, the advisor, to provide you with insights and resources to guide you through “the storm” that we all face every day. To that end, we feel very strongly that the coming years will bring unprecedented challenges to you and the clients you serve. The Boomer generation is facing a huge crisis that we refer to as “The Silver Tsunami.” By the year 2030, it is projected that there will be over 72 Million older Americans over the age of 65. Of that, it is predicted that 70% of them will require some type of Long Term Care and over 40% will need a nursing home at some point in time.

The math is staggering. If nothing is done to prepare for this, it is apparent that many lives will be changed. Not only will the seniors requiring this care be affected financially, but the families around them will be as well. After all, less than 10% of the care provided will be from paid caregivers. So, what does that mean? Family members will be providing the large majority of care which will have a negative financial impact on them as well. Considering that almost 50% of children of retirees expect to eventually take care of their parents, it is even more impactful.

So, where is the money coming from to pay these expenses? Sure, it can come from personal assets, but we all know how that story ends; it’s gone before you know it. Why would anyone want to deplete a lifelong nest egg and sacrifice all they have worked for and built over the years when there is a better, more economic approach to mitigating that risk?

The answer is that today we have so many ways for you to provide products for your clients that can provide a full circle of benefits to protect against the threat of a Long Term Care event. They range from Stand-Alone LTC Policies, Blended Life Alternatives and Life Insurance with Long Term Care Riders.

The standalone marketplace has just seen even more contraction with additional carriers exiting the space. This leaves only a few players left. The long term sustainability of these types of policies does not look promising as the costs are not guaranteed and it is difficult to sell to a client when the premium structures keep going up. This has led the way for LTC Planning Alternative products that have been offering viable options to this marketplace.

The Blended Life designs are attractive havens for lump-sums of money that can be heavily leveraged to provide large Tax-Free pools of LTC benefits. There are several carriers offering these types of products on both a Universal Life and Whole Life chassis. Further, depending on the carrier, product and state of issue, there are a host of options available such as reimbursement or indemnity style benefits. There are also options available on a Survivorship Life platform with blended age ratings that can be used for Spouses, Same-Sex couples and Parent/Child variations. There are even provisions for un-capped lifetime benefit pools.

The next plan design, and probably the most popular, is the use of Guaranteed Universal Life with Long Term Care Riders. Unlike standalone LTC policies, the rates for these plans are guaranteed and do not have a “use-it or lose-it” approach as they relate to potential claims. If you never go on claim for the LTC benefit, there will always be a death benefit payable to your named beneficiaries. These are also available as either reimbursement or indemnity style and may also be available with certain carriers in a Survivorship GUL form.

Keep in mind that not every client will qualify for the Long Term Care/Life products outlined above. However, it’s important to note that it is possible to offer sub-standard rating classes for some of the above designs. In those cases, where clients would not qualify for the LTC options, there are also Chronic Illness variations available with some carriers that can provide similar types of benefits.

At ASG, we believe very strongly that the products outlined above represent the future of Long Term Care protection. By utilizing these products, there a number of creative approaches that can be employed to help you guide your clients and their families through the risk management process of potential Long Term Care events. Every client has a different story and we can help provide solutions for a large number of them. Some of the techniques may include the repositioning of assets, such as Social Security benefits and “lazy cash positions.” Without getting too complicated however, paying smaller annual premiums to provide a guaranteed pool of money to guard against these threats can be the best approach.

As the forecast mentioned earlier, there is a Silver Tsunami approaching. Like any disaster, being forewarned gives us an opportunity to prepare. You will be able to get your clients ready for the coming storm and with the resources we can provide and properly protect them from the risks they can likely face.



potusBy: Gary Bleetstein
Partner, Agent Support Group


By the time you read this, the election for our next President will be a few days away and whoever wins will bring some forms of change – some popular and some unpopular.

We have had change forever in our business- this is nothing new and nothing to really be concerned about right now. To make changes, there are vast numbers of committees, voting and dealing with the two parties even before these changes get to the place where it is in final draft.

We have all lived through changes in Section 79, 419, Pensions, Minimum Deposit, changes in the Estate and Gift tax laws, Split Dollar etc.

Furthermore, it takes more than a new President to affect these types of changes-

We have no idea what the makeup the Congress or the Senate will look like, how the stock markets in and abroad will react and what kind of changes may be in store for our business.

We have already experienced DOL, Coli Changes, Increases in Costs of Insurance as well as promises to change Obamacare, Medicare, Estate Tax Laws, the inside build-up of cash values and more and more and more.

We cannot and should not let these possible changes interfere with our day to day operations of selling Life Insurance which is still one of the best financial products available.  A product that allows families and businesses to maintain their financial stability.

While we deal with changes every day, we do not have to deal with changes in our business until that time has come. If you would like to get involved in our business regulatory environment and assist, a great way to do this is to join AALU – our best advocate organization for our product and our business.

So congratulations to our new President, and all of us in the Life Insurance business should just go forward and sell our great product as we do have so much to offer.