Professional Designations

Mar 24, 2016

  1. Charlie456
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    Charlie456 Expert

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    I would like to be a life insurance expert. In addition to what my mentors teach me I would like to get some kind of useful designation. Which designation actually taught you the most relevant info?
     
  2. DHK
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    DHK "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

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    Being an expert and having a designation are two different things.

    If you want to have credible designations with life insurance being a primary focus, I'd look into CLU and ChFC. I hold the ChFC designation myself.

    As for becoming an expert, yes, listen to your mentors. However, learning one or more selling systems can also be very helpful, such as LEAP, MoneyTrax's Circle of Wealth, or Insurance Pro Shop's Found Money Management.

    In addition, this forum has been very helpful. I've learned quite a bit here.

    One more very good resource is the VSA - Virtual Sales Assistant. For $23.95/month, you have a decent library of resources to reference. In particular the Tools and Techniques of Life Insurance. That has been very helpful as a resources as well.

    I will say that I've learned far more about life insurance with these selling systems, the VSA, and this forum than I ever would from CLU or my ChFC designation studies. (And I actually ordered some older textbooks for my 3 remaining CLU courses from Amazon for about $5 each and was less than thrilled with the content.)

    You might still wonder why to bother pursuing an advanced credential? I'll give you my personal perspective.

    First, competition. At some point, your client may choose to meet with another agent or advisor. They may look at my written plans and try to “shoot holes” in it and then show how much smarter they are. With designations after your name, they should be more careful about what they say about my plan.

    Second, peer professionals. Attorneys and CPAs would prefer to work with someone who is credentialed and is trying to show that they have invested more into their careers and elevate their own professionalism. After all, they took years in law school and getting a masters in accounting… and believe me, they know how easy it is to get either an insurance or securities license.

    Third, a small chance to “toot your own horn”. It’s up to YOU to introduce your designation(s) as something that they may have an interest in knowing about my credentials and certifications. It’s simply a way to show that the client “is in good hands”.

    Fourth, clients LOVE it! They love knowing that “their guy” is a step above the rest. That doesn’t mean you can be lazy in your communication skills, but you should be able to demonstrate a higher level of competence.

    Taking a couple of seconds to show “What a ChFC can do for you” using a brochure like this, along with affirming the professional pledge, is generally a good idea to win people over.

    http://www.theamericancollege.edu/assets/pdfs/ChFC_Client_Brochure_Web.pdf

    Fifth, press coverage endorsements. Now, this seems to only apply to certain credentials: CFP, ChFC, CLU, CFA, and perhaps a few others. There are “weekend designations” out there and other designations that aren’t quite as rigorous. So, I happened to like and hold one of the top ones.

    Like this article from the Wall Street Journal: Credentials to Look for in a Financial Adviser

    (The RFC is generally well-respected within the industry and by regulators… but because it isn’t ‘accredited’, it had some issues with the press and broker/dealer compliance. The IARFC is now introducing the MRFC® (Master Registered Financial Consultant) to be accredited by the NCCA.)

    As long as you can communicate your concepts effectively… who would your client rather work with?
    - DHK
    - DHK, RFC®, ChFC®, CLU®, RICP®, ChSNC®

    Here’s a quick YouTube video for a perspective on why to consider obtaining a designation:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SASU_U-64jQ

    As long as you aren’t cryptic or overwhelming people… I think people would feel better working with a well credentialed advisor.

    The downside: Aside from the costs to obtain, time to study, and annual or bi-annual re-certification (and fees), if you hold yourself out at a higher level, you are essentially holding yourself out at a fiduciary level. Certifications means that you can be held at a higher standard, because you HAVE invested in your career. It’s nothing to be afraid of, but you simply can’t be reckless with your recommendations and in serving your clients. It’s a good thing, but you should be aware of it.
     
    DHK, Mar 25, 2016
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  3. walthamny
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    walthamny Guru

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    I have only had one instance where not having a designation made a difference. That is when you are testifying at a court as being a life insurance expert. I don't think designations matter much in the long run. If you are looking at it from a prospecting point, if future prospects are making the designation the major criteria, there is something wrong approach/first meeting. If your prospect source is referrals and introductions, you won't run into the designation issue much. Now I am RIA so I have fiduciary duty that is higher than any of the designations DHK mentioned, even higher than CPA's and CFP's. I think one thing studying for designations brings is the networking opportunities. You can develop your life insurance expertise a lot by meeting people outside your circle. There is so much your mentors can show you.

    As for approaching lawyers&CPA's, If I meet them at a networking event, I would usually ask them a unique question that makes them interested in me, make it memorable. I have found that lawyers/CPA's who insist on credentials are also low on personal introduction/referral skills so you won't get very far in doing business with them. They are also valuing your expertise inside of a designation box, you really want to establish yourself as an expert in your holistic planning skills. You will get higher average case size.

    If a large law firm refers you as the best CFP, expert in life insurance in your zip code, you get to bill your hourly rate, may be a little more than what google says the average CFP rate in your zip code is. You will also sell term

    If a large law firm refers as in cases like this we found your firm to be valuable, they are good at finding out what is the best approach, we referred them clients in the past and they all have been happy. Now you are an expert for that law firm, and yes you will write big cases.

    By the way, for the general public, Life Insurance expert means almost nothing, they need you only if they diagnosed with something or their divorce lawyers tells them to get it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  4. ///MJay
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    ///MJay Expert

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    DHK,

    I am currently in the midst of obtaining my ChFC and have a question for you. It may be a long shot but do you have any insight on preparation for the HS326 Planning for Retirement Needs? This course is soooo much more in depth than I anticipated and I have not put in adequate time with the material. I had a strong enough base knowledge with the other courses that it didn't require a great deal of study. This course is admittedly kicking my rear and I am scheduled to test on the 31st. Do you have any suggestions or resources that may ease the burden of grasping this material. I find the videos and the content dry and difficult to power through.


    Thank you in advance for any nuggets you could share. Your posts are always very insightful, informative and genuine. You are one of the good guys around this place, too few of them left.
     
    ///MJay, Mar 25, 2016
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  5. DHK
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    DHK "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

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    I don't have anything that'll help you THAT fast.

    However, my favorite study materials came from BigDaddy University - Home - Providing CLU, ChFC, & CASL Study Materials. Scott Wasserman, CFP, ChFC, CLU, CASL, CPA/PFS, (and I'm sure we could add EIEIO) did a FANTASTIC job of putting together some easily comprehensible DVD lectures on these courses. In fact, I'm quite sure that his Retirement planning videos were some of the best in the series!

    While he hasn't yet done the newest 2 courses yet, there's enough there to get you through most of them. I got to the point where I learned more from these lectures than I ever would from the textbook. I'm more of an audio/visual learner myself.
     
    DHK, Mar 25, 2016
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  6. ///MJay
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    ///MJay Expert

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    Yeah, I didn't do myself any favors on this one. I way underestimated the material for this course. I was expecting a deep dive into the more common plans, not the super deep dive into plans that are in many ways fading away. I have not needed supplemental guides for any of the other classes. For some reason this one is just not clicking. Especially not fast enough. I will check those resources out. Thanks
     
    ///MJay, Mar 25, 2016
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  7. DHK
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    DHK "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

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    But until then, there are 3 categories of retirement plans that Scott outlined in his videos:
    - Qualified Plans: 401(k), pension, profit sharing, etc.
    - Non-Qualfied Plans: Deferred Comp plans, etc.
    - Wannabe's: IRAs, Roth IRAs, 403(b), SEP, SIMPLE, etc.

    Scott would send you a color-coded sheet to help you with your studying and determine which plans have similar characteristics and whatnot. It's been over 8 years since I took the course myself, so I don't have that material anymore, but just knowing how to first categorize these plans helped me in a great deal. Hopefully that'll help you in a small way as well.
     
    DHK, Mar 25, 2016
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  8. BYSFG
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    BYSFG Super Genius

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    Awesome thread, been dwelling on this as well.

    @DHK, what led you to being ChFC designated rather than the other? Im still split between the three but am leaning more towards CLU.

    @Walt, I agree with DHK's 4th point. The market is so saturated with agents. It's easy to get licensed but finding someone who actually takes it a step further and looks out for the best interest of the client, for a consumer is like a diamond in the rough.
     
    BYSFG, Mar 25, 2016
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  9. scagnt83
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    scagnt83 Worldwide Expert of Everything

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    Im curious why you would recommend paying for additional study material when your already spending $4k on the study material that The American College gives you.

    Are you able to just pay for the exam with the American College and not pay for the courses? I have never seen that option on the website before if so. I know that you can take CFP courses anywhere. But the ChFC is only issued and administered by the American College (I know you know this, just saying it outloud for conversation sake). If you could just pay for the exam that would be great.
     
    scagnt83, Mar 25, 2016
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  10. DHK
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    DHK "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

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    No, you can't just pay for the exam. You get the whole course - textbook, workbook, audio CD overview, and online access to practice exams and discussion forum.

    The reason I paid for additional study material had nothing to do with the price. It had everything to do with the efficiency of learning and passing these exams. Besides, I had educational reimbursement for every course I took, so it really didn't cost ME much.

    I did all this when I was at the credit union and I worked with two advisors who both said that they "woulda shoulda coulda" finished their CFP coursework... and I was determined not to have that regret. Plus, I was the "junior broker" at the time, and I wanted to show my firm that I was worth being an advisor without a senior partner. I was good at my job, but I knew a certification would help. However, just as life changes, so did mine. I left there and went to MassMutual right before finishing my last class.

    ----------

    When I was taking these courses, I was an investment advisor at a credit union. Planning was more important than having a perceived expertise in life insurance - which I definitely didn't have much knowledge of at the time.

    I chose The American College because I could enroll for one course at a time and have my employer at the time reimburse me for each course as I passed. Most other designations were the entire package - and that CFP coursework could easily set you back $3k in a large purchase - and I didn't have that at all at the time.

    I chose ChFC over CFP because I didn't (and still don't) have a bachelor's degree. They announced the change in 2005 to be inforce in 2007, and if I studied really fast, I might've made it in time... but they only offer the comprehensive exam about 2-3 times a year. I wouldn't have been ready by then. This was before I learned more about the character of the CFP Board.
     
    DHK, Mar 25, 2016
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