In EBA’s first interview with authors Glen Shelton and Justin Bilyj, co-writers of the book, “How to Qualify, Present & Sell Final Expense and Medicare Supplements to Seniors,” they explained how advisers can expand their business into the retiree market.

In the second half of our interview, Shelton and Bilyj continue the conversation by explaining how brokers can maintain their clients past retirement; expand the methods of retirement saving for clients and how brokerage owners can use this knowledge to bring younger talent in to replace those who are retiring. What follows is an edited transcript of the conversation.


EBA: Many advisers focus on HSAs and 401(k) investment. Is there a savings mechanism that is being overlooked by advisers?

Glen Shelton: Baby boomers nearing retirement age are going to want something that’s very safe. Annuities, as much as they’ve gotten a bad rep over the years, can be a great option — something like an indexed annuity where they can take advantage of stock market growth, but also have a guarantee on the floor so they can’t lose money. There’s also fixed annuities, if the index is still too much of a risk variance for a client to stomach.

Bloomberg/file photo

There are also cash value life insurance policies such as an index universal life, which grow similarly to how an indexed annuity grows — by taking part in the gains of an index without the risks. This method or mechanism isn’t for everyone, but for those that can afford the premiums, have the health to qualify and understand the risks; it can be a great option to kill two birds with one stone — insuring your family while saving money for retirement.

Justin Bilyj: I would say advisers still aren’t focused enough on HSAs. These plans are the magical pill for many retirees because it’s the only product that lets you deduct contributions while funds grow tax deferred. Over $2,500 in combined HSA savings qualifies many people to open an investment account with the funds that can earn higher returns; tax deferred like an IRA, and then is used tax-free for qualified medical expenses and long-term care premiums. I don’t know if employee benefit advisers are pointing out those benefits, but that, combined with the additional increased contribution and age limits taking place in congress, makes the HSA an even more critical tool for retirees.

Considering that the average 65-year-old couple has $250,000 in savings and will spend $250,000 on Medicare premiums, according to AARP, and $130,000 each in long term care expenses, being able to have funds build tax deferred and come out tax-free to pay for these bills is amazing.

EBA: How can advisers diversify their services for soon-to-be retirees?

Bilyj: Advisers can diversify their services by first getting educated on the options offered by your company(s) and within your area. An easy way to find out all the Medicare options available to someone is to go to the Medicare.gov website, input the zip code and other details, and it will give you a list of options to compare.

After advisers understand the confusing Medicare landscape, they can officially start helping retirees cross that moat of fear and confusion by having some one-on-ones to discuss their needs, or sending some informational brochures to employees who are coming up on retirement. Even sending an email with the “Medicare and You” guidebook can be extremely helpful.

EBA: How can advisers and brokers keep clients on the books after retirement?

Shelton: Employee benefit advisers have a huge opportunity to diversify into life, health and financial services for their clients. The book Justin and I wrote is a great introduction to someone who might not understand how some of these life insurance policies or health policies — namely, final expense and Medicare supplements — work for baby boomers.

Instead of just handling employee benefits, advisers can diversify by also offering some of these services to help clients transition into retirement. Why spend money chasing new leads when you can sell to your existing clients as they start to age into retirement, Medicare and other insurance needs?

I’m a huge fan of cross-marketing to your existing clients for a host of reasons — not just lowering customer acquisition costs but increasing referrals and staying at the front of your clients’ minds.

EBA: The average age for an employee adviser is around 50. How can advisers make the industry more appealing to the younger generation as they’re facing this challenge?

Bilyj: That is the crux of the challenge that our book discusses: We cite a statistic that one-quarter of the insurance workforce will retire by next year, which is leaving a gap that millennials aren’t jumping to fill.

The topic doesn’t entertain the younger generation, and they don’t like the idea of cold calling or door knocking to make sales. Because so much experience is leaving the industry as these older agents retire, the knowledge transfer just isn’t happening. So, new agents who do enter the field have trouble finding training. As a result, 90% of agents burn out before they make it a full year in the insurance industry because they don’t know how to build a business and make a living.

Offering more training about prospecting and sales in this industry is a must. Most companies offer too much product emphasis and not enough process emphasis. This forces advisers and agents to scramble trying to piece together not only a marketing process but a sales process, too.

This is what really prompted us to write the book and create a more accessible training guide to selling insurance than what most agents and advisers have access to.

Also for a generation that lives on the Internet, I think there needs to be a shift in how advisers prospect. Agents need to start focusing more on ways to generate business online either via social media like LinkedIn or using inbound content methods to get found locally.

Shelton: Educating aspiring agents about the process is really important. There’s a huge lack of material that explains how commission structures work, how the policies work and how the marketing works. If there’s nothing out there that explains how this works and why it’s important, why would anyone jump into it, right?

That was our goal with the book is that, just by getting that information out there, it provides a training guide to help new agents start selling insurance equipped with some best practices and advice about the process, instead of just jumping in blind like most agents have to do now because the training is really lacking.

By doing that, we’re also showing young agents that, “Hey, this is a viable career option, and these are the things this career could do for you, and some of the monetary value that you can get from working in this industry.”

For me, the main reason I got into this industry was so I could be able to manage my own schedule, and that’s more important to me than any monetary value. Being able to curate my own schedule and work 10 hours a week or 60 hours a week, based on my needs and my family’s needs that week, is pretty much priceless to me.

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