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Purchasing insurance was once a rigid and unpleasant experience, usually including meeting with an agent and being sold to for the next hour without a clear understanding of what’s really needed. But now, in an effort to better serve informed consumers and differentiate their businesses, insurance brokerages are choosing to shift to a customer-centric model, which is becoming more important in order to keep customers happy. So, in this episode, Broc Buckles and Peter Ciravolo from BC Brokerage will be joining the show to share how the insurance industry is changing, how insurance overlaps with taxes, and why your practice should always have your clients’ interest first.
Listen in as Broc and Peter explain why having a good network around you and being proactive on social media are key for building a successful and sustainable insurance or financial planning career. You will learn why you should always stay in your niche and only focus on what you’re trained to do, how to ensure you have the best outcome for your clients, and how to get more referrals for your business.
Steven and his guests share more tax-planning insights in today’s Retirement Tax Services Podcast. Feedback, unusual tax-planning stories, and suggestions for future guests can be sent to email@example.com.
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We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.
Steven Jarvis: Hello everyone, and welcome to the next episode of the Retirement Tax Services Podcast, Financial Professional’s Edition. I am your host, Steven Jarvis CPA, and with me on the show today I have Broc and Peter from BC Brokerage so we can talk about all things insurance and taxes.
Guys, welcome to the show.
Broc Buckles: Thanks, man. It’s good to be here. Appreciate it. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while. I know we had to reschedule, but we’re finally all here together, which is beautiful. So, I’m glad to be here man. Thanks.
Peter Ciravolo: Looking Forward to it.
Steven Jarvis: Yeah, it’s great to have you both. I had the opportunity to meet you in person. Definitely been following your content for quite a while.
And really, the reason I wanted to have you on is because most of the time my interactions with insurance people is something to the effect of kind of like a clickbaity article or a conference session that has a title that’s something about the best tax-free income you’ve never heard of, and then just turns into this huge sales pitch that no one wants to listen to.
So, I’m really hoping that you guys are here to tell me that there is a different and better way to interact with insurance in our lives.
Broc Buckles: Yeah, I’d have to say there is Steven. We come from a background where, I’ll say, it was Northwestern Mutual and we were there for about six years. And don’t get me wrong, there were things that I learned without doubt.
But the issue is, in the insurance industry, there’s this culture of selling and upselling, and people that aren’t educated enough to be talking about concepts. And it’s a problem really from the top-down in the management level where these people are really saying that all of these peons underneath them need to go sell a bunch of whole life insurance, and one product fits everyone. And it’s a lot of horse blinders and people that don’t know any better.
So, Peter and I were really, really privileged to start BC Brokerage where we work specifically with the fee-only financial planning community to help them implement insurance in a way that makes sense for their clients and really emphasizes and focuses on planning before product, and only implementing product and insurance products when it’s necessary to the overall financial plan.
So, I like to think that we do it a little bit differently, and Peter and I make a pretty good team.
Steven Jarvis: That’s awesome. As someone trying to do something different in the tax space, I can definitely appreciate where you’re coming from.
It’s kind of fascinating at times and can be a little bit hard to break the mold because I think a lot of advisors will look at a service like yours or mine and say, “Well, everyone does it the same way, so these guys might have a different marketing pitch, but they’re probably just doing the same thing at the end of the day.”
So, I mean, what are you guys doing to make sure that what you’re offering really is different?
Peter Ciravolo: I would say first and foremost, it is important that we do follow a certain procedure, and I think that many people, they will look at us that we’re younger. So, I’ll say that some of the tools that we use, because we are younger, it provides that customer service that not many other agencies are able to provide.
One thing that we pride of ourselves is that we’re a hundred percent online, we’re a hundred percent digital. So, many agencies, they’re still stuck in the 1980s. Some, they’re not even using DocuSign, which is just mind-boggling for some of us. I mean, it’s 2022.
So, I think for one, having that customer service and having the technology in place is really a game changer. And also, just like you said, this is just a spoke in the wheel for financial planning, so we need to be consistent and make sure that we mold to the fee-only planners and how they’re servicing their clients.
Broc Buckles: Definitely. And I mean, I would add that one of the big things that we focus on is just humanizing insurance.
So many times you have these people, it’s so spammy, there’s these dead elimination platforms, and there’s infinite banking and there’s all this very salesy stuff.
And so, we’ve tried to take a step back and really give people an opportunity to implement insurance in a way that’s healthy and in a way that these fee-only planners don’t have to wonder, “Hey, are they going to upsell my clients?” “Hey, if I say that my client needs a $3 million term for 20 years, are they going to come back with an annuity and a disability policy and a whole life?”
We’ve really focused on making sure that we’re providing value by just being transparent, honest, and having a really good direct relationship with the fee-only planners we work with. So, I think that’s one of the biggest things that really sets us apart in what we’re doing.
Steven Jarvis: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Peter, I like that you talked about it being a spoke in the wheel. It’s something I reinforce all the time, that I might be the tax guy on the call, but insurance is just one piece of the overall plan.
And that’s why I like working with financial advisors because it’s good for a client to have someone in their life who is looking at all the different pieces. Because while I get really stuck in the weeds on taxes, it only makes sense if it’s in context of a larger plan.
Now, all that being said, I mean as much as I kind of joked about like some of these kinds of bait and switch kind of things with incorporating taxes in insurance, I mean there are potentially tax benefits to how insurance gets structured.
So, does that still come up in how you approach educating clients, talking to clients, talking to advisors? I mean, where is the overlap for you guys?
Peter Ciravolo: Yes. So, in regard to taxes with insurance, I mean life insurance for one, in its very general sense, I mean, insurance is when something bad happens, so a tax-free death benefit is paid out.
So, those proceeds, usually they’re there not only to fund lifestyle, college, things like that, but they can also fund trust. Whether it’s special needs, estate planning, things like that.
I will say that there are some advantages with permanent insurance plans, but you’ll hear a lot of tax advantages that yes, there are potential tax advantages there, but most of the time, it is very oversold and there are many other financial priorities that need to be checked off before even exploring those routes.
I’m not going to ever argue that there’s not tax benefits to it, but it is oversold. And usually, what we find is … and this is even for very wealthy individuals. I mean they might have debt, they might have other financial goals that are more important than having permanent death benefit or being able to take out cash value because at the end of the day, it’s still a loan. These products, they’re very complex and they’re very oversold.
So, I think that that’s one thing that Broc and I really harp on with clients and advisors is why are we purchasing this? Do we just want insurance for the sake of insurance? To transfer risk?
A lot of the tax vehicles that you hear about and stuff, it’s great marketing, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always set the client up in a good spot.
Broc Buckles: I mean, people do oversell it, the whole Roth IRA on steroids and not talking about the facts that the loan is taken from the cash value, so that costs something.
And now, with the advent of things like TikTok and Instagram reels, you have all kinds of people that are all over social media that are selling it as like this godsend end all be all product.
Whereas, in all reality, like most other financial vehicles, it can be a part of a financial plan, but by no means, do you need to go all in on it. I think that’s important to note.
Peter Ciravolo: Yeah, and I mean honestly, we only work with fee-only planners. 95%, they come in the door, they just need to term policy, and it’s just getting the right death benefit and the right length. We’re not really talking much permanent insurance with these individuals, and it’s also just not the market we really are in.
Steven Jarvis: Yeah, I like that emphasis on the actual client needs. That might seem like a really simple statement to make, but it can get lost pretty quickly in what a lot of people do. So, I love that that’s your focus.
One of the things I’d love to get some insight from you guys, I’ve seen you spend your time working with financial advisors — you aren’t financial advisors, that’s similar to myself. I’ve never been a financial advisor, I never plan to be a financial advisor.
But one of the areas that we get a lot of questions from advisors on is, well, how do I develop better relationships with CPAs? How do I find these centers of influence, these other professionals to work with and how do I build those relationships?
And so, I’m happy for you guys to take that wherever you want, things you’ve learned, but I would in particular, love to hear your thoughts on where do advisors get this collaboration wrong?
Advisors typically, see themselves as the quarterback in the relationship, and I’m fine with that. But I can think of a few things that come to mind of, it’s maybe well-intentioned, but at the end of the day, advisors could probably maybe improve a little bit how they’re coordinating some of these relationships.
Broc Buckles: Yeah, I mean, I think the overall thing is that it’s a teamwork thing. Like I’m happy to be the insurance wide receiver or tight end or running back, whatever you want to call it, because it is a part of the plan. Insurance is part of the plan. Taxes are a part of the plan.
But in terms of developing relationships and making sure that you have a good network around you, I think one of the biggest mistakes that we see advisors making is thinking that everything’s just going to come to them, rather than actually actively reaching out and trying to develop the network.
I mean, I was never afraid to pick up the phone and call somebody and build that relationship, and understand how we’re going to work together with other professionals, what are the expectations of the relationship.
So, really nailing down on the expectations and what it’s actually supposed to look like. And then, just initially reaching out and actually doing the initial introduction because so many people say, “Well, I need to have this relationship or I need to have this.” But they never go out, they never ask. They just think it’s going to come to them.
So, I think being proactive and just being present on social media as well is huge, because if you gave yourself a platform and people can see what you’re doing, inevitably, similar to kind of how we’ve met, then obviously met in person; you meet people and it just kind of happens organically at that point.
But I think in the beginning, you have to be very intentional about the relationships that you’re building.
Peter Ciravolo: Yeah, I think those are all great points. I would also add, one is really seeing where the other person’s at. Not just like, “Oh, are they seeing my stuff? Oh, they liked my post.” Like hey, who are you currently working with on your insurance, how’s that relationship? Sit back, see what they say.
If it’s a family member, okay, like there you go, there’s your answer. You can add them on your newsletter, whatever, but you’re most likely not going to be doing business with it, but you should know that ahead of time. It’s also false hopes too.
I would say that one is, is that even when you get told initially, and you expect to be told no, but keep on marketing and drip and show that one, you are an expert in your area. Two, you have the services and the systems in place to be able to fulfill it. And then the other thing is, it’s really that you’re going to do good work and that adds value.
These advisors, if we ever screw up, we burn the advisor. I mean, we’re a representation of the advisor. So, really, just being consistent and letting advisors know that.
And I would say that the one other thing that I’ve really learned just in our short career here, is really working with experts. I feel like a lot of advisors or a lot of professionals, like if I give you a couple leads or clients, you got to give me some — no.
Like work with the professionals, focus on what you’re good at, is really what we’ve learned and just stay in our niche. I mean, there’s some advisors that they come to us and it might not be a good fit or they have a different philosophy on things, but really just staying in our lane with that.
Steven Jarvis: Yeah. You guys make some really good points in there. It is kind of interesting. I know as I was kind of growing up as a CPA, I was told all the time that I should work with centers of influences to get referrals.
I’ve done whole episodes on that concept, but it’s a hard mindset to break of this kind of this idea that you see from advisors quite often that if they’re working with another professional, whether that’s a tax repairer, an insurance person, an attorney, that there’s got to be this like one for one reciprocal relationship.
But Peter, I like what you said there about working with experts. Like if your client needs a service, whether it’s insurance or tax or legal, like find people who are going to provide an incredible service to your clients.
If someday an extension of that relationship is that you happen to get referrals, great, take that as a bonus, but look for the best solution for your client, work with that expert to your point, and make sure the client’s getting the value out of it.
And if you commit to doing that, that’s where you’re going to have the best outcome for your client. You’re going to have the best outcome from your business. Whether you get referrals from that professional or just builds your reputation with your clients, you’re going to be more likely to get referrals.
But it’s got to start with, I’m doing this because it’s a value add for my client, I’m doing it because it’s the right solution for my client. Not, “Hey, I better go work with Broc and Peter because I think I’ll get X number of referrals back from him.”
Broc Buckles: If that’s your mindset, you just are not in a growth or an abundance mentality. Like you are going to get more clients by ensuring that the experience that they have with you is a good one, not by counting on other people to give you a bunch of referrals.
Because I will say like there are absolutely times where we give referrals to advisors. We find somebody that comes to us, like, “I thought you guys were financial planners?” It’s like, “No, but we work with a lot. Who are you trying to work with?”
So, it absolutely happens, but vast majority of advisors that we work with, our biggest value add is the ability to give them something that’s going to be an honest, transparent, and efficient process, and their clients are going to have a good experience, which ultimately is going to be a good reflection of who they work with and what they value.
So, I think it’s important to have the right mindset around that for sure.
Peter Ciravolo: Yeah. And I think that like when speaking with advisors and kind like how to find that channel. I mean, I’ve always been told like a five-legged stool, you got to have five different ways that you have business coming in. And typically, you’ll hear … I know some advisors, they do very well with realtors and mortgage people.
It’s a time when someone’s alive and they’re making a home purchase or a big financial decision. That might be a trigger for a financial planner referral, and having those contacts, having a possible CPA relationship, and just figuring out like where these people live and breathe.
I mean we were just talking about it before we jumped on here. Like for Broc and I, go into XY Planning Network Live, that’s phenomenal for us. We only work with fee-only planners who are usually solopreneurs, just starting their practice, also known as XYPN.
If you want to work with CPAs, being involved in associations with them, that’s where you need to go and it takes time.
I think it’s really also just that consistency. And there’s this phrase that I talk about, this other person that I network with a lot: “He who’s most present wins.” Just being present, having your name up there, just even on LinkedIn, “Wow, they’re posting a lot.” Which like, yeah, that’s just something that we do every day. But to other people, they’re not used to it.
So, just being top of mind and really just being a good marketer in that sense.
With that being said though, another good lesson, there’s an advisor one time that we went around, and it was like June or July of 2020, and we went into their office just kind of like knocking on doors almost. I mean, no one was there, it was as strange time. You could just like walk in and say hi to advisors as strange as that sounds.
And I remember talking to one advisor, we just kind of caught him like, I don’t know, he was in the middle of lunch, like eating behind his desk. And I was kind of proud and just kind of naive at the time, like, “Oh yeah, like have you seen our stuff on LinkedIn? Broc and I we’re really proud, like we’ve been putting up a lot of stuff.” He’s like, “Peter, I don’t even have LinkedIn on my phone. I don’t know the last time I checked in or logged in.”
And at that point, I was like, “Holy how, we got to make sure that this advisor’s on our newsletter. We got to make sure that we’re not just like relying on one certain way that business comes in.”
So, I know people want to preach social media, but you got to have another few ways that you get business in. Like now, people are scared about Twitter or whatever. Not that it’s going to go away, but how much harder is it to post on another platform just to make sure that you don’t have one well that you’re relying on for business.
Steven Jarvis: Yeah, that’s a great reminder there.
I know you guys are really great about putting out content for advisors. I mean, what are the top couple of things that you are finding the most … I’m trying to think of the best way to phrase this — from an education standpoint for advisors, what are those things that you wish advisors better understood about approaching/looking for insurance for their clients?
Broc Buckles: Yeah, that it’s understanding some of the basic concepts, which is really what we try to do. We try to put things that are digestible, easy to understand, very easily consumed content that does a good job of kind of giving a snapshot of things that can be really complex.
So, there’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to talking about disability insurance. But if we can consistently put out content and somebody can learn one or two things every time that we put out a piece of content, then all of a sudden, it’s a few months later and they know more about disability than they ever thought they would, just from little digestible consumable pieces over time.
Versus the long format kind of blogging, which I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Some people do like that, but for some people, when they open that up, they’re immediately going to be turned off by it and they’re not going to read past paragraph one.
So, in terms of educating advisors and staying relevant, I think it’s all about making sure that your content is digestible and easily consumed by people. And it’s going to be enjoyable to read. And if they can live with one or two things out of it to implement in their practice immediately and their conversations with clients, then that’s a win.
I would say the other thing is don’t just focus on the education stuff. Like you’ve done some posts about the fact that you do races, like show people that you’re a human because nobody wants to work with a robot.
And there’s way too many people on LinkedIn that if you didn’t know any better, you’d be like, “Yeah, these people are robots” because it’s all the very canned content. So, I would say stay away from that as well.
Peter Ciravolo: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. And I think it’s something that you brought up in the very beginning of the conversation too, Steven, is like how are you making yourself different from a service that’s such a commodity?
I mean, you can get credential through us, you can get credential through a lot of different people, and frankly, the price is the same no matter what. So, it’s like how do you really differentiate? And for us, it’s really just been being personable.
Hey, you know what, when we send a client over there, a client feels right, they feel heard or listened. I mean, these are sensitive topics. Like we sit here all day … and I’m guilty of it. I sit behind my CRM all day looking at numbers, “Okay, we got to get this moved over, great. Are we hitting numbers?”
But we’re doing insurance, life insurance. I mean, death and taxes, nobody likes talking about it. It can be very sensitive. Someone could have had a very bad experience in the past. We talked to a husband, wife, couples, people are just getting married and sometimes, they’ve had these conversations, sometimes they haven’t. Sometimes they’ve been good conversations, sometimes they’ve been very bad.
So, there’s also just really like getting to know the client and really simplifying things is really what it is with insurance and having that peace of mind because that’s what we’re selling at the end of the day. It’s peace of mind.
Steven Jarvis: Yeah, I love that reminder about the peace of mind. We like to talk about the dishwasher rule, which is that you only get credit for doing the dishes if your significant other knows you’ve done them.
And definitely with taxes, I’m sure with insurance as well, there are things that are included in the evaluation process that you need to be letting your clients know that you are a part of so that it’s not just here’s the end product, off you go. Like people want that peace of mind of understanding that their goals have been met, that what they’re trying to accomplish has been addressed.
I’m really enjoying this. We’re kind of going off on this side of how you present content to people. And so, for advisors listening, go back through this episode. If you have a newsletter for clients, if you send emails to clients, if you’re posting on social media — there’s a lot of great things in here of ideas of things that you can be sharing with your clients of how to share it, of how to approach this content because recent example that comes to mind, to your point about not just doing canned content, that’s really not enough.
When the IRS published the tax brackets for 2023 and the contribution limits for 2023, geez, the number of posts I saw — the whole post was, “And now, the contribution limit is X.” And I’m sure you guys have examples that are similar on the insurance side.
If all you’re doing is giving your potential audience or your clients a data point, you haven’t really added any value to them, tell them a story. Share pain, share how that pain can be overcome, tie it to your own personal life.
People want to work with people. And you being the 718th advisor who has said, “Oh, by the way, you can now contribute more to your IRA next year, that doesn’t do any good at all.” So, definitely some good things to keep in mind here as you go back through this conversation that we’re having.
That’s an example on the tax side. What’s something on the insurance side that definitely is right at the top of the list of canned content that’s not going to resonate with anyone?
Broc Buckles: Oh man, like the same old dividend rate conversation where like, people are posting from big Fortune 500 corporations.
Once again, blank mutual has the best dividend in the industry. It’s like okay, how is that relevant to me? Or people always want to talk about like, “Have you thought about protecting your family?” Like it’s all the crap that you see on like Super Bowl commercials or during NFL Sunday … we want to stay away from that stuff.
Like the biggest thing is I think to stay away from are just the canned messaging where the only content that you ever see individuals posts are like the approved content from the top down. And every single advisor that works for that particular company only posts that same content.
So, I mean, that’s just a lot of what you’re kind of going to see on the insurance side. I mean, especially with the type of companies.
Peter Ciravolo: Yeah, I guess that’s on the bad side. I’d say like some good examples of how to maybe write good content, one is just to tie it like one, be original with it. Maybe have a picture of you, your family in it, be like, “Hey, this is a conversation no one likes having, but we all know it needs to be done. Make sure that you review it.”
Posts like that that we’ve seen where people have their family, they’re like, “Hey, this isn’t fun, I didn’t want to look at it either, but at least I know that my family’s taken care of.” I think having that peace of mind.
But otherwise, yeah, I mean, almost stay away from the insurance content. It can be very boring, dingy. Like I mean it’s just kind of a necessary evil. And I think that’s really what resonates with advisors when we work with them, is we get it. We’re not going to sit here trying to sell you a turbocharged 5,000 Roth eliminator, whatever you want to call it.
Like when you start having all these labels and tangibles, I mean, that’s not what it is. That’s snake oil.
Broc Buckles: Be a human. At the end of the day, be a human. I mean that’s what’s really important. And anything outside of that, it’s like share your knowledge, but be a human. Don’t be someone that just … and don’t be like the up salesy, talking bad about everybody else. Nobody likes that either. I mean, differentiate yourself, but do it in a good way.
Peter Ciravolo: Don’t be posting illustrations, guaranteed rates. I mean, I see some people posting about IUL and premium finance and all these things. I mean, they’re such complicated and you’re talking to such a small market, who even needs it that it’s just a waste of everyone’s time.
Steven Jarvis: Well, I mean I certainly appreciate your guys’ insight and perspective on all this, this is all really helpful conversation, not one we touch on a lot. So, appreciate your time on this.
We always like to make sure that we’re taking information, making it valuable for people, which for us, that means turning it into action.
So, to make this a little specific for what our advisors listening can do as they walk away from this, you guys have touched on it. Insurance is a necessary part of any client’s life and it can look different than maybe it typically has in our industry.
So, whether an advisor is a good fit for you guys, is working with you or is working with another insurance provider, as an action item, give us some things that should be on their list of questions that advisors are asking an insurance provider to know that they’re going to get a quality service from for their clients.
Broc Buckles: Well, first of all, how many companies do you work with? Do you work with A-rated carriers? Do you work with companies that have solvency issues and have been bought a million times?
And then overall, ask them, what is your process in working with people? How are you going to work with my clients? What is my client’s experience going to look like from start to finish when they work with you? What makes you different than XYZ insurance broker
And understand that there’s a lot of great insurance brokers out there and it really comes down to who do you mesh with well? Who can you actually have a good positive longstanding relationship with that you know is going to take good care of your clients?
But as long as you’re covering those parameters, I mean, everybody has the same access to the same products for the most part out here. So, it really has to do with customer service, being detail-oriented in the type of value that you want to provide to your client, I would say.
Steven Jarvis: Awesome. Broc, really appreciate that. For our listeners, if anybody’s looking to follow up specifically with you guys, I mean, what’s the best way to get connected with BC Brokerage?
Peter Ciravolo: Yeah, best way, check us out on our website bc-brokerage.com. Broc and I are both very active under our names on LinkedIn and also, on Twitter. We’re pretty active on Twitter and the Fintwit community over there, so maybe that’s one other little titbit.
If you’re not on Twitter, if you’re an advisor or you’re in the B2B marketplace, it’s a great community over there.
Steven Jarvis: Awesome. Thanks for that.
Guys, really appreciate you being here. Really appreciate everyone listening this week. Until next time, good luck out there. And remember to tip your server, not the IRS.
We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.
The information on this site is for education only and should not be considered tax advice. Retirement Tax Services is not affiliated with Shilanski & Associates, Jarvis Financial Services or any other financial services firms.