The Drive to Help

October 22nd, 2014, No Comments, be the first ».

Wise is grateful for a career that lets him use his skills and talents to help others.

BY STEVE GUGLIELMO

For Mark Wise, CLU, ChFC, perspective is everything. When he was preparing to start his freshman year at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, he was feeling upset and anxious about the student loan debt he was accruing. However, as he walked into his dorm on the first day of his freshman year, he was hit with a huge dose of perspective.

“About 80 percent of the students in my dorm, including my roommate and next-door neighbor, were disabled,” says Wise. “I had been feeling pretty down about my situation, but it made me realize how lucky I truly am. I can breathe. I can put my clothes on in the morning. I really am blessed.”

Wise’s next-door neighbor at Ball State had cerebral palsy, and Wise spent the next four years caring for him. Those four years sparked a desire in him to help others, which ultimately led to his career in financial services. “I went from being in tons of debt, not thinking about anything beyond myself, to a career that allows me to use my skills and talents to help others,” he says.

A rocky start

Upon graduation, Wise was recruited to join Northwestern Mutual. Like many people in the early stages of their career, he struggled in the beginning. “It was July 1999 when I started on this career path, and I wasn’t having tons of success,” he remembers. “Then I went to our annual meeting in Milwaukee and was truly inspired. I remember coming home determined to schedule 20 appointments for the following week. I spent all day on the phone scheduling appointments, and finally ended up with 17.”

He set out Monday morning for his first appointment, an 8 a.m. meeting an hour and a half away from home. The client stood him up. Undeterred, he went to the second meeting. Then the third, and the fourth. All with the same results.

“My last appointment was at 8 p.m. an hour from home,” Wise says. “I go up and start knocking on the door. No answer. So I wait a couple minutes and knock again. And again, no answer. On the drive home that night, I decided that I was going to quit the business. It was awful.”

However, when he was at his lowest and considering quitting the business, he put his struggles in perspective. “I remembered that commitment I had made to help others,” he says. “And more importantly, I remembered that first day of college and seeing all of those disabled students. I said to myself, ‘You’ve been blessed with a lot of gifts and talent and you aren’t going to quit. You’re going to give it everything you’ve got and take advantage of the opportunities that you have been afforded.’”

That decision to not give up was the best decision he ever made. That week, he went on to keep 15 appointments and kick-start what has been a wildly successful career. “I willed myself to make it happen. That was the driver that really got me going.”

Finding success

In the 14 years since Wise nearly left the business, he has built his practice, part of Northwestern Mutual, into one of Indiana’s premier wealth-management services. Wise is a 10-year MDRT member, a 5-year MDRT Top of the Table winner, a Northwestern Mutual Most VAluable Producer (MVP) from 2006-2009 and 2013’s Northwestern Mutual Financial Security Award winner.

“My practice is more than just Mark Wise,” he says. “I have an incredible team. We take a very integrated, comprehensive approach to wealth management. We provide a multitude of financial services and solutions to a wide demographic of individuals in various life stages, to help them in their quest for financial securities.”

Despite his rise to success, the 37-year-old is still very involved in community service. He has been involved in a non-profit organization called Timmy Global Health for 10 years and currently serves as chairman of the board for the foundation. Wise is also extremely active in the United Way of Central Indiana, the Quest for Excellence, CHAMP Camp, and many other charitable organizations.

“I’ve always tried to get involved in organizations I believe in,” he says. “I see our organization as a whole getting more involved with community involvement. It’s our responsibility to give back to those who haven’t been given the same opportunities that we have.”

Wise has been a member of NAIFA-Indianapolis since 2002 and was named the 2012 Board of Selection Associate of the Year. This year, he serves as the chairman of the board of Selection Associate of the year.

“As a part of the financial-services industry, I don’t even think twice about being a NAIFA member,” Wise says. “It’s something you have to do if you want to be successful. I think everybody should be a member, and I feel very strongly about that. It’s a great networking opportunity and a great benchmarking opportunity.” Wise advises new agents to find a mentor and join a study group. “Find people who will hold you accountable to the goals that you have set. Discussing your issues with other llke-minded professionals can help ease that learning curve, which feels almost vertical at times,” he says.

Employers Interested in Offering Voluntary Benefits

October 21st, 2014, No Comments, be the first ».

A new LIMRA study finds that 7 in 10 employers offer voluntary benefits to improve the morale of their existing employees and attract and retain new talent.

“As the economy and the job market improve, employers are finding it more challenging to attract and retain key personnel,” said Ron Neyer, MBA, CLU, ChFC, assistant research director, LIMRA Distribution Research. “LIMRA found employers choosing to offer voluntary benefits to supplement their existing benefits package without adding to their bottom line.”

According to LIMRA voluntary benefits sales research, the voluntary market has grown in four of the past five years, averaging five percent annual gain. “Increasing medical benefits costs and the need to do more with less has made voluntary benefits an attractive option for employers,” noted Neyer.

Employers are generally happy with their voluntary benefits advisors. Six in ten feel that agents/brokers/consultants usually or always deliver on their voluntary benefit promises. Only eight percent feel that advisors rarely or never live up to their promises.
Advisor satisfaction ranks the highest at companies with 20 to 99 employees.

Post-sale support is very important to employers, the study notes. Employers prefer that their workforce receives voluntary benefits communication and service through established channels like call centers (80 percent), personalized employee statements (61 percent) and informational materials distributed at work (53 percent). Approximately half of employers consider pre-enrollment email messages to be important. Employers also consider email support even more crucial after the sale, and feel similarly about online service capabilities.

The study also uncovered how employers view mobile technology in relation to employee communication. Nearly one in four employers feel that mobile technology is very important for voluntary benefit enrollments – 38 percent say mobile access to plan information is critical after the sale. In addition, almost half (49 percent) believe post-sales live web-based support (i.e. web chat) is valuable.

“As more Millennials enter the work force, the demand for online and mobile access to their benefits will increase. Companies that stay current on these communication strategies are likely to have a competitive edge in this growing market,” Neyer said.

LIMRA surveyed 1,321 employee benefits decision makers in private firms with 10 or more employees in May and June of this year. These included 925 employers that currently offer one or more voluntary products and 396 firms that do not offer any benefit options that are 100 percent employee-paid.

For more information, visit LIMRA at www.limra.com.

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By Ayo Mseka
Editor-In-Chief

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