Learn From the Masters!

An Interview with Lorin McMurray, EVP and Program Manager of Guaranty Associates, Recipient of the 2005 Award of Excellence (Regional Bank Program) at the Bank Insurance and Securities Association’s 2006 National Conference.

LicensedBanker.com:  Tell us about your parent bank’s size and geography.
Lorin McMurray:  Guaranty operates 150 branches in Texas and California.  Assets are around $17 Billion, and deposits around $9 Billion.  Our average branch size is around $65 million in deposits.

LB:  You have a somewhat unique organizational structure in your investment program.  Tell us more about it.
LM:  We made a decision 17 years ago to run our program using only licensed bank employees, and today we have of team of over 300 Licensed Personal Bankers who are really doing a fantastic job both for us and for our customers.  Of the 320 PBs, about 200 have both Series 6/63 and insurance licenses, and the rest are insurance-licensed only.  As these insurance-only PBs demonstrate their abilities, they are encouraged to “graduate” to the next level of license.

LB:  Why don’t you use dedicated Financial Consultants in addition to your PBs?  That seems to be the model in most bank programs.
LM:  Our goal as a business is to a “low cost, low risk provider of financial products and services” to our customers.  We feel that our PBs are well equipped and trained to offer a menu of quality investment and insurance products, perhaps a somewhat smaller menu than at “dedicated” programs, but a menu that meets the needs of almost all of our customers very well.  In addition, the PB distribution model results in a substantially higher profit margin for our company, due to the efficiencies of “multi-tasking” bank employees.  Finally, I subscribe to the saying that “to catch more fish, you need to put more lines in the water”, and our PB model offers the efficiency of scale that allows us to effectively provide great coverage for all of our branches. Read the entire interview.

17 Marketing Ideas to Reconsider

By Patti Branco
March 1, 2006

Listen to an interview with Patti here.

If the same old thing isn't bringing in results, maybe it's time to vary your strategy. Advisors use a variety of ways to get themselves in front of some new prospects.

If the market uncertainty has you paralyzed with procrastination, shake off your indecision by doing something different. While others stare at their computer screens and whine about not getting enough referrals, you can get busy! Try some of these proven, and unusual, ways to promote your services after making sure your planned activity is in sync with your marketing and compliance folks!

  1. Become a teacher. Give back to your community and get a captive audience at the same time. Apply to your local college or adult school and offer to teach a class on investing. They are always looking for new talent, you don't have to be a professor, and you will find that people who attend a class on how to invest usually have the funds to do so!
  2. Affinity markets. Do you have a favorite hobby like golf, fishing, sailing or skydiving? Do you have expertise in a former industry where you once worked? Those should be your first targets! Look into every aspect of their interests and affiliate yourself with relevant associations, read their magazines, know their pain, become the "niche" expert.
  3. Write articles. Get some press and credibility by submitting articles to your local paper. Don't think you are the best writer? Write a draft and have it edited by a local copy editor. It is a well-kept secret that local newspapers are usually in need of articles, particularly in these difficult times, and will welcome a submission from a local investment expert. Read the entire article.

Turn On Branch Referrals

Ask staff “Why is it important that we make referrals?”
It’s good for
• Client- benefits by learning about other product options
• Financial Center— increases client cross-sell ratio
• Bank— improves client retention and client loyalty
Briefly present a simple definition of a fixed annuity, Do NOT go into any product
Say: “I want to provide some information about the fixed annuity products I sell. It
is important to remember than non-licensed bank employees cannot discuss fixed annuity products or features with clients.”
Read the entire article.

Licensed Personal Banker
Program Maturity Analysis

Sales Quality Group has been conducting mystery shopping studies of broker-only, licensed branch employee and hybrid investment sales programs since 1994.  Sales Quality Group's research illuminates both the strengths and weaknesses of selling investment and insurance products through licensed platform bankers.

Sales Quality Group's shoppers, posing as investment prospects, check for three kinds of compliance behaviors – the disclosure of investment risk, product knowledge, and the suitability of the investment recommendation.  In 33 mystery shopping studies of brokers and licensed bankers conducted since 1999, the licensed branch employees did not perform as well as the full-time brokers, but the performance gap was relatively small.  Where the bankers came up quite short was in needs assessment – profiling the customer for prior investment experience, investment objectives, other liquid assets, etc. – the building blocks of a suitable investment recommendation. Read the entire article.

Management and Supervision Strategies for Bank Platform Investment Programs

By Bruce Stava
President:  LicensedBanker.com

With the explosive growth in the past few years of platform investment programs, banks and their broker/dealer subsidiaries have grappled with various strategies for sales management and supervision of the of the investment activities of bank employees.  Platform programs fall under 2 general categories: insurance-licensed bankers who are able to sell fixed annuities and some life insurance products, and insurance- and-NASD-licensed bankers who can also sell variable life products and mutual funds.  The technical aspect of supervising these reps differs due to NASD licensing requirements, however the philosophical component of the strategies overlap.  At the core of the debate is the question of whether the traditional management/supervisory structure used to manage the company’s “dedicated” Financial Consultants is the best and most appropriate way to manage licensed bank employees who only spend part of their time engaged in investment sales.  In this article I will summarize the 3 primary models of platform program management, including benefits and disadvantages of each, and hopefully will provide some guidance to banks who entering the platform investment arena. Read the entire article.

The Value in Building Relationships

By Greg Salsbury
Institutional Marketing Group

Jackson National®'s Institutional Marketing Group (IMG) is proud of the successful partnerships we have established with financial institutions over the past 10 years. Our track record in the industry is in large part a direct result of the talent and dedication of our wholesaling team and the personalized service and support they provide. We arm our wholesalers with the sales training and educational programs that will help your representatives meet the challenges they are facing in today's changing environment. Financial institutions are IMG's only focus and as a result, we are consistently focused on one goal – to help financial institutions grow their businesses through financial product sales. Read the entire article.

The Role of the Licensed Banker—Sales, Referrals or Both?

By Bruce Stava
President:  LicensedBanker.com

As hybrid bank investment programs become more common, utilizing a blended sales force of dedicated bank brokers combined with licensed bankers, management continues to grapple with the question of who sells what to whom.  As such programs evolve from the previous dedicated-only model, where the branch’s broker (when available) was responsible for all investment sales to branch customers, regardless of size or complexity of the trade, to a more diversified approach  including Licensed Bankers, conflicts regarding “ownership” of trades are to some degree inevitable.  It is critical for senior management to devise strategies and tactics that ensure that customer needs are being met, in a manner that is both profitable to the company and also keeps the Compliance Department comfortable!  For the purpose of this article, I am focusing on programs that provide their platform reps with both insurance and NASD licenses.  In a following article we will look at how to integrate an insurance-only platform most effectively. Read the entire article.

Bruce Stava is the President of LicensedBanker.com, the first website dedicated exclusively to providing Jobs, Tools and Resources to Platform Investment Representatives and Management.  Bruce can be contacted directly at (562) 438-5591, or by email at  bruce@licensedbanker.com

Relationships, Revenue and Reality

by Deborah Bernot and Patti Branco

April 2005

Are you finally ready to consider an investment program in your bank or credit union' Do you have an existing financial institution investment program that needs a tune up, or is ready to be taken to the next level'

If you answered ‘no’ you may be sending your business down the street. Today investments can be purchased at almost every bank or credit union, most insurance agents and even tax preparation firms like H&R block.

Recent studies show that over 60% of Americans have some form of investment-so isn’t it time to make sure you are offering alternative investments as a core product'

The fear of disintermediation has been replaced by savvy and talented registered reps who can actually help you increase your deposits.

Sales is no longer a dirty word because ‘selling’ is the primary tool needed to expand your relationships with your customers, thereby reducing the possibility of household erosion as they head to the competition. Read the entire article.

Deborah Bernot is former President of Cal Fed Investments, who successfully managed an investment and insurance program of over 1,200 licensed representatives. Patti Branco has a 20 year track record of sales and program management. Deborah and Patti have joined forces to create EX Consultants, an association designed to provide banks and credit unions with the benefit of their combined experience.

Deborah Bernot (916) 698-0055 DebBernot@aol.com
Patti Branco (805) 671-9998 or PatBranco@aol.com

Leading the Way to an Integrated Investment Program

by Deborah Bernot & Patti Branco

July 2005

As the Captain Guides the Ship, the Leader Sets the Tone for the Future.

The rank and file is the foundation of your institution. Like hungry birds in a nest, they await every morsel. The rank and file-far removed from the boardroom and strategic decision making, seek morsels of information about what is important and what is not, and they respond accordingly.

With the nod of the head or a rolling of the eyes the chief executive officer can convey whether or not investments or any other initiatives are important to the whole picture. With a public thank you or a pat on the back for an accomplishment-the CEO sends the message that THAT was an important victory. Read the entire article.

Deborah Bernot is former President of Cal Fed Investments, who successfully managed an investment and insurance program of over 1,200 licensed representatives. Patti Branco has a 20 year track record of sales and program management. Deborah and Patti have joined forces to create EX Consultants, an association designed to provide banks and credit unions with the benefit of their combined experience.

Deborah Bernot (916) 698-0055 DebBernot@aol.com
Patti Branco (805) 671-9998 or PatBranco@aol.com

Starting With The Right People

As a training firm we are successful when our client’s Licensed Bankers are successful, so identifying the best candidates is an integral part of a Platform InFusion‘, the platform program implementation system employed by Clarke Financial Group, Inc.

If the primary indicator of success in a platform program is in choosing the right people…Then what does the right Licensed Banker look like' Historically many banks have used a “set of the pants” method of identifying candidates for the LB position. We have taken demonstrated success traits and used them to create a model to analyze prospective LB candidates. Read the entire article.

Clarke Financial Group, Inc. is a training, marketing and consulting firm that partners with Banks, Credit Unions and Insurers. To learn more about Platform InFusionä, the platform program integration and implementation system that increases productivity and efficiency, contact Donna Gervig, EVP, Platform Programs at (800)661-0636 or dgervig@cfgroup.com.  

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