Monday, 24 June 2013

Pros and Cons of Dual Licensing: Toronto Managing General Agent Weighs In

As an insurance advisor, you have to be on your toes to remain competitive. Where to work and who to work with is probably the most important as this will often dictate your own level of success.

The financial industry is tightly woven and mortgage agents and brokers, insurance advisors, financial professionals, realtors and other financial professionals often travel in the same circles, enjoying the same clients. For example, someone who is purchasing a home will need a realtor, a mortgage agent, and insurance advisor and even a financial planner to make their financial dreams a reality.

This leads many professionals to pursue dual licensing in order to retain a bigger piece of the “market” pie. It can be difficult to decide if dual licensing is right for you, so we’ve decided to weigh in and give you some of the pros and cons to dual licensing from the perspective of a managing general agent.

Dual licensing, or having both an insurance license and another license, gives you an opportunity to sell more products and increase your customer retention because your clients will come to rely on you for more.  Here are some examples: a mortgage agent can also be a realtor, an insurance advisor can also be a mortgage broker, a mutual fund advisor can also be an insurance advisor, etc…

Arguably the biggest pro that comes with dual licensing is your versatility. When is it ever a bad thing to be able to offer your clients a plethora of products to suit both their insurance and investing needs? In order for your own portfolio to grow, you want to be able to offer clients the most services and products. At the same time, if a client comes to you with a question, it is always better to be able to answer it yourself rather than having to turn to someone else and wait for the answer. Dual licensing offers this stability, since your training and experience will allow you to serve clients with a much larger suite of services coupled with the ability to explain all of these services and their benefits.

All of this being said, a common ‘con’ is the fact that some claim that the somewhat tenuous regulatory system for dual licensed advisors fails to protect clients. When there are too many things going on at once it becomes difficult to keep track and be on top of your game. Some feel that you can’t be all things to all people. In order to take advantage of dual licensing while at the same time soothing your clients’ concerns, consider working with a managing general agent that is committed to monitoring and regulating dual licensees. This also works to ease your mind because not only are your clients protected, but so are you. So, if you are a mortgage broker for example (as a core business), a good managing general agent will keep you up to date and in the loop with respect to professional development and this includes ensuring that you are aware of the most cutting edge insurance products and changes with respect to regulations.

Dual licensing is not for everyone, but if you are seriously thinking about it and would like more information, please contact Independent Financial Concepts Group by calling 416-849-1653 or visit

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

How to Use Social Media Effectively: Everything an Advisor Needs to Know

Social media is an essential tool in the insurance industry, and as a result your managing general agency should use it to its full potential. If they are not, chances are there are others out there that are. But just taking advantage of it and using it effectively are two different things – so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help ensure that you are getting the most from this cost-saving, client engaging, mass marketing resource.

Firstly, if your MGA isn’t on social media, they are missing a huge market to establish recognition of the brand which impacts your online credibility as you are trying to land new business under that brand. If the company you work with can’t be found online, and we don’t just mean your company website, your credibility can take a nosedive. Clients now rely heavily on social media when making purchasing decisions and the influence of those in their social networks.  In our social world, clients like to search on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to see what others are saying – so you have to make sure that they can find you there.

But just having a presence doesn’t cut it anymore, and in order to be effective there are a number of tasks that need to be accomplished. Your MGA should be releasing unique and relevant content on a regular basis, to a number of different sites.

Having a well-rounded presence on major sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc. is very important. Most people prefer a particular site or two, so if your MGA has not cast a wide net, recognition of the brand will be diminished.

LinkedIn is an important social media resource that insurance advisors should take advantage of. This professional platform allows you to connect with professionals in related industries which can result in a gold mine of referral business. LinkedIn is also fantastic for establishing your own credibility. Properly linking your page to your corporate brand, pursuing recommendations and skills endorsements can not only ensure that prospects can find you LinkedIn but can also validate your professional credibility.

Also, your MGA’s conduct on social media and your personal conduct when using social media is very important. Remember that both you and your MGA should ensure that your conduct is professional and non-combative. It is always to consider that posting is similar to standing on the street and shouting out the information. Think before you post. Is what you are posting something that you would verbalize if you were face to face with someone? If your MGA is posting polarizing opinion pieces on social media this could not only be damaging to you but also damaging to the brand you are representing.

Internally, social media is also a great tool. The independence garnered by working with an MGA can come with pitfalls if your MGA doesn’t manage them correctly, but by giving you access to different company social media platforms you can keep up to date on current events within the company and direct clients to pertinent articles. This keeps the level of engagement up even when you are not in the office.

The power of social media can no longer be ignored, and to avoid it can mean dangerous consequences. Make sure that, as an advisor, you are taking advantage of all that it has to offer and using it effectively.

To find out more about how to use social media effectively in the insurance industry, please contact Independent Financial Concepts Group by calling 416-849-1653 or visit

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Segregated Funds 101: Segregated Funds vs. Mutual Funds

Investing your money always comes with a sense of worry no matter how experienced you are. If you have no experience, that worry gets exponentially greater. A great way to ease the anxiety over investing is to gain a deeper understanding of the different types of investments. Right now, segregated funds are growing in popularity thanks to their many benefits, but some consumers find themselves wondering what are the difference between segregated funds and mutual funds? Here we undertake to explain the differences so that you can go forth into the “investment sunset” with your head held high.

What are segregated funds and mutual funds? Segregated funds are investments held with an insurance contract, kept entirely separate from the assets of the insurance company. A mutual fund is an investment that a group of people pool money into, hiring a manager who invests the money in various stocks, bonds or other securities. Both are professionally managed.

There are several differences between segregated funds and mutual funds. Firstly, segregated funds are sold solely by life insurance companies. You have many of the same choices with a segregated fund as you would with a mutual fund, including bond funds, equity funds and balanced funds.

One major difference between segregated funds and mutual funds is the fact that segregated funds have a maturity date – mutual funds do not. The benefits of a maturity date, be it 15 years for example, is that if you hold the fund until that date, you are guaranteed to get money back. Although the amount varies depending on how the fund performs, although unlikely - unlike mutual funds you don’t stand to potentially lose everything that you invest.

Another fundamental difference between segregated funds and mutual funds is the guaranteed death benefit. Whereas with a mutual fund the estate or beneficiary will receive the market value of the fund only – there are no guaranteed minimums – a segregated fund pays a guaranteed amount to your beneficiary. This means that there is a guaranteed benefit upon your death no matter what the market value is.

A third difference with segregated funds is that upon your death, the benefits are paid directly to your beneficiary, rather than becoming an asset of the estate, which is the case with mutual funds. This also means that typically a segregated fund is protected from creditors, whereas a mutual fund is not. There’s also the possibility that they are private in a segregated fund.

Remember: segregated funds take some of the risk out of investing, so if you are thinking about investing but are unsure which path to take, consider segregated funds. Talk to an advisor about your goals for the future and to get an even better understanding of how segregated funds could be the answer to your investment plans.

For more information about segregated funds vs. mutual funds or to find out more about smart investing tips, please contact Independent Financial Concepts Group by calling 416-849-1653 or visit






Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Personal Insurance Focus: Is Whole Life Insurance the Way to Go?

When it comes to personal insurance, many Torontonians are unsure about what to look for in an insurance policy. Many people are not exactly sure what to expect when searching out policies, or what the difference between policies are. For most people, term life insurance is the type of insurance that most comes to mind – but there are many others that are important to consider as well. One type which is highly advantageous is whole life insurance.

There are many benefits to whole life insurance. If you are thinking about going this route, here are some important things to consider:

Whole life insurance is permanent. When you pay your premiums, your policy continues on, guaranteed – it does not expire. This means that you are protected for your entire life. Unlike term life insurance, which protects you for a term decided upon at the time that the policy is put in place, you don’t need to renegotiate or alter your plan once that agreed upon period comes to an end. You also don’t need to worry about the policy ending and you not being covered.

Whole life insurance premiums won’t increase. When you decide on a policy that meets your needs and the policies are set, these are the same premiums that exist for the entire policy, unlike with a term life policy where premiums increase as you age or if your health deteriorates. When an initial term life insurance policy ends, and you renegotiate, those premiums will be higher because the risks to the insurance company are higher. In a way, this means that you are actually saving money as the whole life insurance policy doesn’t increase even with inflation.

Whole life insurance forces you to save. When you choose whole life insurance and pay the premiums, those policies build up a savings account (also called a cash value) which grows over the years and can be cashed out at retirement or borrowed against if you need to.

Whole life insurance is flexible. Although a whole life insurance policy is permanent, that doesn’t mean that the options you decided upon when you first built the policy are set in stone. Rather, whole life insurance is flexible and can be altered to suit your needs as they change, whether that means increasing your dividends or depositing more premiums.

If you are considering personal insurance for yourself, whole lifeinsurance has a lot to offer. That being said, it is often a bigger premium commitment than term life insurance, primarily because of the additional benefits that do not accompany a term life insurance policy. It is important to speak with an insurance advisor to discuss all of your options and goals to best determine which policy suits your individual needs.

For more information about personal insurance and whether a whole life insurance policy is the way to go for your unique needs, please contact Independent Financial Concepts Group by calling 416-849-1653 or visit