The business of selling annuities is very competitive. Not only are you competing with other annuity agents, but also with the possibility that the money from a potential client could be deposited into an IRA or a different retirement plan altogether. Obviously, you want to be the one that the client entrusts with their money, so you need to find a way to make yourself stand out to sell annuities.
One way to show that you’re an expert in the financial field is by earning specific professional designations. Think about it – when you’re looking for a new health care provider, would you trust anyone without the “MD” designation? If you’re an annuity agent and you don’t have a professional designation, you may find yourself losing clients to agents with better credentials. Just having your insurance license may not be enough to make a living selling annuities.
Some of the better known professional designations include:
• CFP (Certified Financial Planner)
• ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant)
• MSFS (Master’s of Science in Financial Services).
Each of these designations has different requirements you must meet before you can begin using it. The CFP designation is one of the most widely recognized in the industry, although you’ll need to take several courses and pass a board exam before you can use the credential. The ChFC, on the other hand, requires some coursework, but no exam, while the MSFS credential comes from completing a two-year graduate level program. All of these will make you a far more competent financial advisor and significantly impact your annuity sales.
In addition, there are many professional designations for annuity agents who focus specifically on selling to seniors. Some states don’t allow annuity agents to use these designations – depending on the wording – so it’s important to check with your state board before you pursue them. These designations include:
• CSS (Certified Senior Specialist)
• CSRS (Certified Elder Planning Specialist)
• CLTC (Certified in Long Term Care) – this professional specializes in planning for care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
For more information on the specific requirements of each credential and the schools that offer the necessary training courses, visit www.brokerworldmag.com. Depending on your schedule, you may be able to find courses can be taken either online or by correspondence.
At first, these courses may seem expensive – especially to someone just starting out in the annuity business. But by earning a professional designation, you give yourself several advantages:
• You learn more about selling annuities and marketing annuities. The classes go beyond what you can learn on the job or in a basic college course. For example, if you earn the CLTC designation, you’ll learn much more about long term care and nursing homes than you would just sitting behind your desk.
• If you want to market to a specific group like seniors, a credentialing program can help you learn more about how to tailor plans to them and their unique needs.
• Professional designations build trust with clients. When a certain set of letters appears after your name, clients know you’ve taken the time to learn more about how to help them with their financial needs, and will reward you with increased business.
• Often when someone sees a designation after your name, they’ll ask you, “What does it mean?” This gives you a perfect opportunity to market your services to clients you never would have met otherwise.
If you sell annuities, compare earning professional designations to the steps an educator takes to advance in their career. Most school principals begin as teachers with bachelor’s degrees. Later on, they earn master’s degrees – usually in administration – to learn more about working as school principals. As you progress in your career, you may find that you need the additional education and qualifications provided by a professional designation course to advance in the field of selling annuities and generating fixed annuity leads.