Trying to Keep a Credit Card While Filing Bankruptcy

A large number of Americans are now filing bankruptcy because of overextending themselves on their credit. Over the last 20 years society has placed a high priority on having credit cards. The idea behind you can have it now and pay for it later has some flaws. This is why so many good people are having to file for bankruptcy as a way out of unsustainable debt. In today’s economy there are many reasons for why people are filing for bankruptcy. The typical reasons for filing bankruptcy in the past were unemployment, divorce and an illness that ran up some huge medical bills.

Although these reasons are still true for many people in the last 10 years people have been caught off guard living beyond their means and overextending themselves on credit. Just about everyone got caught up in just about unlimited credit limits as the banks pushed all this free money into the economy. Everyone thought that if someone would give them that much credit, they should be able to afford it. This was also true with the housing market where people were buying million-dollar homes on a stated income.

After the market fell and the dust cleared there were many stories of people with an income of $50,000 a year buying a home from $500,000 to a $1 million. They were enticed with negative amortization loans where the interest was piling up on the backend of the principle so they can afford to live there. For some crazy reason they thought the market would keep on roaring and if they got in trouble, they would just flip it, get their cash and run. By now, everyone in America has been affected in some way by this irresponsibility of the banks and Americans alike.

Now it’s time to pay the piper as many people caught up in the craziness are now filing bankruptcy. What’s even crazier is many of these people came into see the bankruptcy attorney with the idea that they want to keep a credit card account open to continue to charge on it. This usually does not set well with the bankruptcy attorney. Isn’t the credit cards what got the individual into this financial trouble? Some people think that it’s impossible to live without credit cards. The credit industry wants Americans to believe this even though it is not true.

5 Financial Freedoms You Must Protect

We’ve all dreamt about the day we can retire, the free time we’ll have to find a new hobby, travel to a new place, or simply, do nothing but sit and relax. But in order to enjoy the retirement years like you want to, you’ve got to plan ahead. In particular, you need to protect five financial freedoms. They are:

1. Guaranteed Income

Have you taken the steps today to secure your financial future: for yourself, your spouse and your family?

Remember when you retire, you won’t receive a regular paycheck. Not having that steady income may come as a shock. You may start to panic as you begin to dip into savings for daily expenses. You may need to live on a strict budget. You may end up needing to find a job. And, if you decide you need to return to work, it most likely won’t be in a full-time position with a full-time salary.

As you think about retirement, you need to realize this: the day you stop working is the day you surrender your guaranteed income. However, by developing a strategic plan now with your financial advisor you ensure that your financial situation is set up so that you can enjoy your retirement years worry free.

2. Travel

The number one thing most people want to do when they retire is travel. In fact, retirees are in the top 3 groups of travelers in the United States and spend about 20% of their retirement income just on travel.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that retirees are on the move. They have the freedom to take vacation whenever they want since the job isn’t tying them down anymore. However, the question that needs to be asked is that as retirees, while you may be able to pack up and go whenever you please, do you have the financial freedom to do so? How can you fulfill your dream of visiting new locales in America or around the globe if you live on a fixed income?

By working with your financial advisor, travel is possible. Together, you can create a retirement plan that includes travel in your financial future so that you don’t need to give up your desire to explore the country and even the world.

3. Legacy

As parents, your instinct is to take care of your children even when they become adults with kids of their own. One of the most important ways you can do this is by giving an inheritance to your kids once you’ve passed on.

While you have many years of making memories with your family, now is the time to make sure you’ve invested your money wisely. Making wise choices means considering the various tax benefits that different financial options have to offer. I know it can be confusing and frustrating to compare the options available to you, and that’s why it’s a good idea to turn to a financial advisor to counsel you on these important decisions. Your family’s well-being is at stake.

4. Autonomy

Life prepares us to be independent, doesn’t it? Sure, at first, we depend on our parents to care for us, to protect us. As we grow older, we build our independence. We start our own families. We become the providers.

However, during the retirement years doubt may begin to creep in about your ability to live autonomously. Without a steady stream of income, you start to wonder if you need to find a job or whether you can afford to live on your own. Talking with your financial advisor and planning for your future can alleviate these doubts and give you peace of mind knowing that you can continue to live the independent life you want.

5. Choice

When you think of retirement, a number of things come to mind, particularly a list of all the things you want to do and the age you want to retire. However, one vital piece of information that you may not have thought about is how much you’ll need to retire AND live comfortably. If this describes you, talk with your financial advisor today. Believe me, you don’t want to wait until you’re close to your targeted retirement age because you might discover that you’ll need more to live the retirement lifestyle you want. Your financial advisor will work with you to make sure you’re saving enough now so your dream lifestyle can be your retirement reality.

Branch Transformation

“Branch of the future” and “branch transformation” are still hot topics in the retail banking industry.

At another BAI Retail Delivery show, this one in Las Vegas, NV, it is clear between the sessions and talking to attendees on the show floor, the “branch of the future” and “branch transformation” are still the hot topics among retail bankers.

What exactly does “branch transformation” and “branch of the future” mean?

Quite frankly, it depends on who you’re talking to. Some think of it as branch re-design, with stations that allow tellers to move freely around the branch instead of being stuck behind a traditional teller line. Some see it as the introduction of cash recyclers, automation that eliminates the need for manual cash counting in the branch. Others say video teller is transformative because it allows 24/7 access to banking services that previously were accessible only during operating hours. What everyone seems to agree on is that branch transformation means leveraging innovative technology in the branch, and applying that technology to areas where there are currently pain points for the customer.

Achieving Branch Transformation

True transformation will come from optimizing both the individual branch as well as the entire network of branches. By automating low-value activities such as teller transactions, bank staff can be re-deployed as sales associates, offering financial information and advice to customers or upselling to create added value for the institution. By bringing more self-service banking solutions into the branches to offload the low-value activities, re-deploying staff becomes easier to achieve.

The Key to “Branch Transformation” is Self-Service Kiosks

One of the easiest ways to move toward a branch of the future is to implement self-service kiosks to cover simple, low-value activities. At the conference, our team demonstrated the new Personal Teller Machine, a self-service banking kiosk solution. It allows the customer to conduct 80-90% of common transactions handled by tellers directly at the kiosk.

Personal Teller Machine transaction examples:

Withdraw cash
Withdraw exact cash (customer chooses denominations)
Deposit check, cash, get cash back
Account transfers
Access statements
Check account balances
Stop payment
Official check issuance
Bill payment
Receive printed, emailed or text receipts

The industry trend of branch transformation and branch of the future is gaining momentum. It is important to know which self-service banking solution is best for your branch. Check out video demos of the Personal Teller Machine in action or explore the video teller for ATMs vs. the Personal Teller Machine.

How to Sell Final Expense – Why Agents Fail In the Final Expense Business

The reason agents fail learning how to sell final expense is fairly simple. The unfortunate reality of sales, no matter the industry, is that 90% of all sales people fail or quit within the first 12 months of starting their sales profession. Why is that the case?

The number one the reason agents fail selling final expense is because they give up on themselves. They go into the business with aspirations that didn’t match reality. Looking from the outside in, many new final expense agents have the perspective that to succeed in final expense it is only a matter of going out and talking to people. If it were only that simple!

It takes time to learn the skills necessary to sell final expense successfully. Final expense sales training is something that takes months if not years to develop. A lot of new agents don’t understand that sales is totally different from a typical salaried employee position. You have emotional ups and downs almost daily. Being on straight commission, you literally wake up every morning unemployed; you must “eat what you kill!”

If you don’t have experience, there is nothing to really prepare you for it until you understand what that is like and you are living it. It is something that many people just can’t handle.

Then the other reason people fail is because they don’t get involved with the right agency to help train them, to prepare them for the realities. They get involved with a business that sells “Blue Sky,” meaning all the benefits to a lifestyle of Final Expense and none of the gritty work that it takes to succeed in the long-run.

Also, new agents fail because they get involved in an agency that is designed to short change them and squeeze the dollars out of them at a ridiculous rate. It ends up being a revolving door type of sales agency.

It is important that agents do their research on the front-end. Talk to different agencies. Get a feel for your managers personality type. Figure out who has been successful. How long agents have been working with them? Ask for proof. Are they transparent with what to expect as far as commission and percentage advancements based on merit and production history?

What do you get for your investment? Because the manager makes money off of your production. You just have to make sure value is there. Take the time to ask these questions. Again, it is really important you are reading this because most agents don’t go into this business even knowing what to ask, much less what to expect.

Many agents don’t understand that you must come into this business with a business mindset. Most agents must buy direct mail, and won’t have the benefit of a referral network or an existing book of business. Instead, they have to buy leads to get going.

My recommendation is to have about $4,000 to $5,000 to invest into a final expense direct mail lead system, or if you have less than that keep a full-time job and then also you know if you got $2,000 or $3,000 minimum into a telemarketing final expense lead system.

You MUST start on the right foot. You MUST be prepared for the ups and downs. You MUST be willing to work through it with the understanding that the long-term is what makes it worth having. What makes it all worthwhile.

That’s the reasons why most agents fail learning how to sell final expense. The important thing is to go into this with the right group that shows you transparently what to do. When you know that you have got that on your side it is really up to you.

Do you have the X-Factor to work hard and follow the system that is laid out upon you?

That’s really the ultimate determinate of your success or failure.

David Duford is the owner of Final Expense Agent Mentor.

In addition to personally producing business each and every week, David specializes in training new and experienced agents on how to successfully sell final expense burial insurance.

Why You Need Liability Coverage From Your Insurance Company

Who is responsible to prime the pump and fill the top of the funnel? Many agencies and brokers expect their sales team to cold call, network, and send emails to build their own pipeline, and fill the top of the funnel. It reminds me of the old slogan, “Let your fingers do the walking”. The slogan referred to the Yellow Pages, the omnipresent database of the time. Regardless of the database used, be it the online Yellow Pages, Google Pages, or an internally generated prospect list, the question still remains. Who is responsible to fill the pipeline, and what’s the most likely path to success.

Today insurance lead generation encompasses many new tools to help producers prospect, including eMarketing, Social Media Marketing, Blogging and Web Seminar Marketing, in addition to traditional cold calling and networking. Agencies and brokers must also add their website to this mix of tools, as many broker websites are out of date, difficult to navigate, and are not mobile compliant. The mobile compliance issue is very significant, as mobile searches are now exceeding PC based searches.

Many producers find these new web marketing tools, and in general the lead generation aspect of their jobs, to be arduous and challenging. That’s why so many producers fail, they are not insurance lead generation machines, nor are they savvy insurance web marketers. The results are self-evident, insufficient qualified prospects at the top of the sales funnel, usually translates into inadequate results at the bottom of the funnel.

A better path to success for many agencies and brokers begins with a comprehensive and consistent insurance marketing and lead generation program, providing producers with an influx of quality prospects, so they can spend more time selling and less time prospecting.

Why don’t more agencies invest in these types of programs?

They lack the internal resources necessary to execute these marketing initiatives
They plan on doing this type of marketing and lead gen, but never seem to find the time to get it done
They believe in doing business the old-fashioned way (I built my own pipeline and you can too)
They over invest in sales and under invest in marketing and lead generation
They tried it once and it didn’t work
They tried a short pilot program and didn’t see an immediate ROI

These are just a few of the reasons many agencies and brokers are unable to accomplish their insurance lead generation and top line growth goals. Regardless of the reasons, agency owners and executives should review current and past producer performance and determine if it’s time to refine their insurance marketing and lead generation programs, to improve the path to success for their producers specifically and their businesses in general. Agencies, brokers and wholesalers lacking the knowledge and skills necessary to undertake these marketing and lead generation initiatives can seek assistance outsourcing assistance from proficient insurance marketing agencies as a viable alternative to internal staffing.