Fred H. Jonske has served as president and CEO of M Financial Group since 1996. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan. He is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and serves as a member of the American College Board of Trustees, the ACLI Financial Services Steering Committee, the American Academy of Actuaries and the AALU.

Prince: What do members gain from being part of M Financial?

Jonske: M Financial Group offers member firms a number of advantages. Our commitment to innovation provides access to more than 25 exclusive products from six carriers, each priced specifically for the affluent client using our superior mortality, persistency and expense experience. The experience of member firm clients is segmented by the carrier, so the carrier also enjoys the benefits of the superior experience. 

Our commitment to collaboration facilitates a forum in which member firms can build relationships, share ideas and enhance the value they deliver to clients. While each member firm controls its own destiny as an independent organization, they can also leverage the creativity and knowledge of the combined group and are encouraged to reach out to others in the M community to network, learn and share best practices.

Our commitment to client advocacy—which is evident in everything we do, from product development to reinsurance, in-force management to service—helps our member firms further differentiate themselves from competitors and exceed the expectations of the affluent market. We understand that member firms have choices, so we are continually refining these advantages to make sure they align with what member firms want and need. But most of all, we are focused on the client—if we do everything we can to ensure they succeed, we will succeed as well.

Prince: What are the requirements to become an M member firm?

Jonske: Becoming a member firm is a rigorous process that typically takes 12 to 18 months. We have a very distinct culture—collaborative, entrepreneurial, innovative—and we want to be sure that our relationship with a firm is mutually beneficial for the long term. For this reason, we talk to 18 firms for every one that we invite to join the M community. 

In addition to having prospective firms visit with our team in Portland, Ore., we visit the firm’s offices and meet their team. Prospective member firms are focused on the affluent market and have production requirements, but more importantly we want to see a passion for, and ability to, grow sustainably. New member firms must have demonstrated leadership in their respective communities through involvement in charitable or industry-related organizations. 

Finally, it is critical that a new firm is willing to get involved and be part of the collaboration critical to our success. We’ve learned the hard way that if a firm just wants to be part of M to access proprietary product or in-force management, but does not want to connect with others to share and learn, they are better off going somewhere else.

Prince: How does M Financial stay at the cutting edge of the industry?