Prince: Let’s turn to how you source wealthy clients. Please explain your business model.
Seneco: Let me start with the way the firm is structured. As I said, our principal business is life insurance. On my team are experts in life insurance products and life insurance portfolio design. While we’re not practicing lawyers or accountants, we have professionals in house who can assist in developing and implementing sophisticated estate plans, asset protection plans  and wealth enhancement solutions. To fill in any technical limitations we have, we set up our organization structure so that there are external authorities—some nationally and internationally recognized private client lawyers, some award- winning tax accountants and a couple of industry-recognized actuaries—available to us whenever we need their expertise.

Now, let me explain how we find the wealthy. While we’re responsible and accountable for the life insurance solutions, and while we have a very intricate relationship management system and approach to work with the wealthy, our principal clients are other professionals. Our entire approach to business development is to be the very best life insurance resource for other advisors.
Our ability to coordinate seamlessly with other professionals, to adapt to the way they work with their affluent clients, to exceed their expectations, has made us the go-to life insurance provider for a handful of bankers, accountants, lawyers, independent investment advisors and some investment professionals at multi-family offices. For each of these clients, we have a dedicated two-person relationship management team. These people work closely with the other professionals, making sure we’re giving them just what they want, the way they want it, and always being amazingly responsive.

These professionals are our advocates with the wealthy. They bring us in to address the life insurance needs of their affluent clients. Then it’s our responsibility to find the optimal solution. Many times, there are a number of possibilities, and we spend a lot of time reviewing the options with the professional who knows the affluent client and client situation best. Based on his or her understanding and insights, certain options are selected that are presented to the affluent client.

Prince: As you’re working with various professionals who have brought you in, how do you work with the affluent clients?
Seneco: There’s a lot of variance when it comes to how we work with the wealthy. It all depends on the preferences of the introducing professional. By our insistence, there is never a handoff. By that, I mean the professional never says something like, “Call up Frank, he’ll take care of the life insurance for you.” Our clients are the professionals just as much as our clients are the affluent. We only work with professionals who want to stay closely involved with their affluent clients, even when the issue is life insurance.

Some professionals prefer for us to go with them when they see their wealthy clients. In those cases, they have the lead, and we’re usually there to answer technical questions. On the other hand, we’ve worked with professionals who are knowledgeable about advanced planning strategies and life insurance and prefer to have us do the analysis and create the presentations for the affluent client. For example, this was the way we wrote the $100 million on the billionaire I mentioned. We created the life insurance portfolio, oversaw the underwriting and developed the presentations, but the multifamily office executive who has extensive expertise in law and accounting was the person working directly with the client.

Most professionals we deal with have a preferred way of integrating our services into their business models. However, there are exceptions depending on specific affluent client situations.

Prince: On those occasions when you directly work with affluent clients, do they ever refer other people to you?
Seneco: Now and again we get affluent client referrals. As per our understanding with the introducing professional, we follow up on the referral while quickly informing the person who brought us in. The way we see it, the affluent client who we’re writing the life insurance on and any referrals they make is a new business opportunity for the introducing professional.

What’s more common are requests by the affluent client for referrals to other types of professionals. So we might be asked for an introduction to a great money manager or a topflight attorney. When these requests are made, we back off and immediately inform the professional who brought us in. Like I said, these introducing professionals are our principal clients. It’s up to them to decide how to follow up with what great money manager or topflight attorney to introduce to the affluent client.

Prince: What kind of financial or other type of arrangement do you have with other professionals?
Seneco: We do a lot of joint work with other insurance producers and investment advisors. In those cases, we have a commission-sharing agreement.  They bring us in for our advanced planning expertise and policy design strengths. Our ability to work with attorneys and accountants in the design and structure of the overall plan and life insurance integration is key.

Besides sharing in the revenues, we also bring in external resources to enhance the practices of the professionals we’re working with. This often includes providing specialists to help them develop thought leadership materials. We also provide educational programs for professionals addressing how to maximize affluent client relationships and obtain a steady stream of new wealthy clients through referrals. We pay for all these external resources. For the professionals they are a very powerful form of value-added.

In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s not enough to be good—even very good. It’s also not enough to do joint work. I know quite a few excellent life insurance producers who will split cases. Providing business development value-added services in addition to being technically capable and highly responsive, combined with sharing revenues, is instrumental in enabling us to build long-term mutually beneficial relationships with a select number of really quality professionals.


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