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The Future Of The Industry

With the presidential election behind us, the country seems as divided as ever. With the re-election of President Obama, the Democrats controlling the Senate and the Republicans controlling the House, it would not take a rocket scientist to know that there will be some political gridlock once again.

Looking at the numbers of the popular vote and how the Blue/Red map looked post-election, there is no argu-ment that we are a divided country. Let’s hope that our leaders on both sides of the aisle figure out a way to put down their partisan approaches and work together for the good of the nation. We are the greatest country on earth. I have faith we will find a way to work together.

The questions in front of us remain: how much bi-partisan work will be done for the American people? How are we going to tackle an annual $1.5 trillion deficit? How are we going to deal with a $16 trillion-plus (and growing) debt? How will we deal with our dependence on foreign oil?

We have the fiscal cliff to deal with, the end of the Bush-Era tax cuts, and the future of Medicare, Social Security, Tax Reform and a host of other issues as well. What will the estate tax be in 2013? These are just a small list of the economic issues we have to deal with – I don’t have the time or the space needed to review all of the other domestic and foreign policies and issues we must face.

Let’s all hope that as Americans we can work together on these and many more issues, challenges, and problems that we need to address together. If there was ever a time for us to forget blue vs. red, I submit, this is the time. Using the color analogy do you think it is possible for us to be a purple country?

Obviously, all these issues and many others have an impact on our industry. How will the insurance carriers deal with a future (short or long, who knows?) of an historically low interest rate environment? Product changes, compliance to Actuarial Guideline 38 (AG38), shrinking margins and ever increasing pressures to be profitable in a highly demanding environment will continue to be a challenge for our industry.

So, what’s ahead? I often tell my friends and peers in the industry when I am asked these questions, my standard answer is, “my crystal ball is a bit out of focus and not working very well and the last time I saw Madame Ruth - you know that Gypsy with the gold capped tooth…” (if you don’t know that musical reference, then you’re a lot younger than me and I am giving my age away). In other words, I really can’t tell you what lies ahead.

But, this is what I do know, and why I am very bullish on our industry and business: The things we do, the services we provide, the problems we solve for the people we serve will always be of value and needed. People still get sick, become disabled, go to long-term care facilities and yes, die. What we do is give the people we serve the tools to deal with all of these things. What we do for them can make their lives and the lives of the ones they love better!

The opportunity to serve our clients and take care of their financial needs and their desire to take financial respon-sibility and take care of the ones they love will never go away! As long as we can sell the products that do so much for our clients, we will have a thriving and successful industry.

Here is my personal plea to you. Get involved in our industry! Be an active member of AALU, FPA, NAIFA, SFSP, NAHU, WIFS or any one of the many other industry associations. Do your part with whatever industry associa-tion(s) you belong to and support your PAC. Tell your local congressman or senator why life insurance should con-tinue its tax benefits. Remind them that the people who buy our products are making a decision to be financially re-sponsible so that they and their families are not a burden on the system.

There is no other service industry that does more good for our society. We help people plan for the three most important financial problems they face.

[1] Dying too soon and leaving those they love in a financial predicament.

[2] Outliving their financial resources.

[3] Becoming disabled or having a long-term care need that will most certainly wipe out a lifetime of savings very quickly.

No one else does what we do. No one else CAN do what we do! So, please take pride in yourself and our industry. We have so many to serve and so much to offer. The future, despite all of the challenges ahead, is very bright. People still want to take care of the ones they love and want to do the right thing. It is our job to help them and facilitate their desires to meet those goals.

Finally, this will be my last column as the 2012 NAILBA Chairman and it has been my honor to have been able to write these quarterly columns for InsuranceNewsNet. I will be forever thankful for having the opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts over the last year. Next year, you will get to hear from Ray Phillips, my friend and the incoming NAILBA Chairman for 2013. I know you’ll enjoy reading Ray’s thoughts, comments and perspectives about our great industry.

To all of you that have taken the time to read my columns, thank you, and I wish you continued success and “GOOD SELLING!”

Dexter "Dee" Umekubo, CLU, ChFC, is the senior managing partner of Producers XL and the 2012 NAILBA Chairman of the Board. Contact him at [email protected] [email protected].

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