A conversation with Futurity First’s Mike Kalen
on the evolving advisory career and a new equation for success

The career in financial services has always had its own singular allure, generally defined by greater independence and upper-limit income potential. The old saying was “if you can last 5 years, you’ll make it a career.” The challenge, however, has always been getting there, in a job path that has seen more than it fare share of failure. Erstwhile career-shops could become too restrictive, especially with regard to the products the advisor was supplied to sell, while the true independent path could often leave advisors operating ‘without a net’ in a job that, early on at least, has always required much more hands on support.

To this end, Futurity First Insurance Group, of Rocky Hill, Ct., an independent, nationwide insurance-sales organization established in 2008, developed a system that would attempt to provide advisors the best of both worlds: independence, but with a strong support network that will groom these candidates into successful advisors. L&HA e-newsLink managing-editor Peter Kelley spoke with Mike Kalen, FFIG’s CEO, about what it takes to build an organization whose mission is to engineer successful careers in today’s financial services career.

PK: How would you describe the financial advisor’s career today?
MK: Many of today’s advisors are in a professional dilemma. They often work for companies that do not always offer the product portfolios that they need, while others are in more of an independent environment and are not getting the support, services, compensation and benefits for the work they are doing. What we saw here was opportunity to become a value-added partner to the advisor.

PK: What is the underlying value proposition that you bring to people interested in this career?
MK: We believe we offer a thoroughly unique distribution model that offers the best of both worlds. This has everything to do with being able to offer an objective portfolio of products while offering more comprehensive back-office support.

It has to be easy for the agent to do business, so that they can focus more on the things they must do that make them successful

PK: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges to advisors today?
MK: It is, and always has been, getting in front of quality prospects on a favorable basis. To this end, we’ve built our company around the agent, focusing on just these things, which we believe are important to them in their careers. So, we offer a marketing and lead-generation program that utilizes very strong web-based solutions, seminars and other tools that help to help through this process.

PK: What types of people do you attract?
MK: In many instances it is the advisor who has been in the business already, having worked anywhere from two to five years, but has reached a plateau. They are usually success-oriented, but have faced that dilemma I spoke of, and are looking for a better way to become a successful financial advisor. We also meet a lot of career-changers, generally older individuals who have worked in other careers but are looking for greater income opportunity and greater career independence.

PK: Talk about the products you offer your agents?
MK: What we offer our agents is a very broad menu of insurance and investment products, which provides them with a completely objective process of product placement. And they are coming from some of the best carriers in the industry. So, whether our agents are focusing on income protection, asset-protection, health insurance, life insurance or wealth transfer, we’re able to supply them with the best products out there, while offering them market expertise and support that is responsive to the needs of their clients.

PK: What is the key to agent support in this market?
MK: It has to be easy for the agent to do business, so that they can focus more on the things they must do that make them successful. We offer local support and training geared toward enhancing and reinforcing our agent’s skill sets, while the service team will handle all new business, appointments and commission tracking, utilizing a single, easy to use web-portal. Here agin, the focus is on facilitating and supporting the sales process of our agents.

PK: What is your compensation model?
MK: We offer an extremely competitive compensation, recognition and benefits program that I feel truly meets the needs of today’s advisor. In short, advisors needs to be adequately rewarded and recognized for the work they do.