If you had told me during my University of Virginia days that my career would lead me to specializing in auditing life insurance policies, I would have told you that you had lost your mind. Guess what? You would have been right.
Having started out in the insurance industry with Cowan Financial Group under the MassMutual umbrella, my interests waned from matters of life, disability, and long‑term care insurance to those of wealth management. I wasn't alone, having partnered with four wealth management professionals to found Lenox Advisors.
I proceeded to obtain seven professional designations (CFP, ChFC, CLU, CTS, CFS, CLTC, CES), which more than qualified me to guide the ultra‑wealthy families with which I worked on all matters pertaining to their financial affairs. I had a thriving practice which grew from 30 employees in 2003 all the way to 350 in 2020. Quite an accomplishment, of which I was extremely proud.
But as we grew, so did the hectic nature of running a business, being the valuable resource to the families I served, and balancing life as a husband, father, and active member of the community. There was little balance. Then one day I got a phone call.
One of the more prominent estate planning attorneys with whom I had been working asked me to lunch. She wanted my assistance with a situation at her firm.
It turned out her estate planning practice had become the trustee of 250 life insurance trusts with more than 350 life insurance policies owned by those trusts. And, as trustees, they had never audited any of those policies. Thus, a potentially disastrous situation was in place as the failure of any of those policies would lead to innumerable lawsuits. It would be easy for beneficiaries to litigate, as the trustees were sure to be found negligent of their duty to monitor the assets within those trusts.
That's the day I became a life insurance specialist. I found great excitement in auditing the policies and helping advisors identify problems and pinpoint remedies. It was my own way of playing doctor. Insurance doctor, that is.
And as I displayed my competence, the law and accounting communities flocked to my office to help their clients solve the problem that neglectful monitoring had caused on their policies.
Fast forward to today. I currently work with these estate planning attorneys and accountants, as well as with financial advisors and family offices (since I no longer have "asset manager" and "financial planner" on my list of services, thereby removing any conflict‑of‑interest or client‑poaching concerns).
The world of life insurance is unbelievably complex and I have found great joy in the niche I have carved as the go‑to resource for the Affluent Advisor on any life insurance questions and concerns.
It feels amazing to be a specialist in one discipline, in contrast to being a generalist in five areas. The ultimate beneficiaries of that specialization are the excellent advisors who use me as a resource for the betterment of the families they serve.
I understand the desire to serve those families. I was in that space for 26 years. In being an outstanding life insurance resource for those advisors helps them grow their clients' confidence and inspires them to continue bringing me to the table on this part of their planning.