Don't just qualify, "Be MDRT" - James D Pittman, President of MDRT

| 11 Jul 2018

To gain the most out of MDRT membership, it should not be viewed as just an achievement of a production requirement. Rather, members must embody the essence of MDRT and embrace its mission and core principles. New members that understand how to "Be MDRT" are at the start of a successful future, said James D Pittman, CLU, CFP, President of MDRT, in an interview with Asia Advisers Network.

“I encourage new members to engage with their peers and MDRT community. They can attend conferences, discover language-specific advice in the Resource Zone, join the mentorship program and participate in numerous other learning opportunities. We’re continually evolving our content offering and are looking into ways we can further personalize the Resource Zone for our membership,” he added.

Strive to qualify and attend every year

Recognised internationally as the standard of excellence in the life insurance and financial services industry, MDRT membership is a benchmark that advisers must strive for each and every year to elevate their careers as they navigate industry changes.

He said, “The financial services industry can be difficult for advisers to navigate without the support of an association like MDRT. MDRT members benefit from resources and networking events like the Annual Meeting and Global Conference in which they learn from other professionals in the industry.”

And this 44-year member’s advice is to “continue to attend MDRT Annual Meetings or any MDRT meetings”. Every year, he hears inspirational presentations that gives him hope and motivates him to continue to help others through the profession.

“Those who attend more frequently, have higher production levels and achieve greater success. Networking at these meetings allows advisers to find like-minded individuals who they can learn from to help grow their practices.

And members can volunteer to make instant industry connections or can form a study group with other professionals that will extend beyond the four-day meeting,” he said. (See Mark you diary below for 2019 dates.)

Lessons from his career

  • High activity levels

For new advisers, in particular, high activity levels are vital to success and to establish a solid client base. Even for more senior advisers, high activity levels are still a great “back to basics” reminder.

He shared, “When confronted with difficulties or setbacks in my career, I first looked to increase activity levels such as how many calls, meetings and touch points with current and potential clients I had to achieve higher production values.”

  • Become a specialist and partner with other trusted advisers

As an adviser matures as a professional, look to add more skills and become a specialist in a certain market or develop an expertise for a certain product. Once a niche is found, he suggests financial professionals partner with another trusted adviser —especially an expert in a product or market with more experience — to propel business. “Joint work can help you serve diverse client needs which build upon your niche base so you don’t need to become a jack-of-all-trades yourself,” he said.

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When James entered the financial services profession at 22, he quickly developed a passion for disability insurance, because he could more easily identify with becoming sick or hurt than dying. In addition, he said the product is so logical once you help clients understand how much more valuable their future unearned income is than anything on their financial statement.

He discovered a niche in his local area working with attorneys and found that they were able to provide him solid referrals to identify new clients and build a pipeline. “Since then, I’ve built out my knowledge to offer diverse products based on my client’s evolving needs. Today, I have relationships with several hundred of these professionals, and a drip-marketing system to send out timely articles on financial topics to keep my business top of mind,” he said.

  • Education and designations

Additionally, he recommends in-depth study to achieve designations. In-depth knowledge is needed to advance the career into corporate and estate planning markets. He shared, “I expanded my technical knowledge through continuing education and designations, so that I could expand my product knowledge offering and work on more holistic, sophisticated cases.”

Technology and regulatory changes to impact the future

Looking ahead, he said increased technological advances and regulatory changes will continue to impact the future of the financial services industry.

“Robo-advisors and AI systems are on the rise, particularly in the Asian market. MDRT provides resources for members to proactively prepare for these changes and use them to their advantage in combination with their personal interactions with clients,” he said. For instance, members can explore how to integrate technology into their own practices or distinguish their services from those of a robo-advisor through strategies outlined in MDRT’s members-only content.

While regulatory changes can be difficult to navigate for clients and advisers, MDRT members engage in a collective learning approach in which they share best practices to use with clients in an uncertain financial atmosphere. “Additionally, our 66,000 members from 71 nations and territories must adhere to a strict code of ethics that ensures any provided guidance conforms to the regulations of their location,” he said.


Mark your diary

(Picture Credit: MDRT)

The 2019 Annual Meeting will be held 9-12 June in Miami Beach, Florida. And the inaugural MDRT Global Conference will be held 1-4 September 2019 in Sydney, Australia.

MDRT is optimistic about the future growth of the organisation with its meeting expansion to offer members more opportunities to network at next year’s Annual Meeting as well as the first-ever Global Conference.

On the Global Conference, he said, “We understand that it can be difficult for some members to travel to North America to attend the Annual Meeting every year, so we are excited to expand our offerings to global members with this newly-added conference.

“Members from around the world will join us in this highly accessible and diverse city to explore more exclusive and local content with global networking opportunities. Sydney will welcome 8,000 of the world’s top earning professionals to join their Australian peers to exchange insights, share innovative practices and collaborate with the best in their profession.”

(Main picture of James Pittman courtesy of MDRT.) 


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