Life insurance agents do more than sell policies in today’s world. Of course, they sell the product that gives the industry its name. However, they also tend to acquire a wide variety of additional skills. These include estate planning, pension plan set-up, and retirement planning. Every state requires life insurance continuing education credits when agents renew their licenses. CE credits are important keys to maintaining and building professional development.
There has been resurgence in this field since the 2008′s economic slowdown. Before 2008, many companies were not actively recruiting new agents. They depended instead upon the internet, banks, financial advisers, and stockbrokers for sales. These painted whole life policies as inferior products. Clients were advised to purchase a cheap term policy and invest their savings in the stock market. The tables turned, however, when the stock market plunged. The inferior whole life policies retained value while other investments tanked.
Based on the stability of the product, there is now a large demand for agents. Companies are recruiting former lawyers, bankers, mortgage brokers, and real estate agents. The industry is grueling in the early years. Few agents earn more than $35,000 in their second years. After four years, only twenty percent stay in the field. Agents who stick it out into the fifth year, however, may find themselves making $100,000 or more.
Agents can take a wide variety of CE courses. Regulatory and firm element courses may include suitability and ethics, money laundering prevention, securities, topics in economics, and FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) rules and regulations. Other courses may include distribution planning, annuities, and accelerated benefits. Agents can also study health savings accounts, Medicaid and Medicare, and health and benefits insurance. Each state has its own CE requirements. License renewal usually must occur biannually. Some states require as few as eighteen hours. Other states require as many as thirty. Each state’s department of insurance has authority over renewal requirements. Some states require specific coursework. For instance, nineteen states require consumer protection and ethics courses.
Each state has its own CE expectations. License renewal most often occurs every two years. States can require from around twenty to around thirty hours of courses. State insurance departments decide what the expectations will be. Some of them require very specific coursework. For example, nineteen states, as of recent data, required consumer protection and ethics training.
There is not a lot of information out there about choosing a CE provider. As a result, agents must do their own due diligence. Referrals from colleagues or from a firm can weed out undesirables. Any CE provider should have a strong background and a strong reputation. Providers should offer online, textbook, and live classroom courses. Courses should be state-approved and also approved nationwide. While some firms will reimburse their employees for CE, others will not.
If a firm is looking for CE providers, they should take a few steps. One is to hire a compliance specialist who has Series 7, 24, and 63 licenses. A local compliance officer employed by government can help small firms. Larger firms need to hire a specialist. A firm should make sure that the course provider offers classes for all of the firm’s services. These could include CFP, CIMA, CPA, ChFC, and CLU credits.
All agents in all states must complete life insurance continuing education requirements. Agents should research their state’s requirements and their CE provider before signing on for classes. Agents and their companies must make compliance for CE a high priority.
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