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Generate New Sales: Mark Borkowski

Its your call: How to generate new sales prospects.

Humor me for a second. Think back to the last deal you closed and ask you, “Who was the decision maker I had to reach and influence? How did I do it?”

The reason I asked you to think about that is because there will always be someone you will need to contact and influence to get the next deal and the one after that and all the deals you could ever possibly close in one lifetime. Your success doesn’t just happen. You make it happen, and it all begins with prospecting.

Prospecting is nothing more than the art of speaking with people who might do business with you, and engaging them in a meaningful conversation so that they will want to see you and talk further. Let’s not make it any more complicated than that. At the end of the day a telephone sales call is only a conversation between two people.

Make a list of everyone you just identified. It doesn’t matter if you need to speak with fifty people or only one; your focus is on precision not volume.

Once you have the names write down the main issues facing each person on that list. The reason I’m suggesting that is because you will have to address their issues, not yours.

If you start your conversation rambling on about your products and services you will sound like you’re selling something. When you talk about their issues you hit their Greed Glands which address what’s in it for them. Retirees are not waking up in the morning wanting financial products. (It would be nice.) They are, on the other hand, concerned about the rising cost of living.

Once you’ve worked out what you want to say you will have to get the person on the phone. The objective of your call list is not about making calls. Many financial advisors base their lists on volume, in other words the more names on the list the better because if they don’t contact someone there are plenty more to call. What happens with this approach is that most people end up leaving a lot of money on the table, missing up to 75% of their opportunities, simply by not contacting people. A call is not a commodity. It’s precious.
It would be nice if we were mind readers and knew where our biggest opportunity was, but we don’t so we have to speak with everyone. Your objective is to book appointments.

So whether you have twenty people to call or only one, get them on the phone. All of them. Without exemption.
Leaving a voice message doesn’t count. That only fools you into thinking you contacted someone when in fact all you did was leave a voice message. The easiest way is to ensure that you connect with your prospects is to simply find out when they are in, and then call at that time.

By planning your calls and your message you stay in control.
Once you get your prospect on the phone you will have the opportunity to speak for all of about thirty seconds at which time you will either ask for an appointment or ask a qualifying question. From the time you introduce yourself to the time you ask for an appointment there are less actually than thirty words. Make each word count. The words you speak paint images in people’s minds and you have complete control over what those words are.

Twice as important as what you say will be how you say it. Speak slowly and send the message that what you have to say is important. It’s so important that you will take a minute before the call to focus on how you can make the prospect’s life better, and that will bring out the passion in your voice.

At the end of each call you will either be sitting there with an appointment or you won’t. Either way self-assess to either see what you did well so that you can do it again on the next call, or look at where you need to improve.

If a call does not work out for whatever reason figures out if it was they or you. If there was something you could have done better, make sure to take correction action for the next call and then reward yourself for learning from your mistakes. When you consistently self-assess you stop repeating the same mistakes, and when that happens your performance benchmarks rise as like gravity.
By making yourself more effective you ensure that your next deal will be more successful than your last.

Mark Borkowski – is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile is a mid market M&A brokerage firm based in Toronto. Contact:

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Financial advertising, marketing and sales without the 56% google inefficiency.

Google admits that advertisers wasted their money on more than half of internet ads


Online advertising is a fickle thing. It accounts for 20% of the ad industry’s total spending, and over 90% of revenue for the internet giants Google and Facebook. That said, no one seems to have any idea whether it actually works.

That uncertainty reached a new high this week, as Google announced that 56.1% of ads served on the internet are never even “in view”—defined as being on screen for one second or more. That’s a huge number of “impressions” that cost money for advertisers, but are as pointless as a television playing to an empty room.

This is not a big revelation. The web metrics company ComScore reported last year that 46% of online ads are never seen., an ad fraud company acquired by Google in February, has pointed out that a large portion of ads are “viewed” only by robots, revealing that one botnet of 120,000 virus-infected computers viewed ads billions of times, running up the tab for advertisers without offering them the human eyeballs they sought.

Still, the acknowledgement by a heavyweight such as Google that ad viewability is a problem could shake up the industry by delaying possible IPOs of ad companies and requiring new ways for advertisers to gauge the effectiveness of their ads.

The nineteenth-century retailer John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.” In this case, it’s the obviously the half that pays for ads which are never seen, and now advertisers are looking for new tools to figure out which those are.

It’s worth noting that Google made this acknowledgement of the deficiency of the model it has profited richly from while also offering a new model to advertisers: In July it introduced its Active View product, which measures only viewed ads.

Getting Tax Credits for Your Unwanted Life Insurance

Ten or twenty years ago, you purchased a life insurance policy. It was part of a good financial plan to keep your family protected in case of the unthinkable. Today, the mortgage is paid off, your family is grown, your retirement plan is in place and the insurance that once provided peace of mind is no longer required. What should you do with the policy?

For most Canadians, the answer is to collapse the policy. Between 85% and 88% of permanent policies never pay out a death benefit. In some cases, allowing the policy to lapse makes sense. Term policies may have no value and served their purpose. Whole Life policies may have significant cash value that you’d rather collect now. In these scenarios, the best course is frequently to relinquish the policies.

There are however other situations in which you have a valuable policy and lapsing the policy gives you little, or nothing, in return. The only benefactor is the insurance company who receives your valuable policy at no cost. Rather than providing a gift to the insurance company you should consider donating the policy to charity. The charity receives a valuable asset and you receive a worthwhile tax credit.
There are three ways to donate a life insurance policy of charity:

1. Name the charity as the beneficiary of the policy
2. Have the policy pay to your estate and have your estate make a donation to the charity
3. Give the policy to charity now, making the charity both the owner and the beneficiary

Each method has advantages and disadvantages; the best option will depend on your own circumstances. We will touch on two important tax considerations.

Premium Payments Tax Credit

Under the first two methods, you keep the policy in force and donate the proceeds upon death. The first method is typically preferred over the second, as it avoids possible taxation, probate and creditor issues in the estate. You will receive a tax credit in the year of death equal to the amount donated, but you do not receive a credit for the premiums that are paid every year.

One advantage of the third method, donating life insurance now, is that each premium payment provides you with a tax credit. The majority of charities require that you continue to pay the premiums after donating the policy.

The policy does not affect the 3% minimum distribution of assets requirement for the charity, as the policy is deemed to have nil value for that purpose. If you will pay the premiums, most charities will be happy to accept the policy and provide a donation receipt for the fair market value of the policy. For smaller charities not experienced in receiving life insurance, outside advice may be required to help facilitate the donation.

Policy Value Tax Credit

Under the first two options, the tax credit will equal the death benefit that the charity receives. The tax credit that you can use is limited to 100% of income in the year of death and the preceding year. The potential downside is that the tax credit can be a large amount which could exceed the income limit. If you will not have significant taxable gains triggered upon death, or a spouse with income to use the credit, then the tax credit will be lost.

One of the advantages of the third method, giving the policy now, is the ability to make better use of the tax credits. Rather than being limited to 100% of income over two years, you can use the credit to offset up to 75% of income in the current year, and in the subsequent five years. Additionally, the donation is made at a time of your choosing, when you know your income will be sufficient to make use of the tax credit.

The tax credit in this case is not the death benefit, as under the first two methods; it is the fair market value of the insurance policy. The fair market value of life insurance is less than the death benefit, but can be substantially higher than the cash value.
Which policies have value more than their cash value? Policies with guaranteed costs, such as level cost universal life, and term to 100 policies can have significant value, despite having low cash values. If your health has worsened since the policy was issued, then almost any policy has extra value. A fair market valuation actuary specialising in donating insurance can be consulted to help you determine whether your policy would be valuable to a charity, and how much of a tax credit you would receive.

Wall Actuaries

Can you really afford not to have life insurance?

flowersThe answer is no.  Think about this…You love your family, right? You don’t want to leave them with the burden of debt in case of an unforeseen even, right? But how can you ensure that your family is not dealing with having to pay off debts while they are grieving in their time of loss?  By having the proper amount of life insurance, of course.

As a financial planner my job is to make sure that clients have the savings and protection they need to be financially stable now and in the future; this includes saving for short term goals, investing for retirement and insuring credit products.  When I approve a mortgage application I always offer life insurance to clients so that their family and their home are protected in case of an unfortunate or untimely event. Although sadly more often than not clients don’t take life insurance on their most valuable asset because they feel that they can’t afford the extra cost. I say sadly because that statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Your family inherits your debts along with your assets

The truth is that people can’t afford not to have a life insurance policy to protect their assets and their family in case of an unfortunate event.  Could you imagine losing your spouse or your parent and then also losing your home? For most of us that is an unimaginable nightmare that can be avoided with the right life insurance policy.  

I want to help clients fully understand the true value of life insurance as a financial product and as a form of protection for the future of their loved ones. The truth is that life insurance can fit into anyone’s budget and anyone with credit card debt, mortgage debt or other types of personal debt should have life insurance to pay off their debts, protect their assets and avoid leaving debt to their family.

Shop around for life insurance and get three quotes

Justin Thouin is the President and CEO, he confirms that clients should shop around to find the best rates possible for the coverage they need when buying life insurance.  Life insurance kind of has a reputation of being a non-flexible contract product and people hate the word contract. But with the right financial advice and good financial planning life insurance can be a truly great financial product. 

Many of my clients say that they don’t want life insurance because it’s a waste of money, but that is also not true.  Life insurance protects us in case of an unfortunate event and we just never know when that is going to happen. Having the right amount of life insurance fits perfectly into your estate planning and it’s definitely worth the cost of the monthly premium, but having too much insurance can be an unnecessary cost. With the help of a licensed life insurance agent or a life insurance calculator you can find the perfect amount of insurance to cover your estate needs.

Life insurance is a part of your financial planning

Thouin confirms that “All too often Americans spend more of their hard earned money than they should because they do not have the time or knowledge to compare offers from multiple vendors before purchasing big ticket items” and this has to stop.  If you would shop around and take the time to find the best credit card, why not do the same for your life insurance. 

Start where you are comfortable, go and see your financial institution for a life insurance quote.  You can also ask around and get a referral from a family, friend or co-worker.  It’s a good idea to shop online and compare life insurance quotes in their local area.  Be sure to get a quote for the same type of coverage to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. And never, no matter how much you may feel pressured, don’t buy more life insurance than you need – because then it’s just a waste of money.

– Tahnya Kristina, CFP

Photo from flickr

Tax Free Profit Extraction Using Life Insurance

A tax avoidance strategy has been growing in popularity in recent years. Although CRA has been aware of the strategy for over ten years, its increase in popularity and the Federal government’s current focus on reforming the taxation of insurance means that the life of the strategy may be coming to an end.

There are several good reasons for life insurance to be owned corporately rather than personally. A business owner is typically a key person of the business, and any buy-sell agreements or business interruption applications may require that the policy be owned corporately. Corporate ownership also allows for the payment of premiums with corporate dollars, which for small businesses generally have a lower tax rate than if the policy is owned personally.

There are of course also downsides. The loss of creditor protection, a potential impact to the capital gains exemption, additional complexity and accounting requirements, and the potential taxation of the death benefit are among the impacts to consider. Properly planned, these issues can be minimized, making corporate ownership an attractive option.
The corporately owned policy can be a newly issued policy, or could be a personally owned policy that is sold to the corporation. The latter may be the only option if health concerns make it costly, or even impossible, to obtain a new policy.

The sale of a policy from personal ownership to corporate ownership introduces a little used, until recently, tax savings opportunity. In exchange for the policy the corporation pays the individual the fair market value of the policy. The gain reportable to the individual is based on the cash surrender value of the policy rather than the fair market value, the two of which may differ substantially.

In many cases the taxable gain to the individual is zero, effectively resulting in a tax free disbursal of earnings from the corporation.

Overview of the transfer

A shareholder transferring a policy to his or her corporation is making a non-arm’s length transfer and therefore subject to Section 148(7) of the Income Tax Act. In exchange for the policy the company pays the shareholder the fair market value of the policy. The tax consequences consist of four parts:

  • Deemed Disposition – The shareholder who owns the policy is deemed to have disposed of the policy for the cash surrender value (CSV). The taxable income to the shareholder will be the CSV minus the Adjusted Cost Basis (ACB).
  • New Adjusted Cost Basis – Section 148(7) also deems the new ACB after the transfer to be equal to the CSV. The corporation has acquired an interest in the policy at the new ACB.
  • Payment for the fair market value – The corporation pays or provides a note to the shareholder for the fair market value of the insurance policy. There is no tax to the shareholder and the company has a reduction in retained earnings.
  • Payment of the Death Benefit – Upon the death of the life insured, the death benefit is paid into the Capital Dividend Account (CDA) to the extent that the benefit exceeds the ACB. The ACB will typically have enough time to decrease to $0, so the entire death benefit is paid into the CDA, which can then be distributed tax free.

Best Policies to Value

An actuary specializing in fair market valuation can provide advice on the potential value of a policy. The best policies to transfer will result in little or no taxable income upon disposition, and have fair market value that is greater than the cash value. There are several factors which contribute to a policy having a fair market value that is greater than the cash surrender value.

  • Deterioration in health – Any health problems that reduce life expectancy will increase the value of a life insurance policy.
  • Policies with guaranteed costs – Policies with guaranteed level premiums build up value over time, as the initial premiums exceed the cost of insurance in order to keep the premiums lower at higher ages when the cost of insurance exceeds the premiums. The reduction in interest rates has further increased the value of such policies, as they premiums were set assuming higher interest rates, and the premiums are guaranteed. Examples of these policies are Universal Life with level cost of insurance, term to 100, and whole life non-participating policies.

Government Position

Although the CRA has stated that they agree with the tax treatment described above, they also feel it is an anomaly and referred the matter to the department of Finance. This position has been confirmed several times in the past ten years. While Finance has yet to take any action, the issue does now appear to be on their radar. The next budget may very well put an end to this opportunity.

Ryan Wall

Seneca College – School of Money

Me and My Money
Me and My Money

Leader in Ontario with 70,000+ registrations in continuing education

TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2013 /CNW/ – Seneca has reached its highest continuing education enrolment in its 46-year history with more than 70,000 part-time student registrations.

Seneca has long been the leader in providing flexible, high-quality programs for those who want to further their education and upgrade their skills, attracting significantly more part-time students than any other Ontario college.

“We are delighted that the demand for our continuing education programs continues to grow,” said David Agnew, Seneca President. “This is part of a broader trend of students seeking more flexible options for their education, and Seneca is responding with evening, weekend and online courses that are meeting labour market demands.”

Most part-time students at Seneca are working towards a professional designation or career-based credential, whether a degree, diploma or certificate. Part-time enrolment has grown by more than 10 per cent over the past five years and continues to grow this fall.

Working with industry partners and program advisory committees, Seneca’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Training offers more than 150 part-time degree, diploma and certificate programs. Seneca continues to expand its suite of graduate certificates and degrees to meet student and employer demand. Seneca has recently launched a new part-time Accounting Techniques certificate and new part-time graduate certificates in Nonprofit Leadership and Management and Social Media.

Seneca’s fall full-time enrolment has also increased by nearly five per cent over last year.

With campuses across the Greater Toronto Area, Seneca offers degrees, diplomas and certificates renowned for their quality and respected by employers. Combining the highest academic standards with practical, hands-on learning, expert teaching faculty and the latest technology ensures Seneca graduates are career-ready.

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SOURCE Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology

My Overview of the Canadian Life Insurance Industry

I know that writing this piece is going to provoke a reaction from many fronts – and that is GOOD – it means people are thinking for themselves and challenging the status quo!  Regardless, I am going to present my thoughts for your consideration.

In concept, insurance has been around since Greek and Roman days and evolved through France and other parts of Europe through “tontines”.  If you want to purse history some more, see one of my blogs at  The Canadian Life Insurance industry goes back to the mid 1800s for its roots.  Initially, there was only one product – ordinary (or whole) life.  You paid a premium, there was some build up of cash if you cancelled before dying and your beneficiary collected money when you died – you paid premiums for your entire life.  Nice and simple back then – now where are we?

Depending on the day of the week, products are added and withdrawn as part of the normal impact resulting from consumer choices, government policies and intervention and social influences. Certainly, the changing global investment climate has had a major impact on product design and pricing for both new and existing products.  Today are there more than 100 completely different products available to consumers covering variations for life insurance, disability insurance, critical illness coverage and long-term care benefits plus investment products similar to GICs and variable products that are similar to mutual funds.  Prices for insurance products – all of them – are on the rise after several years of declines.  Primarily this is due to changes in the investment climate and operating costs.  Don’t look for them to drop in the foreseeable future.

On the pure life insurance side alone, products range from current versions of the original ordinary life policies to ones where premiums and death benefits can fluctuate – some under the control of the policy owner and some controlled by the insurance companies.  Generically, life insurance products are broken down into guaranteed and non-guaranteed and then further segmented between Term Insurance, Universal Life and Traditional Whole Life coverage.  It does get confusing – and frustrating – for both consumers and advisors.

On the “investment” side of the industry you have products such as GIAs – Guaranteed Investment Accounts – that operate and offer rates similar to GICs and Term Deposits offered by banks, trust companies and credit unions/caisse populaires.  You also have available investments that operate in a manner similar to mutual funds – usually called segregated funds but correctly called Individual Variable Insurance Contracts or IVICs.  These products contain minimum guarantees for the market value and death benefit for your investment according to their terms and conditions.  Guarantees can range from 75% to 100% depending on the product you select.  All investment products sold by life insurance companies have additional features not available through banks, trust companies, credit unions/caisse populaires including the ability to have a named beneficiary and enhanced protection against claims by creditors.  A well-qualified advisor is necessary to ensure that you fully understand the complexities of IVICs.

The key is working with a professional advisor – and they come in many disguises!  Some are associated primarily with a single insurance company or dealing entity while others go the pure “independent” route.  None is better than the other – they are different and serve different roles and tend to develop different types of relationships with clients.  You need to find an advisor with whom you can relate – do they speak your language – and I don’t mean English, French, Italian, Hindi, Punjabi, Mandarin, Korean, etc. – I mean do they use words to which you relate easily and understand?  Do they communicate in a simple and uncomplicated manner?  Do they treat you as an equal part of the process?  Do they answer all of your questions clearly?

Getting a referral from a trusted friend or family can certainly simplify the process of finding such a person.  You can also search the internet using your favourite browser and search engine.  Professional qualifications are always important – but the key to being satisfied is the relationship you develop with the advisor – not the number of initials after their name (I’m one to talk!).  You can check out my blog at further information about the professional credentials you can expect to find with well-qualified advisors in the life insurance industry.

Term Life Insurance Explained

“Fun is like life insurance; the older you get, the more it costs.” – Kin Hubbard – American Humourist – well, when talking about term life insurance, this is certainly true – the insurance companies even guarantee that the cost will go up in their policies!

Term insurance is supposed to be the least-expensive temporary kind of life insurance available and is designed to be out of force when most people die – past age 75.  It isn’t an accident it was created in that manner.

The need for term life insurance is simple and obvious: people may need large amounts of temporary coverage for either re-payment of debts, or to provide income replacement to dependent family members when a breadwinner passes away.

Term products have come and gone over the years in various disguises, but today, we are left with two types – level renewable term that normally expires by age 75 or so plus Term-to-100, which is simply permanent insurance with no cash values so despite its name, it isn’t term insurance anyway!

We used to have reducing term – which had a level premium for the entire term but the face amount reduced each year – roughly in line with the outstanding balance of a mortgage or other fixed-term loan.  I am not aware of any such coverage being available in Canada any more other than as Creditor Group Insurance sold by various lending institutions and credit card companies.

So back to the renewable term products – today, usually available as 5-, 10- or 20-year renewable term.  Premiums increase at every renewal date and are guaranteed in the policy for each successive renewal period until the expiration date – usually age 75 but sometimes as late as 80 or 85 – for a MAJOR increased premium.  Very few people into their 70s or better are happy paying premiums that may triple or quintuple in a 5-year period – so they let it lapse – exactly what the insurance companies expect, and want!

As mentioned earlier, many lending institutions and credit card issuers promote credit life insurance, along with balance payment coverage or disability income payments if the borrower us unable to work as a result of a covered illness or accident.  To be sure, these extra coverage do provide benefits in the event of a covered death or disability – but there are restrictions – as you would expect.  Most important is that the borrower or cardholder does NOT own the coverage – the lending institution or card issuer owns the policy.  The borrower or cardholder don’t set premium rates – which normally change either every year or in 5-year age bands – the premiums are set entirely at the discretion of the insurance company.  Third, the borrowers’ or cardholders’ family are not the beneficiary of the life insurance – the institution or issuer is the beneficiary – and it is the same on the disability benefits – benefits are payable not to the insured person but to the lenders.  The lenders are protected but how much protection is really in place for the borrowers and their families?

There are two other issues flying below the radar.  The first is that either the insurance company or the lending institution/card issuer can cancel the coverage at any time without advance notice to covered borrowers or cardholders. The second point is that this type of coverage is not portable.  If you move your mortgage to a new institution, they might not offer creditor insurance at all – so now what?

Not to kill this discussion, but finally this coverage is not as cheap as it may appear.  In virtually all cases, a client is better served with more appropriate coverage, terms of coverage, premiums, portability and control of the plan by purchasing personally-owned coverage through a qualified financial advisor.  Regardless of your desired approach, make sure to get answers regarding all of these points – caveat emptor – let the buyer beware!

In closing – a quote from a most intriguing Canadian gentleman: “I detest life-insurance agents; they always argue that I shall someday die, which is not so.” –  Stephen Leacock – Canadian Humourist