SMAX speaker profile – Bill Spar
By Jesse Giuliani
As a lead-in to our 2011 Advisor Survey, we decided to focus on one, randomly selected respondent and get a more personal view of the year ahead. Adviser Bill Spar — who splits his work time (he has 600 clients) between his home in Phoenix and offices in Las Vegas and Los Angeles — faces all the same challenges as other advisers across the nation. But Spar says he believes business will be better in 2011, his 11th year in the industry, provided he adapts to the changing market. Bill will be a speaker at this year’s Senior Market Advisor Expo, presenting The Power of a Tax-Free Retirement…Now That’s Sexy!
Bill Spar, LUTCF
Faith Edwards Financial, LLC
Member: NEB, NAIFA, MDRT
Series 6 and 63 licensed
SMA: What products are giving you the most success?
Spar: My business is split about 60-40 between annuities and life insurance. FIAs are a great help for a portion of people’s funds, but I back up that message with life insurance and a death benefit legacy plan. My business naturally evolved—I started out working with New York Life in L.A., and since I moved to Phoenix, things have matured. There are a lot of opportunities with estate planning and I do a lot of 401(k) rollovers. This year I’m also partnering with a CPA and we’ll be doing a lot of tax work, as a 1040 holds all the information a financial adviser needs to help a new client.
SMA: What marketing strategies are working best for you now?
Spar: I’m a big joiner and I’m always out and about, just a really social kind of person. My approach is probably a little old-school but I simply have five or six different elevator pitches and I just talk to anyone I can, at a saloon, at a movie theater or out getting ice cream with my kids. I still do a fair amount of pounding the pavement, but I ask for the business — I don’t wish and hope for it. As a one-man shop, referrals are absolutely important, so personal introductions and cross-selling existing clients are crucial. If I see enough people, I know that eventually I will come across someone who needs my help, and the economy will have nothing to do with it at all. I also use a lot of e-mail blasts to my existing clients and try to keep in touch with them 14 times a year or more.
SMA: How has your relationship with your clients changed since the beginning of the financial crisis?
Spar: Those days after September 2008 were actually the greatest days of my life because nothing happened to my clients at all. My phone only rang two or three times. As it turned out, it really is all about proper allocation and a more moderate mindset, and it seems like my conservative nature has helped my clients. That’s why I love FIAs — people will never lose their principal. In general, though, I still get a lot of questions at my seminars and I see that the public is ridiculously misinformed.
SMA: Has new technology changed the way you do business?
Spar: It’s certainly helped, though I’m probably not as savvy as some people out there. I haven’t fully incorporated it into my business, but with the insurance companies getting more technologically advanced, it’s all going to be for the better and will make things easier for the process.