Sign up to receive exclusive monthly wealthtech insights and interviews from our Chief Growth Officer, Jack Sharry. SIGN UP NOW
wealthtech on deck podcast - Tim Seifert

The Evolution and Growth of Annuities with Tim Seifert

WealthTech in the Weeds is a new series covering the broad yet critical path to financial services. The goal is to get together with industry experts and get into the details of building an effective, productive, coordinated, and comprehensive advice system.

The annuity industry is experiencing a surge in popularity, with experts buzzing about its record sales growth and advisor and consumer adoption. But what’s driving this growth? It all boils down to the industries’ ability to tap into the deepest desires and concerns of consumers and financial professionals. As annuities address the anxieties and aspirations of individuals in today’s uncertain world, they are positioned to continue their upward trajectory, providing generations with the financial security and peace of mind they need.

In this episode, Jack talks with Tim Seifert, Senior VP and Head of Retirement Solutions Distribution at Lincoln Financial Group. Tim is a leader in the annuity industry with a strong track record of driving organic growth and building strong teams. He is passionate about helping others succeed and dedicated to developing the financial services industry. Tim is a proven growth leader, an exceptional communicator, and a mentor.

Tim talks with Jack about the evolution of annuities, their current popularity, and the industry’s future. He shares insights on how Lincoln Financial Group drives growth and momentum in the annuity business. Tim emphasizes the importance of communication, education, and activating annuity solutions to provide financial protection and security to clients and their families.

The views expressed in the referenced article are those of the guest speaker only and not necessarily those of any Lincoln Financial Group® affiliate. Neither the information, nor any opinion expressed herein shall be construed as a recommendation to buy, or as an offer to sell, any securities or insurance product, a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice.

Lincoln Financial Group® affiliates, their distributors, and their respective employees, representatives and/or insurance agents do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Please consult an independent professional as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein.

Lincoln annuities are issued by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, IN, and distributed by Lincoln Financial Distributors, Inc., a broker-dealer. The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company does not solicit business in the state of New York, nor is it authorized to do so. Contracts sold in New York are issued by Lincoln Life & Annuity Company of New York, Syracuse, NY, and distributed by Lincoln Financial Distributors, Inc., a broker-dealer.

Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation and its affiliates, including broker-dealer/distributor Lincoln Financial Distributors, Inc., Radnor, PA, and insurance company affiliates The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, IN, and Lincoln Life & Annuity Company of New York, Syracuse, NY. Affiliates are separately responsible for their own financial and contractual obligations.

What Tim has to say

“What we’re most excited about in the annuity industry is growth and momentum. We had another outstanding year in 2023 and will continue innovating. It’s all based on working with our financial professionals and uncovering what the customer truly needs, wants, and desires.”

– Tim Seifert, Senior VP and Head of Retirement Solutions Distribution, Lincoln Financial Group

Read the full transcript

Jack Sharry: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us on this week’s edition of WealthTech on Deck. The annuity industry is enjoying record advisor and consumer adoption and sales growth. So I asked myself, why is that? So I invited Tim Seifert to join us on our podcast and fill us in on the evolution of annuities, their current popularity, where he sees the industry headed, and who knows, we’re gonna probably wind up talking about a few other things. Tim is a longtime friend in the business and a true leader in our industry. He’s the senior vice president and head of retirement solutions distribution at Lincoln Financial Group. And as you will hear, Tim knows a thing or two about generating enthusiasm around new growth opportunities while improving outcomes for all consumers, financial professionals, and firms. He has developed a strong track record of driving organic growth, and building strong teams. He’s also no stranger to challenging conventional thinking, as I’m sure we’ll hear in a moment. Tim, welcome to WealthTech on Deck.

Tim Seifert: Jack, my friend, it is an absolute honor and pleasure to be with you and your listening audience. I know we’ve been trying to get together for a while but it’s great to see my buddy, it’s great to see you.

Jack Sharry: Yeah. Good to see you as well. We’ll have some fun here. So, Tim, let’s start with you sharing with our audience about your role at Lincoln Financial Group, what do you do? Who do you do it for? Fill us in.

Tim Seifert: So, my role at Lincoln Financial. First of all, I love what I do. So I head up the retirement solutions division, as you said, which has everything to do with our annuity business and also a small market retirement business. So it’s under 50 million working with small businesses, primarily through financial professionals. And, Jack, I head up, what will come no surprise to you, is I head up, for all of LFD, our training and development.

Jack Sharry: No surprise at all.

Tim Seifert: And so, just so enthusiastic, you and I share a passion of helping others succeed, whatever they deem as success. And there’s nothing more important than training and development of our people. So really, really good there. It’s great.

Jack Sharry: Why don’t you fill us in? I, we were chatting before we went on the air here about your background, but fill us in and tell us about how you got started in the business, your experience at a little company called PLANCO that kind of took over the universe and the annuity world. So fill us in on your background, and then we’ll start talking about what you’re working on today. But the background I know is quite interesting.

Tim Seifert: Yeah. So our mentors, you know, what’s great is leaders always have mentors in the business. And, Jack, you and I were sharing…

Jack Sharry: Sure.

Tim Seifert: Some of those stories about Joe Thomson, Ed Gold, and Jack Craig. And I just, there are so many people in this industry of financial services that we serve, that were touched by those three gentlemen, and their careers today are thriving because of what they taught us. But, Jack, I don’t know where we’ve ever talked about this, but I, I was in banking, back in the early 80s. And I met Joe Thomson through the horse business. So my roommate from college, had a wonderful pacer named Maria J. And I met this wonderful human being and Joe Thomson at the track. And he asked me what I did. And Joe, Joe, like a lot of great sales professionals are so engaging, and they’re, they’re more interested than interesting. And Joe taught me that early on, to be curious. And he asked a ton of questions. And he said, “Kid, you’re in the wrong business. You need to be in sales.” And I said, “Well, I am in sales,” and he goes, “What are you selling?” I said, “I’m selling small loans to businesses, and I’m selling college planning.” And he goes, “It’s so much broader than that.” And he bought me a cup of coffee. And the rest is history.

Jack Sharry: Describe for our audience, PLANCO, and just the power of that organization because it really led… We’re gonna have Joe on, as I was mentioning earlier to you, on our Legends of WealthTech. Just because he really transformed how annuities are distributed, wholesale distribution at large changed because of him.

Tim Seifert: Yeah. So PLANCO at that time was the largest independent marketer and sales organization of financial products on Wall Street. So we called it what they call was a wholesaler. So our role and responsibilities is to go and meet with financial professionals and be really consultative in the sales process because we were independent, we offered a lot of different products. And so because we offered this breadth and depth of portfolio, that every product solved a different need, want, or desire for the end consumer through the financial professional. Jack, it was the essence of what today we would call the consultative sales process.

Jack Sharry: Sure.

Tim Seifert: In other words you go in, you identify needs in the financial professionals book of business to help them gather assets, help them retain assets, position portfolios, but you just weren’t pushing a product, you had to uncover the need. And so Joe Thomson, Ed Gold, and Jack Craig, this company called PLANCO, we’re independent. We were ultimately bought by Hartford in the early 2000s. But they taught so many people how to sell. Just the sales process, the consultative sales process. So it was all about training and development. And we use those fundamentals to this day here in Lincoln in our training and development of our wholesalers and sales professionals.

Jack Sharry: So tell me about what you’re doing at Lincoln. What are you guys excited about? What are you doing? What are you making happen? And I know you’re always on the cutting edge of how to make things happen in the annuity world and beyond. So fill us in.

Tim Seifert: Yeah, so we can go on forever and ever and ever. But for your listening audience, I would say what we’re most excited about in the annuity industry right now is one word, Jack, my friend, it is growth. It is growth on and momentum, big momentum. And you probably read a lot about it. But you know, we had another outstanding year in ’23. And we will continue to innovate, we will continue to grow. And it’s all based around working through our financial professionals, and uncovering what truly is the need, the want, the desire of the consumer today. And so it’s growth, Jack and, its momentum, growth and momentum. Yeah, for sure.

Jack Sharry: So how do you go about that? Talk a little bit about that, because I know you’re always innovative in terms of how you go after different channels, how you go after different advisor segments, and then what you do with product, and then frankly, what you doing with, from a value add standpoint, so bring us up to date on some of the things you’re excited about in that regard?

Tim Seifert: Well, it all has to do with demographics. And I know you’re well aware of the Alliance for Lifetime Income, our friend Steve Gresham’s an advisor there through Next Chapter, but it’s all around demographics. I mean, you’re gonna have what they call peak 65, where there’s more 65 year olds today than ever has been, and that’s when you’re gonna continue to see that growth for the next three to five years. So more people in that retirement, but specifically to answer your question is that the way we do that, is it all gets back to asking the appropriate questions of our financial advisors and their clients around what are they truly looking for, to solve their biggest challenges. And there’s really three buckets, Jack, it’s protect and grow their portfolios. So it’s portfolio position, so to protect and grow your capital. Next is protect and grow your income, so providing guaranteed income for the rest of their life, which is a long, long time. And then the last one is protect and grow your legacy. And it’s multi generational. And what’s great for our financial professionals is they’re always seeking to get into the next generation, and develop those relationships with the next generation. And by using and positioning annuities in the portfolio, and IRAs for that fact, you have a beneficiary, right? So the beneficiaries is those loved ones. And by having that, having those conversations, you actually can pass those on to the next generation. So I think about, Jack, we wake up every day like you and I, this is your big, why. Why, at our age, are we doing what we do? And it’s the love, we love. And it’s, we love what? We love our why. We love our purpose. And so our purpose, and I share this with you, our purpose is to provide financial protection and security to our clients and their families. And I think you’d agree with me, in this world we live in where anxiety is at an all time high, fear’s at an all time high, uncertainty is an all time high, is we undo the “un.” We bring certainty to an uncertain world. We bring no fear to a fearful world. And that’s financial protection and financial security. And that’s why we talk about it’s a growth business. So, it’s of noble purpose, and I know you and I share that love.

Jack Sharry: Oh, totally, totally.

Tim Seifert: Of purpose. Yeah.

Jack Sharry: You know, back, way back when in my wholesaling days, because I carried a bag for a long time, but I used to say that. And I still say it now, I just have a different audience, it’s people like you, executives at large financial institutions, my, the advisors of all… people like you that are running businesses across our industry. And what I’ve always said and still say is I’m all about helping my constituents do more and better business, more business and a better quality business, and a subtext to this better quality of life. In other words, what they’re doing… they’re doing what they’re doing. And not only doing good but doing well and, and having fun and making a difference. I mean, I think we share that passion.

Tim Seifert: It’s, the essence, my friend of servant leadership.

Jack Sharry: Yep.

Tim Seifert: Is to serve others, is to wake up every day and say, what can I do to put our stakeholders, whether they be the financial professionals, whether they be our home offices, whether they be, you know, even our wholesalers, what are we doing to put them in the best position to win, and to serve them? Right? To serve them. So true. So true.

Jack Sharry: Tell us a little bit about some of the things you’ve done over time. And I’m going to talk about where the world goes in a moment, worry about the future and all. But for now, and looking over, over past years, you’ve always had a knack for being innovative in terms of how you engage the advisor, how you engage the, your wholesalers, how you engage your team, talk a little bit about that, some of that sort of creativity that you bring to the table, and certainly passion, which I know is coming through in this, too. For any of our listeners, that’s always there with you. But how have you gone about that? How do you come up with the programs? What do they look like? What’s on your mind? How do you make those things happen, because you have a consistent track record of making those things happen.

Tim Seifert: Yeah. I mean, we can take it from the wholesaler level, we can take it from the advisor level, we can take it from the home office level, but we wake up every day. And obviously you have one side of it, Jack, that’s research based. Like you and I are engaged in research all the time. So it was research.

Jack Sharry: Sure.

Tim Seifert: But there’s nothing better than sitting down with a decision maker, and I use a financial professional, and just asking a simple question. In our limited time, what are the two or three things that you would find most valuable? In other words, what do you need? What do you want? So just like in a financial professional standpoint of view, we know and you know, I do a lot of work with my friend, RJ Shook at the Forbes Top 100… but we know that the top of the top asset gatherers, those people that have client satisfaction rates that are higher than anybody else.

Jack Sharry: Sure.

Tim Seifert: Right, we did. We had the best quarter we’ve had in firm history. And people say, why? And it’s nothing more than the value proposition. So in other words, if we were to design the ideal savings vehicle, or the ideal retirement vehicle, and you and I asked the questions of go ahead and manufacture it. So we go to the end consumer based by fundamental research and see what, if you were to design it yourself what it would look like. Well, I want protection. Okay. I want growth. Okay. You and I’ve been talking about taxes forever.

Jack Sharry: Yep.

Tim Seifert: If you could reduce my taxes, that’d be great. I don’t want to pay a whole lot for it. And I want to transition it to my family so that if I don’t spend it all, they can have an efficient way to pass it on. And then we say okay, we’ll go to the lab and build it. And guess what? We do. That’s right, the value. I don’t want to make any more complex than that. Because it’s you know, Jack, it’s just being a great listener. Just listen. Listen to what the market’s saying. Listen to what the firm wants, listen to the end consumer, and then do the best at elevating the client experience. And you’re gonna win.

Jack Sharry: Yeah.

Tim Seifert: They’re gonna bring you more money, and they’re gonna bring you friends. They’re gonna bring you friends. So that’s the great thing, Jack, about annuities is not only it’s… is it booming right now, but they’re adding to their contracts. And they’re bringing associates, family members, and friends to buy more through our advisors. So referrals up. It’s a great time, really fun.

Jack Sharry: So you’ve covered a bunch of things that I’m just going to be redundant, but I think it bears repeating and also bears zeroing in on, I think, what’s going on. So you have an uncertain world, just in all the ways that it is, wars and politics and all the rest of it. This is an uncertain world. By the way, typically, annuities do best when the markets don’t, but even the market’s doing great and still people want the annuities because of this uncertain world, at least in my opinion. And by the way this is leading up to a question for you, add your two cents to all this. You have peak 65. For those that may have missed what that means, basically, there are more people under 65 today and I think it’s next year the year after or somewhere here, more people will be over 65. So basically, there’s sort of a flip the demographics, they were called Baby Boomers way back when, I are one. And there’s just going to be more and more of them as they head toward the longer life, that’s a whole ‘nother matter, whole ‘nother issue of longevity that people are coming in to deal with. People hate paying taxes, and are under the impression that they can’t beat the market, so let me try to figure out who I can benefit from a tax standpoint. I’m probably missing a couple of things. But that’s sort of why I think those are the elements that are adding up to a very robust annuity business across the industry. And certainly in Lincoln, it sounds like. So confirm or deny. Is what I just said, is that pretty much it? I probably missed a couple things.

Tim Seifert: Now you’re spot on, you’re spot on. I mean, it, through our research, it talks about protection is a growth business. So protect it, but don’t miss out on the growth. So it’s protect and grow your capital. And then through the podcasts like this, and other outside organizations that are educating like the Alliance, like Next Chapter, is, we know the facts say that the consumer, 85-90% want everything you and I just said, but only 20% are presented that solution. So we have to do a better job, Jack. We have to do a better job of allowing our clients and prospects the opportunity to own them. Because they want them, they want them.

Jack Sharry: So we’ve talked about the present, you guys are rocking, clearly. The industry is rocking, that’s all good. Where are we headed? What’s next? What’s coming down the road? What, if you could wave a magic wand, what are some of the things you’d like to see the industry do or it needs to do that could go beyond the 20% that are presented the solutions to make them more available? Fill us in on that.

Tim Seifert: Yeah, it’s all around innovation. And it’s innovation on their terms, where they want to be served, how they want to be served, you know. So there’s more going into multiple channels, Jack, one of the areas that are growing substantially is the fee based in the annuity, like I prefer to offer my clients the opportunity to participate in gains and be charged upon that. So how do you want to be served as a financial professional, so we’re going to continue to innovate on how they want to be served, where they want to be served, that’s a biggie. The other one is on communication at the client level. Is that integrating technology to be able to use the communication and education which is really, really important. So being able to make it easily accessible with client statements, easily understood statements, statements on demand. So the whole technology end of it. And then from a product standpoint of view, the products will always be based on the needs of the consumer. So you’re seeing that there’s a lot of innovation around multiple products, there’s the fixed product, it’s the RILA product, it’s the income product, it’s the wealth transfer product. I know that you’re a big believer in some of the Lincoln products that we’ve talked about over the years with like the eye for life and extending that to the next generation and pushing those taxes out multiple generations. They’re now available on trust. So, just, it’s all needs based, you know, we will innovate based on the needs of the customer. So we always have ideas in the lab, we always spend money on, on the research.

Jack Sharry: That’s great. So talk a little bit about, this is WealthTech on Deck, but what do you foresee happening on the tech side. I’ll give you at least my two cents on the matter. It does seem that the industry is working in all quarters, because we have many guests from the annuity world on our show, that basically the process needs to get slimmed down, less friction, less challenge. And a lot of advancement has been made, but much more to go. So talk about technology, talk about the process itself to be have it be more mainstream, for lack of a better term, less friction and just easier to do business. How is that coming along?

Tim Seifert: Yeah, that’s the name of the game. It is the name of the game, Jack, what you just said is, I have a phrase, just do simple better. Just do simple better. And so the friction of purchasing it needs to improve. And we’re working with a lot of the companies that you’re involved in and you’ve had guest speakers talking about that. So friction of purchase, the friction of building it into the portfolios so your financial professional could say annuities as an asset class. We talked about annuities as an asset class, but make it a real asset class, where it integrates it into the portfolio.

Jack Sharry: And, by the way, for our audience. Tim was holding up his iPhone.: Just don’t talk about it, do it. So there’s a lot of work being done around that. And then last, I already, already mentioned this, but you know, making sure on the consolidated statement… how is my annuity performing? You need to be able to take this little thing… an app and pull up everything about it. Make a transaction, like, that easy.: Sure.

Tim Seifert: Right. So that is the innovation at the tech deck you’re talking about. So I do see a day in the not so distant future, because leaders always cast vision. Where are we going? How are we going to get there? Why are we getting there? So I do see a day in the not so distant future, that you’re going to be able to do everything seamlessly. And just make it easy. Do simple. Do simple better. So we, we’re getting there, Jack. We’re not there. We’re… progress is happening.

Jack Sharry: I see that. I see that from you. I see that from the rest of the industry. There’s… we’ve had many, many guests from the annuity world and they… are singing the same song, and rightfully so. So this has been great, really have enjoyed our conversation and with the time growing nigh, as they say, what are some key takeaways you’d like to leave with our, with our audience?

Tim Seifert: I think about the rule of “-ate,” Jack, here. And it’s not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. It’s three words that end in “-ate.” And we call this the three habits of highly successful financial professionals. So it’s a practice management piece. And I think it’s relevant to today’s conversation, all the topics you and I just talked about. So the three words, is, this is a study that we’ve done internally and with help of others, that what is it that the financial professionals who are gathering assets better than anybody else, who have client satisfaction scores better than anybody else, who’s building scale with their business, what is it that they do really, really well in today’s marketplace? And I think it’s to this. So the three things I would leave you with is number one is communicate, right. We’ve got to be out, letting everybody know that the value proposition has never been better in today’s marketplace, of positioning protection into one’s portfolio. Number… so we have to communicate it. Number two is we have to educate, right? So the education piece is spending time with clients and talking about how they’re positioned in the portfolio, just like you did in the beginning to provide better outcomes for you and the ones you love most, your family, your legacy. So it’s communicate, we have to educate. And then lastly, is we have to activate, we have to take massive action today. So that, we know 85% want them but only 20% are shown this opportunity. And when you add protection into clients’ portfolios, client satisfaction goes up substantially. Your client reviews are much better. They’re highly satisfied. And then, Jack, you taught me this back in the early 80s. The two things we know about satisfied clients, they never run out of more money, and they never run out of referrals. So communicate, educate, and activate. They’re my three departing words.

Jack Sharry: Yeah. One last thing before we go, though. So my favorite question, and this has been, I really have enjoyed our conversation, as always. But, it’s just fun to talk with people that know what the heck they’re doing, and a real leader. So, thank you for that. But on a more personal side, and I know you have some exciting news in your life, we’ve shared about that. Tell us, my favorite question at this point, as we look to close the podcast, what do you do outside of work that people… that you’re particularly passionate about, excited about, that people might find interesting or surprising?

Tim Seifert: Okay so, I love adrenaline. I still, even though I’m up in age now, right, just turned 60, celebrated 60. But I love adrenaline. So I always have a big goal out there. So a lot of it has to do with climbing mountains lately. But I would say that my big one is I have rim to rim coming up. So it’s the Grand Canyon. It’s a one day, 23 miles, and you really get after it. So it’s that, it’s that, and Lisa and I after 32 years of marriage, three wonderful children. I also spend a lot of time we, we’re grandparents for the first time. And my middle boy, Tommy, had twins. So we are really delighted around that. So that keeps us, that keeps me busy and always having big goals out there, keep me busy. And then, you know, I still lecture at the local universities on all things leadership. So doing a lot of work with Professor Bray at Villanova, one of the capstone courses at Villanova, the MBA program. And so it’s a passion is to pass the baton that you and I talked about earlier is we wake up every day and say, what are we doing to develop the next generation? So I love leading and teaching leadership. And that’s a real passion. So those three things keep me really busy.

Jack Sharry: We’re like minded. I do many of the above. I haven’t made it to the rim around the Grand Canyon, but that’s a whole ‘nother matter. But, congratulations. That’s great news. So, Tim, thanks. This has been a wonderful conversation. Really pleased and excited to have spent this time together. So for our audience, if you’ve enjoyed our podcast, please rate review, subscribe, and share what we’re doing here at WealthTech on Deck. We’re available wherever you get your podcasts. Tim, thanks again. This has really… been a real blast.

Tim Seifert: Jack, my friend, like I started out, it’s an honor to serve with you, my man, and your listening audience. And anytime you call me, I’m answering the phone.

Jack Sharry: I appreciate it. Thanks, Tim.

Tim Seifert: Thank you. Take care.