10 Questions: MDRT President Brian Heckert
Brian D. Heckert, CLU, ChFC, officially became the 90th president of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) on Sept. 1. Heckert, a highly decorated 27-year MDRT member from Nashville, Ill., will lead the 43,000-member organization of top life insurance and financial services professionals through the 2016 MDRT Annual Meeting in San Diego, June 12-15.
Heckert graciously took time to answer some questions about what’s on tap for his term from Insurance Forums Executive Editor Brian Anderson in the form of the following 10-question Q&A:
Path to the Presidency
- Insurance Forums: As a 27-year member of MDRT, can you briefly summarize how your involvement in the organization has evolved over the years, leading you on the path to the presidency?
Brian Heckert: My journey toward MDRT presidency started when I was 21 years old, when I passed the life insurance aptitude test and entered Allen Shmale’s agency, a former member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT). The combination of training, self-study and exposure to others and their ideas was the right mix to push me to my first MDRT qualification. My MDRT membership and the resources they provided helped me to overcome my lack of formal education. I was able to pick up tips and exchange insight with top, worldwide life insurance and financial services professionals. It felt like I was getting a doctorate in prospecting, presenting and problem solving.
The relationships and tools I’ve gained through MDRT are invaluable, and I knew I needed to give back to the association that gave me so much. My volunteerism over the years has included speaking at the MDRT Annual Meeting and MDRT Experience Meeting, as well as service on multiple committees and task forces. I served on the MDRT Foundation Board of Trustees for three years and was Divisional Vice President three times. I’ve also had my hand in the development of the Annual Meeting Connexion Zone and Resource Zone.
Applying MDRT’s ethics, professionalism and commitment to client care has helped me achieve the coveted career milestone as MDRT President. My involvement and the relationships I build through MDRT continue to help me become a better advisor, community volunteer, husband, father and grandfather.
Agenda for the year
- Insurance Forums: Tell us about your agenda during your term in the coming year – what are your key goals or priorities? Any particularly ambitious plans or initiatives in the works?
Heckert: During the next year the Executive Committee will create and inspire global leaders through educational materials and opportunities. We will offer these to members through our annual meetings, Resource Zone and communications on the total financial planning approach. We will continue to promote success and achievement through connecting people and ideas.
MDRT’s ambitions are to inspire both new and experienced financial advisors, and to provide clients valuable and honest advice to further develop meaningful relationships. During the last year, several strategies were implemented to improve the way the organization operates and to offer members a more personalized experience. A technology focus provided a redesigned mdrt.org that includes more content and the ability to create customized offerings. A new strategy for MDRT’s content offerings is in development, which has resulted in an MDRT podcast series that can be found on the Resource Zone of mdrt.org. Resources have been developed to help members position themselves in their communities and help them discuss MDRT with their clients. We will enhance MDRT’s Mentoring Program and create other professional development resources.
Financial associations are well positioned to motivate and positively shape professionals by delivering exceptional resources across all aspects of their business and lives. Associations are in a very unique position to help the industry promote success among newer and existing agents looking for increased productivity. Our members share best practices through mentoring and study groups to help advisors increase their efficiency. I’m proud to lead MDRT with the Executive Committee to deliver vital, cutting-edge resources we all need to take our businesses to the next level.
The Succession Planning challenge
- Insurance Forums: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing MDRT right now, and what can or is being done to overcome it?
Heckert: MDRT is always looking for ways to serve a diverse membership at different career stages and in different market environments around the world. MDRT is tailoring their educational content, as well as its tools and services to meet the needs of our members. One challenge many MDRT members are facing is succession planning. Succession planning varies significantly from one country to another, and MDRT has gone a long way to address this issue. MDRT developed a mentoring program that connects a young advisor with an older and more experienced mentor. This program helps a new advisor learn about the business while paving the way for the mentor’s smooth exit from the practice. MDRT also provides business development and transition planning resources, as well as helps members maintain a balanced life through their Whole Person concept.
Next page: Industry challenges; MDRT’s value proposition
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