InsurMark recently celebrated the company’s 40th anniversary. Along with that milestone, came a changing of the guard, when company founder Steve Kerns passed the reins of leadership to Jeff Maxey, who was named President of InsurMark this past July. Jeff has been a fixture at InsurMark since 1997, when he began his career as a marketing consultant. Since then, Jeff has served in a variety of leadership roles, most recently acting as VP and General Manager from 2017 to 2023.

Change can be unsettling for some and exciting for others, so InsurMark’s Virtual CMO Jack Martin invited Jeff to join him for a chat on a recent episode of The Breakthrough Advisor podcast. During the podcast, Jack asked Jeff to share his vision for the future, what will and will not change under his watch and what advisors can expect from him as a leader. Following are a few highlights from their conversation.

Jack Martin: Many of us here at InsurMark have known you for years but for those in the audience who don’t know you, who is Jeff Maxey?

Jeff Maxey: Who is Jeff Maxey? Jeff Maxey is the proudly adopted son of Frank and Naomi Maxey and El Paso County Welfare Department. I was adopted at six weeks old, adopted into a wonderful family, taught so much, and I’m grateful for that. I was taught many different things around leadership as a teenager. I went to leadership training classes. I competed in speech events, which all helped, and as you look back, it gets you to where you are today.

I have a wonderful family. I’ve been married 20 plus years to Natalie and have two sweet children, one who I can barely believe is going to college next year and a 10-year-old who would love to be the next Tom Brady. So, I am honored to be a father or hopefully a great father to our sweet kids.

Jack: For those who haven’t had an experience with InsurMark in the past, what should they know about the organization?

Jeff: We just celebrated 40 years. So, we are one of the longest, continuous operating, advisor marketing organizations in the country. We were founded by Steve and Becky Kerns. Our value proposition is to help advisors build a 21st-century business. And there are a lot of ways we can do that. We also have a wonderful staff that has served advisors across the country for many, many years.

Jack: As you sit here today in the new chair, what do you see changing about InsurMark? What do you see staying the same?

Jeff: First, I want to talk about what’s not going to change. The heart, the culture that is InsurMark, that was founded 40 years ago—we celebrate that. We have such a unique culture, and we have such wonderful people who are part of that culture. In fact, we want to enhance and grow and really build upon what we’ve been privileged to be part of today. So, what’s not going to change? Our culture, our people, our willingness and our desire to serve advisors across the country.

So, what will change? We are moving really quick. Steve and I formed a senior leadership team (SLT) consisting of seven very high caliber wonderful leaders with many, many years of experience here at InsurMark. We have two vice presidents, one that leads on the advisor services team and is outwardly focused, kind of an advisor’s back office. We have one that helps run the business here through payroll, human resources, I.T., tech, infrastructure. And then we have five senior leaders who are responsible for training new consultants as we branch out and spread our story across the country.

We’re also in hyper growth mode. I recently met with the SLT and we were talking about five-year goals. We had some substantial growth numbers and a couple of them said, “Jeff, I really think this could be done in less than five years, really around the three- to four-year mark.” So, we collaborated around that idea and we want to accomplish being a billion dollar company in less than five years, really in the three- to four-year time frame.

Jack: How are you going to strategically go after that number, and what does that mean for our advisors or those who are evaluating InsurMark?

Jeff: We are entering the Golden Age of Annuities. So, how do we how do we gain really good momentum around that? We do it first through innovative products with top carrier partners that really partner with us and help with our training aspects. Second is technology, fintech and how it plays a role in this. It’s just a staple of what we do. Number three, training. We’re doing more training events, both virtual and in person than we have before. And we’re really pouring into advisors, as well as advisor staff, because we understand the importance of what the back office or the team members of an advisor can do.

Jack: Advisors also face challenges, adopting new technologies, dealing with regulators, dealing with the changing markets and new competitors and all those kinds of things. What should they expect from InsurMark in terms of how you’re going to help them navigate that?

Jeff: We spend a lot of time with our sales team members doing training so they can then multiply that out to the advisors themselves. Take just one example, Jack, on tech, maybe an advisor is sitting in a seat saying, “Man, this is daunting. I’m technology challenged.” And we’ve seen that.

But at the same time, we’ve had the great privilege, and I really mean that, to serve advisors and do screen shares and walk them through. Then the next thing you know, they’re submitting apps electronically, two apps, three apps, and then it becomes just part of the cadence of their office. Another way is helping them with their electronic marketing, because it can be more efficient. This is part of that tech stack that just says, “Hey, don’t run from it. Let us help you run towards it.”

And you’ll find greater efficiencies, as well as probably greater outcomes depending on what area you’re in. If you’re talking marketing, more people, if you’re talking electronic order entry, annuity applications or life applications, you’re talking about getting it issued faster, which means you’re getting paid faster as well.

Jack: Obviously, you’re taking on a new role. What would you say is your management style?

Jeff: One word that hopefully the team would a hundred percent echo is I want to be a collaborative leader. There are several things you really focus on when being a collaborative leader. First, you really want to focus on your environment, what’s going on. That means that you’ve really got to know your colleagues.

Number two, each member of our leadership team brings unique strengths. Several of them have great strengths where I’m weak, and maybe I’m strong where they’re weak. So, you’ve got to know your team members and embrace their strengths. Number three, as a collaborative leader, you have to actively listen. You’ll learn more through listening. You get the other person’s point of view. You need to walk the talk. If you’re going to be a collaborative leader, you can’t all of a sudden come in and just lay down an edict and have people wonder, where did that come from?

You need to have empathy. I think through my roles that I’ve had through the years being a consultant, knowing what it’s like to be an internal sales team member, an advisor, knowing what it’s like to deal with tech and all of the things that get thrown at a consultant. I can be very, very empathetic. But then the last part I deem of being a collaborative leader is ultimately, I’ve got to focus on results.

So, in the leadership room, yes, I may be collaborative, but at some point, I’m going to make a decision. And within the leadership team, I don’t want a bunch of yes people. We’ve got a great team here that is not afraid, thankfully, to express their opinions because that’s very dangerous to an organization where you’ve just got yes people, and we do not have that. When there’s disagreement, I encourage people to voice their opinion.

I want to hear what all people within the organization and our key constituents outside of the organization, what our top advisors are needing. I want to know what our Hall of Fame, the top 12 advisors across the country need. So, ultimately, I desire to be a firm leader where I need to be but overall, collaborative. I think that’s better for an organization. And these are also things advisors can do with their own teams.

Jack: Anything you want to say in closing, Jeff?

Jeff: These are interesting times, and these are exciting times. I’ve never really aspired for a title. I’m honored to have the title here, and I’ll tell a quick story, Jack. I had a very lovely dinner with our founder, Steve Kearns and his wife, Becky recently, and we had some key initiatives and key changes that we were going to be working through. And those changes were in the process of being implemented, whether or not I had the new title or not, but I was honored to do a dinner with them.

And they told me they were going to be making me the president of the company. As you know, we are part of the Simplicity Group of Companies. And so, Bruce and the team up there had also blessed that move, so I was honored for that as well. It’s natural that the first people that I called after that were my mom and dad. My mid-80s-year-old parents.

I said, mom and dad, “Hey, I have a new title. The role’s going to be a little different, but I still serve with the same great people that I’ve been working with, just with a new title under your card and all the responsibility that comes with that.” And my parents said, “Jeff, remember these three things. Remember whose you are. Number two, remember who you are. And then number three, remember those who helped you get to this position.”

I was honored to get that advice from my mom and dad. And there are a lot of people who helped me get here. I acknowledge those people today.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast in its entirety, you can tune in at your convenience here. And if you have questions about InsurMark and how we’re helping advisors build a 21st century business in the “Golden Age of Annuities,” contact us. You can reach our office toll-free at (800) 752-0207 or connect with us online.

As an ADO – Advisor Development Organization™, InsurMark provides solutions to meet the ever-evolving needs of financial professionals with a mission to protect and enhance the financial security of every home in America.