Over the years, we at ITM TwentyFirst have been leaders in peer education. The TOLI Handbook, a free download available here as a PDF, provides industry peers with a single source guide for managing trust-owned life insurance (TOLI) trusts and policies. We have, over the years, provided hundreds of hours of professional CE for several professional designations. Our staff is encouraged and incentivized to seek professional credentials, and our internal training and education programs are robust and ongoing.

We believe this ongoing education is one of the keys to our excellent customer service. Now, several studies are showing that education and professional designations are not only good for customer service but also for team members and for maintaining a compliant work environment.

A past survey by a nonprofit professional association found that 62% of clients of financial professionals believed it critical that the advisor they work with maintain voluntary certifications, and the percentage went up among millennials, with 84% citing the importance of accreditations. (1)

A recent survey of studies on the subject by the American College of Financial Services (2) found that clients do want their advisors to have credentials. According to the survey, clients are willing to pay more for someone they trust who has achieved the right level of documented qualifications to be deemed an expert. Designations lead to a “perceived higher level of knowledge and professionalism.” Because attainment of a designation is voluntary and not a requirement to do business, “attaining additional credentials shows that the advisor has taken the initiative on their own to pursue their knowledge and professionalism.”

The American College also published another study (3) that examined the effect of holding one of the designations that can be obtained through the college, including a designation held by members of the ITM TwentyFirst team, the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), as well as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential and others. They found that having one of these designations raised the average earnings of designees over non-designees by 51%. The study of over 100,000 financial professionals also found that those with two designations earned over 69% more.

More than 80% of all respondents said obtaining their designation “improved their ability to meet customer needs, and also improved both “client conversations” and “customer satisfaction.”

But that is not all. Compliance officers will love the fact that those with designations were found to be much less likely to have a compliance violation. An employee with no designation was found to be more than 6 times more likely to have a compliance violation than one who does.

Education increases customer service and satisfaction, as well as employee earning power, and it reduces compliance violations. In the financial services world, this is a huge deal.

This is why we are happy to do our part by continuing our history of providing peer education. In May, we will be at the Fiduciary & Investment Risk Management Association’s 33rd National Risk Management Training Conference, where Leon Wessels, who heads up our Business Development at our affiliated company, Life Insurance Trust Company, will speak on real TOLI case studies and provide a free copy of the TOLI Handbook.

Later in the year, Aaron Hanson, CLU, who heads up our Policy Review and Remediation team, will be presenting at Cannon Financial Institute’s Unique and Hard to Value Assets session at Notre Dame. Cannon Financial is one of the preeminent educators for the bank and trust space, and we have been honored to participate in this particular program since its inception.

Knowledge is power, and we are glad to be a leader in providing that power to our peers.

1. Press Release, IMCA Investor Research: High Expectations for Advisors, May 6, 2014
2. The Value of Designations: The Client’s Perspective, The American College of Financial Services, https://www.theamericancollege.edu/
3. Designation Outcomes Study, the American College of Financial Services, https://www.theamericancollege.edu/