Chris Gandy is the Founder of Midwest Legacy Group LLC, a boutique concierge insurance group for executives, professional athletes, physicians, business owners, and entrepreneurs. It focuses on the client's interests in the areas of wealth accumulation, wealth preservation, retirement strategies, insurance, asset protection, and investments.
Chris played professionally for the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs, and in L'Hermaine, France after playing for the Fighting Illini at the University of Illinois. After the NBA, Chris worked as a Representative for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, the APEX Consulting Group LLC, and was the Senior Vice President of Sales at MassMutual Chicago.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Chris Gandy explains how insurance and the financial industry are intertwined with everyday living
- How NAIFA (National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors) adds value and education to your financial planning, family, and business
- Chris talks about the importance of financial guidance to ease change
- Why the financial industry needs to attract professionals by offering a healthier work environment
- Chris details tapping into the opportunity to develop professional goals and how to attract your audience
- Chris shares how to be a leader and a teammate to create improved strategies
In this episode…
The insurance industry is one of the oldest economic engines, but what happens when you find yourself sinking because of the obstacles that exist between you and financial freedom? If you’re an insurance professional, where can you turn for education and development to further your career?
For Chris Gandy, being in the financial industry is a way to give back and give a voice to the community. Financial literacy and understanding your financial situation make it possible to pursue financial goals and dreams and protect your finances against rogue waves. Chris recommends implementing solid financial planning and for financial advisors to use readily available resources. With the technology available, advisors from across the globe can connect to ensure the best financial practices are being used.
In this episode of Advisor Today, join Jeremy Weisz of Rise25 as he joins Chris Gandy, Founder of Midwest Legacy Group LLC, to talk about understanding the financial environment and building a better future. Chris discusses how the financial services industry brings value to businesses and families, why a healthier work environment is crucial for attracting more professionals, and creating improved strategies and conversations to become a great leader.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Sponsor for this episode...
This episode is brought to you by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, or NAIFA, the #1 association for producers in financial services.
At NAIFA, we enhance professional skills, promote ethical conduct, and advocate for legislative and regulatory environments.
By joining NAIFA, you gain access to a partnership that elevates your performance while providing greater purpose to your professional work. NAIFA members are happier, make more money, and stay in the business longer.
Welcome to NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series, where we focus on how financial advisors work, live and give to their local communities and our greater financial services industry. Now, let's get started with the show.
Chris Gandy 0:20
Hi, it's Chris Gandy, your co-host of Advisor Today, podcast, where we feature the top leaders and insurance and financial services. We're lucky to have our guest today Dr. Jeremy Weisz of Rise25, who has done hundreds of 1000s of interviews of successful CEOs and entrepreneurs, and we flipped the script today, he's actually going to be interviewing Yours truly, Chris, I'm excited.
Jeremy Weisz 0:51
You know, anytime I get a chance to talk to you, and we're gonna talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, we're gonna talk about recruiting talent, all the hot topics that people want to know about. And you just actually spoke and you speak all over the country on these topics. So before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, or NAIFA the number one association for producers in financial services and insurance and NAIFA. I know you help enhance professional skills, promote ethical conduct, and advocate for legislative and regulatory environments. And that's a nice way of saying, Chris NAIFA members make more money, they stay in the business longer, and they're happier. So if you're already a member, you know how awesome they are, if you are in financial services, and you're not a member, you can go to NAIFA.org and aifa.org, or email them at info@NAIFA.org. So Chris, told me about the DEI symposium,
Chris Gandy 1:58
Jeremy, it was an awesome opportunity to, to share and collectively come together, five or other professionals in our industry, regardless of the company and the affiliations, they have our ability to come together for one message. And that message is to empower and to embrace and to uplift, others in the financial services industry, but ultimately, to be able to give back to the communities and give a voice to the communities that typically are marginalized, typically that are overlooked, and typically the one environments and in organizations, that organizations but communities that typically would benefit from financial literacy and an understanding of a different way to exist, to pursue their financial their financial goals and dreams for and protecting their families.
Jeremy Weisz 3:00
Talk about the importance of equity in equality, especially in this insurance and financial services industry.
Chris Gandy 3:09
Interesting. Jeremy asked me that question. No insurance and financial services is one of the oldest industries in the world. You know, the insurance industry has been around since the since the 1900s. And even during the Depression, you know, the insurance companies existed and help the banks along the way stabilize some of their some of their finances and the government also to help people rise during the Depression. And so since that is one of the oldest economic engines in the United States, if you think about it, Jeremy, all pensions are based in backed by insurance companies. All retirement plans are based and backed by insurance companies. And investment companies, you've got education, which is also their foundations, you have numerous aspects of the financial services industry that literally underlies the stability of, of our economy. And so when you start to think about that, what affects me affects you, and what affects you affects others because we are all intertwined. closely. It's impossible for you to plan for education without someone or representative or someone like NAIFA actually working in conjunction collectively with the lawmakers to create unique programs like the 529 plans, that allows for people to save, save for education, and now have the opportunity to be able to benefit from a tax perspective because of it. So it's really intertwined between Main Street America financial professional is actually the government so that alignment has to work or if they're creating obstacles that don't allow for the average person to be able to plan financially and accordingly, then what happens is that you find yourself rowing in a boat the opposite direction. And you find that there's there's you're finding that yourself an adversarial situation potentially, with the goals and dreams that you that you have, and you can't find a way to really align those actions and those intents in your intent, because because of those obstacles that exists, there might have been put there for numerous reasons, right? It may be it may have been put there, just simply because of the concept of financial services. And the concept of education planning, nebulously is is a much bigger project than the actual tactical way of executing it, like a 529 plan. So at NAIFA, any association, one of the things that we're doing is trying to, from a grassroots effort really connect the dots between the companies, the advisors, and the constituents, or the the clients, or the potential clients, or the prospects, we're trying to make sure that, that that alignment happens. So it's seamless. And we're advising people on what to do and how to do it. And it aligns with the rules and guidelines that the government has set forth.
Jeremy Weisz 6:35
Want to talk about, you mentioned NAIFA, what are some of the big benefits that you see of NAIFA? NAIFA's
Chris Gandy 6:41
one of the, quite frankly, Jeremy's one of the reasons why I'm in the business. One of my mentors, who's passed on now by the name of John May, you know, he, he set me aside when I first came into the business and he goes, Hey, here's where you go, we're all the champions go, here's where the winners go. These are the successful people. So, you know, NAIFA is an organization that allows for for all of us to share comfortably, ideas and repurpose strategies together, in which we can use best practices. And so the opportunity to learn through education. NAIFA has its own credentialing, it's got, you know, it's it's LACP, and partners partnered with American college to be able to put on programs like the CLU and ChFC CFP, and there's numerous others that allows for individuals, and which is the gold standard for financial planning and financial services is the CFP. And so you have a lot of those licenses that have been helped, you know, created and help. And NAIFA has helped add value and education along the way of how to accomplish that and how to get those those certifications. So you have education, yeah, best practices as it deals with being able to launch a practice, grow a practice, expand a practice hired assistants, best practices and doing business. So you learn those from other advisors, plus NAIFA has a resource, one of the most abundant resources on their website that allows for advisors to tap into endless amounts of knowledge, discounts for phones, and practice management, and then resources to help us build and grow our businesses, through marketing and also through through seminars and things like that. And those resources are readily available. But at the end of the day, when NAIFA really does, what is to protect the industry in a way in which most people don't realize, I'll give you an example is Life Insurance specifically has a unique benefit to it, that the federal government and and the government has tried for numerous years to try and change attack and also try to dismantle it. And it's one of the more more unique tax strategies that's out there that allows for that's unique to the financial service and the insurance industry. And so, what NAIFA does is doesn't matter the company but what it does on a regular basis, is it defense. These programs that have been set up 510 1520, sometimes 6070 years ago, and the integrity of those products, so that it's not taxed differently after the game has already been played. As you know, Jeremy, I played sports. I'm a recovering athlete, don't judge me. Right. But one of the things we've learned is that I wouldn't play a game of basketball with you Jeremy, if I don't know where we're playing to. You say Chris, let's go play one on one. I'm not gonna play you Let's say you're telling me the rules of the game. Two, I need to know how we score and how we win. And three, I need to know that if I get to the end, and it's over, when the clock goes off, the game is over. I don't want to get to the end, and you say, You know what, Chris, I've got to tell you the rules. Now, actually, every time you scored a basket, you lost two points. And actually, Chris, these rules apply. Now. Sorry, I didn't tell you until you know, the last point of the game. Sorry, I just didn't tell you. Right. And nobody wants to do that either. And I don't want to play a game with you and compete if I can't, if we can't have a winner if we can't have a winner. So we never want to put ourselves in a situation knowingly playing a game where the rules are changing at the very end of the game. And so Nathan's goal, our goal, as a trustee of the National Association of insurance and financial advisors, what are our job is to educate individuals on the power of, of the efforts to protect the industry, and ultimately, the consumers. On the main street level, because if those products change, and you've been anticipating those to educate your kids to protect your family, to to, to, to, to sustain your business, then we all know that that's not fair. And so we want to make it fair for everyone. And we also want to make sure that we're protecting our clients in the industry as a whole. I know some of the stuff you
Jeremy Weisz 11:39
talked about, Chris, when you were there, and just in general, you're always keeping up to date on is some of the rules and regulations in DC. I don't know if there's any specific topics on that, that we should mention.
Chris Gandy 11:54
I'm not sure if there's anything specific. But here's what I'll tell you, you know, opportunity, I'll tell you two stories. One, I had an opportunity to visit with one and go through just understanding how government really works, right, you get a chance to, you know, from everyday life to visit the business of politics, you get a chance to really go into the bowels of how the government works, and walk around where lawmakers work, but you get a chance to visit them in their in their offices. So we got a chance to visit, a couple of people from the house of representatives from the State of Illinois got a chance to sit belly to belly with our congressman, and got a chance to explain the impact of what certain rules, certain bills certain laws are doing to the common everyday person. While lawmakers don't the concept of laws sounds good. But when it comes to the execution of it, if they don't understand that it's making it more difficult for for individuals, everyday mom and pops businesses to exist, because the rules and guidelines have so much red tape, then it's actually doing the opposite of what their intent is. Does that make sense? Also, one of the things that data also does is it advocates for the career of financial services. One of the things that's been under scrutiny for a period of time has been advice from financial advisors and insurance professionals is we're one of the only ones we're one of the only careers at this point that people believe that they we should not get paid for the work that we do that that advice should come for free. And that the government feels like that. All advice. Should there's enough information out there that people should be able to make their own decisions about what to do with and how to plan for their retirement. But if we look at the just simple statistics Jeremy the statistics don't lie is that 70% of people have less than 35,000 Saved $35,000 shaved in your mid 40s. The average person has somewhere between 19 and $20,000 of debt. And the average person lives somewhere between 20 and 30% over their income limits. So if we understand that we understand that right now we're in a real pandemic, so to speak, of what's going to happen to all these people who don't have enough money when it gets to the finish line. And they need help to figure it out through education or they need someone to help guide them along the way because now the hardest decision they've had to make along the way they're having to make it once they actually get to the destination. Can you imagine that Jeremy we wait to pack we're going on a year long vacation. A matter of fact we wait to pack until we don't even pack we We actually just go there, and then we say, oh, you know, what we probably should have packed before we got here. Imagine that getting to the finish line of something and saying, you know, we probably should have prepared, you know, probably six months, eight months ago. Well, we all know that we will probably pack before we go. We don't wait till we get there to pack. And so we all understand that. And if we knew what to take with us along the way along this journey, we will probably take it so we were prepared when we got there. Well, that's what the role of an advisor is to do is to really help guide we don't have to tell people we can, we can give people information, and just help guide them to make decisions. And we all know Jeremy, last but not least, is most people aren't aren't made motivated to make change in their lives. And so people make changes because either A, they've been inspired by something, be something in their life has changed, or the pain of not doing it is too great. That's typically why people change and change is difficult. So if we know that there's something that we're going to avoid, because it's difficult, where it hurts, typically, we'll do it more, or we're more like more likely to do it. If somebody is holding us accountable. And someone's getting us or guiding us along the path. We're more willing to do it. So that's why professionals like myself, and my peers, we come together to make sure that when they see the 100 200 people standing on at the Capitol building, saying that this is good for everyone that they actually see, and they can feel it and actually get practical conversations face to face, belly to belly with professionals like like, like myself.
Jeremy Weisz 16:47
Yeah, thanks for going into that. Because that's, you know, hearing how it actually affects people is is huge. And I want to talk about the hot topic of recruiting. Right? I mean, it now especially, but it's always a hot topic of recruiting talent to the industry. So what are some of your thoughts on on recruiting?
Chris Gandy 17:09
Well, Jeremy, we did a symposium on specifically Dei, right. And so I just want to tap on that. I think the industry as a whole needs need needs more people. So if we look at statistics, and I'm a big statistics, right, I played sports. How do you know who shot well, as you look at the statistics at the end of the game? I you know, who had a bad game looked at all the turnovers, right? I mean, the statistics don't lie, right. So couple statistics that are very startling in the majority of people that are listening to this podcast, pretty much probably don't know. But the for every five people that actually have have jobs and are looking to do financial service, do they actually plan for their future? There's only one financial advisor for every 25 families. So there's not even if everybody decided, hey, I want to financial advisors, there's not even enough in the industry. Number one, number two, there are more people exiting the industry than they leave anything coming into the industry at this point. for numerous reasons, and some of it has not to do with financial services, a lot of it has to do with the baby boomers. Right? A lot of it has to do with that. Also, a lot of it has to do with a mass exodus of people leaving what I would call normal, normal working environments. COVID made that expedited that and made that very clear to people that certain people, people were going to do do things differently. And sometimes now you find I find that I'm running into people now that if you say it's is why are you doing it, and many people are saying not for the money. They've left what I would call stressful jobs, right. And they've left other careers in light of their mental health, and having more freedom of choice of what they do. Now, on the flip side of that, now you throw the DEI party, and we look at an industry that actually needs people. And we look at an industry that typically has been somewhat challenging to perform in naturally. And I you throw the DEI part, and the DI part of it is if you look at the average financial advisor, the typical financial advisor is 58 year years old, a white male. Okay. And so if we start to look at that scenario, one of the things we have to embrace is we have to embrace change, as it deals with the professionals in the industry. And so the DEI aspect of it is those who get this right now, those who get it right, the companies that get it right, the advisory firms that get it right will will be the ones that you'll never be able to catch in the future. They'll grow they'll be the largest firms in the country. And the answer to that, Jeremy is I honestly believe that The industry needs to look like the environment in which it serves, that needs to mirror and match. So the DIY aspect of it is, the market should have professionals that represent the LGBTQ space. It should have professional women in the space, it should have Hispanics, it should have African Americans, it should have traditional blacks, not from America, or fall into the African Americans space, need to have Pan Pacific, you need to have these series of different cultures and lifestyles and individuals in which people can identify with, because people want to know that you've walked in my shoes. So then you have empathy for who they are and the struggles they have in their everyday life. And so we've got to approach it differently. So attracting individuals into our business. Again, I didn't say recruiting people into our business, I said, attracting individuals into our business has to encompass all the following things, freedom of choice,
creativity, the ability flexibility, right, we've all seen that there has to have flexibility, it has to have an untapped opportunity in front of them. It's got to have the opportunity to be able to navigate and steer and create what you want in life. Because everybody at this point is figured out that freedom of choice is really what everybody is looking for it regardless of the race, color, creed or belief. Everybody wants freedom of choice. And so if we have the ability as a career to give people that it's a wonderful, it's a wonderful career. And we wanted to talk about that specifically in no spaces. We talked about words that offend, we talked about phrases that offend people, we talked about the need to attract specific audiences, we talked about what companies are doing, to be able to serve the DEI space. We talked about career development for for professionals that come from different cultures, because that track is different depending on what culture you came from. We talked about technology and and improving technology of launching, creating new religion. Think about it Jeremy, before people used to meet people through handshake meet you, God bless, nice to meet you am going to a networking event. Now we have things like LinkedIn. Now we have things like other social media platforms, where essentially, Jeremy, I can meet you halfway across the country. And if you and I have a lot in common, and we hit it off, we can have a conversation, I feel like I've known you for 20 years, and I've never had a chance to meet you or even be in your presence. So so so how do we bring all that together in a place and now be able to deliver it to the public. And so we did it in a place where we can have, we can have meaningful and purposeful conversations about what needs to happen from a tactical level. And then charging everybody with the call to action, which is a couple things. One, we challenge everybody to bring another professional, because this now affects everyone. You know, Jeremy, I walk around today, and whether we realize it or not, somebody we interact with in the next 24 hours, will be connected to dei in one way or the other, whether it's who they identify, as you know, he she, they we, whether it's African American, whether his his spanning, they will have some sort of way of connecting with that space, someone told a story while we were there, very specifically, is that their 17 year old child, as identified is they no longer want to be identified as a male. And then how do you how do you communicate with that without offending? How do you communicate without offending? Right and, and how do you embrace and uplift that I think that's that's something that everybody needs to hear. And everybody needs to understand is how do we do things that subconsciously, we've been conditioned to do? You know, in change that I joked with one of my colleagues while I was there, who's another board member, is that we heard a story about how not to things that you can say that are culturally was false, okay, and not okay. And what I found, which is interesting is most people believe that, you know, things that would offend, you know, potentially could be a African American, hey, you're offended if someone says, Hey, Chris, you're black, or someone says, Hey, you're African American, or, Hey, you know, you're this or you're that, right. But at the end of the day, what I heard was, is that subconsciously, right. I have unfortunately, have found myself segregating myself in it situation because they're just not like me. unintentionally. Right? And so, you know, when you when we say that, we said that, you know, the insurance and financial services industry is 50 year old 50 year old white guys, I inadvertently have now offended a specific group of individuals based on a the color of their skin and be based on what I perceive is actually going on, even though there's data to back it up. Right. And I put them in a box, and I've categorized them without me subconsciously even knowing it. Because of that.
Jeremy Weisz 25:42
What are some you mentioned phrases that offend words that offend? What were some other examples that were brought up?
Chris Gandy 25:50
There were some specific ones. Again, it wasn't my space, but I didn't find it pretty interesting. A lot of it was around. You know, the specific cultures and specific lifestyles, right. One specifically, that that that got me was was kind of interesting is people will say, well, will they? Right, when they referring to a quote unquote, group of people, right. And instead of, and someone else said, you know, they were having a conversation with an African American, and the actual professional said, I don't see color. And his response was, how do you not see my color and understand that we're different? He's like, I never thought of it that way. Right? But is it really like, I don't see color? Because I because I see the person. And one of the things is, he said,
Jeremy Weisz 26:49
person was thinking is a positive, like, I don't see color. And the person's like, well, you should see my
Chris Gandy 26:54
uniqueness. Right, right. Like, I don't see how unique and creative and one of a kind you are. And I can appreciate and understand it and helped me understand. And so he changed that to help me understand the challenges that may exist, don't let me perceive what I believe exists. But let me show you what actually exists. By asking questions. What we got down to the bottom two is at the end of the day, Seek first to understand and to be understood, make very little assumptions and the world in which we live. And always, always, always, always, always, don't be afraid to apologize if you if you feel like you've made a mistake. And Humble Pie is always the best party. So we had a good time I learned a lot from each other. And I think it's just the grass roots and the seeds of what growth really looks like. And again, I think it made a times people uncomfortable. But that's where growth happens. I think growth happens in the space where you can embrace the fact that I know what I don't know. And I'm willing to learn and get better than 1% willing to get 1% better every day in every way. And so I think that's one of the one of them awesome opportunities we had. And we were able to collectively do it together in a safe space.
Jeremy Weisz 28:18
Chris, I have one last question. Before I ask it. I want to hear your favorite basketball story. I know you played college basketball, the high level NBA spurs bowls. Before you answer that I want to just point people to check out NAIFA.org NAIFA.org. Learn more.
Chris Gandy 28:40
Jeremy Weisz 28:42
tell me tell me your favorite basketball story.
Chris Gandy 28:46
So let me see one that I can tell on screen I want to keep my job as the co host of the day. So no, I'm just I'm just kidding now that there are no bad stories when it deals with the game but I just remember that one of the stories that kind of stuck out to me was what I when I was playing is that we we really didn't have names you know we would go places and they'd be in everybody that was new there they were. Your name nickname was rook. So hey, rookie of my bag, hey, rookie, come over here a rookie, I need you to do this for me a rookie, I need to do this for you. And then once somebody said one day, somebody sat down and one of the chairs they actually had one of the captains names on it and they were sitting there and they didn't even pay attention to it. And they said I remember them saying hey, listen, those have names for a reason. The rookie sit down there, they don't have names and you don't want to get a name until you earn earned the right to have a name on this team. And I just found that to be pretty interesting because it really is a club, right, and you have to earn your wings. When you when you when you, when you join a professional franchise, it's similar to NAIFA. I mean, do you truly as NAIFA is a team, also, you really have to put in the time, energy and effort. And it's really a dedication, I've said that, you know, I'm, I'm truly honored to be able to represent the industry in a way which others aren't willing to me how many financial advisor out there that have never got a chance to have the right conversation about changing the industry. Again, as a teammate, as one of the captains of of one of the teams, you know, it's my responsibility, which is a real responsibility to be able to, to, to try and put forth a solid voice to be able to put forth good strategies and also be able to, you know, quite frankly, reach back, help other young professionals see what this possibly can be and turn into for them. Because they don't know what they don't know what it could be, until they until they have somebody who's willing to kind of mentor them and show them what the what the rose colored with their rose colored glasses, what the future could look like. And, again, I share it with you, I wouldn't be here without that young man who event who has passed away now. And without him saying, Hey, let me show you what this thing could be for you and your family. If you're able to accomplish this, it could change the life not only not only can not only change your life, but it could change the life of the people you love and you care about. And so it's been a real blessing to be able and, and responsibility to be able to do that. As the team in which I play on now, which is our at the association team and the team and it was
Jeremy Weisz 32:06
Chris only the first one to thank you. Thank you for having me. Check out more episodes of the podcast everyone and NAIFA.org and thanks again, Chris.
Chris Gandy 32:17
All right. Thank you, Jeremy. I appreciate you being here. And what a wonderful opportunity we have to continue, continue to continue to grow, you know, collectively together with purpose and intent and look forward to our next episode as we move forward in the future.