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NAIFA Members Provide Financial Independence

Panos Leledakis

Panos Leledakis, a dynamic financial advisor and tech enthusiast, has revolutionized client engagement with cutting-edge digital strategies. With an impressive 25-year career spanning multiple countries, he has become a thought leader in utilizing AI and other technologies in the financial services industry. As a NAIFA member and a keynote speaker, Panos is committed to helping advisors implement technology into their practices to enhance productivity and service. He invented two software platforms for insurance needs analysis, which received innovation awards from organizations like MIT and the Chamber of Industrialists in Cyprus. 


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [2:57] Panos Leledakis shares his passion for using technology to elevate financial advisory practices 
  • [5:27] How AI and new technologies like NFC (near-field communication) can personalize client interactions 
  • [6:16] The importance of mindset and strategy when adopting technology in your practice 
  • [10:59] Panos’ path in the insurance industry, starting from his days as a student in Greece
  • [14:08] Tips for segmenting your client base effectively to maximize growth and efficiency
  • [18:02] Panos’ niche market strategy for venture capital and startups 
  • [26:31] The value of mentorship in shaping careers
  • [34:46] Why being a member of professional associations like NAIFA is crucial for advisors 
  • [41:49] Panos’ advice to new advisors on embracing technology and specifying niches early in their careers

In this episode…

When the fast-paced world of technology intersects with the stability of traditional finance, what does it take to keep up with the industry? Outdated methods may be holding you back from providing personalized services in today’s digital landscape. How can financial advisors leverage innovative tools to transform the status quo?

As a visionary harnessing technology to redefine his financial advising practice, Panos Leledakis maintains that embracing change can lead to exponential growth. Financial advisors can experiment with AI and other emerging tech tools to enhance client meetings and manage portfolios. By refining AI prompts consistently and exploring new avenues for efficiency, you can ensure ongoing relevance and relentless innovation in the financial services industry. 

In this episode of Advisor Today, Chris Gandy and Suzanne Carawan sit down with Panos Leledakis to talk about using technology to transform your financial advisory practice. Panos explains how AI and NFC can streamline client communications, the importance of mindset and strategy when adopting technology in your practice, and why being a part of professional associations like NAIFA is crucial for advisors.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Quotable Moments:

  • "You need to understand what is possible out there, because one of the things, especially now, is that people in our industry, they don't know what they don't know."
  • "I love this profession so much, I wouldn't change it for the world."
  • "We need to prove that we are not an old-fashioned profession with no added value in technology."
  • "I beg you, embrace more technology. It's not optional anymore. It's mandatory."
  • "If you don't embrace technology now, you’re not just missing out, it's adapt or die."
  • "Nobody gets into our profession intentionally, which is bad, and we need to change that."

Action Steps:

  1. Embrace the use of AI in daily business practices, including crafting personalized client communication: AI technologies simplify complex processes and create a more engaging client experience.
  2. Regularly allocate time to explore and experiment with new technologies that can benefit your business: Staying up-to-date ensures ongoing relevance and takes advantage of efficiency gains.
  3. Identify and focus on a niche market to provide specialized services and grow your practice: Specializing allows for better-targeted strategies and higher client value.
  4. Learn prompt engineering to effectively communicate with AI and improve your client interactions: Mastering the art of prompting AI can harness its full potential, offering a game-changing tool for advisors.
  5. Become an active member of professional associations like NAIFA to access valuable resources and stay informed on industry trends: Engagement with professional communities enriches knowledge and offers advocacy support.

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.

Get in touch with NAIFA and learn more about how to join NAIFA by visiting NAIFA.org.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:02 

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 

Hello, NAIFA nation, this is your co-host, Chris Gandy, for your wonderful Advisor Today's podcast, I'm here with our other wonderful co-host, Suzanne. Carawan. Suzanne, it's been a while. Good to see you.

Suzanne Carawan 0:33 

Good to see you.

Chris Gandy 0:34 

It's been since NLC, since our congressional conference. Sorry that I haven't seen you and but we get a chance to come together and have a great conversation with one of the great NAIFA members today. But I'm sure we have a sponsor for today's podcast.

Suzanne Carawan 0:50 

We do today's sponsor is APEX. It's our upcoming sales summit that's going to be happening September 19 through 21st at the Arizona Biltmore. And I'm delighted to tell you that we have one of the speakers here with us today who's not only a NAIFA member, but an MDRT, big wig, I should say, right, Panos, that's fair to say. And we're able to capture him today. And this is Panas Leledakis, are you coming to us live from Miami today?

Panos Leledakis 1:18

Absolutely, yes, Miami.

Suzanne Carawan 1:20 

All right, so he's in Miami today, and we're going to talk a bunch of stuff. So we're excited to see Panos at Apex coming to you. Registrations now open. You can go to apex.naifa.org and I'm sure we're going to hear about Panos session as well.

Chris Gandy 1:33 

Okay, wonderful. Panos, welcome to Advisor Today podcast, where we get a chance to discuss the relevant things happening with NAIFA members the industry and thought leaders around the country. So share with us a little bit. I mean, make sure that everyone, when they do see you, they can pronounce your name the right way. So share with us that pronunciation of your name, Panos.

Panos Leledakis 2:02 

My name is Panos. It's like the shorter version of panayio, coming from Greece. And the last five years, I'm residing in the USA, three years in New York and now in Miami, and I'm traveling all over the world. So whenever I say Panos, they write Panos. Do you know the villain from the Avengers? So they confuse me like that. And My surname is Leledakis, but you can stick with Panos like I think it's like a trademark. And this July, I'm closing 25 years in the insurance industry, in the insurance profession from 1999 so I'm very happy about that. And thank you so much for the invitation. It's a huge honor and pleasure to be with you.

Chris Gandy 2:37 

So Suzanne said that you were referred, the world of referrals, right? Favorable introductions. You were referred to us as a member, and you're actually going to be speaking at Apex. Can you share with us a little bit about what are you going to be talking to the members about, and why we need to make sure we knock down the doors to get to Apex?

Panos Leledakis 2:57 

Perfect. So, yeah, I'm very proud to be a NAIFA member like recently, because I'm like, one and a half year I'm not like an old member, but that's great. I'm very honored to be invited to speak at the Apex. And my signature speech and my love like in this profession is technology. So I will try to add in the mix how and like, in an easy way, in a step-by-step way, how we can use technology more technology in our practices. And we can start from simple things on how you can elevate the way let's say you are doing teleconferences. So I'm like, in my studio in my Kingdom. So I have, like, some equipment here that I can change very quickly my background.

I can be like, wherever you want me to be, like in Times Square or whatever. I can have a second camera here, and I can wave you from here. I can share my screen without having to share my screen. I can share my iPad here like that, and I can make some with my apple pen and everything. So I think it's something that we need to master a little bit, because we are doing a lot of teleconferences with clients or with teams, and we need to make them more engaging and do all that. The second part, of course, now is AI. We're going to speak about AI and ideas how you can practically easy implement AI in our daily practice. Like, what kind of languages are there? Like, it's not chatGPT. You can now use Gemini from Google. You can use cloud from anthropic. You can use copilot from Microsoft. And all these are competing, and they are having different capabilities and different features that you can use. You can use it for know your audience. You can compare policy terms.

You can use them as advisors. And even you can create your own chatbot in less than half an hour. You can train your own chatbot in and out of the cell product. And one idea that is great to like that they can do like an innovation for the client. I'm going to show them how with this small device called NFC writer. And you can have one of those cards, like either this or this small token. You can train a chatbot. You can put it in this with the NFC writer. You can give it to your good clients, and they can just tap it to their phone and having a clone of you in a chatbot. And they can ask whatever they want. And it's like speaking to you. So this kind of ideas of how you can use AI, how you can use new technologies, is going to be my speech about.

Chris Gandy 5:27 

Wow, you just went through that really fast. So for all those NAIFA members that are out there, here, rewind on the on that session, you kind of went through a lot very in a very short period of time. So we know that NAIFA has been around. Know that the typical advisor that is a NAIFA advisor is in their late 50s, early 60s, right? And so if we know that, how do you Panos, how do you embrace a culture that hasn't dealt with technology over the years, and how do they make that a part of their practice? Because, I'm sure that's a different challenge than talking to a 20-something, right?

Panos Leledakis 6:16 

Absolutely. The good thing is that with this new technology, especially with AI. It's complicated technology in the back end, but the front end use, it's very easy. If somebody shows you how to do that step by step, and we are going to do that in the seminar. It's really very easy to use it. It's like a Google search. Everybody knows how to do a Google search. So if you know how to speak to the AI languages. It's called a prompt, and we're going to speak about prompt engineering, how you can ask whatever you want from AI. It's really a game changer, and it is so simple that nobody can say, I'm not tech savvy enough to use it. This first idea.

I think we need to understand where we are standing now, because I was saying before 2023 because my signature speeches are around technology, that it's good to embrace technology, that it's a big cost of opportunity, if you don't but after 2023 I really say it's mandatory. It's adapt or die. I prefer the Adapt or fly message like at least take leverage, use it be more productive, more efficient, and everything. But now it's adapted, that it's mandatory. So we need to create some new skills. We need to sit down and understand some things, the easy parts, and by experimenting and allocating, let's say, just 5% of the time starting to understand, maybe you can have some mentors.

Maybe you can hire an assistant that is tech savvy and just know the strategy and let them implement like some more complicated tasks. But you need to know what is possible out there, because one of the things especially now is people in our industry, they don't know what they don't know. So they need to understand what is the direction they need to understand, what are the tools, they can use some of them very easily. And then, if they want, they can go the extra mile and make more complicated strategies, use more complicated tools or whatever. And the sky is the limit after.

Suzanne Carawan 8:21 

One of the things that I think that we need to address and be upfront about and in training and educating in the practice kind of management space, or the agency owner, space, firm, manager, etc, is they don't have budgets for this. And this is that kind of thing where technology now needs to have a persistent budget and some amount of money set aside for it, for these tools, etc. That's a big eye-opener for a lot of people. Now, most of us will say how many people just continuously pay for your mobile phone? Like, we've gotten used to that model, like it's every year, every month you're paying for the mobile phone.

I think the idea that you're constantly investing in technology is not quite there yet. People want to say it's a set it and forget it, and it's changing that mindset for that so because I'd ask you the question, why don't more people? Why aren't they using it right now? Right Like, what's the barriers to adoption?

Panos Leledakis 9:14 

I believe it's more on the mindset side, because most of these tools are free. You don't need to invest anything. Let's say yesterday, one of the major languages it was released, it's called Claude, and I will show that in the apex, it's called the Claude 3.5 SONET, okay, forget about that. So it's absolutely free to use it. So the large language models are free, and they are going to be free, and many of the softwares that you can use to elevate your practice are free. And then when you start getting the return on investment by putting your time, mostly because time is money also and then you might start investing in some subscriptions, in something and you get the return on investment, then it's going to be like an appetizer that will open your appetite so you can invest more, but you can now today that we are speaking take the return on investment just by using free tools, really, or the cost it might be like a joke, like you can invest $50 to create something that will impress the clients. I think everybody would do that. It's not a barrier. And then you can see what can do for you. And then you can start investing a little bit more.

Chris Gandy 10:24 

So interesting, interesting stuff. So it's not a bit the barrier to entry is not insane, right? It's the ability you have to be willing to embrace change. And that is part of the challenge. I mean, whether it's from technology, Suzanne, or just spending money on your practice, people have to be willing to embrace, embrace, embrace change. And so that is a challenge. So Panos, let's rewind the tape. How did you get in the industry?

Panos Leledakis 10:59 

I was, like, a law student in Athens Greece back in 1999 so I was studying for six months, and I found the unit manager, as it happens, because, unfortunately, nobody gets into our profession like intentionally, or a very small percentage does that, and that's bad, and we need to change that.

Suzanne Carawan 11:15 

We're trying to change it. We're trying to change that.

Panos Leledakis 11:16 

Yeah, exactly. I'm with you all that, like, all the way, and we can do that with technology also, because we need to approach new generations with technology to prove that we are not an old-fashioned profession with no added value in technology, and we can have a huge voice now with technology parenthesis. So I started back 1999 and I went back to after the meeting with the manager. I was excited about this profession. I didn't know anything. I didn't have any negative prejudice, as people had. So I went back home and I say, mother, father, I'm not going to be a lawyer. I'm going to be an insurance advisor. And they freaked out. You can understand how to come this is how it happens. The good thing is, I was stubborn enough to stay in this profession and make an amazing career.

I wouldn't change it for the world. I didn't do anything like as a profession, like I was just a fast food server because my family was very poor at the time, and I had to work when I was studying, and I made an amazing career as a tied agent, as an agency manager, as a broker, as a corporate insurance specialist and everything. Now I'm working with a very specific niche market, with venture capitals and startups, and just to know how my love with technology started, like, nine months after I started this profession. Unfortunately, my father died, and I was feeling a little guilty, because he had sacrificed everything to give me the chance to get into the law University.

Because, really, he sacrificed everything, and we had to pay an inheritance tax because we had some land in Creta island that we didn't know the value because my father didn't understand finances. You know how it worked? Like we didn't have a financial advisor to advise us, and it was an inheritance tax that I had to pay. And I was very new in the profession. I was like almost one year. And I asked an MDRT member, what can I do in order to pay this inherited tax, what kind of production commission activity I should do. And he told me, You can do it, but you need to do five appointments a day. Back in the days in Athens and now also, the traffic was awful, so you cannot do five appointments a day.

I thought for the first time in 2003 why I don't try to make Skype meetings with clients? So Skype was a new thing at that point. If you remember. I started doing that. I managed to do like these five appointments. And then I saw that the first time that technology can leverage my practice. Then I started in 2010 to make webinar prospecting and recruiting. Then I turned my practice fully digitally in 2015 so I was very ready for the Covid. And that's how I can work from wherever I want in the world. Now, I can be in any place in the world, and I can make top-of-the-table production. That's my story in a nutshell.

Chris Gandy 13:53 

So how did you get Greece is far away from Miami? Yeah. How'd you get from A to B? How did that happen? Share with us that journey.

Panos Leledakis 14:08 

Yeah. So, because I was so in love with this profession, I had like, a vision from when I was very young in the profession, that we need to find some ways to change the image of our profession from that time. So 2009 I was trying to understand, let's say, something simple. I saw some parents sacrificing everything for their children, and then I was going to them and telling them, if you die or become disabled, your family cannot survive. And the answer was, I'm not interested. So I couldn't get it like I was telling them, like it cannot happen, like, why you're sacrificing everything, and you are not interested in that. So I was lucky enough to have a friend in neuroscience studies.

So we started the news 2009 in neuroscience and behavioral economic study, and we found out that there is at least six brain functions that stop people from understanding and accepting risks. One of them is the optimistic bias that the human brain trying to protect us from pain and fear is pain. So we don't want to believe that something bad would happen. So we need to find a way to overcome this resistance of the brain, because if I don't understand and accept the problem, I don't care about the solution.

So that was that the second was how we can consult people. So instead of selling insurance, we utilize the risk management science based in the ISO 31,000 so now we can identify, measure for the first time, prioritize and quantify and give the client a risk profile, not an insurance, just product or a set of products. And the third was technology, how we can leverage technology anyway, to make the long story short, I founded my own InsurTech company in 2015 with a vision to rebrand and re-engineer the way we are doing things, the image and the essence of what we do. So after we have, let's say, dominated the Greece and Cyprus market, that we're speaking the same language.

In 2019 I started my global expansion. And 2021 I decided to try that from New York, because I thought it's going to be better. So I moved to New York, and I wanted also the experience to live in New York to be honest, like it was an initiative also. And I stayed in New York three years, and the lifestyle was not great as I was imagining. And then I visited Miami, and I say, yes, here is the place. So that's how I'm here now.

Chris Gandy 16:24 


Panos Leledakis 16:26 

If you allow me just one minute, because it's an idea, maybe it could be helpful for the members, because it's a trend, a huge trend. Because the last five years, after I found my own startup, my investors, because I had some investors, asked me, okay, we love the idea. We love you as a founder. We are going to invest in your project. But what happens if you die and say you are in the correct person? You're asking the correct person, because I'm in the insurance industry, so what we're going to do is you're going to insure me for $5 million for life and disability.

If something happens to me, you're going to take back your money with the interest that you are expecting for the next few years, and you are good to go. So I replicated this idea. And because we were taking part in some contents with MIT, we have an award from MIT University for our research and everything I was getting in touch with investors, with venture capitals, with fund managers and everything, and I saw that I can replicate this idea. So now, the last five years, I penetrate in this market. And either I'm approaching the venture capital to make it mandatory for the startup to make a life insurance for the key person of the founder that most of the time, or one key person.

So we do that, or I go from the startup side, because I'm in communes of startup, and I convinced them that they can present their solution in a better way, more safe. So this is my niche market that I'm working in. I think that everybody's to do that, because the banks now, they're not giving great interest, and many of the money that they're out there, they're trying to find projects to invest. So it's a good idea to elevate our production in this area. That's an idea.

Chris Gandy 18:02 

So where there's a need? So you saw there was a need in your business, and you say, okay, how do I replicate that exponentially? And so you started to on both sides, right. The investor, and also the group looking to be invested in. So, from their perspective, so at the end of the day, it's like, okay, I need this key man insurance. Where do I go get it right? And so how did you become, I guess, let's say, the subject matter expert. Are you speaking at organizations? Are you speaking at private equity programs and or conferences? Are you going to those entrepreneurial conference, startup conferences, and having conversations, speaking on stage? How are you the go to guy, person for that program?

Panos Leledakis 18:59 

Two things. First, as a technology guy, I don't do many things in person anymore. So what I did is I went to LinkedIn and some other forms and blogs, and I become part of all the kind of social media groups for venture capitals, for angel investors, for family offices that they're investing and they have relevant discussions. So I was starting posting content, added value content for them, so they can know my name. So then and now, it's very easy to create content with AI. That's what I'm gonna show in Apex. In Apex, like it's so easy to create valuable content for any niche market, to understand the pain points, to understand the desires and everything.

So I was getting well known, like in these forums, that I'm a useful guy. And then what I did this, I'm inviting them to a webinar, because I want to save time, also leverage my time for a topic that's not insurance, let's say how you can evaluate the company, like evaluation ways with experts. So I told the experts, come speak to my webinar. It's going to be a win-win. I didn't pay them because they would have many clients from that and in the last 10 minutes, the thing is, I have a special way to make risk management. I have my own software that I pitch my idea in 10 minutes, and then I say, if you're interested, just I create a very easy form to fill, like your name, your mail and your phone number, and my team will follow up if you want to make a one to one meeting with us in the best scenario. In the Covid era, I had the webinar with 1700 people inside.

We have 500 people interested, and then we had the 175 appointment and 95 policies in the next three months, I became TOT only with one webinar. So what I'm saying is we can leverage technology. And some of the secrets to become an expert in this category is to understand the language that you need to speak to them because they have a different language. You don't go exactly as a key person. You go as you how you protect your investment. So if you go by insurance, unfortunately, they don't have the best demands about insurance, but if you tell them how I can raise the value of your company, or how I can protect your investments, then they can hear and then you explain the way.

And also I collaborate with some people that they are experts in funding and everything, and we're giving some speeches, or we understand how we can evaluate an idea, or if it's an established company, how we can evaluate the value of the company and everything. So there is some secret that's a big discussion for now, but this is how I have done that, mostly virtually. I'm leveraging technology again.

Chris Gandy 21:33 

Suzanne, maybe I'll never see you again. Maybe we'll just be a virtual friends. Maybe Apex will be virtual in the future. I think as we look at efficiencies and effectiveness, the opportunity to be in more places at the same time, perhaps, how do we take I think we think macro versus micro. We think micro versus macro, right? And if we think about how many people would benefit from our conferences without having to physically be there, or is there a way to take this exponentially out to the to the world? And the answer is, is yes, with Panos is held, right? Technology, but we could do that.

So, Panos tell us a little bit about your family. And I'm always interested in kind of how you got here. Where does your drive come from? If I'm a new advisor, I'm saying, I'm going 100% technology, like, Where does your drive come from? Because, what you do for a living is not necessarily who you are. So tell us a little bit about your drive, where it comes from. Tell us a little bit about your family. You wouldn't mind.

Panos Leledakis 22:49 

Yeah, I started with a very poor family, like, as I told you, like back in the day. So to be honest, I was lucky enough to have a manager that he has more entrepreneur thinking. So he passed me that because my family was like, my father was an employee. He didn't have any experience, like in business or whatever. And it came very gradually. That's why it took me so many years, like, to start understanding what I can do in the me as an entrepreneur in the insurance business, because even when I was an agent, I have this mindset of, I need to do my production and make some income, and, like, let's say, make some more money.

But then I understood the creativity of that. I found my why. Because I really am in love with this profession. Like, I don't know if anybody can tell that loves it more, and if somebody is out there, I'm gonna beat him for sure. Like, I'm gonna find a way to beat him to love it even more. So I don't know how like and that's my why. Because my why now it lies to find creative ways for me to do whatever I do like in less time, and then try to also evolve our profession. So unfortunately, in the start, my family didn't support me on that, and that's something that also is important.

Because I remember, if you want to tell you a very short story. I had an MDRT member that at that time, 20 years ago, he was 70 years old, and he told me, Panos, I want to know your dream. If you know that you couldn't fail. This is a normal question. We know this question. So I answered very quickly, I'm going to be my the first advisor in my company. And said, no, this is not a crazy dream. I want something more. And say, Okay, I'm going to be the first in the country, in Greece. Again, it's not a crazy dream, whatever. So I say, okay, give me one weekend. So I went back and I came up with this idea that I love this profession so much. I want to invent something.

I want to leverage technology, because I was using that, and I want to speak about that to all over the world and be able to work from all over the world. And it was crazy at the time, because 2023, we didn't even have social media, the internet. What the PSTN remember with his weird sound that it was like, I have it also like, you can hear it like some at some point, like, this is the sound that we all raised. Yeah. You can hear that. You remember this sound when we were connecting to the internet? Yeah, anyway. And yeah, I asked I dreamed of that. I shared that with my family, and they said, Panos, we love that you're ambitious, but how you can do that?

It's possible, like you're from small Greece, you don't have a lot of knowledge in the field how you can invent something and everything, but I asked my MDRT friend that he was 70 years old. Yes, this is a crazy dream. You can do it. I don't know how, but you can do it. And eventually, what I want to say is like, family is not always supporting us, and it's okay because they don't understand it. I can understand them. That's why I'm saying. I connecting that with a family question that you did, but our community, like NAIFA community and MDRT community can give us the guidance and give us the motivation and give us the why by collaborating. And 23 years after, now I'm traveling in more than 35 countries in the world, and I'm speaking about my passion. I have my own InsurTech startup.

We have all these innovation awards, and I did what I was supposed so I don't have family here. I'm alone, so no kids so far, and everything. And I'm very good with my family that now they're very proud of what I succeeded by the years and just the small story. Again, my mother now, whenever she hears like from the family that somebody get into the law University says, oh, okay, my fine. My son is then financial advisor, and now she's proud, but I need to be the stubborn one to make it happen.

Chris Gandy 26:31 

Wow, that's an interesting story. So do you have siblings

Panos Leledakis 26:36 

Here in the USA, no, I have siblings back in the Greece. I have my mother. Unfortunately, as I told you, my father passed away very early. He was 58 I was 20 and a half years old at that time, and I have two brothers that they have. I have four amazing nieces and nephews.

Chris Gandy 26:52 

And so who is the old where do you fall in the pecking order of your family?

Panos Leledakis 26:58 

I am the middle guy because I was the young child for eight years, and then my younger brother came and he spoiled everything. He ruined, you know how it works. Because he was, he was, they didn't. My parents didn't have the intention to make another child, but he came up, and now I'm not, I'm the middle guy.

Chris Gandy 27:19 

So, tell us a little bit about, I think, you know, I've had this conversation numerous times, specifically with other NAIFA members, and tell us a little bit about your succession plan panel. So I know you're young, you're like, man, I’m a crush it. But at the end of the day, unless someone inherits this business that has a license, there is no inherent automatic succession plan, right. And so all the work that you're doing in seating and building, how does that continue beyond your lifetime? So share with us what you've done, if you haven't done anything, but share with us some of the thoughts that you have done, and then, what were some of your thoughts along the way, as you kind of went through that? Could you share with us that, you sound like a guy that's super prepared?

Panos Leledakis 28:14 

I hope so. Yeah, I have done some things. Yeah. And I love your question, because it's a very important question. It's something that I would like to share with the people, because very early on in my career, that's why I'm thanking my manager. I had this entrepreneur spirit that I hired my own assistant in my first year, even when I couldn't afford it, like, let's say, so I knew that my time is more precious in front of a client than handling, like handling claims or like filling applications or everything. So I hired a part-time assistant at the time. Then I make it a full-time assistant the second, third year.

And then at some point, I analyzed my portfolio, and I see that I have 20% that's the Pareto Principle. 20% was the high net worth clients that I managed to penetrate in the next in the first eight years of my career, 10 years I don't remember what was the time specifically, and I see that they have 60 to 80% people that they are average low income, because I was not coming from a family that they can approach high network clients by default. So what I did at that point is I know that these people, I can make more money. I value every client like the smallest client. For me, it's very important, but not all the clients desired the same time investing to penetrate and don't saying they don't deserve service. Everybody deserves a service.

So what I did is, and I was also lucky enough that I had my LUTC training program and certification that it has this idea of the assistant of the agent, not just an assistant, like in the secretary. So I created my first assistant to the agent that we make a legal agreement that he cannot approach my client, even if he goes or whatever, because it's a concern always. And I gave him to service 60% of my portfolio, and I kept only 40% so we needed, like a transition period like that. We were doing some things together, and people get used to it. I changed him in the first three months because he didn't have great communication skills, and this is what you need also, because I can train the other skills, but I cannot make him a charming personality, let's say that you needed like in this thing. And I managed to find a great one.

And then I was starting saving time for myself so I had more time to penetrate in high net worth markets. And I was doing great. That's why I became a specialist, like in high-net-worth markets and corporate insurance. And then I took another one, I created another assistant to the agent again, that he took over my other kind of portfolio. I worked with them around five years, and that's why I'm telling you that 2015 I turned my whole practice digital so I didn't meet clients in person they did, and if I had to kick in, I was doing that from a teleconference or whatever. I remember a story that it was one old client, very high network, that he didn't want to make a teleconference with me. He wanted in person. So I sent my assistant with a laptop. He put the laptop with his table, and I'm connected. He was pissed off.

And I remember that after he liked that, and we get along. And then my assistant says, okay, now I take Panos and leave how she can bring me the into the meeting, and now I also put my brother, because it's a matter of trust, as my sales manager, and all my portfolio is run by other people, so I don't even have to spend like sometimes I need to intervene in something, but mostly they're running all my portfolio in my service. And now I'm penetrating to this market that I told you that I need only 12 to 15 policies a year, like big policies, like $30 million of life insurance and disability, 35, 40 for founders and everything. So I have time also to grow my startup and to do other things. So that was my plan. So now my business can be sold, also because it's self-sustained. So that's my succession plan. I wanted to take myself out of the picture and act as an entrepreneur, not like as just a producer. And I think everybody can have a plan to do that, if they have the time, of course.

Chris Gandy 32:18 

Yeah, it's brilliant. That's brilliant. Panos, listen, we don't want to spoil our NAIFA members, because they'll be like, I don't need to go. I heard what Panos had to say, and I know you have a lot more to say from the stage, absolutely. Well, Suzanne, is he actually going to be there? Is he going to be like, Max bedroom from like, I know, right back in the day? Or he's actually going to come out to Arizona and be on stage. So we do appreciate it and look forward to it. So let's talk about NAIFA. So you became a NAIFA member a year and a half, almost two years ago. What prompted you to do that? I mean, obviously you were having some success, but obviously you were like, wait a minute, I think this organization is a good organization.

Panos Leledakis 33:10 

It's good that for six years in Greece, I was the president of the local Association of Insurance advisors. So I know how Association works. So I was for six years, I was dealing with the European Union when our directive for mediation was coming and everything. So I know the value to be a member. So when I came to the USA, I just needed just one year to take my license and everything, and then I say, of course, I have to be a member of the professional association. I think every advisor should be like, even if they don't understand the benefits that there are so many. But I'm just saying we need to be members of our professional association, that's for sure.

But I see so much value in NAIFA that I couldn't even believe it, because I'm getting all these emails, and you are so active, like in the management so I'm so impressed, really, because there are seminars, there are guidelines, the advocacy, it's so important, because I see all these new regulations that they are trying to hurt our profession, and it's so important to have a voice, like in the government and everything. So I don't need any other reasons to be a member of NAIFA, right? Like we need to be members of this professional association, for sure, with no other question, and sorry, always, it's going to be my first Apex.

I know the value also from MDRT, how it is to be a part of a community and speak with other advisors and exchange ideas and improve your mindset and everything. I got so much value from that. So I know also the interaction with NAIFA member is going to be, again, an amazing experience that will elevate me even more in a market, let's say here also I don't understand so well. I'm trying to try to get now.

Chris Gandy 34:46 

Wonderful. Panos, you'll be happy to know that I've been a MDRT member since 99 Wow, amazing. My first year in the business, I hit MDRT in six months and been an MDRT member, quarter the table six times, and top of the table 12 times. So it's amazing. I hang out with winners like you all the time. I think other people need to know that the winners do are NAIFA members. I mean, there's this, there's just ongoing things saying that we don't have some of the super producers. And I said, not too long ago, I said, we have not tapped them to have dialog and to educate our contingency, and we need to do more. We need to do more and more of that as we continue to grow as an organization, so as we move forward. So Suzanne,

Suzanne Carawan 35:41 

Yeah. Also, all of you are too You're too humbled, maybe sometimes. And I think the more successful that you get, the more you're busy, you people are busy. You got your heads down. You're paying it forward. You're doing a bunch of stuff. And I think you know, we need to tap you and say, Please tell us and remind us of all the accolades you have, all right, because Chris is, well, here's Donna should probably the same way. Here's Chris's philosophy on accolades. Got one. He moves the one from last year and puts the new one in. That's the only one that's

Panos Leledakis 36:11

Like, only that sounds that I would have to hang out with Chris like, I hope I will see you in Apex. That would like be the whole membership-like value.

Chris Gandy 36:19 

Panos, I'm the guy in our office. We get all these, these awards come in these boxes, and they come these, like, big things. I've been going to offices where, like, the whole wall is like, here's what I've done 10 years ago, 20 years ago. It's like, okay, well, whatever. And I played sports Panos. And I don't know if you played sports or not, but you can't celebrate the game you won two weeks ago, when you got a game to play tonight and they're coming for they want to win, and guess what? They want to knock off the best team out there. So you got to be on top of your game.

And so what that does is it breeds, unfortunately, it breeds some of that stuff psychologically, breeds complacency. And so you don't want that. So my staff, all the time says, why don't we put up our awards? I said, you can put them in your office. Of the things that inspire me, and those are the things that help us move forward, they're like, I like it. So they've adopted this thing is, we have one award that we're the proudest of and typically like. So we have the Diversity Award. We've got that we've got the toughness award. We've got awards that are awards that are about character, not necessarily about accomplishments.

Panos Leledakis 37:38 

So I would love in APEX to use you share with me your crazy goals, so I might have, like, some inspiration to put some more crazy goals in my life. Because, yeah, so accomplished, awesome.

Suzanne Carawan 37:49 

But I was speaking of games, Chris, it is time for the lightning round. Let's move to it.

Chris Gandy 37:54 

You know what Panos has helped? I bet we can get some, some, some, some, some technology to help us. Suzanne, go into this list, something called the lightning round. It'd be great if we had, like, a lightning type of technology that was, like

Suzanne Carawan 38:11 

You just played for the startup. Yeah.

Chris Gandy 38:14 

All right. So, Panos, fast forward to tape. So this is the lightning round. The lightning round is where I'm going to fire off questions, and again, without thought, just be yourself. People want to know who you are. They want to know a little bit about you. And this allows for people to get to know the person, not necessarily the business, the businessman on the other side. Okay, and so we'll start off with things that you already know, that are simple. Okay, so first thing is, Panos. You're from Greece. What's your favorite food?

Panos Leledakis 38:40 

Oh, it's not a Greek food, eventually, but I will tell you my Greek food, my favorite food, is risotto, like it's an Italian one, but the other, you have to know, it's not a well-known this, like around the world. It's called Yemi Sta. It's like some vegetables like tomatoes or peppers stuffed with rice and ground beef and everything in a great way that we cook them with olive oil and everything. You have to try that.

Chris Gandy 39:07 

Okay, see that was easy. So, Panos, we'll fast forward to tape you ready your favorite sport.

Panos Leledakis 39:15 


Chris Gandy 39:16 

Tennis, your favorite tennis player.

Panos Leledakis 39:19 


Chris Gandy 39:21 

That's a good one. Okay. Panos, your most favorite place to visit.

Panos Leledakis 39:28 


Chris Gandy 39:30 

Interesting. You're in Miami, and you said, Hawaii.

Panos Leledakis 39:35 

I love the culture of Hawaii. We have the same similar beaches, but I love the mentality of people. They are crazy people, party people, and I go there, and I feel more free to express myself in my party side.

Chris Gandy 39:46 

Okay, wonderful mentor. Your most proudest mentor, the person that's mentored you.

Panos Leledakis 39:53 

It was this guy that he was 70 years at the time. He was 90 years after he was the first MDRT member from Greece. Called Marco Hulu. He was his last name, and just to tell you what his mindset was, at 93 years old, he called me in the office. He was wearing these big glasses, and he had the magnified glass, and he had the laptop in front of him, and he told me, Panos, I want you to teach me technology, because I want to make the plan for the next 10 years. That's the mentality of a person. He was 93 Right, right. So don't tell me about 50 years people that they don't learn about technology. It's crazy.

Chris Gandy 40:27 

That's amazing. Your proudest moment in the industry.

Panos Leledakis 40:32 

It was the first time that I saw my mother crying me awarded as the first advisor in my company. She was accepting that I did the right choice, because it was very important, because my dad didn't manage to see that, but at least my other family did.

Suzanne Carawan 40:48 

She let go of law school at that point. She was like, Fine, you're not going.

Chris Gandy 40:54 

All right. Last question, two last questions, Panos, if you were, if you were able to go back in history and have dinner with any person, whether they're alive or dead today or they passed away. Who would it be and why?

Panos Leledakis 41:11 

Socrates from ancient Greece, if you know him? Because I would like to know the way that he was making these Socratic questions, how you can be curious for everything. And he said that an unexamined life is like a life not worth living. So I'm trying to be very curious and examine everything and evolve all the time. So that would be the guy that I want to have dinner with.

Chris Gandy 41:31 

Last thing is, if NAIFA nation is listening, what would you advise yourself, if you were looking back and advising yourself your first year in the industry, what would you tell you? What words of wisdom would you give to yourself?

Panos Leledakis 41:49 

I would like to be a little bit more risky. Also like and to embrace new things even more fast. So I lost some years by being conservative. So now I would like to be more riskier, to take more risks. Like to embrace more new things, like at the same time. And I would like also to invest most in prospecting, even more, because I became an expert. But like prospecting is always we know that like is this the most important thing, and especially to choose a niche market very early on, not be a generalist.

Chris Gandy 42:21 

Well, Panos, we look forward to seeing you at the peak, the Apex, where the champions meet, right where big-time producers come. So if you haven't registered for Apex, a register today. The link is out there. I don't know if the early bird special, is it over Suzanne, or is it still happening?

Suzanne Carawan 42:38 

I'm not sure, but go ahead and register you either way.

Chris Gandy 42:41 

Yeah, go ahead register. Tell them Suzanne Carawan and tell them you heard Panos and that we're super excited. Look at that technology running.

Panos Leledakis 42:49 

I just sharing the screen with one button. And I'm going to tell you, because you said that might be there or not. This is me on a stage as a hologram. This is the future of NAIFA conferences. We can have anybody as a hologram on the stage without even understanding if he's there or not. So this is something that we should embrace as NAIFA, like in the conference, we can bring anybody as a hologram on the states, and nobody will understand.

Suzanne Carawan 43:13 

We just have to figure out virtual hugging, that's it.

Panos Leledakis 43:15 

I will be real. You can touch me.

Chris Gandy 43:19 

So, last words, Panos, closing words, anything you would like to share with NAIFA nation.

Panos Leledakis 43:27 

Guys, let's take members that they are not members, and let they make them members of NAIFA. We have to spread the world. And the last thing, I beg you, I beg you, embrace, slowly, more technology. It's not optional anymore. It's mandatory. We say adapt or die, but I have my own signature move. Please adapt and fly, guys. Let's embrace technology. Let's have a huge voice.

Let's educate the consumers. Let's change the image of the profession. Let's recruit more young people, and let's prove them that we are not an old-fashioned profession with no innovation, no technology, no added value. We can do that with technology now, that's my message.

Suzanne Carawan 44:03 

Awesome, can't wait to see both at Apex, September 19, the 21st Arizona, Biltmore be there.

Chris Gandy 44:10 

Awesome. Looking forward. So everyone out there in NAIFA nation, thanks for tuning in to advisor today's podcast. You heard one of the speakers today of Apex. And again, remember Apex. Apex is open. We're ready. We're registered. We're registering. The numbers moving up. Make sure you have a spot. Don't miss the assembly. Do not miss the assembly. The opportunity to learn from others. And thanks for tuning in to Advisor Today's podcast, where we uplift the voice of all of you for our ability to be able to learn, educate and grow, and be able to grow this industry exponentially. We look forward to seeing you next week, same time, same place. I'm your co-host, Chris Gandy, Suzanne, we're out of here. Panos, see you at APEX.

Panos Leledakis 45:00 

Bye, bye.

Outro 45:04 

Thanks for joining us for NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series, make sure to subscribe to get future episodes, and if you're interested in coming on the show, let us know.



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