Robert Quinlan, MBA, LUTCF, LACP, has been in the insurance and financial services industry for over 35 years and plans to stay for many, many more.
A Family Tradition
Quinlan is the second in a three-generation tradition of military service. After college, he followed in the footsteps of his mother, who served as a U.S. Army Captain in World War II. Quinlan served three years as an active-duty Field Artillery Officer. His daughter, NAIFA-CO Past President and West Point graduate Kathleen Owings, also served as a U.S. Army Captain, earning the Bronze Star Medal for her service in Iraq.
After returning home, Quinlan pursued his love of education, teaching third grade for several years. While he loved teaching, he didn’t love the politics around it. So, he decided to transition to a new career in the insurance and financial services industry, earning his MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University in 1981. He hasn’t left education completely, though. He currently teaches insurance courses part-time for Kaplan Financial Education. He has also taught Certified Financial Planner courses at several colleges and has spoken on retirement at the New York Public Library’s Money Matters lecture series.
Quinlan says there are many similarities between teaching and being a financial advisor. “The great similarity is what I call sequential learning. You start out with some very basic ideas, and you build up from there,” he begins. “But you've got to be very basic and have a very high degree of communication. You’ve really got to be able to present the material in a way that people will quickly grasp.”
The Keys to Success
Communication, education, and compassion are essential for any advisor, Quinlan says. Enjoying interacting with people and being devoted to your clients are key qualities. He explains that most insurance companies only contact their clients once a year. Quinlan refers to the time in between as “dead space,” a critical period in which clients get married, get a new job, buy a house, or have any number of big life changes. An important part of being devoted to your clients is building relationships that last years or decades.
With high turnover in the industry, Quinlan addresses what can be done to make sure clients are consistently receiving the best service possible. “We've got to be able to more successfully keep people in the industry.” He continues, “Also, the insurance companies need to do a better job of helping new agents and financial advisors to be more successful in prospecting and retention as well.” Despite these difficulties, Quinlan remains optimistic that his students are in it for the long haul.
Going Above and Beyond
Over his decades-long career, Quinlan has made a difference in countless people’s lives. He recalls one instance when he made a particularly significant impact. One of his clients hadn't paid the premiums on her long-term care policy, which was unusual for her. Quinlan visited her at home and found two desks stacked high with unopened mail. As it turned out, she had been experiencing some difficulty with everyday tasks and many important things had fallen by the wayside. Determined to help, Quinlan and his wife returned to the woman’s home and spent two days helping her clean her house and pay her bills. Afterward, her family was able to take care of her needs, but those two days were crucial.
After attending a NAIFA-CO event, Quinlan’s daughter Kathleen told him about the keynote speaker: former U. S. Army special operations soldier Eric Maddox. Maddox shared that his life goal is to “win the Best Supporting Actor award” for his family, his friends, and his clients. Quinlan has adopted this philosophy, both in his personal life and his professional life. “The challenge is to get outside of our lives and into somebody else's life and be able to help people in terms of what they want to do,” he adds. “It's a challenge, and yet when you do that successfully it's tremendously rewarding.”
The Benefits of NAIFA Membership
Quinlan says being a NAIFA member provides many benefits, including building relationships, learning how to best serve clients, and keeping up with changes in the industry. “I just find it a great place to grow personally and professionally." He continues, “Also, it's going to have a very favorable impact on our industry because they are down in Washington - plus all the state legislatures across the United States - making a strong message, reaching out to legislators to provide a better environment for our clients and for ourselves.”
NAIFA’s advocacy has also been an important aspect of Quinlan’s membership and engagement with NAIFA. “Politics has a major impact on our industry,” he says. “As an industry, we need to articulate what our goals should be as the best way to serve our clients and the best way to serve the industry. One way to do that is to help direct where this legislation is going to be going.”
Advisors and agents who aren’t NAIFA members, Quinlan says, are missing a lot – professionally and personally. Earlier this year, there was a change in Section 7702 of the tax code that will have a major impact on new life insurance policies going forward. However, Quinlan says, many advisors don’t know about the change because they aren’t staying informed about developments in legislation.
Quinlan has also taken advantage of NAIFA’s Life and Annuity Certified Professional (LACP) certification course, earning the LACP designation earlier this year.
When he’s not in the office, Quinlan enjoys spending time with family and friends, including his wife, Alice; his three children, Kathleen, Kristin, and Kevin; and his three grandchildren. He loves riding Western style horses and even spent a day rounding up cattle on a Colorado working ranch, crossing off an item from his bucket list.
Thank you, Robert, for your service to our industry and association. We’re #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.