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April Is National Financial Literacy Month

Tom Plameri

Tom Palmeri is a Life Underwriting Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) committed to helping clients build and safeguard their wealth. As a financial advisor, he has over 25 years of experience in insurance, investments, estate preservation, and employee benefit plans. Tom specializes in helping individuals and businesses achieve their financial goals through compassion and empathy. He has demonstrated his leadership acumen by serving as a past President of the New York and Suffolk County chapters of NAIFA.


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

  • Tom Palmeri shares his professional background in the insurance industry
  • Issuing life insurance policies as a young professional
  • The value of obtaining professional designations as an insurance agent
  • Why does Tom concentrate on association programs and memberships?
  • How to foster industry leadership and community support 
  • Tom discusses his involvement with NAIFA and its benefits 
  • Advice for rising entrepreneurs in the financial services industry 

In this episode…

Working in the insurance industry is more than just a job; it’s a lifelong profession necessitating compassion and understanding for people’s lives and assets. If you’re prepared for the leadership, training, and tenacity it takes to become an insurance agent, how can you gain a reputation in the industry? 

The insurance industry is a rewarding and lucrative career path that requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for helping others. However, like any other industry, insurance has a significant learning curve. To overcome this barrier, Tom Palmeri suggests investing in education and training to keep up with industry trends and best practices, networking, and joining communities in the industry for support. By doing so, professionals can navigate the complex landscape of the insurance industry and build a reputable and sustainable business.

In this episode of Advisor Today, Chris Gandy and Suzanne Carawan sit down with Tom Palmeri, a Life Underwriting Training Council Fellow (LUTCF), to discuss how to break into the insurance industry. Tom shares his professional background in the insurance industry, his experience issuing life insurance policies as a young professional, how to overcome industry challenges through education and community support, and his involvement with NAIFA.

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.

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  0:16  

NAIFA's nation this is your co-host for NAIFA's Advisor Today's podcast. I'm here with our wonderful other better half, Suzanne Carawan. Hi, Suzanne, how are you?

Suzanne Carawan  0:32 

I'm doing well, Chris, thanks.

Chris Gandy  0:33 

So good to see you. We don't get a chance to see each other in person as much as we used to. But now we get an opportunity to connect with this one little digital technology. So from Chicago to wherever you are in this world, so great to see you. And we're super excited to be here at Advisor Today with a wonderful new guest. But before we get there, Suzanne, if you would share with us a little bit about our sponsorship, who's supporting our program for today.

Suzanne Carawan  1:01 

Yeah, so this week we're having the sponsor is Life Happens Insure Your Love month, which we're oddly, we're getting down to the countdowns kicks off on February 1st. So hopefully everybody has started to download your all your social media, social media calendar are getting ready to spread the love. We tried to say that life insurance is love insurance. And so we're happy to support them and they're part and now the expanded NAIFA family. So Life Happens Insure Your Love, everybody get that put it out to your consumers, but as your prospects and clients and let's keep spreading the message.

Chris Gandy  1:35 

All right, Suzanne, with no further ado, would you care to introduce our wonderful guest for today?

Suzanne Carawan  1:41 

Yeah, I'm pumped today. We've got Tom Palmeri. He's from New York, we've got all sorts of stuff to talk about. We were kind of talking a little bit ahead of time. So we might repeat a few things, but they're worth repeating. So Tom has an illustrious career not only in the industry, but also in our NAIFA memberships. So I know we're going to touch on that today. But Tom lets us start off and tell us again, because you're coming up also in February Tom, has an important anniversary that he's going to celebrate.

Tom Palmeri  2:09 

Okay, I'll share a story that I sold choose the one that we forgot. And Chris, I said, years ago, I'll tell you two stories of one, years ago, I actually owned the Mr. Softee ice Cream Truck. So whenever I have a bad, the plan was to start in February, I didn't know if I was gonna make it. And then I figured I had a 13 week contract period. If I didn't make it, I was back out in the truck. But by the grace of God, things went well. And I went into sign I did my pre-contract wanting to sign my contract on February 15, and 1985. And my then manager at the time, Robert Master Simone said, gave me two applications. One was light. And the other one was what Veilleux? And I said to him, do I have to join? And he looked at me, Chris, and he says, do you want to get paid on Friday? I said, Yeah, that would be great. So I actually been one of the things that I've been very proud of, aside from being a no LUTCF moderator, a Willie moderator, a state membership chair, state president, local president, recipient of the Platinum Award for three times for membership, is the fact that I've been a member, since the very first second that I started in the business. And I can attribute that to being hired by a great manager.

Chris Gandy  3:19 

You ripped through basically half of our podcasts there. So we're gonna go back. So I know in New York you guys go fast. But we're gonna dissect that just a little, so that our members can not only appreciate the work you've done, but celebrate the milestones you've reached, and also to be in a position so they could possibly be inspired by just some of the things that you've done. And perhaps they could follow some of the great things that you've done. So with that being said, let's start with this. How did you get into the industry? Like what led you down this path of saying, okay, I'm a financial services. Like, what were you doing before you got here?

Tom Palmeri  4:07 

Well, I graduated from college, I went to St. Joe's College in New York, it's now St. Joe's University, originally out on Long Island. And I had a degree in human relations, which was a mix of sociology and psychology, with a minor in business, came out of school and was hoping to get a job of Grumman because Grumman was a big aviation country company on the island. And at that time, if you got a job with Grumman, you were going to be set. Or at least you had benefits and you felt you're going to be set. And I ended up going in for two interviews one day, the same day, the first one saw a sales interview, and they sat me down and showed me videos about how I could win all these trips. And I thought I said let me think about it. So I went into my second interview, I said to the gentleman, I said, he started showing me the videos and all the trips and I said, can we just skip through this because I just kept on seeing this. I said, What would make me want to be in the insurance industry compared to being in the other sales that the gentleman was proposing? And he said, he looked at me. He says, can I ask you a question? I said, yeah, he goes, how'd you get here today? I said, I drove. There's no real good bus system on Long Island. And he says, you have car insurance? I go, Yeah, it's mandated by the state, you have to have it. Okay. He goes, tell me a little bit about yourself. I said, well, I just had a baby. And so glad had a healthy baby boy, so I really got to get my career going and everything else. He said, did you have health insurance when your wife gave birth? Like, oh, thank God, we had health insurance. And basically everything that he was saying to me was setting me up with the purpose of why people need insurance. And then he asked me a question, Chris, which kind of resonates and resonates then in resonates now he says, What's your biggest asset? And I thought around and said, hey, I got a business, I have a few bucks in the bank. And maybe it's that the captain in on I said, from the RSA to the less you know about the assets that I don't please tell. And he said, your biggest asset in life is going to be your ability to work and earn an income. And you need to protect those. And people protected in two ways. You protect it while you're working. And God forbid you get sick, you're protected with disability. And God forbid that Mack truck of life comes by and takes you out, you got to protect your family in another way. And it just resonated with me. And I had actually taken the test to become a New York City police officer as well, because my then father in law was a lieutenant in the police department. And I started with MetLife. And by the grace of God, when it broke my first 13 week, quarter, my income doubled. I haven't looked back since. And again, I was truly, truly blessed to be hired by a great manager.

Chris Gandy  6:38 

So let me ask this question. So you came into the industry? I mean, did you know that this industry was an insurance based industry? I mean, did you know that the power that insurance had or were you just looking at this is a way I can make money as a young professional.

Tom Palmeri  7:00 

Let me be candid, you hit the ladder was the most important thing because I just been married, I needed to have benefits, I needed to have a job that I can produce an income with. The significance of what we do. I learned within my first six months of the business, one of my original policies that I sold, I can't mention the name ended up dying within the first, it was about six, probably about the first year of my business. For six months, and six months later, the gentleman passed away. And as Chris and I know, being in the business, there's a look back period, that's contestable, period, and they check to see if he had any heart conditions or anything prior to this. And despite the fact that he was smoking cigarettes, and drinking coffee, like they were going out of style, he wanted me to write them a nonsmoker policy, Chris and I went to the house four times, by the way, and on the fifth time, they would joke they said, hey, we'll take the policy. We want a nonsmoker rate is as nice as I could smile, don't seem to be able to get through to you got to do this the right way if you want to get coverage, and I was walking to the door, and they kind of left. And I turned around, I guess the Irishman we turned around a little aggravated, and said did I miss? And they said no, we just wanted to test your resolve. And I said, they go we'll take the policy. And that was the gentleman who died six months later. And it was one of the only times on a death certificate that I've seen, the doctor took the time to write excessive nicotine and caffeine intake as one of the causes that caused the heart attack. So I saw it firsthand very early. And so Chris, another add on to that story was I'm 22 years old. I have a baby face, I have a tendency to laugh when I'm nervous. I was biting my lip that day and not saying that, you know, wondering what am I going to say? What am I going to do? And after the claim was solved, it took about 90 days to solve this thing. I was the one that brought the check that $400,000 that left that daughter state into school and become a veterinarian. And so I was blessed early to see the true benefits of it. So after that I'm not selling something that could happen. I'm selling something...

Suzanne Carawan  9:09 

That did happen. Yeah.

Chris Gandy  9:12 

Right. So share with us a little bit about your time in the industry. You mentioned before our call. You mentioned a little bit about that you've partnered with different companies and firms along the way. Tell us a little bit about where your practice is now. And a little bit about kind of your journey. Have you always been on the producer side? Have you dabbled into management? Have you been a mentor to others share with us a little bit of that journey?

Tom Palmeri  9:50 

That's actually easier if I rewind from the beginning and kind of move forward. So I'll do it that way if you don't mind. So, again, I was blessed to go to MetLife I actually was a sales rep for a couple of years with MetLife before I was promoted to a manager. But before I even made it to that point, I think I was in the business seven or eight weeks. And my manager came in my office Chris, he caught me looking at the ones, and you had a look at him not on the computer screen at the time we looked on the paper. And he said to me, Robert messaged me and said, Tom, instead of looking at the one it's, get yourself to the local NAIFA meeting tomorrow, they have a meeting on Buy Sell agreements. I went to that meeting. And the gentleman who was past New York State President gentleman named Sal Sylvester, he gave a meeting on Buy Sell agreements. And I'm not joking that night, I went out I wrote a father son that owned a gas station GrainCorp, New York, I wrote my first buy sell agreement, it was whopping termed insurance, because it was like, I don't even know how much I've made a premium on it. But I wrote my first buy sell. And from that point on, I was hooked with NAIFA. It's one thing to read it in a book. It's another thing to see it in action, or to know who you can go to and have a mentor. So I was blessed with very good a lot of mentors early on in my career. On the agency on the association side, there was gentleman like Joe Dovie, which took me around the arm and showed me the ways and he was a mutual Walmart, and we work with completely different companies. But he took his arm around me and helped me through the process. Then I turned a manager with MetLife. And I felt that the best way to lead is by example. So I started teaching, I took the LUTC classes, and that time was LUTC personal business. And it was one of our vote elective. I think it might have been a state I don't recall. But then I got my LUTCF and then I became a LUTCF moderator for many, many years, served on my local board and Suffolk County was primarily programs. I've never done any of the official jobs, like you have this session, I was always programs and membership. I didn't want to do anything else. They want to hear about it. They want to do, I didn't want to don't want to look at the checkbook. They want to do anything other than programs in membership. And so I went through the chairs and Suffolk County became in 1993 president of Suffolk County Association. Oh boy, I think that I was brought on to the state after my local service, and was on the state chair, state boards for 13 years before he even hit the executive committee. New York was a very competitive place to go through the chairs at the time. When you got guys like Robert Miller, I Robert was the manager in front of me. So we all know how hard Robert knows, work became. And the guy's got people like net promoter, which is, these are some industry greats that I'm following. So, you have to wait your turn in line and you have to perform and you have to want to serve. And so as a membership chair for the state, I've won the Platinum Award twice, which means that for the state category size, I was the membership chair that had positive growth and on a platinum level. So I hit every level with that. Those are two of the biggest plaques that have had my office I have a lot of plaques. Most of them said we are in the jaw. Those are two that are prominently displayed.

Chris Gandy  13:10 

Suzanne, we need to bring back I remember when I went through the chairs, the Bobo or right I remember that was the big one. Yeah, and those who are listening to this podcast may not know about the Bobo will award but everybody who had a either affiliate and or a chapter or it was at the state everybody was trying to get that award, right. So you bring that back, it's still around, Suzanne, dust that off.

Suzanne Carawan  13:38 

We morphed it into it's now called the Chapter Excellence Award. And there's categories on that. But it's so funny should bring up Jack Bobo because just this morning, I was on a different call. And somebody was talking about their calendar was kind of getting wonky. And it was like the email came up to say, hey, it's time to go meet in the Bobo conference room. Right, which used to be at our old office and the whole thing is so Jack, Bobo this spirit is strong with us today. That's coming out. So it's it's time to rebuild. I think that's that chapter strength for sure.

Chris Gandy  14:07 

So Tom, you mentioned the LUTCF professional designations. Why is it important for someone to consider getting professional designations as they continue to go through their career and their path from your perspective?

Tom Palmeri  14:19 

Well, I'm gonna start with LUTC side. Because what the LUTC gave me was it gave me the practical knowledge I needed to go out and to explain some people might perceive as difficult terminology or unfamiliar terminologies that the average public does not know. And to talk about things in analogies and most of my sales are done in an analogy. When you talk about life insurance and disability. Talk about that tree in the backyard is growing money. And would you put a fence around it? Probably. Would you get a guard dog probably. Well, that's what the life insurance and the disability insurance do. And so, I was able to take more complex turns and putting them into simpler terms. The other thing is, if you want to be an expert in your industry, you have to study. And that's one of the things I bless my grandfather for saying as well as my father, is that he said, education is a lifetime process. Everybody thinks that when you get out of high school, you go to this thing called the commencement. That's the beginning, not the end. And so my father always come to Jordan, tell me that education is a lifetime process. And if you're gonna do something, Excel out of it.

Chris Gandy  15:37 

So you learned early on from your father, right? It was instilled in the home? No, Suzanne, we send our kids to school and say their education is from outside, but I believe one of the most powerful education they have is one that starts at home. And you mentioned it was reinforced by professional association like NAIFA. Right. Absolutely. You also mentioned the fact that you made a choice at some point that you wanted to do programs or memberships. So let's talk about that. Why was programs so important to you? Well, I mean, you could do anything, you just so many other things you could do.

Tom Palmeri  16:17 

Okay, well, I was already doing it on, when I was a branch manager, I already had programming going on, it was in my office. So if I needed the guy, the wholesaler from Jackson, who's Steve Burke, or Chris Lynn, from Lincoln Financial, I was already dealing with them. So, and I was setting up regular meetings with my office on a regular basis. So I knew the wholesalers, I knew this. And I thought it would be a perfect fit for me because I could take what I was doing as a manager with MetLife. And I could take it and bring it to the association. And so my job was to find people. And when I would my office that we did the Lunch and Learn, they would come in, they would provide the lunch and we would learn and what they thought was a similar format, hey, I need somebody to come in and provide for breakfast and provide for the sponsorship, we're gonna give you some time to speak. And we're also going to have an opportunity to learn from you. So that's my thought program was a perfect thing for them. As for membership, anybody that wanted to work on my staff was a member. If you had a member, I would help you but I wouldn't go out on the late night appointments with you. I would do oh, absolutely. And I would actually help the reps by saying to him, Look, I'll even give you your first case. I didn't take money from their family accounts, take the money that you would have had to split with me put it to a gym membership. That's how much I believe. And so anybody knew that if they wanted to be on my staff, and I was very gregarious manager at that time, Chris, the industry was different. When you became a manager, you were managing you were not a manager and a producer like we are today. You were with MetLife I had to even go and justify the 10, 15, 20 cases that I'd write a year on family members and had to justify it. They would not let you write business. So, I was writing business helping my reps. And so those two things were like a natural to me, I shake my head, and still can't believe why someone wouldn't want to join.

Suzanne Carawan  18:23 

I was gonna ask you the same question, because I think that's what people say. They said people don't join anymore. They're not interested. And is that the case?

Tom Palmeri  18:32 

You know what? I think guys like Chris and I would say that's their first excuse. But guys like Chris and I are too strong to allow that to be the actual answer. Because if you told me you got out of law school, and you studied to become an attorney, and you pass that bar exam, I would challenge you to say you're not going to become part of the Bar Association. If you took the time and dedication and become a CPA, I would be shocked if you were not part of your CPA Association. Probably would want to deal with you. If you weren't and not part of your medicine, MBA, I would be shocked. So for me, if you want to call yourself a professional how are you not part of a professional association? How are you not holding yourself up to the code of ethics that a member has? It's not just going to meetings. It's about the education is a lifetime process. And there is a quarterback? This is the right way of dealing with people and there's definitely a wrong way to deal with people. And sadly, Chris and I as managers have seen that, maybe one time too many.

Chris Gandy  19:42 

You know what's interesting about what you said, is people spend more time planning a vacation, more time buying a car, they spend more time deliberating what they're going to eat for lunch that they need to make a decision about investing in themselves. And so I think it comes down to Tom honestly leadership, absolutely, but also priorities, right? And almost say I can't afford to do it. My response is you can't afford not to. But like, what do you mean? Like it's part of the deal. So, as part of the deal, here's where you sign, here's what we do. And, here's what it takes to be part of what we're doing in a part of part of the group. So you're right, using those acronyms compared to...

Tom Palmeri  20:31 

I had somebody that was in the NBA, the NBA is a union. Right? So Players Association, so did you not join the NBA when you didn't join the member choice? It was mandatory, it's lunacy. So let's talk about the investment itself, because people look at as an expense. And yes, sometimes when things leave your bank account, it's an expense. When I pay my cable bill, I can go out to the mailbox and wait that check your bike, because it's never coming back. But let's talk about this, I don't know 67, 70 bucks a month that comes out my dude. So I'm gonna tell you how I do I get my money back in almost every penny, if not more. There's a congressional Congress every year. That's how I've had the pleasure of meeting you, you were on a great diversity symposium for the last couple years. I'm sad, I missed the last one had a family issue and such. But you go down to the Congressional Congress, you sign up rolling off, and I'm still pretty sure that I got a $300 stipend from going to the meeting. So I got $300 back in there, I go and lobby on my state behalf up in Albany, I can let a couple $100 stipend there. So if I spent $840, and I've already got 500 back. And that's before I met a person or meet a guy like Chris Gandy, who can either motivate you and keep you in the business. So I'm going to the best things that helped me in the beginning, Suzanne was not necessarily the product malade, it was seeing a guy like Chris Gandy, and watching how he carries himself watching the results he gets and realizing I can do that. I just have to, I have to put in the time to be able to do it. And so anyway, you have to put in the time, I just can't imagine not being a member. I actually told my kids that on the day I've done, let the membership call for a few more wives, I don't care. I really don't. And I believe so much of my membership, I want to say this as well. I have a life insurance policy, in which NAIFA is beneficiary of about $40,000. That's how much I believe in the industry.

Suzanne Carawan  22:32 

Wow, that's wonderful. That is wonderful. But I think you're right. I mean, I think something's changed with these norms. And it's incumbent upon all of us to bring this back to say this is the hallmark of being a professional, this is what you do. This is how you operate this, how you carry yourself. This is how you continue to learn and how you continue to surround yourself with good people. We were on talking the other day with Rick Demko out of Texas and he said the thing about NAIFA. He goes you know that for sure the fear you surround yourself with good ethical people, right. And that's what you need to make sure that you're doing in this industry. And that message I agree needs to get out there. We're, this part of what we're trying to do on the podcast here is get that message out and get more people to get excited about it that this is something that I think that has kind of gone by the wayside. But many people are looking for this right and looking for a community that can support them and hold them up and have some structure because perhaps things have gotten a little too loose out there.

Tom Palmeri  23:30 

Let's talk about community for a second. I live in the New York community. And usually, I tried to stay with train line Manhattan and Montauk with my clientele and occasionally I'll get it for us shift over to New Jersey and Washington about 17 states. But where would I have ever met gentlemen of the caliber of John Davison from California, Bob Brown from Tennessee, one of my favorite all time leaders Bob Nelson and I love the way he says it I'm just a plane insurance agents from Omaha Nebraska. These were the people that I was very fortunate, the gentleman that I work with now Perlmutter I met him to me for he was in New York State president at the time and I would have never met these people. I was actually knowledgeable about Alan Press because when the whole al Williams and Primerica thing came out many, many, many years ago Alan press took the thing about this building the whole buy term invest the difference. So he was somebody that I met through NAIFA, sat right here at breakfast with him many times. And so if you pay to go to a seminar, I think it's going to cost you a few bucks. Right Chris? So I think that, when you look at what you pay, I know guys like you and I because we are active in it. We get back so much more than we ever pay. It's like this on a seesaw. And so for people that oh, I paid this and here's your thing for brand new people coming into business in the first year license. I don't know if the program so a couple of years ago, they tend to host your first year $20, your second year, $30 a month, the third year 40. Come on, there's no reason why somebody right away shouldn't be put on a success path. And it's usually Chris, you own that. Because I know you're a strong manager, it's usually weak leadership, or weak managers that are worried about oh, my people gonna go to a meeting. I didn't never worried about it, because I was the one of the best managers out. They were not, they did not want to lose me. They got about NAIFA's. So I don't need to be sounding egotistical, but you have to have that mindset.

Chris Gandy  25:40 

Well, I think also, you have to lead from the front. Right, the people. And again, I go back to how I joined the industry is, is I was recruited into the industry. Well, we've done kind of a shift is we've been attracting people into the industry now, I think that's the shift, especially with the younger generation is we've got to look attractive to them, and attract the people we need to attract. Because that's how we actually get our ratios of people sticky, our attrition to move it from after three years moving from that 13 or 15%, that it is up to 30 or 40% like a normal entrepreneur, I think how we do that as we started attracting people to the right firm. And when they don't fit that firms model, I'm able to pick up the phone and call a Tom or maybe to call Larry Holtzberg Or maybe the call and say, Hey, listen, this guy is a good fit for you.

Tom Palmeri  26:40 

Yeah, to Chris's point, how would I have known who to call, there's plenty of times where I've had managers that I've called because their rep shows up in my office, and I'll say, listen, you got one of you guys in my office out of courtesy and respect, I just want to give you, what's going on, and he'll tell us all I had a big fight with him this and that that's going on. But where would like to Chris's point he's trying to get if somebody doesn't have a good fit with his firm. It's not about Chris, it's not about me, it's about doing the right thing for the people that work for you. And as Bernard, and we have had to say, we're not the right fit for you. And I've gotten people jobs in banks, we're not the right fit for you. But I've gotten jobs where people were property casualty because that's what they wanted. Or another thing.

Suzanne Carawan  27:25 

So that's an interesting aspect. Because I don't know that anybody's really ever kind of said that, because that's that network piece, right, that people really want to see you do well, they want to see you stick in this industry, right? And there are so many different aspects that it could be that you might have to go a different couple of places. So that's interesting that you guys will actually do that. Right? Because if you know that, I mean, no one ever says that, but what if that's an insurance policy right there is that, if you build that network correctly, you can and I tell, listen, I tell people that all the time, get your insurance license, you'll always have a job, always, unless you do something right, unethical, you can always find somebody will be jumping up and down to find you. And I think more people need to know that, like, it's the greatest. And people are like, why we just want to be in the gig economy. Like this is a greatest gig economy thing that there is this, you get your insurance license, you can have the life you want, you can have the time management you want, you can build it exactly the way you want to do it. But I love that idea, too, that you'll always have somebody out there, because they're compelled to do the right thing.

Tom Palmeri  28:35 

Or let's say to siphon Chris's point about helping the employee find the right spot for themselves. What about the fact that hey, I know I leave you with Northwestern for a while. But if I have Northwestern agents that I know firsthand. And I'll call them up and say, Look, this is Mrs. Smith, they asked me to get information on the policy. I'm not 100% sure how your blended policy works. Would you mind taking a second just explaining it to me? I don't have to call an 800 number who's not going to give me any information by the way. I don't have to go and do that. I just go right to the source of my friend and say how does your flex whatever work and I got friends from principle I got friends from Prudential I got friends from Ameriprise, our friends from all over, this is not just an insurance situation anymore. years ago, we changed our name to National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Anybody out there that people say oh, NAIFA don't leave lobbies on life insurance. Oh, really? Is that what the DOL is all about? So this will be on so many different things. Chris and I were at the cat on a congressional level a couple years ago, where we got the original secure act. They were back there on secure point to getting it lobby to get so I can tell you, I don't post many things on Facebook. I don't post many things on LinkedIn. Chris, you're definitely very good with your social networking. I got to praise you for that. I post about when I, when I volunteer, I post about when I am at a soup kitchen, where I post about when I'm at the job, rational Congress where I'm doing something to NAIFA, those are the posts that are important. On a personal basis, I will post when I'm at a golf course, I'm not at a golf course, is the beauty of a background on the Zoom meeting. This is one of my favorite holes, it's a golf course, along the bay.

Chris Gandy  30:23 

So I'm sorry, I missed those, I'm sure they'll cut it out. If they don't cut it out. That will be one of our wonderful bloopers that I was actually, November, the hole that they used to open up and a game show where the person drops down. I invite you computer lost power here in our space that probably wasn't plugged up. But like he did all of a sudden you reappear. So I was in the midst of just simply saying the fact that you guys kind of went full circle and kind of kept that conversation going. But if you think about it, prior to do I go back 15 years ago, prior to, there was so stark differences between the career companies and the independence and there were such stark differences, that there were people we were recruiting that we knew in the back of our mind, is probably a better fit there. But our responsibility was to get more people into the space and with the firm we were in. Now as we continue to move forward into the evolution of what an advisor does and who they are and how they serve the public. It's almost where we have to be able to not only lead by attracting people to the industry, but then be able to find what's the right scenario for them to thrive and to be successful. And to do that, we have to do that with that same mindset, Tom, you have witches of abundance, there's more than enough out here. There's more than enough people. But there is a shortage of individuals coming into the industry. So if I have a shortage, you have a shortage, we all have shortages. And so the only way for us to supply that shortage and be better part of that solution is we need to be intentional about making sure that people not only come in but they stick. And we're able to influence them whether we have flow, I met some guys from Northwestern Mutual, they're not in my firm now. And I can tell you that I have my firm now, but they call me all the time because why would you do this? Hey, what would you do here? And what would you do here? And the answer is, I could be like, this is my information. And I'm going to share with you because you're in Northwestern Mutual, I could say what am I going to how am I going to benefit from it. But in the true nature of uplifting other advisors in the industry, the response should be that it's unequivocally it's not the commitment to the firm's we're with it's the commitment to the people in which we serve. And so that we do the better.

Tom Palmeri  32:46 

NAIFA, that you said, Chris, if you look at it on paper, you and I are supposed to be technically competitors, I'm licensed in Illinois, you probably licensed in New York. But we don't view each other as competitors, we invite your comrades in arms, and willing to go out of the way to help each other. And each one of us have our own little specialization. So that's the beauty of it, come to, for those that are non NAIFA's members that happen to be listening to this podcast, go to a local meeting, show up at the congressional Congress in DC and tell me that it's not worth every single penny, if not more, to be part of your professional association. Go on to Capitol Hill, the sacred halls of Capitol Hill and meet with your congress, people meet with your Senator, help be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. People can complain about everything all day long. If you're taking a participation in making an improvement.

Chris Gandy  33:49 

I think you said it right, you stepped up and became a leader early on, and that, if this has anything, it's a platform, you know, our opportunity or collective voice is that we need more people to be leaders and to lead from the front and then attract others. One of my first managers told me, he said, listen, he goes, if you want to grow, you got to fire yourself every 12 to 16 months. Imagine if we had that mentality is that whatever role we're in, we go out and find somebody who essentially takes over that role. Right? Imagine if we had right we find ourselves every 12, 16 months, how fast will we grow? I just think we're in a unique space where we have to realize who we are and what we do and the impact we have on the people we realize we touches just where we're at. So Tom, thank you so much.

Tom Palmeri  34:38 

The lowly program leadership and Life Institute that is also designed through NAIFA to help gauge you to become a good leader. One of the covenants is you have to give up to go up. And that's exactly what Chris was just talking about. I've always felt that my success when I was a manager will was how well I was only going to be judged on how well my people did. Not necessarily how well I did. So if you people are failing, and you're doing great, it's not as organization. If your people are doing great, and you're doing great, then everybody's doing great. And so, I'm sure you're a lowly grad as well, I'm positive, I can hear it in your voice, and I can hear it in your language.

Chris Gandy  35:27 

I am more recent Lilly grad, in the last 16 months, and what an amazing fortune, I was one of the guys that said, I really do I do. I've been through 1000s of leadership courses. I've been through some of the gamma leadership courses, some of the Jim Rohn, like, best year ever leadership courses, this one here is Thinking Grow Rich for that breakout leadership course, I've been through how do I go? What kind of leadership do I need, but one of the things that if you've never gone through, and this is not a lily promotion, but if you've ever gone through the lily course, the moments, and I think I was probably one of the more senior ones on that, in that group, the moment you go through the realization in the exercise of writing your own obituary, it was a moment where the realization that whatever we're doing now, we're building something that should outlive us, right? And so moments and realization was powerful for me, and it moved me to emotions where I couldn't speak right. I'm like, in everyone's like, Oh, emotional, right. He's a real human be right? I'm like, yes, when you when you lead into something and you experience something, how powerful it is to seed your life and the lives of the people that they're actually getting the chance to experience it with you so. So it was a great course it in the right it is something unique to NAIFA members. And so those that are thinking about joining NAIFA or that are out there listening to the NAIFA's podcast, get involved with Lilly, join and be a part LUTCFs. We're back. We're doing it better than before. It's awesome. It's amazing. And let's talk a little bit about Life Happens now. Tom, you've been in industry long enough, you know, we are now moving into a different world, right? Where now we're getting that opportunity as NAIFA members, as the championship team, right, is we're getting an opportunity to their championship Association, oldest associates, we're getting a chance to now really round out who we are in some of the messaging that comes from the Association, plus the dynamic relationship we're going to have with FSP, who is now NAIFA, and with the professionals like the accountants and the attorneys, those individuals who traditionally, Tom, quite frankly, you and I both know, we start selling a really large case, and we got to go to that attorney and say, let me tell you how this works. The attorneys like nope, I don't like insurance, or something like that, right? And you're like, well, now we have these advocates who we could lean on touch base with and start to get some of that retinacular in conversation going, well, perhaps we could partner with them. And now they're having a law conversation or an accounting conversation. But Tom, talk to me a little bit about how you plan on using that new bench that we've got, as you move forward with your practice and some of the advisors.

Tom Palmeri  38:52 

Great, timely question, Chris. First off, let's talk about life happens I've used life happens over the years. They have tremendous they used to have the Newsweek real life story conversations at the NAIFA conventions, they would have the recipients of the real life story. Talk about how Chris Gandy of the world sold them a disability policy and when they were sadly disabled looking up at the hospital ceiling wondering how the hell am I going to pay my mortgage? It was that smile that Chris Gandy and the assurance that Chris Gandy and his agents gave them that got them through that time and got them through the bill got them through those payments of bills and such. So fortunate enough that now Life Happens is consumer part of NAIFA, I couldn't be any happier. As for the FSPs I am blessed in the sense that on Long Island, New York is one of the larger FSPs when I looked at the leadership roles that Suzanne sent me last week of their 15 managers I'm personal friends with 11 of them, which seven or eight of them will past NAIFA members and their current president Christmas once used to be my running buddy and he was is also the reason I went from MetLife to national life of Vermont. So we're going to have a synergy. Here's how I envision the FSP and NAIFA's to work great. FSP because it's more of a multi discipline situation has a wider range of topics in which they educate their members on, we can now have the benefit of that being overly FSP. No, we're not we're merging a man and we're using the best of FSP. And they run some great organs. They have regular monthly meetings, which we have not had a Long Island for God knows how long. So as a member of now, they're members and members of them hallelujah, is going to start having regular meetings I can go back to and in what NAIFA's does great, aside from the conventional congresses that we have, and aside from every day, lobbying efforts that we put forth, this to me, it's the kinship. It's the, I mean, I know I have a list of 50 people and I would be remiss if I offend viewers, the Jim Rowan's, as you just pointed out. The Zig Ziglar is the Tom Wolf, the Kinder brothers. It goes the Bert micelles the Roger Zener is the neat Perla the net promoter is of the world. I would have never met these people. So NAIFA brings in not just the lobbying. But it's the largest network in the nation of professionals. And we're the only association that has lobbying on both national and federal basis of all of them. Yeah, that yes. gavel number by the way, and I am a member of MDRT currently.

Suzanne Carawan  41:45 

So Chris, it is time my friend for the lightning round.

Chris Gandy  41:49 

Let's do it. Let's do it. Suzanne. Tom, I wish we could spend some more time sometime when we will have to, you can invite us out to your wonderful golf course this behind you and we get some sticks, and talk me talk about some of the things that inspire you the most. We're so blessed and fortunate to have a leader, whether you lead from a seat, or you lead from example, or your lead from wherever it may be, we do appreciate you and we'll celebrate you as we continue to move forward. And thank you for all your inspiration. So with that being said, we're going to move to the lightning round. So Tom, the lightning round is where we get a chance to kind of know you a little bit. I mean, we know you are from New York. So we're gonna ask you some questions about the New York area. We'll talk to you a little bit about mentors, and we'll talk a little bit but whatever the deal with this is, it's quick. It's about 60 seconds. First thing comes to mind. That's how we go. Okay, reader's digest it. It's not that serious, like, it is what it is. So we'll go we'll start with something very easy, right? Okay, you ready? The Yankees or the Mets?

Tom Palmeri  43:00 


Chris Gandy  43:02 

He didn't hesitate on that.

Tom Palmeri  43:08 

I saw lightning hit you. Boom.

Chris Gandy  43:11 

All right. Tom, one more question that they didn't even we'll get right into it. Chicago style pizza or New York pizza.

Tom Palmeri  43:19 

Come on, man. I like both. I love the New York style. I like a thin crust. But I've truly have enjoyed some good Chicago pizza too. So that's a good one. They're both great. How about that?

Chris Gandy  43:33 

Think about life questions right now.

Tom Palmeri  43:37 

Thank you about New York teams. I root for all the New York teams because I was born in New York. But I moved out in New York when my father came my adopted father came out of Vietnam yet Austin's disease. So we moved to the Alabama because University of Alabama was keen, innovating in the field of chemotherapy. I've lived in Alabama. I've lived in West Coast, Florida, East Coast, Florida, Colorado. And when I was down in Florida, I wasn't hoping the Dan Marino beat Richard Todd's jets. So my kids don't understand because they grew up here on the hard streets in New York. If you weren't here you got to choose it's one team or the other right you're either right your fan or Annette fan, your arranger fan or an all of it. I look for all the genes. But in exact order is Yankees, Giants. knicks and Islanders. Don't root against any other teams unless they're playing my team.

Suzanne Carawan  44:29 

So but then you root for Crimson Tide to you throw BAM out there. Yeah, I say sad, Nick. Saban's gone you're happy with the...

Tom Palmeri  44:38 

You know what, you got to let other people win every now and then.

Chris Gandy  44:42 

One of the great ones. All right, inspiration. Let's go with mentor who would you say is your most powerful mentor in the industry?

Tom Palmeri  44:53 

For many years, it was my current manager Matt Perlmutter. I was blessed. He's an icon in the industry. He definitely formed my career with Guardian ad since I've been with Guardian, I've been primarily a producer. And Matt goes out of the way to make sure that you're, you're successful. And if you're not, then you'd have to maybe assume some of that blame.

Chris Gandy  45:14 

What about Tom, your most proudest moment in the industry,

Tom Palmeri  45:19 

I would have to say winning the platinum awards meant a lot to me. Because to beat out states like California, to beat out states like Texas to beat out some of these large states, and they're great states with some great volunteers. I know so many people so long in this great country, I would say winning the Platinum Award was probably one of my asides. on a business level, on a personal level, I was blessed to watch all four of my sport sons be born. I'm six foot, maybe six foot and a half. My kids are Vikings. They're like 6'4, 6'5. They're like you Chris used to look up to. But aside from that aside, for on a personal level, it'd be the birth of my children. And for the on a business level, it would be winning the Platinum Award multiple times.

Chris Gandy  46:03 

Last question. If you were to say one thing to advisors, joining the industry in their in their first 12 to 16 months in the industry, what inspiration would you give them? Or what would you tell them about the business?

Tom Palmeri  46:16 

I would say, there's two types of membership. And there's two types of people in life. Active and passive. In life, you always better to be active. So if you want to be an active member, join, look at the directory. Look at people that might be right, within a 20 mile radius of where you currently work and reside. And look at the directory and say, well, I've always been wanting to be able to talk to Mr. Smith. But I've always wanted to be able to talk to a Chris Gandy, oh, I've always wanted to talk to you call the people. I'm sure I've never heard of one NAIFA member that did not go out of their way to help someone. And so come to a meeting, learn. When you make a few bucks, give back to your industry. You can't just take in life, you got to get back. You can't just drive a car and up a gas or that the industry is that guest that will keep your car running. And so I would just say become active. I'm not a passive person as you can, and you're not as well. That's what I love about you, Chris. And one last bendy comment. Chris, you ran the diversity cont. symposium a couple years back. And one of my favorite moments was when you and I, we were both we were both on the second floor. We were walking around and I got a second call you on the side and tell you what a great job you did by running the diversity. And you and I had a great conversation about race and about people should be able to get along. How guys like you from Chicago and me from New York don't understand it, because there's so much ethnic diversity around us. And I got to tell you, that was one of my finest moments that I had with you personally.

Chris Gandy  47:54 

Thank you very much. And I look forward to continuing those dialogues because we just we continue to have to resonate the message. And as we move forward, it becomes part of our DNA. And it's not about race, color, creed. It's about the collective whole and how do we become a better organization to attract everybody, not just those that are that are aware or that are capable. So with that being said, Suzanne, anything else before we close?

Suzanne Carawan  48:25 

I don't know that we mentioned this, but I do want to give credit. Also this Tom Palmeri raised his hand, he's on our national membership committee, as well. And so I just he's handling that whole east region. So I just want to say thank you for that Tom. Thank you for saying yes to yet another thing. And I'm sure we're all going to enjoy. And Happy anniversary 40th anniversary in the business come February 15. So a little bit in advance.

Chris Gandy  48:50 

Tom, we look forward to seeing you at our next get together. And thank you so much for your time today. Suzanne, thank you so much. It's always a pleasure. Those who don't know Tom, next time you see him at one of the national meetings, make sure you tell him the happy anniversary and thanks so much for sharing part of his journey, because part of his journey could be part of your journey and we can learn so much from young man like Tom, who's spent his time energy and effort and sharing with you some of the great nuggets about success and the financial services industry. Listen, as we close today, we want to just remind everyone that it's so important that we uplift, promote and empower each other to be more successful as we move forward to the future. We love this platform and we look forward to continuing to expand as we move forward. So with that being said, we're off from NAIFA Advisors Today. Thanks, everyone for tuning in. And we will see you next week same place, same time, and have a great day.

Outro  49:58 

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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