Tier One Interview: Tyler Furger
In our latest Tier One interview, our CEO, Jay Judas, spoke with Tyler Furger, Managing Partner of NextGen Risk Advisors. The pair speak about their shared midwestern roots, how Tyler achieved such success at such a young age, a new development in IDFs, and whether a hamburger counts as steak. Read the interview in its entirety below.
JAY: Tyler, if I start out by labeling you a successful, younger person in the life insurance industry, is that okay?
TYLER: Young, sure, but successful? Not yet, I’m no Jay Judas!
JAY: (Laughing) You’re already being interviewed, Tyler, so that wasn’t necessary. Our industry struggles to bring in new blood. A lot of successful salespeople are not good mentors and trainers and there are not a lot of the old school agency training programs around anymore. You just turned 30, own your own practice where your clients are both affluent individuals and decent-sized companies and you are a shareholder in a top producer group. Before we get to how you appear to have reduced a 40-year career into seven or so years, tell us about your company, NextGen Risk Advisors and the type of work you do.
TYLER: You bet. At NexGen Risk Advisors, we help accredited investors, corporations, and financial institutions make profitable risk management decisions. The key risks our clients are prioritizing right now include the timing risk of a business sale, estate tax risk, risk of a weakening dollar and a variety of commercial cyber risks. I spend most of my time architecting the programs with my clients and their advisors and then implementing these programs directly with carriers and financial institutions.
JAY: I grew up in Northeastern Iowa, pretty close to where you grew up in Wisconsin. If someone were to overhear our phone conversations, they might think we sound like the actors in the movie, Fargo. You’ve gone back and forth from parts of Wisconsin to Minneapolis throughout your life and career. Tell me about your upbringing and the path you took to where you are today.
TYLER: There are a few lessons my mom taught me growing up that I try to live by. First is, you can be whatever you want. The second is, do what’s right.
I’ve tried to apply these lessons to my insurance career and they have been a part of nearly ever distribution model out there I have participated in, including captive insurance agencies, giant life insurance broker-dealers, and high-end planning firms.
I've made a lot of changes and, at every one, my priority has been to bring absolute value to the market I serve and to have fun doing it. It’s taken awhile and there’s probably an easier way to have done it - it even included a 9-month semi-retirement in an Airstream with my family – but, today, I’ve hit a groove in advanced insurance planning that I truly enjoy.
JAY: I’m sure when you attend industry conferences, you don’t see a ton of people around your age, especially not at the advanced level you’ve reached in our industry. It isn’t lost on me that you were recruited into the agency system while in college and attended agency training. Do you think that was a good foundation or do you have other ideas about how someone starting out in the life insurance industry today could learn and become successful? Also, what can the industry do to attract and retain younger talent?
TYLER: I have nothing but gratitude for my training and for those who mentored me so I can’t say that something should have been different.
What we can do better is to do a better job of recruiting younger talent fit for the technical side of the industry. There already exists a well-worn path of recruiting younger talent for the sales side of this career. I believe there is a mountain of life insurance potential locked behind people who call themselves accountants, attorneys, financial analysts, and actuaries. The problem is the recruiting playbook needs to look different for those people because their career will look different.
JAY: You appear to quickly earn a great deal of gravitas, for lack of a better word, from very wealthy people and executives at companies and that has led to some large cases. How do you prospect and who would you say are your best referral sources? I’m especially curious because, when COVID-19 struck, you uprooted your family and moved back to Wisconsin and fairly quickly found a bunch of new clients. Although it seemed effortless, I have no doubt it was the result of some hard work.
TYLER: (Chuckling) It’s anything but effortless! It has been a lot of hard work and constant networking.
Over my career I’ve wasted a tremendous amount of time trying to make something work with a prospect or center of influence where there isn’t an alignment in our values. As simple as this sounds, I now subscribe to only pursuing the opportunities where the conversation is effortless. Believe it or not, this is a clear signal that matters will go much more smoothly and our work together will likely be successful.
Most of my prospecting is spending time getting to know CPAs, estate planning attorneys, family officers, bankers and commercial insurance agents from all over the country. When I find groups who want to take care of their customers and clients with the level of care we take, it leads to a mutually beneficial relationship and a sharing of network.
JAY: Less than two months ago, you called and asked, “Can I get your advice on launching an insurance dedicated fund?” My guess is that only about 20% of our colleagues in the industry know what an IDF is and how it can be used to generate significant premium. Then, you explained what I feel is a brilliant distribution strategy which combines an IDF, cryptocurrency and working with your brother, Alex, who is a trader in Chicago and holds a Ph.D. in Statistical Engineering from Princeton. We have no shortage of readers who could benefit from what you and Alex are up to, and I want to give you a chance to lay it all out.
TYLER: Thanks for the opportunity to share what Alex and I are doing. Over the past few months, very large and legitimate organizations have taken a position in Bitcoin, including MassMutual, Guggenheim, Square, and Microstrategy, not to mention the wealthy individuals who hold a percentage of their net worth in cryptocurrencies as an alternative asset class.
Many smart people and organizations are embracing cryptocurrencies as an inflation hedge against a weakening US dollar and a source of non-correlated returns.
We created the company CryptoCoverage to help accredited investors, corporations and financial institutions purchase insurance whose benefits are tied to bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and, in some cases, are even paid out in crypto instead of fiat.
Creating a version of an investment in IDF form is important since an insurance dedicated fund only permits investment from life insurance companies and their policies. This means that premium going into a life insurance policy can be invested into the IDF.
There are a number of reasons why getting crypto-exposure through these insurance contracts is an improvement over buying crypto outright but your readers already know the benefits of overlaying a life insurance structure over investments. I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about this venture combining cryptocurrency and life insurance to visit www.cryptocoverage.io or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JAY: I think you’ll find interest from not only individual, high net worth investors via PPLI, but you should also gain attention from any number of BOLI, COLI and I-COLI prospects.
On the home front, you and your wife, Jessie, are very busy being parents and adjusting to being back in Wisconsin where both of your parents are minutes away. I remember back in Minneapolis, you would start your day at Lifetime Fitness making use of their daycare so you could get a workout in, catch up on emails and also do a bit of prospecting. How have your lives changed this past year?
TYLER: 2020 was a wild year for everyone I know, and we are no exception. As you mentioned, we moved back to Wisconsin and, in hindsight, are so happy we did. We are also expecting our second child and I can’t wait. You can imagine much of the free time Jessie and I have right now is focused on what happens when our family grows. But don’t worry, I’m sticking to my daily exercise routine. When we can all attend an industry conference again, I don’t want to look bad in the hotel gym in front of you, Ron Rubin, Celeste Moya, Michael Seltzer and just about anyone else who runs in your circle!
JAY: In preparing for this interview, I called my family back in Iowa and had them try and guess at least one restaurant from your hometown in Wisconsin you would list in answering my restaurant question. They couldn’t do it. Also, they had just returned home from eating at a Texas Roadhouse so we should be glad they didn’t have any guesses! Without naming a steakhouse or steak or limiting yourself to a jurisdiction, what are a couple of your favorite restaurants and dishes?
TYLER: I didn’t have to think about this for very long and I’m afraid it doesn’t involve Wisconsin. Hamburgeusas El Gordo is a Mexican street food restaurant in St. Paul Minnesota. Whenever I’m in town I make sure to stop and get a Del Gordo Doble - the best hamburger I’ve ever had. Yes, that’s right – my favorite hamburger is from a Mexican spot….and I’m pretending it isn’t technically steak!
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Since its inception, Life Insurance Strategies Group has solely focused on the individual high net worth life insurance market. We do not sell products. This allows us to offer unbiased, pragmatic advice. Visit us at www.lifeinsurancestrategiesgroup.com.