It wasn’t the prospect of fame and fortune that sparked the idea for Howard Sharfman’s new lifestyle insurance company, FinFit Life (he already had a bit of both). It was his weight.
Tipping the scales at over 315 pounds, the veteran insurance executive at his daughter’s request began taking spin classes and, he says, “about 800 classes and 100 pounds later…I thought you You can’t have true wellness without having fitness and fitness finances.
After bouncing his idea for an insurance company that focused on fitness and financial well-being with several associates and colleagues, FinFit was born, signing its first licensed agent in February 2020, just before than Covid hits. Maybe the pandemic has slowed the company’s growth rate, but you can’t really tell. Today, the company has contracts with over 950 licensed agents and another 700 are in the licensing process. The total number of licensed and unlicensed associates has grown to over 1,400.
Sharfman says FinFit brings a level of financial services typically reserved for wealthy people to a middle market of people earning between $60,000 and $260,000 a year.
“The financial services industry has abandoned the middle market,” he said. “And every time I see someone enter the middle market, they enter with a crap product. So the first thought we had was that we need to create a new product. I said, ‘No, I want the same product that I will sell to billionaire John Doe.’ And I want to sell it to everyone.
“We view financial health as a key aspect of health and well-being. Their relationship is indisputable: better fiscal health means lower stress levels.
— Brooks Tingle, President and CEO of John Hancock Insurance
Jumping on the fitness and health bandwagon, Sharfman also wanted to pair its products with science and technology-based wellness programs that encourage and reward healthy habits. So the company has partnered with John Hancock’s Vitality products where customers can enjoy premium discounts, fruit and vegetable savings, travel and hotel benefits, and even Apple Watches and FitBits.
“We view financial health as a key aspect of health and well-being,” said Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance. “Their relationship is undisputed: better fiscal health means lower stress levels, which are directly correlated with physical health and better physical health means lower lifetime healthcare costs.”
Sharfman says the key to developing good physical and fiscal fitness is close engagement with the client.
“We will gather facts, we will analyze your financial situation; we’ll talk to you about your retirement goals; we’ll talk to you about your insurance needs, including long-term care and life insurance,” says Sharfman. “Then you engage with our Vitality app and the more you do, the more points you get for working out, walking, visiting a gym and even resting. The success of our clients goes far beyond simple financial security.
But FinFit is also a marketing company that attracts and recruits agents. FinFit Life trains its producers, called “Financial Fitness Associates”, in a system designed to build independent sales offices to serve a large customer base. FinFit Life associates have the ability to create their own independent FinFit Life businesses and sell on behalf of the business. FinFit may be comparable to Family First and PHP Life Insurance in this regard, but Sharfman bristles at the idea that his company could be a multi-level marketing venture.
“We have an economic compensation plan that pays people to sell stuff and pays people to recruit people,” he said. “They are not required to purchase anything beyond the licensing requirements. And because the products are more fun and work better, they are the easiest businesses to grow because people care about their health and their wealth.
Sharfman was emboldened early on when he came up with his business plan. One of Sharfman’s associates pitched the business idea to a “fishbowl” of several hundred people and 39% wanted to buy the product immediately and a further 36% said they wanted to join the company and represent the product.
“So we had over 50% of people saying they wanted in immediately. Then we had another 30% of people who said they needed more information,” he said. declared. “I’ve never been able to get half the people I’ve talked to to do something I want. So, it looked good, and we were really excited.
The good reviews kept coming in, he says. FinFit’s Net Promoter Score, a measure of how likely a customer will refer a business to an acquaintance, is an outlier, he says.
“Apple and Tesla’s NPS is off the charts,” says Sharfman. “But the insurance industry is on average very weak [+35]. We are in our sixties. It’s completely absurd because we don’t just send people a bill in a statement. We send them an Apple Watch or a Fitbit and communicate with them all the time through the app.
Hancock’s Tingle sees continued growth in the FinFit market.
“As FinFit Life strives to help clients achieve financial security and well-being, we see the clear synergies in our shared visions and support their ambition to help clients with their financial and physical health,” did he declare.
Doug Bailey is a freelance journalist and writer who lives outside of Boston. He can be reached at [email protected].
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