The new Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow program will feature a sharply focused, timely curriculum to meet agents’ needs, according to the College for Financial Planning and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, which teamed up to develop the revised designation.
The updated version of the program came about as the result of “an outcry from designees” to keep LUTCF going after a change in the institution that administers the program, said NAIFA President Juli McNeely.
The new program is “going to be very complete, very robust. It really is designed to give a brand-new adviser what they need to be successful,” said McNeely, who holds the LUTCF designation.
The development of the new program involved a team of subject matter experts, known as the LUTCF Advisory Committee, as well as a content-validation survey to determine how the curriculum could be as relevant as possible.
The survey included all LUTCF designees in NAIFA’s database and focused on the questions of “who’s the target audience, and what do they need to their job, and how do we fill that need?” said Jason Brunner, director of institutional research and effectiveness at the College for Financial Planning.
The results of the survey largely mirrored the opinions of the LUTCF Advisory Committee, Brunner said.
Based on the findings, the College for Financial Planning “condensed, refined and made the content timely and relevant,” said Michael Ruppeck, national account manager.
Survey respondents also wanted a shorter program, Brunner said. The new program will involve three courses lasting nine weeks each, said David Mannaioni, associate professor at the College for Financial Planning.
The courses will focus on fundamentals, allowing agents to specialize later in their careers, Brunner said.
The first course will be an introduction to practice management and life insurance, with a focus on building a business plan as well as skills for selling life insurance.
The second course will explore a range of insurance and investment products, while the third will examine risk management for retirement and estate planning, special family situations and clients who own businesses, among other scenarios.
The course work will involve role-playing activities and case studies, Mannaioni said.
The courses will end with exams and involve field exercises to help ensure that agents develop skills for engaging and selling to prospects, Brunner said.
The course will be offered online via the College for Financial Planning’s MyChoice platform, and the institution also will work with adjunct professors to teach on-ground classes where desired. Another option allows firms to conduct private online LUTCF courses, which companies with agents across the U.S. sometimes prefer, said Dirk Pantone, vice president of business development with the College for Financial Planning.
People who have previously received the designation will still hold their designation and won’t be subject to new continuing-education requirements and an annual fee, Pantone said.
All courses will be recorded so that anyone who misses a session can access it online at a later time. The only difference is that the agent won’t be able to participate in the question-and-answer session, Pantone said.
Although he expects most who are LUTCFs to continue with their existing designations, Pantone said that if someone wanted to switch to the updated designation, he or she can petition for transfer credit, which is a free process that involves supplying a transcript of previous LUTCF course work as well as agreeing to new continuing-education requirements.
Enrollment in the new LUTCF program will begin Jan. 1, with classes starting in July.