My life in philanthropy started early on as a family value exemplified by both my mother and father. My father, in particular, extended his philanthropy by volunteering not just himself but also me and my siblings. It was always more about volunteering our time than our money. The hike to fight hunger, the marches for civil rights, the door-to-door solicitations for equal rights were an everyday part of my life growing up.
So, it is no small coincidence that my involvement in the life insurance business also began with my father. As a young attorney I became involved in life insurance while trying to devise a plan to save my dad on the premium cost of his life insurance. That led me to a career in structured finance involving life insurance and life insurance sales through our proprietary premium finance program known as the ALPS™.
While marketing this program to life insurance companies I had the good fortune to meet Robert Stuchiner who was working for an AIG subsidiary in New York. Robert is an amazing individual. Not only did his breadth of knowledge and sharp mind quickly comprehend the innovative structure of our program but he seemed totally unhampered by his challenges with his vision. Robert has enjoyed a very successful career in the life insurance industry. He worked in large public companies, law firms, insurance carriers, and then finally set up his own life insurance brokerage. In our experience, we have seen life insurance policies of all types and applaud exit strategies for valuable life insurance other than lapsing.
Building on the mantra that you can “do well by doing good”, we have always thought that charity should be part of a financial services practice. Being a blind person with retinal degeneration, Robert benefitted greatly by foundations that have sought my equal rights, performed research for cures, and most importantly, adaptability training to enable me to function at a high level. Medical research is on the verge of huge breakthroughs and Robert’s son, who has type 1 diabetes, may not have to live his entire life with his affliction due to the research of the Diabetes Research Institute which Insuring A Better World Fund supports. During this time my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and the disease was beginning to take its toll on his body and his ability to engage in most of the activities that he enjoyed throughout his life. These challenges we faced only increased our desire to help fund charities that are searching for cures for diseases that afflict many of us.
Robert left AIG and later formed his own life insurance brokerage. He and I worked together on several insurance opportunities. From this partnership, the idea of capturing the value of lapsing policies in the senior market for charities was born. This fund would not just support the causes and charities that were near and dear to our hearts, but also expand the opportunity for life insurance professionals to provide their clients an alternative charitable exit strategy for the thousands of lapsing policies in the senior marketplace.
What started as a conversation between friends blossomed with the help of our third partner Nico Herrera into a 501(c)(3) charity, Insuring A Better World Fund. Not only could we help pursue the fulfillment of our own philanthropic goals, but we also created a vehicle that could fulfill the philanthropic goals of thousands of life insurance policy holders without the need to change human behavior and at no cost to the life insurance policy holder.
We have both been fortunate to be involved in the life insurance profession and know numerous successful life insurance agents who are deeply committed to a variety of charities around the country. I have served on the board of four charities none of which accepted life insurance policies as a source of potential donations. As there is approximately $20 trillion of life insurance in force, it seemed almost criminal to miss this vast source of donations for charities.
Through our self-funding efforts for the first five years, we were able to provide significant support for nearly two dozen charities. Those charities include universities, hospitals, religious organizations, as well as those combating disease and other societal challenges. During the pandemic, charities experienced greater demand than ever before. At this point in our careers , it was now time to concentrate on the Insuring A Better World fund. The year 2021 brought us a multi-million-dollar commitment from BroadRiver Asset Management to fund all premiums and costs associated with life insurance policies donated to Insuring A Better World Fund. We are now blessed with the opportunity to grow the charity in 2022 to a size that will make significant impact around the country and the world.
Given our large new credit line to pay all premium and others costs on donated policies, we are very excited to extend to the financial services community the Insuring A Better World Fund. We are looking forward to gaining further traction in 2022 through our industry contacts, social media and outreach initiatives, as well as our new website. We are thankful to the American College of Financial Services, the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio for hosting webinars this year to promote this charitable solution.
The leadership of our industry exemplifies the good that can be achieved through philanthropy. We should all do our part and we are happy to report that the Insuring A Better World Fund affords us all another strategy to fulfill that goal. Together we can ensure a better world for us all. We wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022.