Ep. 22 Being a Female Business Owner & Democratizing Insurance
The Ripcord Moment

Ep. 22 Being a Female Business Owner & Democratizing Insurance

Ep. 22 Being a Female Business Owner & Democratizing Insurance

The Ripcord Moment

Welcome to Season 3 of The Ripcord Moment! On the first episode of this season, host Joe Seetoo invites CEO of Watermark Life Insurance Services Nicole Rex to discuss being a woman in the insurance industry, the challenges of owning her own business, and insuring one’s business. Nicole says although obtaining initial opportunities in the insurance industry has been easy for her, as a woman, proving herself to clients and peers has been difficult since the field is extremely male-dominated and people may doubt her intelligence because of stereotypical beliefs around women.

Therefore, she works hard to educate herself on insurance so she can provide valuable knowledge and show how reliable she and her team can be. Nicole asserts that there are good days and bad days as a business owner, but if you carry a persevering attitude, you have much better chances of succeeding. Nicole also talks about how many insurance companies do not clearly explain the reasoning behind their policies to clients. She wants to make insurance easy to understand for the average person so their clients know exactly why they have their policies. She also encourages business owners to go over their insurance regularly to ensure it fits their individual situation as circumstances change.

Finally, Nicole admits it’s easy to get caught up in everyday tasks as a business owner but reminds listeners to create goals that will take their company to the next level and actually block the time to complete them. It may even be beneficial to leave the office for one day to meditate on what would be best for the company’s long-term strategy and return to work with a refreshed mind and appropriate goals that will optimize the business.

Check out Watermark Life Insurance here: www.watermarklife.com

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolearex/

Check out related articles here: Financing Life Insurance with Debt by Kevin Rex

Listen to previous episodes of The Ripcord Moment:

Create Psychological Safety Before Selling Your Business (Ep. 21)

Cultivate Culture Before Selling Your Business (Ep. 20)

Welcome to The Ripcord Moment. I'm your host, Joe Seetoo. Today we're joined by Nicole Rex. She's the founder and CEO of Watermark Life Insurance, an insurance brokerage firm that is really forward thinking and changing the way that insurance is sold through in the market. She started her career in 2008, and four years later, she started Watermark Life Insurance. Over the last decade, she's grown the agency to one of the top producing firms in her field. She's got 17 people on her team
and she's serving thousands of clients throughout the nation.

One of the things that Nicole is passionate about is educating consumers on the various strategies that life insurance plays in their portfolio and how it effectively manages risk for them.

She's also passionate about working with business owners to understand the importance of insurance and the best way to fund the coverage
that a business owner needs. She also has a passion for entrepreneurship and wealth creation through small business.

Nicole, welcome to The Ripcord Moment.

Thank you so much for having me today. I'm excited to be here.

So you started your career as a young female in really what is traditionally been sort of a field that's dominated by older men. What was that like?

It created so many opportunities and challenges all at the same time.

So as you can imagine, being a young female walking into a room filled with men at these different conferences I would attend immediately sparked attention my direction. However, it also posed a lot of challenges as well, which I'll get into in a minute.

But I think the funny... just to give a quick story to everybody, really quick is when I first got started in the industry, I would bring my husband to these conferences with me and we'd walk into the room and, you know, start mingling with people and whatnot, and they would automatically turn to my husband and introduce themselves, but they would never turn their face to me or introduce themselves to me. And my husband would have to explain, actually, I am not the insurance agent
in this relationship. So here's my wife, she’s the insurance person here. And so it's just so funny how men automatically are drawn to like another male figure, right? Or they just don't think that, hey, it could have been me in that situation, the woman.

And so the long and short of it is that it's been so easy for me throughout the years in this industry to get meetings first, appointments with people, grab
people's attention right off the bat. I think the challenge has really been proving myself to people and in the fact that most of these men are really tough to prove my loyalty to. And so it's where, you know, they're very excited to have that initial conversation and learn about me and meet who I am and what I do and learn more about what I do. But actually trusting me with their clients is a whole different ballgame for them. And so I think there is that moment of like, okay, do we really trust this young female with our clientele? Right? And we're talking in some instances, I worked with billionaires, right?

And so, there's been this uphill battle of trying to prove to people that, yes, I'm just as smart, if not smarter than the other guy here in the room. And I will work harder than anyone else because that's just who I am. So let's dig into that a little bit further and you touched on it, hard work and being knowledgeable.

What are some of the things that you really, I guess, do to be able to earn their trust to get through that barrier and take the relationship
to the next level?

Yeah, first and foremost, education. I think it's so important to first know what you're talking about, right? And to be the expert in the room. And so you're not, there's no way you'll ever prove yourself to anyone unless you're actually knowing exactly you know what you're talking about. You can prove yourself. And so that is definitely
just being well-read, understanding, having so much experience in the industry and just understanding, you know, the types of planning that exists out there
and how to utilize some of the clients.

So it sounds like what you're saying there is truly, take a deep dive into the various products, just the various uses of insurance so that you are there's just no question in that professional, that that professional's mind.

And then as I grew my agency out, you know, to the 17 of us where we are today, it was... I might be capped here in regards to education just because, you know, having children and a lifestyle outside of insurance. Keeps me very busy.

But hiring the right people to fill those gaps where I'm not able to have that education or just no interest in having it and having someone in my agency or at my company to fulfill that.

So let's actually... because we pivoted from the insurance but I love the business. Now you've got your CEO hat on and how you're running your company, especially in this environment where, you know, finding talented professionals is to be part of your team is something that I think many professionals, organizations, all businesses struggle with.

So how has Watermark been able to attract top tier talent to help service your clients?

Yeah, it's a challenge that I think I still struggle with. I think everyone does, right, especially now with this the great resignation happening in today's New World. However, I've always been a firm believer in just being myself and communicating to people that, you know, we love to work hard, but we also like to play hard too.

And we're like, the way I like to explain my agency and my company is we're one big family. And so we're here to support, you know, their growth in my company. And I expect them to support my growth. And in the company as well.

And there's going to be days that are... or years or timelines where things get really tough and that we're just here to support each other and to put each other's
best interests first and recognize each other's strengths and weaknesses and then act accordingly to those.

So what I'm hearing... and it's something it's a value that we share more in capital, more in wealth, I should say. We rebrand it in terms of sort of that tribe mentality. Right? You're in the boat together. Yeah, you're working hard, you're playing hard. But these are relationships that go beyond the four walls of the business and it extends into so many various aspects of each other's lives.

And when you have that, that again, where you know what? Yeah, that glue. You know, we're walking this road together together and forms that tight bond that really differentiates great companies from those that are just really average.

I agree.

What's one thing you would say that now having some years you know under your belt, you look you're still very young, but in a good way like you do have some experience now a lot of experience. One thing you know, now in 2022 that perhaps you wish you would have known back when you first started the company.

Yeah, I think looking back, one thing that would have been very helpful to know is that times aren't always going to be great, right? And there's going to be challenges and there's going to be difficulties and just having a really thick skin. Being a female, I can easily dip into that emotional side of myself where it's like, why is this happening to me? This isn't fair, right? But looking back, just really focusing on, hey, there is going to be really great times and there's going to be really difficult times in the lifetime of this company. Right. And weather and just understanding that you're going to weather the storm no matter what.

And it's because I'm not willing to give up. It's because I'm willing to work as hard as it possibly takes to get to the end goal. Right. And so I think that's a piece of advice that I would have given myself a few years ago.

Yeah, I forget... there's a famous YouTube video out. It reminds me what you're saying about like grit and determination and it's something I think virtually all business owners who make it right have to go through because they do have ups and downs. I think that that's wonderful advice for, you know, for any business owner especially in times right now. And things tend to be tough. Yeah. Beyond just the sort of grit and determination and knowing that you're going to work hard, what else would you say is integral to your success and are traits that again, you would want to pass on to other business owners as they're going down this road as well?

Yeah, again, education I think is so important. Being well read, focusing on your business too. So often I think... Let's go back a second. Natural salesperson here without thinking I'm a salesperson, I am, OK. And it's just inbred in who I am. And so my day to day, I love to be in front of people just like you. I love to be out there meeting people, learning about their business, which ways I could help, and if there is a way I could help those types of things.

I mean, just positively, yes, I think sales kind of gets this connotation that like transactional or like something to say. But I think what I just heard you say,
and... it definitely aligns with my own personal philosophy and I think ones that I've seen of people who are just great connectors is you said the word help, right? Is genuinely finding what the issue is of your own clients. What's that issue and what resources can you bring to the table, whether it's your direct product
or service or it's other resources you can bring by showing them that you’re willing to help.

Yes, right.

It's relationship, relational nature and you're building that community.



Who could I connect you to that would help grow your business or what strategies have you thought about this? It's all in conversation, right? And it comes from a really pure place of like, I want to befriend you. I want to learn more about you, right? I want to get to know you. And then who do I know in my, you know, atmosphere? I could help do certain things for you, those types of things. I think what annoys me the most about especially the stigmatism that insurance salespeople get right, is that, you know, most people compare an insurance salesperson to a used car salesman.

It’s so sad. I think what I've tried to make like my like lifetime of like accomplishment is unwinding that and being just super hunkered down on the fact that I'm here to educate people and I'm here to just talk about concepts and strategies with people, right? And if it works with their financial picture, then great.

Yeah, but these are all conversations that should be had, right? And there's nothing more... there's nothing that annoys me more than when I meet with clients and I ask them, it's always the same answer to. I ask, Hey, I need to ask why did you purchase this life insurance? And then they say, I don't know. My insurance agent told me that I needed it. And it's like, why did they not sit down and explain the purpose of this policy to better use? They should know the purpose. It was serving it to their financial,
you know, overall picture. And so it's my personal vendetta, but also my agencies as well that we're here to educate people first and foremost about all the products that exist in the marketplace today. And then which ones specifically work to serve their financial goals.

Well, I want to pivot on that. But first of all, what you just said there resonate so much with what we do it more than wealth in terms of holistic. I like it when I'm out in the community talking about what we do around life planning. It's so funny how everyone always goes to investments right away, right in networking groups
and even prospective clients, and we have to take a step back and say, What's the purpose of why you're making these investments and holistically
looking at their life on estate planning, risk management issues related to insurance taxes, cash flow planning before we even get into the investments. And I love what you're saying there about, you know, the purpose of insurance.

It has to have a very concrete reason for buying it in the client's life. And it's truly sad that, you know, so many clients are just sold products. Oh, it's really sad. You know, as an example I recently ran into was an insured who had probably over nine different insurance policies and they were all serving different gods and purposes. And I was just like, what is going on with all these? Some of them had like massive cash accumulation and I'm some of them are just some, you know, you name it,
and being funded in all different ways. And it's like I asked the gentleman, Hey, have you ever sat down with your agent and asked specifically what
the goals of each of these policies were? And he's like, No, he just told me I needed more insurance. Yeah. Okay. So again, going back
to answering your question, it's like it's just educating people to understand, right. What's available in the marketplace and then what different concepts
and strategies exist. If it fits into their financial picture, then great. And if it doesn't, so be it too. Right?

So let's talk a little bit specifically. You do a lot of work with business owners. The podcast is focused on making sure owners are prepared for whether it's an event
where they actually have a successful sale or successful exit or an unsuccessful transition. Right? We're trying to mitigate that. So how does insurance.. how does your what your mission Watermark do play a role with the business owners?

Yeah. A huge role. So often we find that, you know, business owners go in, they start their company, they grow it, but they haven't put all the safeguards in place that need to be there. And that can be ranging from, you know, their business insurance in the sense of like protecting like workman's comp rate Arizona missions, those types of coverage as all the way to like the insurances that I offer which are you know key man so all of those types of policies and so again going back the business owners are so focused on their day to day right, increasing the company's revenue, those types of things, they forget. And I think it really speaks to what you're doing as well with the strategist, Joe. And just really sitting down and going through like the nitty gritty of what you need to have in place as a business owner before you can like grow that thing into what it is.

And so we've just seen so many missed opportunities and really sad stories occur because, you know, a business owner was told, I need to buy, sell, and then it was
never funded with life insurance. And so we got the legal agreement in place. Exactly. They don't have a funding mechanism to actually deliver on that when. Correct.

You know, someone passes away or something happens .And so a few unfortunate stories have crossed, you know, our agency's path where, you know, the wife calls up and says, hey, like I want I want to be bought out of this company and where was the insurance? And it's like it never existed.

So sorry. Like business doesn't have the cash to buy her out.

Exactly. The lawsuit happens and all other gets really messy.

So again, going back to it's just educating people. Right?

And when we speak to business owners, it's like we go through our checklist like, Hey, have you considered this not about... this is your buy-sell funded, is or do you have CME an insurance for the big guy?


Well, the thing that I love about what you're doing, I think, is that it's not... it's you're being brought in as part of the advisory team, not just transactional, it's not just sales.

And it's also not just necessarily a moment of time.

This is something that has to be revisited.

And on an ongoing basis, if the businesses actually grow growing.


Because then the risk has gotten bigger and the need changes over time.

And just the same for the opposite of the companies shrinking now to like, let's revisit these policies, Maybe we don't need all that insurance. So maybe we're lowering premiums because obviously the death benefit. Exactly is essentially let's save you some money if you're hurting right now, let's take that down.

So I want to talk a little bit about what you've done in your business in terms of and this really, again, goes to the ethos of how you want to change how insurance is viewed. You got three sort of separate divisions or initiatives to really address the market. So talk to us a little bit about what
that is.

Yeah. So the insurance industry is extremely archaic. I mean, all the way down to the fact that people are still taking paper applications. You can still fax an application
to an insurance carrier.

You can fax an application?

You can fax an application and okay, it's slowly starting to like speed up to get with the times, so however it's so archaic and so the time I spent at home hunkered down
during COVID, I really looked into that company and the industry as a whole. And really, how can we change and be different and how can we advance this industry
and be kind of a game changer and a disruptor in a great way? And so we built out what's called My mark, which is an online website that clients and advisors can go to and they can quote and apply for their own life insurance right then and there and you can complete like a fully underwritten application within 10 minutes or there's even a fully written underwritten application all online in technology, using technology in 10 Minutes. Exactly. Wow. That sounds pretty cutting edge.

And then we even partnered with a really great insurance company that will even now give you an instant approval option. So not even just the application,
but like an approval, you can buy coverage right then and there within 5 to 10 minutes. So sounds like you guys are doing some really cutting edge and exciting things.

Yeah, Watermark. So that's really exciting. And then the third company that I started that hasn't debuted yet, so it's still in the works, but probably I would say by January 1st, it's definitely going to be out there in the marketplace is premium financing, which is normally, you know, secured only for like much higher net worth individuals, great net worth north of $10 million. Being able to offer that now to just accredited investors. And so we incorporated it. Investors are around $1,000,000 of net worth. Correct over 250,000 of their initial income.

And so really being able to open up that marketplace to them because there's a lot of benefit with that. We like to call it opening up to the HENRYs of the world, high earners not rich yet. Yeah, so I love that. Yeah. So we're really excited for that to come to market. Oh.

You're democratizing insurance, doing cutting edge things, leveraging technologies to bring it out of the dark ages. Right. A lot of great things that go well.

We call this The Ripcord Moment because again, I believe when an owner goes to transition their business, it's a bit like jumping out of a plane. Their parachute can't fail. Their ripcord better work for a successful landing. So I always ask our guests for two action items that an owner should do sooner than later if they are going to go through some sort of succession event. So what would your two action items be?

All right.

The first one I would state is very basic. Just, hey, business owners, look at your insurance policies. Sit down and go through all the policies you have in place. Go through all the different coverages that you may need. Think, think in the future, worst case and best case scenarios. Right.

And do a review with your insurance agents. Do essentially an audit of what you have. Absolutely. Okay. Very important, sound advice. Again, so many times
there's divorces that take place. Right?

Like unfortunate situations and things change. You have babies, you have more kids. Right. Whatever the case is. Or your life happens.

And you just have to plan and make sure that you're keeping up to speed with all of the different changes in your lifetime. So an insurance policy is very
much a living, breathing organism in the sense that it is not a one time purchase. It is something you've got to monitor along its lifetime, your lifetime.

I think people think like, Hey, I did it, I got myself covered. And while that might be the case for a certain period of time.

Because life changes in the circumstances which predicated that policy at the time have changed. It means, well, perhaps you know, you need more or less insurance.

So that would be my first piece of advice. Second is really just as a business owner, I find that we are so caught up in our day to day what we love to do, right? That's what I like to call like I'm only focused on planning meetings with people, meeting new people, right? Creating new relationships, getting to know or better
for their those relationships along. But what's the one thing you can focus on that will take your company or your business where you are now? It's here, right? Exactly. And so there's a lot of things that's either a weakness of mine or it's just something I don't feel like I have the time for, even though I do.

And I just don't want to make the time for it. And just my advice would be write it down and make it your priority. Tomorrow morning when you get in the office and tackle it, just get it over with. And so focusing on just that, that one thing that can take you from here to there.

Sometimes when I'm talking to business owners, I ask them, are you an owner or are you a firefighter?


And while you know, you made a comment like you're doing things you love. Oftentimes many owners are as they grow, there's more just things to deal with. And they almost are putting. Growing pains. Growing pains. Daily fires are putting out, you know, can't get their eyes up on the horizon on that one big thing that they really have got to tackle to take their business to the next level.

I had a business coach once say to me, like, just remove yourself from your office for the day and go meditate on your company. Think about like what you can do different. That's going to turn your company right. And then tomorrow morning, or not tomorrow morning, the next morning, right. Get back in the office and go. Go do it.

Well, if anybody in the audience wanted to get a hold of you. How might they go about doing that?

They could visit our website at watermarklife.com. Or you can email me at nicole@watermarklife.com.

Nicole, thanks so much for your time today.

Disclosure: Information presented herein is for discussion and illustrative purposes only.  The views and opinions expressed by the speakers are as of the date of the recording and are subject to change or do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Morton Wealth. These views are not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be relied on as financial, tax or legal advice. You should consult with your financial, legal, and tax professionals before implementing any transactions and/or strategies concerning your finances.