How an Annuity Expert Built Her Software Company

How an Annuity Expert Built Her Software Company


Hi and welcome to this edition of The
Insurance Experts. It’s my pleasure to have on the line Sheryl Moore. Sheryl’s
an annuity expert who I follow on LinkedIn she does a lot of great
consumer advocacy work and I’m so happy to have you join us today.
Hi Marc! Thanks so much for having me. Okay so first of all how did you get into the
annuity world in the first place? Well I was a struggling single mom with three
kids in the city of Des Moines, Iowa, and I had been a stay-at-home mom and just thought what can I do in Des Moines, Iowa, where if my company gets shut down or acquired by
someone else I can walk across the street and do the same darn thing and
Des Moines is the second largest insurance capital of the U.S. so insurance made
sense that was 20 years ago. And then of course you’re working at this insurance
company and so what made you become aware of annuities in the first place?
Well that’s a really interesting question you know when I started with
the company they had the employee benefits enrollment meeting and I
remember them talking to me about a 401k which is you know a really great
product but I’d never heard of it because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and
when I asked them questions you know it’s just like oh you’ve got to do it
it’s got a 4% match it’s free money you know why would you pass that up
and I was like well I don’t know where to put my money there’s so many options
and they just handed me this prospectus is that you know go onto the American
Century website we just make some selections and you know I didn’t get the
perspective thread in between all those diaper changes and baths and I really
didn’t know what I was doing but I did enroll and I found out the hard way
when the.com bubble burst in the year 2000 that you can lose money in a 401k
and that was something I didn’t know so I asked my boss who was my mentor and
advisor and I thought he had more investment experience than me
I said what can I do with my money so I won’t keep losing money and who
well why didn’t you buy an indexed annuity I said what what’s an annuity
and he said well it’s a retirement savings product that guarantees you a
paycheck for the rest of your life even if you live to be a hundred and fifty
years old and I thought that sounded great and he explained that an indexed
annuity would not subject me to losing money but allow me to earn money based
on the market’s performance to a limited degree I said well that sounds like
exactly what I wish I would have bought where could I buy an indexed annuity and he said the company were employed by is the number one seller of indexed annuities
in the country and that was a hard moment Marc I was I was really angry to be honest so
I started doing some research on this new thing called the internet and I went
to the library and I just found there wasn’t a lot of credible information
about annuities in the public domain and so when I had my position eliminated at
another home office a couple years later I decided I was going to do something
about that so I cashed out what was left of my 201k
and I started a website from my dining room table winkintel.com and basically the idea was I wanted to educate people about
annuities and I didn’t pay the bills but I found a way to make it happen with
AnnuitySpecs. Okay very cool and and this is not a
knock against 401ks or mutual funds it’s just a matter of awareness that people
have about different investing options and there’s all kinds of different
solutions based on your needs out there so just finding the right expert is really key so first of all AnnuitySpecs you mentioned was the first
product that you offered what exactly is AnnuitySpecs? It’s basically this huge
database that has insurance companies their annuity products the features on
those products the rates and sales of those products all in one place so we
can go to AnnuitySpecs and say I want an annuity that has you know these ten
different criteria and it will search through the database of like 3,000
annuities to tell you which ones meet that criteria. That is so cool and this
is 15 years ago you wrote your own website do this it sounds very you
know forward thinking right? Well yeah absolutely
I mean but I saw a need that I thought people who did the same kind of job that
I did at the insurance company would probably need a resource like this and
today we cover all types of deferred annuities. Okay and who are your typical
clients that would use the software program? Insurance companies personnel people who work for distributors like FMOs BGA broker dealers or banks and
then salespeople though and then we have some consultants like actuaries who also
use the website. Okay it sounds like something a consumer would like to get
themselves but it’s also a pretty technical topic and I’m sure you need an
insurance expert to help guide you through it correct? Absolutely it’s not
available for consumers just for compliance purposes but again you know
in an instance where hey I’m just looking for the annuity with the highest
rate well there’s more to it than that so you probably do want to work with an
expert. Okay so tell us a little bit about a case study of one of your
clients that had used your software program curious to hear what’s the most
common use case for it. Well the most common thing that we
actually get called on or emails about is distributors blasting out emails
promoting hot exciting annuities but not naming the company or product so we
recently had one come in to the office here where the staff was asked hey can
you help me find out what this annuity is it has seven and ten-year options a
stackable lifetime income rider the income rider payouts increase and it
has up to you know X percent commission so my team was able to turn that request
around in less than 60 seconds by typing in all that criteria on the search
results and saying oh and you know this annuity by ABC insurance company. Okay so it was like a home office person who had gotten this competitive kind of research
assignment and it was anonymous so he had to figure out kind of like reverse
engineer which annuity it was that he was competing against that’s pretty cool.
Yeah we do get a lot of those but you know a lot of people use it differently
and we just don’t get calls on it so I would say the number one thing
that people use AnnuitySpecs for is comparing annuities on a side-by-side basis. Gotcha. and annuity specs became a part of your
larger company called Wink correct? Right I mean originally it was just AnnuitySpecs
but we’ve done more over the past 15 years so we rebranded as Wink a little
more than six years ago. That’s so cool and you know there’s a lot of good uses
of annuities out there you know I would say annuities similar to long-term care
actually have a bad reputation in the past they’re been you know bad products
or bad actors or things like that and you hear about that in the press but of
course they’re it’s so important in today’s world to have this guaranteed lifetime
income component and the protections like you mentioned that maybe indexed
annuities provide so I appreciate you being on the show today with us Sheryl.
Yeah thanks Marc. And we’ll talk to you soon I’m sure gonna have you on for
future episodes to talk more about annuities in particular because I love
having experts that can kind of demystify you know the topic. That
would be my pleasure thanks so much.

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