for March 2021
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this
The gmail.com War On Compulife
gmail hates Compulife. There is no other way to put this. People who use gmail.com for their email addresses end up with emails from compulife.com in their spam folders. While gmail is NOT alone in doing this, it is clear that compulife.com emails have been placed on some kind of "blacklist" and so any emails we send out end up in gmail spam folders.
It ticks me off!
And in the past when trying to reach out to gmail they do NOTHING. They don't care. Just try to get someone on the phone - FORGET ABOUT IT!
And what I like to point out to people who use gmail (it's FREE right?) is that a "spam" filter is completely USELESS if it throws the good emails out with the bad emails. What's the point of having a phone if it won't ring?
So what I end up having to do, when I get a request for a 30 day free trial from someone, and they have a gmail account, is that I have to call them to tell them to look in their spam folder. Some people don't even know how to find the spam folder, and I have to show them how to do that.
I think we have every right to be angry.
And I end up having to call everyone, regardless of whether they have gmail or not because gmail offers a business enterprise solution where you can use your own domain name, and still use gmail. This means that while your domain name is NOT gmail, it goes through gmail and Compulife's emails from compulife.com still get put in the spam folder.
But everyone uses gmail, right? Because it's free, right? And everyone uses twitter, right? Because it's free, right? And then, when big tech wants to cancel your butt...
Emails From term4sale.com Are Unaffected
Emails from the term4sale website are unaffected by the gmail problem. Term4sale emails to our subscriber are sent using the term4sale.com email account, and are do not end up in spam folders of agents using gmail.
CQS.EXE - The Build Begins
Last month we talked about the time that we were investing to have our programmer examine the development possibilities that we can use for creating better web based software.
To summarize, our goal in redesigning the new Windows software is that we want to create a revamped system that we can reproduce with web based software. Down the road, whether you are using our Windows program, or the web program, the two will essentially look and work the same.
Today our Windows PC software is the most powerful of all our quoting tools, and for the serious agent/agency, it is the best product to have and use. But our goal, once the data overhaul is complete, will be to enhance the web based software so that no matter whether you are using a PC or a smart phone, you will be able to do everything the same on either. It's a great goal to have, but the programming tools for the web versus PC are quite different and quite inferior. They are getting better, but we can still do more in Windows than on the web.
After this period of research, we think we now understand what can and cannot be done, and we have been able to come up with a new design that should work the same on both. Once you get the new software later this year, you will see a VERY different opening screen. Instead of a separate Master Menu and client screen, the client screen will have the menu integrated into it.
Hardware and Operating Systems Have Evolved
In the early days of Windows, hardware was a very limiting factor. Our original software was designed to look and work properly on screens with 640 X 480 display. In that environment you could either see the client screen, OR the Red Menu, you did not have room for both. Today's modern PC allows higher resolutions displays and many use much LARGER monitors. I have a pair of 20" monitors (old 4X3 format) that I work with on one of my two computers, and a 50" display (new 16X9 format) on another computer. The Compulife Windows display seems relatively small on any of those.
Of course you compare that to the typical smart phone and screen displays have reverted from small to tiny. They have super high resolution but who can read the fine print? The web has resolved this with "responsive" web page design capability, something we have enabled for web quoting options like the Compulife Basic product or our $96 per year Web Quote option. The program and product displays adapt to the space allowed, and look good no matter what.
The PC version does not do that (yet) and that will be part of what's coming. If you ALLOW a window to be larger, then more will be seen. If you shrink a window some elements of the screen may disappear but they will still be quickly accessible with icons. We will let you set the font size so on a really big monitor, with higher resolution, you can up the size of the screens and the text on the screen.
The new icons that we will be adopting will be very similar to those used on popular browsers and web sites, and they will be the same whether it's our PC or web software. The icons will logically work consistent with how they work in other software. This will reduce the learning curve for new customers.
The Menus Will Change
The biggest change will be the reorganization of menus. Since its first release, our Windows program has grown in capability, with us adding and attaching new features and capabilities. We have stuck with the old menu system and added and adapted it. Now that we are at this point, it is time to reorganize it more logically.
For example, you now use the Menu to choose the type of quote you want. The OLD menu will be gone and the first thing you will seen is the client screen. On the new client screen the first question at the top of the screen, will be "type of quote" or "quote type" and it will be a drop down list of options. Once the type of quote is selected, the rest of the client screen will reformat to ask ONLY those questions that apply for that quote.
For example, if you select "table rating" then the question about health category will disappear. Preferred Plus and Preferred is no longer relevant, it won't ask. We just need to know male/female or non-smoker/smoker. If Canadians choose "joint life", they will get the screens that allow client 1 and client 2 data entry next to each other, or if on a small windows, one above the other. The old "tab" selection of client 1 and 2 will be gone, it was always confusing for new people.
If you do a single life quote, then there will be a "multi-life" check box. If you check it the second client display appears. If you don't, then it just asks about the one client. You will use the first two choices to determine the nature of the quote, and the rest of the questions will flow from that. Options like waiver and premiums modes also be selected from the client screen. They will be further down the page in the "set it and forget it area", along with the state that you are quoting in. Most agents tend to sell in a particular way, and so options like that change less. And as always, the software will remember the last case that you did.
The logic of moving these choices to the client screen is so that we can tell the internet quoting software as much as possible when you click the "compare now" button and it reduces the programming involved in redisplaying the comparison results after you tinker with options on that screen. The Windows software will continue to offer the ability to modify quotes as you see them, but we want the initial client screen to look and work the same on the PC and the web based program.
Some of this will be annoying for existing customers because everyone (myself included) hates doing something differently when they knew exactly what to do the old way. As a guy who still uses Wordstar every day, I get it and I understand. You love what you have learned and you don't want to unlearn and relearn. And when it comes to real antique software like Wordstar, which I still use daily, I'm not alone. George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones author) still uses Wordstar.
And yes, what you see in that video is exactly one of the software tools that I use everyday. And it is easy to convert Wordstar files to files that can then be put into my other editors such as CoffeeCup, Notepad and Word. I'm not saying use Wordstar, I am just sharing that I am no different than you. You love what you have learned, and don't want someone taking it away from you.
Another thing I constantly use is the CMD command in Windows. This allows me to work at the DOS interface level. This is the same thing that the guy in the Wordstar video used to make what looked like a DOS environment. You can do that easily in Windows, and I have a desktop icon that takes me there. I LIVE DAILY at the DOS level on my Windows PC. There are some things I can do much more easily with that DOS window and commands. By contrast, there are some things I can do WAY MORE EASILY using Windows. I use both interfaces because they each have their strengths and weaknesses and I am not alone. That's why Windows continues to support the CMD option.
Some Will Hate It Before They Like It
When Compulife first introduced the Windows program, there were a number of customer that didn't like it and preferred the DOS software better. It took time for them and us to massage it to the point where they loved the new software better than DOS. We will try to be careful to preserve as much as possible. I know the frustration with unnecessary change. I get angry with Microsoft when they change things that they don't need to. I continue to shake my head with the transition from "My Computer" in XP, to "Computer" in Windows 7 to "This PC" in Windows 10. What the heck was that all about?
But the biggest reason we are making the changes is for potential NEW customers of Compulife, and the younger generation coming into our business. When someone who has NEVER used Compulife before starts using our Windows PC software they immediately react negatively because it looks old and they have to learn the logic of the program. If we change the software to use the logic of some of the popular browser and web based programs, like YouTube, then there will be two BIG benefits for new customers. First, the program will not look antiquated (even though it won't do anything new or better). Second, they will have a much quicker learning curve, because the icons that they will be using will do the same or similar things in our software.
The client screen will be the new home screen and you will get there by clicking on the house icon. The icon with three lines will display the option list (menu). The magnifying glass "search icon" will be the "Display Single Product" button (F2 will still work in Windows). The Display Comparison button will be the shopping cart icon "Display Product Comparison" (F3 will still work in Windows) and the Pick 12 will be the spreadsheet icon (F5 will still work in Windows). It will all look different, and menu descriptions will change, but once you click on the new icon, you will see the old screen that you saw before, such as the comparison window. Those windows will change later but not in the first roll out.
There Will Be a Careful Transition
You will not initially be FORCED to use the new program, but it will be available. Later the old program will stop and ask you if you would like to try the new program. Later the new program will replace the old program but you will still be able to go back to the old program as an option. Eventually the old program will disappear, and you will be forced to use the new program. That will NOT happen until the data overhaul is complete, and we are satisfied that the new system works as well as the old system.
We are rolling out the new interface before the overhaul to the data structure to give you time to adjust to it, and for us to fine tune it and modify it based upon YOUR feedback. While this is Compulife's software and you need to learn the way we do it, to another very real degree this is your software. We want to hear from you because YOU are the person using the software and we want to make it a good fit for you. That is a process we have engaged in for the last 39 years, and we are not about to change a winning formula now.
Response To Our Discussion Last Month
Last month I talked about the evolving guaranteed permanent product and the impact of lower interest rates on those products. That generated some feedback and we received one particularly thoughtful response that I wanted to share. I am not sharing it because I agree with all the points made (I don't), and I am not sharing it because you will agree with all the points (and you and I might disagree on that), I am sharing it because it made those points very well and I really appreciate the time and effort that went into it producing it. I just couldn't accept that I would be the only person to consider those views, so here it is:
Just read your take on life insurance and I actually sold all my GPUL as "term to 100" (or term to 120, or term to 90) and YES you don't have to apologize for guarantees.
I have been at this game since January 1975. Policies were listed in three ring notebooks (non-par). I actually had a Computone computer in a Samsonite briefcase that hooked up to the phone by inserting the handset into a cradle, dial a number and the proposal would print out on thermal paper right in front of your eyes... loved the “minimum deposit illustrations.
I remember going to Atlanta to a Computone school led by Ray Philibert just as UL was coming out and he showed a 35 year old, maybe $500,000 policy, endow at age 100 at the then current interest rate (say 8%) and the premium was something like $358 per year. He then reduced the premium BY ONE DOLLAR to $357 and the policy lapsed in the insured age 60s. I looked at the guy next to me and said, "I see the undoing of the life insurance business as we know it, and a lot of lawsuits"...!!!
Universal Life was designed by E F Hutton (gone) and the old ads went , "When EF Hutton speaks, people listen". Apparently, they did not listen well enough. They designed a product generally sold in a riskless transfer risk environment (life insurance) and transferred all the risk to the buyer-expenses, interest and mortality, for the "opportunity" to earn a little bit more on your cash values. Leave it to a brokerage firm to find a way to transfer the risk to someone else but reap the benefits on the upside (much like 2008 when the brokerage firms wanted the government to cover their losses, while they kept the upside).
And par policies cost more, paid a dividend, and every year there was a study (AM Best, maybe) done on dividends projected vs dividends paid. Always the PAID dividends exceeded the PROJECTED dividends, and the leading companies were Northwestern, Mass, Guardian, NY life, Confederation (gone), Mutual Benefit (gone), and others...
All my insurance was/is permanent however, any polices that were WL term blends have blown up and I have 1035 exchanged them into other permanent policies...
My mantra the last few years is that I don't trust any insurance company... every company comes up with hot new products, stock market up, stock market down, stock market sideways, VUL, VUL with guarantees (love the guarantees), GPUL (love those guarantees), IUL (some downside guarantees), IUL with multipliers etc.
At the end of my career (age 71), still active but not doing a lot and have sold a lot of insurance and the only policies I am proud to have sold are ones that have paid off because someone died and someone else needed the money, 10-15-20 or 30 year term with guarantees, (and invariably when the policy hit the end of its guaranteed period I would/do get calls about why and what to do now?), WL-par and non par... especially the Hancock non par with a 5% reserve and cash on cash return in the 3.75-4% range, (they took it off the market!).
Love paying my personal premiums (maybe $20,000 per year) because the cash surrender values are bringing in a 2%-4% rate of return cash on cash (excluding the life insurance). Makes me look brilliant!!!
And I try and keep up with each policy individually to track dividends and here are the last three years dividends on just one policy, dated in January
And the usual annual cover letter "we are proud to pay a dividend, have been paying them since 1898, and we are keeping our dividend rate at 5% even in this volatile low interest rate market..."
I could go on...
Anyway, your article caused me to reflect on all these issues. Thanks !! Keep up the good work!
Allan S. Oxman, CLU ChFC AEP AIF
Once again, NOT all subscribers will agree with the points made by Allan, I don't. But he makes them well and I had to share them with you.
This represents why I have always liked the business of selling life insurance, and being an independent agent selling for multiple companies. You could develop your own views of the best solutions for your client and sell according to those strategies. Often those strategies would modify over time. Sometimes you changed your views because of product opportunities; experience is a big teacher.
From the time I started in the business, to today, life insurance companies have become much more competitive and are far more responsive to competition. When I first started offering quoting software in the U.S. in 1987, the longest level term plan was 10 year, most products sold were ART of 5 year.
In those days everyone wanted to quote "re-entry" premiums and show them as if they were renewal premiums. Compulife quotes showed "renewal" premiums, with the view that consumers needed to see the big downside after the level period. Slowly agents realized that a client stuck in a product were in bad shape with those YURT renewals. As a result level periods began to get longer, to address that, and companies first out with 20 year term and eventually 30 year term cleaned up quickly.
In the early days companies who pioneered competitive prices and products could really clean up, there was such a huge difference in prices. Today we are seeing term premiums that are determined by rates in fractions of a penny, and companies responding within weeks to changes in the market. This has all been GREAT for consumers and for independent agents who sell based upon getting the consumer great products at great prices.
When you work for someone else as an employee, and I worked for many when I was a young, you are always boxed in to represent the views and standards of your employer, and sometimes those views were contrary to your own. Your option in a situation that compromised your principles was to move on.
Often, as you got more experience and became more valuable to an employer, they would respond and pay you more but I found many times that someone else was willing to pay more. Changing jobs, and starting with a new employer seemed the only way to move up in pay.
All of those problems disappeared when I began selling life insurance in 1979. I went to work for a GA who let me sell for whoever I wanted. I could research products and develop my own opinions about what was good and what wasn't. I put myself into a position where the only person I was responsible to was my client, and I advised clients as though they were in my position. I personally bought the products they were buying from me, because I believed them to be best. My skills from school and previous jobs all lent themselves very well to the work I found myself in.
As my skills improved I made more money. I didn't have to go to the boss and ask for a raise, it come automatically. If I worked harder, I made more. If I needed time off, I could take it. But most important, I treated my customers the way I wanted to be treated myself.
I will close remembering the man who first introduced me to the business who said "Take care of your client first, and your pocket book will take care of itself". It was great advice and since 1979, whether it was selling insurance or developing and selling Compulife's quoting software, I have let tried to live by that advice.
Our Current Programming Plans for 2021
The following is the current order for new work that we will be doing in 2021:
Introduction of New PC Version: CQS.EXE
Overhaul Of Current Product Data Files
Introduction of Compulife Basic Plus (with Pick 12)
Anyone with questions about any of these upcoming projects can call Bob Barney to discuss:
Please don't email me essay questions, just call. If I'm not in, email me your phone number, I'll call you.
These planned objectives will easily consume our programming time during 2021. The good news is that once the product data files have been converted, and we have introduced the new CQS.EXE, and upgraded our internet engine to use the new data files, Compulife will be turning it's full attention to our web based, Compulife Basic software. The long term goal is to have a web based product that does everything our PC based software does.