Westerville insurance firm finds opportunities in end-of-life expenses.
Financial Providence Group wants to make life better for its agents and death more manageable for its clients. The Westerville company sells final expense insurance in six states through an affiliation with Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance Co., helping clients and their families cover end-of-life expenses such as burial and cremation. It also provides up to $35,000 in whole life insurance.
Most policyholders are living on Social Security, disability or retirement benefits, says CEO Bradly Jennings, and many never invested throughout their life. He often hears they don't want to leave a burden on family members when they die.
“The way that we approach it is, honestly, at the worst time of their life, we're going to be there for them,” Jennings says. “We're going to be cutting them a check to make sure that their burial is covered. It is a sensitive topic, but it is a really great feeling when we get letters from these clients saying, ‘If it wasn't for you guys, we wouldn't have been able to pay for the burial.' ”
After a few stops early in his career, Jennings founded Financial Providence Group in 1999 and became an affiliate of Lincoln Heritage in 2000. He now leads more than 950 agents and ranks second among 14 regional directors with $37 million in premiums written in 2016.
“As with any successful team, it begins with leadership and a vision,” says Loren McKenzie, Lincoln Heritage's final expense senior marketing development specialist. “They treat the customers with respect and, as for recruiting agents, they let them know they will be there to help them. Once the recruits come aboard, they see they are part of the FPG family.”
Financial Providence Group relies on tried-and-true methods for generating new business, including direct mail leads, television commercials and online advertising.
Meanwhile, the company makes a considerable effort to recruit new agents. On its website, Financial Providence Group touts unlimited income potential regardless of prior experience, noting people who had joined the business on the brink of bankruptcy that now make more than $250,000 a year.
“We hire all types of people; we really do,” Jennings says. “We've got a coal miner. We've got young people. We've got older people. We definitely have people that are staying here and the bottom line is the longer you're here, the more money you're going to make because of the residual income.”
Jennings leverages his own success as a recruitment tool, using photos of a private jet and Lamborghini sports car to support an online message to prospective agents. “I have been extraordinarily fortunate in life,” he is quoted as saying on the website.
“My life now is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations realize their purpose and reach their peak potential.”
Jennings and his family have used their wealth to support the Turning Point domestic violence shelter in Delaware County, as well as Ohio State University's wrestling program, among other causes.
For Ohio State, the family established a student-athlete scholarship—supporting Olympian Kyle Snyder—and donated $2.5 million to help build a new wrestling facility. Coach Tom Ryan says the building will be unmatched in the sport, featuring substantial mat space, a cafeteria, lounge, recovery station and study area.
“I was informed that he had a deep caring for the sport [and] wanted to make a difference,” Ryan says. “It was the single-largest gift the wrestling program has ever received. Without donors, none of this happens.”
The project comes as Financial Providence Group is undertaking a facilities improvement of its own. The agency's new 14,000-square-foot headquarters at 162 Wetherby Lane in Westerville has a workout facility, indoor pool, hot tub and hotel suites for visitors.
Financial Providence Group's new home provides a larger footprint than the old headquarters nearby. It came up with the concept for its new HQ in partnership with builder Romanelli & Hughes.
“We truly just outgrew it,” Jennings says. “The design of [the new office] is just phenomenal. We'll definitely have the room that we need for the agency.”
Evan Weese is a freelance writer.