In the final episode of season 6 we “Zoom In” one last time with special guest and certified financial planner, Lawrence B. Keller. Tune in as we share safeguards to protect your income, your business and your family as we approach the New Year.
Listen to the full episode using the player below, or by visiting one of the links below. Below is the episode’s transcript which has been edited for readability. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. Legal issues, simplified through real client stories and real world experiences. Creating simplicity in three, two, one.
Brad: Welcome back to another episode of Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host, Brad Adatto with my cohost Michael Byrd.
Michael: Thanks, Brad. As a business and healthcare law firm details matter. This season’s theme is zoom in. Once we know our big picture vision or strategy, we have to roll up our sleeves to get the work done. With each episode this season we’ll have our typical stories and make sure we talk about specific actions to focus on in 2022.
Brad: Hey Michael, before we bring on today’s guest to help close out the season, are you familiar with NASA’s DART mission?
Michael: Man I am so glad you asked me that question, Brad. I was just thinking this morning that I haven’t talked about space, I mean, it’s been at least [00:01:00] two days since we recorded another episode and you asked me a question about space. I think it was Star Trek or something like that. No, it was, yeah you tend to really like to talk about it. So tell me more, Brad, tell me about this.
Brad: Yes. I think we all should know about this NASA’s DART mission stands for a double asteroid redirection test mission. Dart as part of NASA’s continued efforts to defend the earth from oncoming asteroids. So NASA plans on hitting a space rock, or as they call it a moonlit with a high speed spacecraft.
Michael: Okay. So the only thing you talk about more than space are really old movies, and I’m kind of feeling that right now and that you’re maybe your worlds have collided literally. And are we talking about some sort of Bruce Willis action movie in space right now?
Brad: No this is not Armageddon, but it’s a great movie. No, this [00:02:00] is for real. According to NASA, it believes that this DART mission is they’re going to hit this rock and it’s going to make it change by a fraction of one percent.
Michael: Well, that sounds like a lot much ado about nothing. That doesn’t sound like very much.
Brad: Yeah. It doesn’t sound much, but in the space, if done correctly, both in distance and time, a fraction of 1% of pushing this rock and 1% it’s a difference of it hitting the earth or missing it by hundreds of thousands of miles. So as such, if you’re talking about an asteroid, the outskirts of the solar system that we can see, and it’s on a collision course with earth, NASA could save the earth.
Michael: Um, man, well, when will we know if it works?
Brad: Well, the mission is going to take about a year. The spacecraft can travel about 7 million miles from earth on this collision course and hit it about 15,000 miles per hour. That’s probably fast as you drive Michael, and when the spacecraft hits it [00:03:00] it’s going to, you know, obliterate it, but that’s what they are trying to do.
Michael: Well, thank you for my daily space talk. A hit of information, but what does this have to do with today’s guest?
Brad: So when I was reading this article on DART and preparing for today’s guest, I started thinking about the DART mission and it has a lot to do with what our guests does for a living. He looks way out into the future, hoping to protect his clients from catastrophic events, hoping that they never happen, but has the protections built in just in case much like the DART.
Michael: Well, our friend Larry I’m about to introduce, probably has never been compared to an astronaut before, but well done. I’m sure you’re making him feel good. Let me introduce our guest today, Lawrence B. Keller, Larry. Larry is a certified financial planner. He is the founder of Physician Financial Services, a company dealing exclusively with the financial needs and concerns [00:04:00] of members of the medical profession. He has spent the last 30 years providing insurance and investment products and services to residents, fellows, and attending physicians, including products ranging from disability income insurance, life insurance, and investments. He’s earned the additional following designations, chartered life underwriter, chartered financial consultant, registered health underwriter, and life underwriter training council fellow. He’s written tons of different publications, both you and I have shared the stage with Larry multiple times and he’s a prolific speaker around the country. Larry, welcome.
Larry: Thank you guys so much for having me. Really looking forward to this episode.
Brad: Cool. Well, we’re excited to have you on our show today and like you, the vast number of your clients are in the healthcare industry, [00:05:00] so tell us what drew you to this industry.
Larry: Believe it or not, you can imagine most people don’t go to college and wake up and say, I cannot wait to become an insurance agent. It just doesn’t happen. So like most I found my way there by accident. I was graduated from college. You know, this was 1990. What we found is I wasn’t a CPA or I wasn’t an accountant. I didn’t have a degree in computer science. I actually was a psychology major with a business minor and I really thought I was going to end up in like the men’s clothing world, like haberdashery. So I graduated, I didn’t know what to do and I ran into a head hunter and the head hunter said, have I got a job for you and you don’t have to sell anything. You’re going to service existing clients. Boy, was that not true. So I took a test is very much like the [00:06:00] Rorschach test and it really is designed to determine how successful you might be in the insurance industry. And I was again, psychology major so I said, I’m not a team player. I want to be rewarded for my own efforts. I’m willing to work endless hours for no money. I followed up and they said you scored off the charts. And I’m thinking to myself, well, surprise, surprise I was a psychology major right out of college. I think I could figure out how to answer the questions. I diligently followed up shortly thereafter. I said, have you decided on the candidate that triggered to accept? And they said, no, we have not. And a couple of weeks later, they still weren’t following up with me. So this is probably what got me the job. As I said, I will see you guys on Monday, have the books ready. I hung up and I was in the office on Monday studying for my insurance exam. So what led me to healthcare? You know, [00:07:00] really when first started, I was doing College education planning for people that had young kids, but I was a kid myself. I didn’t know anything about having kids let alone funding for college, but I was pretty good. I was making a lot of calls. I was meeting a lot of people, but there was really no commonality other than the fact that they had young kids. And they said, you seem like a nice guy, yeah we’ll do a little bit of stuff, but I’m really much more looking towards overall planning. Can you help me with that? And I said, sure, you just have to give me tax returns and pay stubs and your employee benefits booklet. And you guys know you ask clients for something today you’ll be lucky if you see it for six months. So I went back to the guy that ran my office at the time, and I said, I got to tell you I’m working awfully hard and I’m not seeing any great results. I think my time is up. And he said, you’re doing great. I said really, I don’t [00:08:00] seem to feel that way. He said, well, you know what? You should try this. You’re very detail oriented, you’re young, you love to get into the weeds. You should try the medical marketplace. I said okay what do you mean by medical marketplace? And he said, you know, physicians and dentists and alike, and he came over to me with a Manila file folder with hundreds of letters that were sent to physicians. And he said, you should follow up with them. They’re all waiting for my call I just don’t have the time to do it. And there was no internet back in these days. And I said, that’s great, where are their phone numbers? He said, well, I don’t have those. I said, really? So I hit the white pages. We’re going to date ourselves here.
Brad: Hold on Larry, that’s our first vocabulary word for the day. For those who don’t know, the white pages was this giant book that actually had [00:09:00] everyone’s phone number. And I don’t even know if it exists anymore.
Michael: In other words, for people that maybe they’ll relate to is the phone book.
Larry: I hit the phone book and I will tell you, doctors are very smart. Like back in the day they were either unlisted where they listed their first name and last name with no address, or a first initial last name with no address. And I just hope that I got the right person. I started smiling and dialing as they say and the only people that would talk to me were these young physicians. And the first guy I got told me you know, it sounds like I’d be interested in speaking with you. I’m an ophthalmology resident and I said, that’s great. Can you tell me what that exactly is? So he said, I’m an ophthalmologist in training. And I said, you have to forgive me, I’m not the smartest guy. Are you a [00:10:00] doctor? And he said, yes, I’m an ophthalmologist. I graduated from medical school. I’m now doing my training. And I said, forgive the ignorance. Are you making any money? And he said, absolutely not. And I said, you sound like the guy for me, you know, when can we get together? So I got together with him, we hit it off pretty well. He was my first client and from there things just progressed. So the the commonality of, at the time I didn’t know a lot and you guys know this, the hospital is pretty much the happy hunting ground for new financial advisors, because we don’t know much and the doctors don’t want know much. So where we’re either a great fit or we’re headed for disaster and we have to try to knock out that asteroid. So by the time I had a lot of these guys as clients. I already knew what they were about. I knew what was most important to them or what they might be concerned about. [00:11:00] And I said, let me tailor my plans to their needs. And like reviewing an employment contract, you know the big areas to look for, you know where the problem areas are. I know exactly the same thing when it comes to disability, insurance or term life insurance and what they can do in terms of investments, what they might not be able to do in terms of investments. And it became a lot easier to become an expert in this area, as opposed to one day working with the plumber, the next day working with the attorney, the next day working with the executive, just a lot easier in terms of knowing their needs.
Michael: So when did you start Physician Financial Services? It kind of sounds like you found your way into the healthcare market and then talk about the bridge into what today you know as PFS.
Larry: Yeah. So I started in the industry in 1990. I did the college education funding, trying to find my way for about a [00:12:00] year and then 30 years ago I started Physician Financial Services and it was always based on the premise of doctors receive the best medical training in the world. Like if you ask them about a specific illness, they’ll be able to easily tell you what the diagnosis is and what the treatments might be. But if you ask them about financial planning or insurance, let alone employment contracts, they have absolutely no idea. So if you look at this and this is what you guys deal with every day, you know, they’re so excited, they get a contract where they get an offer. They don’t really want to read it. They look for what’s the biggest salary I can get. They don’t look at covenant not to compete, they don’t look at the other benefits and they’re ready to sign. And then it’s either someone like me or more likely someone like you that says, wait a second, you know, you got to put the brakes on here. There’s a lot more [00:13:00] to it than that. And if you’re getting a much larger offer than somebody else with the same geographic area, it’s not because you’re that great. It just means something might be at the back end of that contract that you don’t see on the front end of the contract. So I looked at it this way, they’ve invested a ton of time and money in their education and simply put we’re nothing more than highly educated money machines. And if we’re working because we need the income and that’s what’s going to drive our lifestyle and allow us to pay down our debts and accumulate wealth for our family. And we are stopped in our tracks due to an accident or sickness, even the best written financial plan is not going to work. So disability insurance really becomes the way to protect the money machine rather than the money itself.
Brad: Yeah, that makes [00:14:00] sense. And so those are basically the services that when someone calls you up and you do have that young physician, or even senior physician who calls you, maybe you can kind of give some high level explanation of what services you guys offer to them.
Larry: Yeah. So we specialize in disability insurance and primarily term life insurance. I’ll look at them and I’ll say, okay, well, are you in the course of your training? What is your income? Based on their specialty, whether they’re academic or private practice, we pretty much know what their income potential looks like. And you know, now we’re talking about professional sports money, right? Over a long period of time, $500,000 contracts over 30 years, suddenly $15 million. But no one’s thinking about it like that. So what we want to do is institute a policy or several policies to create a strategy that as their income is rising, they can buy more coverage, they don’t need to do an [00:15:00] exam blood test, urine test or answer any medical questions after the first time. Very often, they don’t even need to do that. Now what you’ll find is I run into this all the time. So the first one is Larry, this all sounds great. I can see you’ve got my best interest in mind, but you know, I can’t afford anything, like I’m a resident. I don’t have any money. So I will tell you what I have deemed to be the lease with the option to buy plan. And you can use this for one plan, you can actually use this for two plans. So let’s use plastic surgeons because we know we have a lot of these in common. And they say again, I really can’t afford much of anything. And I said, look, you can buy a policy with a thousand dollar a month benefit, very small. And if you’re a guy, the premium might be $30 to $35 a month. If you’re a female, it might be $50 to $55 a month. But once you have it, not only am I giving you a thousand dollars as monthly income, you’ll have the ability to [00:16:00] potentially increase your benefit up to $20,000 or even $30,000 a month never doing an exam blood test, urine test or answering medical questions again. So you can buy your policy, you can almost let it go on autopilot until you’re ready to complete your residency or fellowship. Now you say, Hey, Larry, it’s time. I am earning a lot more. I’ve thought my contract signed, I really want to protect my income. And for this small amount of money, they’ve locked in the ability to protect their future income potential. And once they have it, should anything subsequently happen or they get a diagnosis. We’re not even going to ask them about that.
Michael: Awesome. Well, so Larry, this season’s theme is zoom in and I would love kind of in light of COVID and your experiences, just to share some thoughts on what people can do for protecting their incomes and accumulating wealth in 2022, some kind of [00:17:00] tidbits.
Larry: Yeah. So the first thing is, believe it or not, COVID really skyrocketed the insurance industry into current age. So we really don’t use paper applications anymore. It’s all done electronically. A lot of the companies changed their limits where you used to go out and have to get an exam blood test and urine tests up to certain amounts, typically $10,000 a month. Some companies have no limit for disability insurance. There is no labs required unless specifically asked by the underwriter. So what do I see? The first thing I see is we’ll go back to your Bruce Willis reference. And if we all remember the six sense, I know the three of us are old enough, maybe not so much some of the listeners, but the one of the main characters comes in and he says, I see dead people. I see dead people every day of my career. These are physicians that believe that they have an own occupation or an own specialty [00:18:00] policy, but they really don’t. And if they cannot do the duties of a plastic surgeon, so they’re disabled, maybe they have an essential tremor, but they’re smart and motivated and resourceful enough to work and they choose to do something and they earn an income. Their benefit may be potentially reduced or even eliminated. Well, there’s six companies that have a policy that does not work like that. You’ve got Berkshire Life, which is Guardian, Standard Insurance Company, Meredith, Principal, Ohio National and Mass Mutual. And these policies say if you’re disabled and you cannot perform your duties as a plastic surgeon, we will be you totally disabled. You can earn as much as you want in another occupation or another medical specialty with no offset. So ideally that’s what a physician wants to have.
Brad: Yeah. That’s huge.
Larry: Huge. The other things that you’ll find is disability insurance policies in and of themselves, they do not differ [00:19:00] much. So if we hone in on these six companies, I will tell you price aside there’s really three areas that you’re going to find that are different. So the first one is going to be, how are claims handled related to mental slash nervous and or substance abuse disorders? Well, hey, most of the companies, you have a choice. You can either say Larry, you know, I never thought of any of this stuff before, but in COVID I’ve seen a lot of bad things. I don’t want a limitation for those plans. I want a burn out or an anxiety or a depression claim to be handled the same way as a cancer plan. And in most cases you can opt for that, not in the state of California. There’s a company called Principal, not in the state of New York and not if you’re an emergency medicine physician, an anesthesiologist, a pain management physician, or a CRNA. But other than that, it’s an option. Typically it’s a 10% higher price point to not have a limitation. [00:20:00] Second area is, well, what if I’m disabled and I want to reside overseas? So I’m disabled in the United States. I want to move to Belize and spend the rest of my time there. Some companies will allow you to do this with no limitations, other ones are going to have a limitation and it could be 12 months, it could be 24 months. And the last one is the increase options and how they work. So the traditional increase option, you know, you pay for the right to be able to do this. It comes up very often, every year. There are certain circumstances where you can use it earlier, but at the end of the day, it comes up every year. You’re paying for this option. If you want to use it, that’s great. If you don’t want to use it, it’s your choice. The other type of increase options can work very well. It is no cost, it’s not a multiple of the base benefits. So you can buy literally a thousand dollar policy and have the ability to increase it to 30,000 or [00:21:00] 20,000. But you do have to check in with the insurance company. If you don’t check in, you’ll traditionally lose your insurance increase option. And if you do check in and you qualify for a larger benefit, you have to buy at least 50% of that. And if you don’t, you lose your increase options. So you really have to look at yourself in the mirror and you, as the individual will know yourself better than I ever will. And as a sounding board, I will tell you, based on your individual needs and goals and budget, these are my recommendations. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you.
Brad: I think those are three really good points. And I think it’s great, Larry, that you were able to share that because one of the things I think people don’t realize is they just go buy something off the shelf and they don’t realize the impact that has either based on our state or what they plan to do something catastrophic does happen, where they can’t operate anymore, or if their salary or whatever increases. So those are all just so important, which is when you are having these [00:22:00] conversations to look at this ability in life insurance of having someone like yourself, partner with that person, which is why we’re so excited that you could join us because that’s obviously crucial for our audience to understand the difference of just buying it online versus having a whole conversation with someone like you.
Michael: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. And, and we’re so grateful that you could join us today. I think what we’ll do next, Larry is say goodbye, and we’ll break for a commercial. And then on the other side, Brad and I will come back and share a few observations from a legal perspective. I appreciate you coming.
Larry: Thank you so much for your time Gentlemen, have a great weekend.
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Brad: Welcome back to Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host Brad Adatto with my cohost Michael Byrdstill here. Michael that was really great catching up with Larry. It’s been a while.
Michael: Yeah, it was, it was great. Always learn so much when we talk to Larry and really just having an expert in a niche area that kind of crosses over with our clients, you just realize the importance of having someone who knows the needs and business of doctors. And it reminded me a lot of season five episode that we did on being disabled by your corporate documents.
Brad: Totally agree with that. Yeah I remember that episode and you know, you can have an awesome partner like Larry, who [00:24:00] can help develop that best plan of action to help protect you and your family. But I think going back to the episode you referenced ahead of time, if you don’t execute this within your business model, in your personal life, you don’t really have a good complete picture at all.
Michael: Yeah. You know, this is why when we’re developing a business succession plan, we always talk about in our lectures and with our whiteboard meetings, using the four C’s. From our perspective, when you are building a business and particularly a business where you have co owners or partners, there are just four big areas that tend to make or break that relationship. And if you can cover those things, you get everyone on the same page from an expectations perspective, and kind of the high level of the four C’s are costs. You know, how much are we having to [00:25:00] pay to get whatever ownership we’re getting or capitalize a new business. And then what is the ownership that we’re getting in return for that. Two is compensation, you know, how’s the money going to work once we own this business together and understanding that there may be people that are running this business as part of their day job and getting some salary and then maybe profit distributions and you want to make sure that’s all lined up. Control is the third C they are decisions going to be made. And finally, where Larry comes in are the contingencies, the what ifs things that may or may not even be in your control that can cause a change to the business. Death, disability, obviously to connect to Larry and then, you know, business divorces where people break up for nefarious reasons or not someone just to move.
Brad: And just harping on those four C’s, I don’t think a lot of people realize [00:26:00] Michael that three of those four C’s typically are taken care of in their company agreement or operating agreement, or whatever they’re governing document is. And that compensation C is typically done in their employment agreement. So those just understand from an audience perspective, as Michael was talking about this, you know, you really should understand that these are different documentations that should be delivered, but conceptually as a big picture, all four of those should be talked about. Which then leads us perfectly into our fifth C, which we’ve talked about before, which is really the communications with your fellow professionals should be a part of this. And so the people like Larry and your CPAs and other individuals should all be part of this 4 C conversation at some level, because if one person is running off and getting these great benefits and another person’s not documenting any of this anywhere else, or your attorneys coming up with stuff but they don’t know what your financial planning looks like. Or your state planning attorney doesn’t know what your financial planners doing. This will have a catastrophic event, you [00:27:00] have all these great things, but none of them kind of align. And that’s why, of course we like having someone like Larry come along and work with our clients.
Michael: Yeah. I mean, a really simple illustration is someone will say, yeah, I get it like if someone dies I don’t want to be partners with their estate. And so I needed to buy them out and I’m going to put it in my operating agreement that the value to buy out is X, or we’re going to get it valued and that this is the process that happens. Well, that’s all fine and good and you come up with a process and you come up with a number, but then how do you pay for it? And you fund it with a life insurance policy, oftentimes and sometimes people have a life insurance policy and they have a plan, but they don’t necessarily seem to work together back to your point. And you just want everything to be kind of a seamless connection between both the policy and [00:28:00] the legal agreement as to what’s supposed to happen.
Brad: So Michael, in the limited time left, I’m going to let you close out on a zoom in question. Just like with Larry, we’re going to hit that pause button. Let’s talk about for our audience as we close out this season, what should they be zooming in on these specific actions to focus on for 2022?
Michael: One of the things that I’ve been having more and more conversations about with our clients is even if you have a buy sell agreement to dust it off and take a look at it. I know you and I’ve been doing that recently. And the reality is that things change. Your business changes the ownership changes, and it’s really easy to even be three to five years later from your last planning and for there to be enough adjustments that it merits things to be tightened and refreshed.
Brad: Yeah, I totally agree. You know, and this is not the sexiest topic in the world when we come to this, [00:29:00] but I completely agree as a business owner, this is really important steps for you to take, to really protect yourself, your business and your family. And hopefully as we close out 2022, or sorry, 2021 you’ll have that free moment to really think about these things, but Michael final thoughts as we leave today?
Michael: Well, I mean, again, if you’re going to need an insurance product and you’re a medical professional, you want to be getting this from someone who knows the industry. And even more importantly, someone that merits being compared to an astronaut.
Brad: Well, that closes out season six, everybody, but don’t panic. We will be back starting next year with season seven. Enjoy your holidays. And we look forward to seeing next year.
Outro: Thanks again for joining us today. And remember, if you liked this episode, please subscribe. Make sure to give us a five- star rating and share with your friends. You can also sign up for the ByrdAdatto newsletter by going to our website at byrdadatto.com. ByrdAdatto is providing this podcast as a public service. This podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney- client relationship. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by ByrdAdatto. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Please consult with an attorney on your legal issues.
This podcast is for informational purposes only. ByrdAdatto is not affiliated with or endorsed by PAS, Guardian, or Physician Financial Services and opinions stated are their own. The information should be relied upon only when coordinated with individual professional advice. Optional riders are available for an additional premium. Some policy benefits and features are not available to all occupations. Lawrence B. Keller is a Registered Representative and Financial Advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS), 355 Lexington Avenue, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10017-6603, 212-541-8800. Securities products and advisory services are offered through PAS, 1-516-677-6200. Financial Representative, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY (Guardian). PAS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. Physician Financial Services is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. AR Insurance License #1057229, CA Insurance License #0C37340. PAS is a member FINRA, SIPC 2021-129182 Exp. 10/2023