Tag Archive for: Top Talent

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Using Cash Value Life Insurance to Retain Top Talent

There are a lot of questions when it comes to cash value life insurance … What is cash value life insurance? What are its benefits? How can it help your organization retain top talent?

Let’s answer all of these questions below, starting with what cash value life insurance is.

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What is Cash Value Life Insurance?

Cash value life insurance is permanent coverage—insurance that is designed to last for the insured’s lifetime—that includes a tax-favored investment account that the policyholder can use while the insured is still alive. 

With all life insurance policies, there is still a large benefit paid to the beneficiaries when the insured dies. 

But the cash value component can have tremendous value as well. It’s available to the policyholder while the insured is alive, and grows tax-deferred.

The cash value can be used to offset future premiums and/or accessed tax-free, for any reason, using either policy loans or a withdrawal of the principal. This component adds flexibility and provides a tax-favored source of income for retirement, travel, healthcare needs, or emergencies.  

Which Life Insurance Plans Offer Cash Value Components?

The following types of permanent life insurance policies may include a cash value feature:

  • Whole life insurance
  • Universal life insurance
  • Indexed universal life insurance
  • Variable universal life insurance

Term life insurance—which is life insurance for a period of years—does not offer the cash value feature. Rather term life insurance only has two components: the premium that’s due and the death benefit.

Read on to learn more about the differences between term life insurance and permanent life insurance.

How Does Cash Value Life Insurance Help Retain Top Talent?

So, how does cash value life insurance help retain top talent?

Legal Agreement

First, a plan needs to be created using a legal agreement, then “funded” with permanent life insurance. Whether the policy is owned by the employer or the key employee depends on the situation.

The agreement outlines the employee’s obligations, typically tied to longevity and performance, that will trigger the payment of a meaningful retirement income over a period of years (for example, 75% of average salary paid each year from age 66 to 80).

This can help incentivize top talent to stay for a longer period of time and perform. If they do, they’ll receive a retirement benefit and if they don’t, they typically won’t receive anything.

Using Cash Value During Life

Cash value life insurance is the preferred method of funding these agreements. First, the cash value grows tax-deferred and serves as the source of the retirement income that is eventually paid to the key employee. Many policies offer competitive cash value yields without risk of loss or direct market exposure. 

Death Benefits

If the executive passes away unexpectedly, the death benefit is used to replace the projected income stream for his/her family that the executive would have received in retirement. The organization may also be entitled to a portion of the death benefit to compensate for the cost of losing and replacing the key person.

Offering a stream of income in retirement is a powerful retention tool, but the “self-completing” feature that life insurance death benefit provides can be so meaningful to the executive’s family that it can make it almost impossible for the executive to leave. 

It’s important to note that the organization could fund the plan with something other than life insurance, such as mutual funds, stocks, and/or bonds. However, these investments are taxable every year whereas the growth of the life insurance cash value is tax-deferred.

In addition, there is typically a risk of loss with these investments and they do not offer a self-completing feature like the life insurance death benefit. Lastly, life insurance carriers are some of the oldest and strongest companies in the world and can be trusted with these important assets.  

Funding Executive Retention and Executive Retirement Programs

Funding these plans isn’t free, so having a mechanism in place to offset costs can make approval by the organization’s decision-makers easier. 

In contrast to the policy used to fund the executive retention and retirement plan, above, our firm also uses a special life insurance-based program that allows organizations to earn 2.5-to-6.0% currently on their cash assets, without sacrificing safety or liquidity. 

If these funds are currently earning 1.0-to-2.0% in the bank, CDs, or short-term bonds, the organization can shift them to the life insurance-based program and use the “found” earnings to fund the executive retention plan. 

Using life insurance as a mechanism to fund executive retention and retirement plans, and as a way to offset the costs of such plans, can make these arrangements truly a win-win for the executives, their families, and the organization.

Learn More on Our Blog

Interested in learning more? Read on to learn about the benefits of credit union-owned life insurance, why a credit union should invest in credit union-owned life insurance, or what permanent life insurance options are available to you, including information on how cash value grows in each plan type.

*Important Notes: Please refer to 26 U.S. Code §101(a) regarding tax-fee death benefit and 26 U.S. Code § 7702 (a) (g) regarding tax treatment of cash value. Policy performance is based on current rates as charges, and some values are not guaranteed. Medical and financial underwriting is required. Withdrawals and loans from life insurance policies classified as Modified Endowment Contracts (MEC) may be subject to income tax and a federal tax penalty, if taken prior to age 59½. Excessive policy withdrawals and loans may cause the policy to lapse, which will result in the loss of death benefit and adverse tax consequences. Life insurance is backed by the claims-paying ability of the carrier and is not FDIC insured. See policy illustration for details. Acumen Insurance Solutions, LLC does not provide tax, legal, or investment advice, and is not FINRA registered.

executive's desk overlooking a city

How to Retain Top Talent Using Executive Compensation

The effects of poor employee retention and high turnover within a business are catastrophic. In fact, poor employee retention can lead to:

  • Decreased team morale
  • Reduced employee productivity
  • Expensive recruitment efforts, and
  • Time wasted

So, how can you retain top talent within your business?

Today, employee retention goes beyond offering company-wide happy hours and snacks in the office (those strategies will only get you so far!).

Powerful compensation programs — particularly those that include executive compensation — will set you apart in the hiring and retention game.

But how can you fund these benefits? Let’s talk about how to retain top talent using executive compensation; but first, an overview of executive comp plans.

Executive Compensation Plans: The Basics

Like a snowflake, no two compensation plans are the same. There are a variety of benefits with varying degrees of attractiveness that can be bundled together in compensation design.

(Secret’s out: It’s not all about the cash!)

Executive compensation plans typically consist of the following elements:

  • Base salary (cash compensation)
  • Short-term incentive or incentive compensation (i.e. an annual bonus)
  • Long-term incentive (deferred compensation)
  • Additional benefits and perquisites

Corporate-Owned Life Insurance (COLI)

Of course, corporate-owned life insurance (COLI) can play a crucial part in many deferred compensation plans for executives. Let’s discuss what this might look like and its benefits.

What is Corporate-Owned Life Insurance?

Life insurance is a contract between a policy owner and an insurer, whereby the insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money, called a “death benefit,” upon the passing of the insured person, in exchange for a premium, paid as a lump sum or over time. 

With corporate-owned life insurance (COLI), the insured person is a key employee. The beneficiary may be the organization, the key employee’s heirs, or a combination. Similar policies, called bank-owned life insurance (BOLI), have been used by commercial banks for nearly 40 years.

Death benefits can be used by the organization to protect against the economic loss caused by the passing of a key person. They can also be directed to the executive’s beneficiaries to reward and incentivize performance and longevity, serving as a valuable retention and family protection tool.  

COLI designs also include a substantial cash value account, which grows tax-deferred and can be accessed tax-free via policy loans and withdrawals of principal to eventually support the agreed-upon retirement benefit, generally paid out over a period of years. 

Why Corporate-Owned Life Insurance?

There are various benefits when it comes to corporate-owned life insurance. This particular investment vehicle:

  1. Is Safe: COLI policies are issued by some of the world’s strongest insurance carriers, some of which have been around for over 150 years.
  2. Is Liquid: In the event that you choose to redeploy all or a portion of your capital elsewhere, you have the ability to do so without penalty for exit with many of the policy designs.
  3. Provides Meaningful Rates of Return: These cash values of these policies are currently earning very meaningful current rates of return. In fact, they sit somewhere between 2.5-and-6.0%, depending upon the class of policy selected, with guarantees against loss and without direct market exposure.*

Moreover, given these benefits, COLI allows organizations to balance the cost of employee benefit programs while potentially enjoying higher yields than the typical “safe” investments.

Finally, one of the most attractive features of properly-designed executive compensation plans is that they’re highly customized and tailored to an individual executive or organization. The benefits from both the death benefit and cash value components can be allocated differently depending on the situation.   

A Final Word

At Acumen Insurance Solutions, we focus on ways that we can leverage tools like COLI to make your organization’s investments support executive compensation programs that inspire growth and ensure employee retention.

Interested in learning more about COLI? Read on in our article “Why CUOLI is the Best “Otherwise Impermissible Investment” for Your Credit Union.”

Or, contact us today to learn more.

*Disclaimer: Policy performance is based on current rates as charges, and some values are not guaranteed. These policies are not considered securities. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the underlying insurance carrier. Policies are not FDIC-insured. Pricing can be based on many factors, including the insured’s age, gender, and health. Please refer to a current policy illustration for details. Please refer to 26 U.S. Code §101(a) regarding tax-fee death benefit and 26 U.S. Code § 7702 (a) (g) regarding tax treatment of cash value. Medical and financial underwriting is required. Excessive policy withdrawals and loans may cause the policy to lapse, which will result in the loss of death benefit and adverse tax consequences. Acumen Insurance Solutions, LLC does not provide tax, legal, or investment advice, and is not FINRA registered.