Category Archives: News

Financial Friday Round-Up: April 4 – April 8, 2021

Welcome to the latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below are some pieces on the difference between credit scores, avoiding the money mistakes that can damage retirement, how to avoid homeowner regret, and more.

One Year After The First Wave Of Pandemic Jobs Losses, U.S. Adds Nearly A Million Jobs In March

Encouraging news from the employment front as Forbes reported that 916,000 jobs were added in March according to the U.S. Labor Department. The news fittingly came on the anniversary of the shocking 6.65 million claims of unemployment that came the week of March 28, 2020. Read more for an optimistic look at a rebounding labor market.

FICO vs. VantageScore: The Difference Between the Credit Scores and Why It Matters

If you have ever wondered why there are two different credit scoring companies and what their differences are, then this guide to FICO and VantageScore from Money is an essential read. A clear and detailed explainer on what each company takes into account when calculating your scores, this article is an important supplement to any financial literacy reading list.

6 ‘Retirement Killers’ to Avoid at All Costs

Financial planners tend to notice patterns of money mistakes as over time, and Kiplinger has rounded up six of the most common ways in which people can accidentally damage their retirement. From taking too much investment risk to making the wrong return assumptions, check out this piece to avoid making the same mistakes.

Rushing to Buy a Home Can Lead to Serious Regret. Here's How to Not Hate Your House

Demand for homes rose sharply during the pandemic, with record-low mortgages and a shift to working from home giving many buyers the incentive to take the plunge into homeownership. However, as with any big purchase, sometimes buyer’s remorse sets in — in one survey, 55% of people said they regret taking out a mortgage since last March. Thankfully, Money offers this useful advice on how to avoid regret and make your house a home.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: March 15 – March 19, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: March 8 – March 12, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: March 1 – March 5, 2021

Now is the Time to Get Life Insurance

COVID-19 has changed our world dramatically over the past few weeks, altering lifestyles and sparking many to take action. People are quickly buying toilet paper, soap, food—even life insurance. The latter, at least, is a great idea. With only 57% of Americans owning life insurance in 2019, many families should be getting covered as soon as possible.

In normal circumstances, people tend to underestimate risk and often fail to take measures that could improve their lives five, ten, or thirty years down the road.  Planning for the future is essentially having empathy for your future self, but it can be hard to keep your future self in mind when the needs of the day seem so much more urgent. Making that future seem real and important can be a challenge. Studies have shown that when people are confronted with an image of their older selves and asked to make decisions shortly afterward, the people will generally make safer, wiser, and more conservative choices in the present.

A global crisis is a similar window to the future. Coronavirus has given us a sense of urgency and exposed the need for good planning. Life insurance prepares you for the worst-case scenario, but it can also give you options for protecting your wealth and enjoying benefits while you're alive. It's not too late to put that plan in place to protect your family and their future.

Now is the time to get life insurance

Take Advantage of All Life Insurance Has to Offer

The important thing is to take action. The best insurance is one that’s in place when you need it. You can start the process of getting covered today, and the earlier you get it, the cheaper it is. Many insurance companies are doing their part in social distancing by using virtual systems to get people the coverage they need. Most people think of term insurance with a simple death benefit when they’re looking for coverage — 10-, 20- or 30-year plans with death benefits that will help your family should you die — but life insurance comes in many forms, including policies that build cash value, provide living benefits, and provide for retirement.

For anyone worried about their savings with the recent market volatility, now’s also a good time to buy an indexed policy. These products use an indexing method to credit interest to a policy so even if the market’s rate of return goes negative, you will not lose the interest credited to your policy.

These policies can include Accelerated Benefit Riders, also known as living benefits, which allow you to access all or part of your death benefit while you’re still alive. These benefits can be used if you have a qualifying terminal, chronic or critical illness. While simply getting sick doesn’t qualify, if an infectious disease like COVID-19 turns into a critical or chronic illness, is determined to be terminal, or if you are unable to perform what are called Activities of Daily Living, you may be able to access part of your death benefit early. Receiving this money through life insurance means that you can use it for anything from medical expenses, in-home care and household bills, paying for a wedding, a home for your family or covering childcare costs.

If you’re looking for tax advantages and protection against market volatility, indexed policies make sense in the long term. In times of emergency, you can borrow against the accumulated cash value when you need it — if your place of work temporarily closes, for example, or you want to strengthen your emergency fund. Upon retirement, you can access your cash value through tax-free policy loans. When choosing the right policy, remember:

  • Use indexed policies if you want to take advantage of compound interest, tax benefits and market protection.
  • Prioritize living benefits if you want to be able to cover costly medical treatment, in-home care and maintain your lifestyle in the event of a chronic, terminal, or critical illness or disability.  
  • If your main concern is taking care of loved ones in the event of your premature death, and you only expect to need the coverage for a fixed period-of-time, a term policy might be a good place to start.
Take action today

It’s Important to Act Now

The benefits of life insurance have never been clearer—take the urgency of this global event as initiative to get covered. The importance of life insurance is clear. Now is the time to protect your family, safeguard your wealth, and provide for the future. Get covered as soon as possible to give yourself financial security and peace of mind.

First Financial Security Heads to Mexico for Dream Destination Conference 2018

First Financial Security Dream Destination Conference 2018 DDC18 Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Mexico

First Financial Security, Inc. Director of Marketing and Communications, Laura Manzer, just announced to a packed house at the company’s Jump Start 2017 (JS17) event that Dream Destination Conference 2018 (DDC18) would be taking 100 field couples to Los Cabos, Mexico. The Minneapolis Convention Center, where JS17 was wrapping up a two-day event, erupted in cheers and applause when the location was revealed.

While the organization has taken its field representatives to Mexico’s Pacific coast before, this marks the first time the company will travel to the Los Cabos area for its annual reward trip.

The luxurious, all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva resort will host 100 qualifying FFS couples from Apr. 15-19, 2018. Situated at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, the hotel is surrounded by natural beauty, from desert dunes to majestic ocean rock formations. The Hyatt Ziva’s pristine beachfront offers a magnificent view of the Sea of Cortez.

Whether its from the relaxing confines of a beach chair or perched atop a personal watercraft in the water, this sun-kissed, sea-sprayed coast beckons travelers to have fun. Hyatt Ziva’s guests can participate in a variety of outdoor activities on land and sea:

  • Four pools, including one for the kids, as well as two hot tubs
  • Deep-sea fishing
  • Scuba diving
  • A state-of-the-art fitness club
  • Tennis, basketball and beach volleyball courts
  • Several championship golf courses, including the nearby, Jack Nicklaus-designed San Jose Country Club

The onsite luxury beauty spa, Zen, provides a variety of relaxing treatments that can be enjoyed in the spa or outdoors, overlooking the azure sea.

Located throughout the property are 12 individual restaurants, bars and lounges. Of particular note are Zaffiro, an Italian restaurant located on the beach, and the Mexican Plaza with its authentic taqueria. After dinner, catch live music or a Cirque-du-Soleil-style show in Hyatt Ziva’s Grand Theater.

Following a day of fun-in-the-sun or sightseeing, DDC18 qualifiers will want to relax in the the comfort of their spacious room. The Hyatt Ziva’s elegantly appointed, 591 rooms offer oceanfront and ocean views. There are one- and two-bedroom suites, including 34 Swim Up, Club Level Ocean View and Presidential suites. Many of the rooms feature spa-like bathrooms with rainfall showers, chic décor, private balconies and leading-edge electronics.

First Financial Security Dream Destination Conference 2018 DDC18 Los Cabos Mexico Pacific Coast Baja California PeninsulaAlthough DDC18 qualifiers will attend meetings while on the trip, there will still be time to do some sight-seeing and shopping in nearby San Jose del Cabo. This charming town is only minutes from the hotel and boasts fine examples of 18th-century Spanish Colonial architecture.

Centering San Jose del Cabo is Plaza Mijares. Gentle breezes from the nearby ocean waft through the town square that’s shaded by old jacaranda trees. Along its narrow boulevards are adobe houses that have been converted into stylish restaurants, smart boutiques, art galleries that feature the work of local artists, and jewelry stores.

Anchoring the square are a town hall and Iglesia San Jose, a lovely, colonial-style church. It was built on the site of the 1730 Mission San Jose del Cabo.

Take a break from sightseeing and try some bird watching instead. Located east of the town is the Estero San Jose Wildlife Reserve. This peaceful, palm-lined estuary is a great place to spot many bird species, including hummingbirds, ibis, white herons, frigate birds, sparrow hawks and red-tailed hawks.

Beginning in February, FFS representatives will begin competing to earn a spot on this trip of a lifetime. Contest dates and guidelines can be found in the Agent Back Office (ABO) intranet site.

First Financial Security, Inc. Announces Plans for Leaders Convention 2017

Leaders Convention 2017 Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas Logo

First Financial Security is heading back to Las Vegas, NV for Leaders Convention 2017 (LC17). The Norcross, GA-based national brokerage agency will stage the event at Red Rock Resort, a short drive from the Vegas strip. LC17 is scheduled for Aug. 3-5, 2017.

Leaders Convention is one of the most important, annual events on the FFS calendar. This year’s convention promises to be one of the largest in the organization’s 10-year history. It will also set the tone for the company’s second decade of business excellence.

In addition to three, jam-packed days, LC17 will begin Aug. 2 with the Field Leadership Council and Champions Club meetings. Both events will be by invitation only. The LiSA Initiative meeting will round out the afternoon. There also is the potential for training opportunities offered on Aug. 2.

LC17 attendees will be treated to “the ultimate Las Vegas resort experience,” while staying at the Red Rock Resort. The resort’s tower stands as a dazzling counterpoint to nearby, majestic Red Rock Canyon.

The resort positions itself as “an idyllic getaway resort hotel.” Red Rock is conveniently located a short 10-min. drive from the strip. If you prefer communing with nature to hitting the slots, the resort is a quick 5-min. drive to the entrance of Red Rock Canyon National Recreation area. Here you can enjoy everything from walking trails to mountain climbing, as well as other outdoor activities, including:

  • Horseback riding
  • River rafting
  • Biking
  • Kayaking
  • Soaking in the area’s hot springs

Recover from your adventures by visiting Red Rock’s innovative Spa & Health resort. You can schedule any number of personalized programs and treatments that provide “a fusion of spa and wellness.”

There is a wide range of dining options located throughout the resort. Enjoy a delicious steak at the resort’s fine dining establishment, T Bones Chophouse. If you want the famous Las Vegas buffet experience, be sure to check out Feast Buffet. There are also 11 casual eateries offering an amazing assortment of dining options, including:

  • The Grand Café – Red Rock’s 24/7 restaurant offering American classics for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and more
  • Hearthstone – rustic American cuisine
  • Libre Mexican Cantina – traditional Mexican fare
  • Salute – an Italian trattoria
  • Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que – barbecue and the Blues
  • 8 Noodle Bar – Asian fusion
  • Yard House – American fusion cuisine and 130 taps of imported craft and specialty lagers and ale

If you need coffee, snacks or pastry, hit up one of the resort’s many spots for a quick bite. Also, you may want to check out, Taste the Rock. Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., you can sample dishes from participating restaurants, starting from $5. Among the restaurants that are a part of Taste the Rock are:

  • Hearthstone
  • Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
  • T Bones Chophouse
  • 8 Noodle House
  • Salute

Most of these restaurants are offering appetizers and their signature drinks. There are a few who have pizza and pasta on this special menu. If you are looking for an early dinner or a quick bite between LC17 sessions, this may work for you.

Red Rock Resort offers lots of options for fun on property. For starters, they have a 72-lane bowling alley. There’s a full-service Pro Shop, certified coaches, snack bar and lounge with lane service, game room, pool tables, and darts. There’s a separate 12-lane VIP suite outfitted with 65-in. plasma flat screen TVs and “night club-quality” electronics and furnishings. Catch the latest blockbusters at the resort’s 16-screen Regal Cinemas and IMAX complex. Cool off in Red Rock’s Backyard Pool that’s complete with 19 private cabanas, swim-up gaming and a waterfall island.

Within walking distance of the resort is world-class shopping at Downtown Summerlin, a mixed-use complex. There are 75 shops, including two anchors – Macy’s and Dillard’s – as well as designer boutiques, specialty shops, outlets and more. There are around 30 restaurants, featuring the cuisine of well-known chains and local eateries.

Like First Financial Security, Red Rock Resort celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016. Throughout the years, the resort’s owners, Station Casino Properties, have been building an upscale, luxury brand in Red Rock Resort. Today it’s the crown jewel among their many properties. It’s an exciting location for First Financial Security to host its first Leaders Convention of its second decade of business excellence.

FFS’ field force is encouraged to take advantage of Early Bird pricing and register for Leaders Convention 2017. They can register through the company’s Intranet site, FFS Agent Back Office (AB0).


First Financial Security’s Team Annie Walks to Fight Breast Cancer

breast-cancerawareness-fight-like-a-girl-end-breast-cancer-making-strides-against-breast-cancer-first-financial-security-team-annie It was a crisp Saturday morning on Nov. 5, 2016. Thirty-seven First Financial Security, Inc. home office employees and their families gathered at Glover Park on Marietta, GA’s town square. Wearing black-and-pink t-shirts, they were there to walk in the 5K Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. In the process, they raised $6,730 for the American Cancer Society. breast-cancer-awareness-fight-like-a-girl-first-financial-security-co-ceos-phil-and-debbie-gerlicher-end-breast-cancer-5k-walk-team-annieNearly 250,000 women and men have been diagnosed with breast cancer so far in 2016.1 It’s a statistic that hit too close to home for the First Financial Security family. Annie Gerlicher, the youngest daughter of FFS’ Co-CEOs Phil and Debbie Gerlicher, recently learned she has breast cancer. Calling themselves Team Annie, the group decided to walk in support of their friend. With only two weeks to prepare, Team Annie went into overdrive. They registered walkers, established a link for donations, and got the word out. Their efforts paid off. First Financial Security’s Team Annie was the event’s Top Team, raising the largest amount of money for the walk. The group had set a goal of $2,000, but exceeded that amount by bringing in $3,365. First Financial Security matched that amount, and Team Annie’s total was $6,730. FFS also raised the second highest amount among the more than a dozen participating companies. There were 118 teams and 1,048 people that walked this year. The total amount of funds raised was $108, 906.31. First Financial Security is more than a company, it’s also a family. When one of its members is in need, the others jump into action. Although the funds will not directly support Annie, they will help other women and men fighting the same battle. The non-profit’s website says the money will be used for “groundbreaking breast cancer research, life-saving education, and critical patient services.” Team Annie is one of the first projects in First Financial Security’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. 1 “U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” As of Sept. 30 2016.

Next Gen Next Ten: A New Strategy for a New Decade

Next Gen Next Ten First Financial Security, Inc.

First Financial Security, Inc.’s recent Leaders Convention 2016 (LC16) in Las Vegas was the perfect time to celebrate 10 years of business excellence. The company, which opened its doors in 2006, pulled out all the stops to ensure that everyone at the Aug. 25-27 event would not soon forget the fun and excitement of its anniversary celebration.

Today, FFS has moved beyond past successes and looks forward to an even brighter future of continued, sustainable growth.

First Financial Security believes the key to accomplishing this goal can be found in leadership development, and more specifically, in raising up the next generation of leaders.

Known as Next Gen Next Ten leaders, these First Financial Security representatives are not replacements. Instead, these newly minted leaders will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with FFS’ current field leadership and home office executives to continue the company’s forward momentum.

The company is so confident in its Next Gen Next Ten business strategy that it devoted an entire day of LC16 to the topic.

Zoua Vang Team Thaitans, First Financial Security, Inc. Next Gen Next Ten leaderOn Sat., Aug. 27, around a thousand people packed The M Resort Spa & Casino’s Milan Ballroom to hear about what the Next Gen Next Ten program was all about and how to become one of its leaders. Throughout the day, speakers discussed a variety of topics, including the type of leader the company was seeking. Among the attributes this new leader should possess included loyalty, servant leadership, courage, accountability, and financial savvy.

Identifying the next generation of field leaders is so important that the company has enlisted its top field leaders to help find those up-and-coming FFS representatives, who show the drive, characteristics, and promise necessary to become a Next Gen Next Ten leader.

First Financial Security believes its current field leadership brings a unique perspective to the process. Because they know what it takes to become a successful leader, their insights will be invaluable to finding representatives, who can be mentored, coached and developed.

By placing the emphasis on performance, development, activity, goals, and growth, FFS can ensure that this next generation of FFS leaders will be ready to help move the company forward toward a brighter tomorrow.

Calling all Next Gen Next Ten Leaders:

How can an FFS representative prove to the company that he or she has the right stuff to be a Next Gen Next Ten Leader? If they’re serious, they need to do the following:

  1. Preregister for Jump Start 2017 (JS17). Get your team preregistered, too, and bring them to the event Jan. 20-21, 2017 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
  1. Promote goal setting with your team over the next 90 days and follow through.
  1. Build relationships of accountability with the home office and your business partners.
  1. Attend monthly leadership calls with FFS’ Director of Performance, Dave Wild, beginning in October 2016.
  1. Promote and win the Next Gen Next Ten award contest in either the Personal or RMD Base Shop categories.
  1. And, for good measure, if you’re up for the challenge:
    • Qualify for and attend the first Field Leadership Council meeting scheduled to occur prior to JS17 meetings and trainings.
    • Win Dream Destination Conference 2017 contest that ends Jan. 31, 2017

First Financial Security, Inc. Leaders Convention 2016 Recap

Leaders Convention 2016 M Resort 10 Years Business Excellence Recap

First Financial Security, Inc. representatives and home office staff have returned from Las Vegas following what is being called FFS’ “best convention ever.” The theme for Leaders Convention 2016 was 10 Years of Business Excellence. The company and field force spent three days celebrating the successes of the past 10 years and discussing what it will take to continue FFS’ forward momentum into the next decade and beyond.
Leaders Convention 2016 Recap

Also known as LC16, First Financial Security’s annual convention was Aug. 25-27, at The M Resort Spa & Casino in Henderson, NV, located a short 15-min. drive from the Las Vegas Strip. This marks the second year, FFS has staged its convention at The M. This exquisite property offered ample room to accommodate the organization’s growing convention attendance.

Wed., Aug.24, was a pre-convention day that provided time for some important leadership meetings. First Financial Group’s Executive team met with key field leaders to discuss a variety of FFS and field matters. Field leaders also got a preview of LC16 roll-outs at both the Leadership Meeting and the Champions Club Luncheon Meeting.

Wednesday afternoon was devoted to LiSA Initiative, the grassroots movement created by First Financial Security to address the financial concerns of women and their families. LiSA Initiative Chair and FFS Co-CEO Debbie Gerlicher opened the biannual meeting by sharing news about a recent Huffington Post article about the financial gender gap in which LiSA Initiative had been included.

For the first time, First Financial Security’s carrier partners offered training for those attending LC16. National Life Group, ANICO and Columbus Life participated in Wednesday’s night’s sessions.

First Financial Security’s Leaders Convention 2016 officially kicked off on Thurs., Aug. 25. Throughout the three-day event, LC16 attendees were treated to powerful field and home office speakers, as well as lively yet informative panel discussions moderated by FFS President Meg Jones. Attendees soaked up the in-depth information that was provided about leadership, team building, and financial products and the industry as a whole. There were even opportunities for audience members to show what they’d learned from LC16’s Leadership Sessions. Each session featured trivia contests where field representatives were rewarded with cash for correct answers.

Dr. George C. Fraser Black Wealth AllianceAmong the guest speakers who took The M’s Milan Ballroom stage was Dr. George C. Fraser, Chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc. and global networking expert. He discussed leadership and the importance of FFS’ work in underrepresented and underinsured communities across the United States.

Success By Choice founder and FFS representative, Marlon Smith, who is also on Tony Robbins’ speaking team, shared insights on “Effective Public Speaking.” His presentation was one of LC16’s highlights. He got the audience to participate in some fun activities that helped bring home his message.

Cause! By Dr. Jackie Freiberg, Best Selling Author and Thought-Leader, guest speakerBestselling business author Dr. Jackie Freiberg joined National Life Group’s President and CEO, Mehran Assadi to discuss the book Jackie and her husband, Kevin, wrote about NLG. Cause! A Business Strategy for Standing out in a Sea of Sameness focused on NLG’s success as a “business defined by a cause.” Both Marlon and Dr. Freiberg and Mehran had book signings at the event.

Kool and the gang, private concert, leaders convention 2016One of the most exciting parts of any First Financial Security’s Leaders Convention is its Awards Gala. This year, it was even more special because of the addition of a 10th anniversary party and private concert. FFS Co-CEOs Phil and Debbie Gerlicher celebrated by sharing a huge congratulatory cake. LC16 attendees put on their dancing shoes and grabbed their glow sticks to party to music by Grammy Award-winning super group, Kool & the Gang!

Among the big winners who walked across the Gala stage were:

  • MVP: Senior Field Chairmen Victoria Le and Corey Vuu
  • EFC Director of Motivation: Executive Field Chairman Thai Thao
  • RMD Director of Motivation: Regional Marketing Directors Stacey Thao-Vang and Tom Vang
  • Personal Director of Motivation: Field Vice President Keng Thao and Zoua Vang
  • Outstanding Performance: Area Marketing Directors Saung Tun and Van Par, and Senior Marketing Directors Sheng Thao and David Yang
  • LiSA Award: Senior Field Chairmen Victoria Le and Corey Vuu’s Team Resilience
  • Champions Club Second Diamond: Area Marketing Directors Mark and Bridget Biermann
  • CEO Excellence Award: Ryan Dunbar and Trent Asher

The gala celebrated the achievements of six new Champions Club members (earning $100,000 in rolling 12 months), nine leaders who received the newly created $75K Club (earning $75,000 in a rolling 12 months), and 12 new Success Society members (earning $50,000 in a rolling 12 months).

With the awards, 10th anniversary party and incredible concert, Friday night’s excitement ensured it would be long remembered. The events of that evening were only a part of many memorable moments that made Leaders Convention 2016 truly unforgettable.

CEO Phil Gerlicher, Leaders Convention 2016Co CEOs Phil and Debbie Gerlicher at Leaders Convention 2016