Sep 01 2023 / Round the Table Magazine
An invitation to sit
By Michael P. Austin, CFP, ChFC
People ask me why I pay dues to MDRT every year. Here is a story about how MDRT makes a difference, and why I rejoin year after year.
I went to the 2000 MDRT Annual Meeting only because I wanted to vacation in San Francisco. I really didn’t care about attending the meeting, but I did show up for the opening ceremony. I couldn’t find a seat, and I didn’t know anybody there.
A bunch of Australian members said, “Hey Mike, can we help you?” I told them I was looking for a seat, so they invited me to sit with them. Eventually, I hung out with them during the conference. I became very good friends with Peter Moyle, ADFS, FChFP, a 27-year MDRT member from Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, who is now deceased. He was very outgoing and introduced me to different members every time we were at a meeting or a function. He also got me involved in the Program General Arrangements Committee, so I would stick around and continue to be a member. At the 2009 MDRT Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, he introduced me to Helen A. Jenkins, Dip PFS, a 34-year MDRT member, and her partner, Jayne Elizabeth White, Dip PFS, Cert CII, an 18-year MDRT member, both from Cardiff, Wales, U.K.
Two months later, I was one of a handful of advisors invited to bid on handling benefits for a chemical plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, with more than 300 employees. The company was looking for an independent advisor who could help with benefits packages, and one of the requirements was to provide benefits for a key executive in the U.K. The company had promised to give him life and disability insurance, but no other advisor had been able to provide those coverages.
I pulled out my cell phone and called the office of my MDRT friends in Wales. They were familiar with the town where the executive was located and were happy to contact him and write whatever coverage he needed.
That was the biggest benefits case of my career. It came to me all because my friend from Australia introduced me to members from the U.K.
The HR manager from the chemical plant was overwhelmed that it was that easy for me to get coverage on a key executive in another country that they couldn’t get covered for five years. She said, “OK, we’ll do business with you,” and that was the biggest benefits case of my career. It came to me all because my friend from Australia introduced me to members from the U.K., who ended up writing the case. For Jenkins and White, it was a significant case because the premium was more than $10,000, and the benefits case that I was working on was a six-figure commission.
The underwriting and paperwork for this executive took awhile, and it was very coincidental how this all came full circle during the 2010 MDRT Annual Meeting in Vancouver. I was attending a session where Moyle was a speaker. Jenkins and White were sitting behind me when I received a phone call from the chemical plant’s HR manager happily telling me that the case was completed.
A couple years later, the HR manager said, “You performed a miracle getting coverage for our employee in the U.K. We have a key employee in Korea. Is there someone you can recommend in Korea to get benefits for him?” I didn’t know anyone in Korea, but I used my MDRT network to get in touch with a member there. I contacted Se Hwan Kang, a 20-year MDRT member from Seoul, and he was able to take care of the key executive. Another solution just because I am a member of MDRT.
Where else on earth could that happen? It’s like having a big team of people behind you. My team — Australia, the U.K. and Korea — all helped to get cases written in Baton Rouge that otherwise may not have ever been written. So, when people ask why I pay to join MDRT, I tell them because I made more from that one deal than I’ve paid out in dues all the years I’ve been a member.