NAFA Annuity Distribution Summit Speakers
Curt Steinhorst is the bestselling author of Can I Have Your Attention? Inspiring Better Work Habits, Focusing Your Team, and Getting Stuff Done in the Constantly Connected Workplace. He is on a mission to rescue us from our distracted selves. After years studying the impact of tech on human behavior, Curt founded Focuswise, a consultancy that equips organizations to overcome the distinct challenges of the constantly-connected workplace.
Curt’s unique insight and entertaining speaking style has captured the attention of audiences worldwide. He speaks to organizations ranging from global leadership associations and nonprofits to Fortune 100 companies about effectively communicating and creating focus to better lead employees and engage customers.
The keynote speaker presentation is proudly sponsored by:
NFL Legends Speakers
Archie Manning has distinguished himself as one of football’s biggest names, with his appeal transcending his athletic achievements. His warm personality, passion for family, class, character and ability to connect with others makes him one of the sports world’s most respected individuals.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Archie enjoyed an impressive college football career at the University of Mississippi before being drafted as the second overall pick in the 1971 NFL Draft. He went on to have an illustrious 14-year career in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings. Archie has continued to excel post-football, serving as a broadcaster, restaurateur, endorser, founder of the Manning Passing Academy and philanthropist. In everything he does, Archie remains grounded and true to his “hard work means everything” mentality.
Fran Tarkenton, one of the NFL’s all-time great competitors, knows better than most what it takes to succeed in a competitive arena. During his 18-year NFL career, Fran played for the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings, whom he led to three Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
Fran is also a hands-on entrepreneur who has been built more than 20 successful companies, the largest reaching revenues of $142 million. In 2003, Fran founded Tarkenton Financial to help educate retirees about the value of retirement income planning and to provide unparalleled marketing and support to financial professionals across the country. Above all, his work embodies his philosophy that there is only one reason for a business to exist: to provide products and services that improve the lives of its customers.
Medal of Honor Speakers
Paul W. “Buddy” Bucha is a Vietnam veteran and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award that can be given to military personnel. After graduating academically in the top 2 percent of his West Point Class, he received his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business before reporting for duty with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ken., to prepare for deployment to Vietnam as part of Operation Eagle Thrust.
On March 16, 1968, Captain Bucha was the commanding officer of a reconnaissance-in-force mission that was inserted by helicopter near Phuoc Vinh, Binh Duong Province to locate and destroy an enemy stronghold. He committed numerous heroic and selfless acts to protect his men and save dozens of lives. He has since led a successful career in international business and consulting, and is a frequent lecturer on honor and leadership.
Karl R. Horst spent more than 40 years in the United States Army in numerous leadership roles, including as the Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command in which he oversaw multiple combat operations in the Middle East. After retiring in October 2013, he took a position in automotive sales leadership before founding his consulting company focused on developing effective leaders and engaged employees.
Currently, Karl is the president and CEO of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. Founded by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which consists exclusively of the living Recipients of the Medal of Honor, the Foundation is dedicated to educating and inspiring Americans about the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage and sacrifice, commitment and integrity, citizenship and patriotism.
Jeremy D. Alexander is founder and CEO of Beacon Annuity Solutions, LLC. Jeremy founded Beacon Research in 1997 after a successful 10-year career as a financial planner. He was a top producer during that time, and won several major insurance sales awards, including Court of the Table and Million Dollar Round Table. During that time, he also served as COO of Alexander Associates, a financial planning firm.
Jeremy is often quoted in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, National Underwriting, Investment News and InsuranceNewsNet. He is a featured speaker on the subject of retirement planning and annuities.
Naish Berran is a distribution account executive with iPipeline and has been with the company for more than five years. Before working on the Distribution Sales Team, he started on the Support Help Desk and then worked as a business analyst on the iGO team.
Naish is an avid Philadelphia sports fan and loves to golf in his free time.
Phillip Brzenk is senior director, global research & design, at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Phillip is responsible for quantitative research and development of index strategies covering global strategy, alternative data, multi-asset, smart beta and thematic equity indices.
Prior to joining the R&D team in 2013, Phillip was involved in the management of strategy and custom indices for five years in the Index Management and Production Group at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Phillip is a CFA Charterholder and is a member of the CFA Society of New York and the CFA Institute. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Daniel S. Buermann, director of product and business development for Delaware Life, has a shared responsibility for all aspects of strategy and execution in these areas. His focus is on product development, positioning and financial management.
With nearly 20 years in the financial services industry, Dan has held various positions in product, distribution, investments and accounting in insurance and banking with a career focus on annuity products. He previously served as investment portfolio manager for the U.S. Annuities division of Sun Life Financial. He understands the whole spectrum of his products, having worked in wholesale annuity distribution, statutory reporting, private banking and broker services.
Emily Cramer is vice president of strategic distribution for Unkefer & Associates, An AmeriLife Company. She joined Unkefer & Associates with more than 15 years’ experience in sales, marketing and recruiting. In her current role, she manages relationships with BGA, IMO, BD and RIA partners offering support in business development, agent recruiting and carrier relations.
Emily and her team are intensely focused on the servicing of Unkefer & Associates partners in all aspects of their businesses. She oversees all functions of support services for group relationships from the initial onboarding through new business and generating best practices for agency growth.
Katherine Dease holds more than 14 years of product development, product management and business development experience within the financial services industry. As VP—product management at Insurance Technologies, Katherine is responsible for the overall strategy, direction and roadmap implementation of Insurance Technologies product offerings.
Katherine is a key liaison between Insurance Technologies and top industry organizations and actively participates in numerous industry working groups. Previously, Katherine held key positions within the financial services technology sector including chief compliance officer, vice president of product management and integrations and senior director of product development.
Keshiv Desai, a managing director in the Institutional Equity Division of Morgan Stanley, holds primary responsibility of developing Morgan Stanley’s business with U.S. insurance companies and Canadian pensions. Keshiv joined Morgan Stanley in 2011 and has 17 years of industry experience.
Previously, Keshiv worked at Wells Fargo and its predecessor firm, Wachovia, from 2004 to 2011, where he was a director responsible for the institutional equity derivatives business. He started his career at Merrill Lynch in 2002. Keshiv is a member of the board for Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
Robert J. Hughes is head of Nasdaq Investment Solutions, where he is responsible for managing and developing the Nasdaq Global Index business across the index licensing, benchmarking and custom calculation segments. Robert works with his team in the U.S., Europe and Asia to devise strategies and create business opportunities for current and prospective Nasdaq clients. He also oversees all sales aspects of the Dorsey Wright brand, which provides technical research and analytical tools to thousands of advisors.
Robert has worked in the financial sector his entire career. He previously served as a director for the Independent Research Network (IRN), a joint venture co-owned by The Nasdaq Stock Market and Reuters, and he spent more than a decade in Investors Relations and was also employed with Morgan Stanley as a financial advisor.
Maureen James, co-owner of Summit Compliance Group, brings nearly three decades of insurance and financial services compliance experience to help producers and IMOs navigate the ever-changing and often-confusing regulatory landscape. Offering practical and reasonable compliance solutions, Maureen is committed to helping the insurance industry build greater trust and credibility so that it can continue to support the financial and retirement needs of today’s consumers.
Brian Lucius, as chief marketing officer of Gradient Financial Group, oversees the organization’s strategic marketing and corporate communications initiatives. With a creative passion and a comprehensive understanding of the financial services industry, Brian delivers positive long-term relationships with financial professionals and a steady increase in profits year after year. He has played an integral role in establishing numerous platforms and business-building entities within the Gradient Financial Group family of companies.
Brian has spoken to thousands of the nation’s elite financial professionals on a wide range of industry topics. He has been published in several national publications and previously served as a featured expert for a leading media outlet within the financial services industry.
David McDaniel, principal at Simplicity Scottsdale, joined the team in 2015 with nearly a decade of experience in the insurance industry. Before joining Simplicity, he worked in market research, actuarial pricing, and managed the marketing programs of a medium sized insurance carrier.
David holds an Arizona Life and Health insurance license and produced business. He is responsible for managing and leading the Scottsdale team, in partnership with Chad Blanton. David studied finance at Arizona State University, graduating with honors from the W.P. Carey School of Business in 2006.
Jeff Miller serves as digital marketing partner for ALLPRO Direct Marketing, a full-service marketing agency based in Florida with national reach. In a marketing career spanning more than 25 years, Jeff has managed everything from multi-million dollar product lines with companies like Hewlett-Packard and Sandisk to helping solopreneurs get off the ground. Under his supervision, he has propelled numerous products to top sales ranking and market share through retail, distribution, TV and digital marketing sales channels.
Helping clients make money online through social networking, video, blogging, lead generation pages, advertising and driving traffic is an area of expertise, and fun, for Jeff. His creativity and industry knowledge consistently drive customer engagement numbers well above the industry norms.
Gary E. Phifer III joined Beacon Annuity Solutions, LLC to lead the strategic initiatives and marketing efforts of firm. His extensive annuity and life industry experience has allowed him to develop a unique perspective that has aided in the development of new products, sales and compliance tools, as well the development of award-winning marketing material.
Prior to joining Beacon, Gary held various leadership roles at Protective Life, Prudential and AXA.
Michael J. Prestwich founded ImagiSOFT, Inc. in 1982 after developing computer technology to help agents in life insurance, annuities and securities understand the new products that emerged in the marketplace. His background as a producer trainer and his knowledge of the sales process helped him design productive screen layouts that had a logical work flow.
ImagiSOFT now produces the index annuity illustration software for Great American, American Equity, EquiTrust, Delaware, Guggenheim and Standard Life Insurance Companies. At this conference, the company will introduce a new illustration technology, the Safe Lifetime Income Solution Finder, which will streamline the process annuity producers currently use to discover annuity products that have the highest income payout for their customers.
Jean Statler, once noted by the Wall Street Journal as the “image expert” behind many of America’s most successful marketing campaigns, has racked up experience in every aspect of strategic campaign management for clients including the American Heart Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Petroleum Institute.
Currently, she is the executive director for the Alliance for Lifetime Income, a nonprofit formed and supported by some of the nation’s leading financial services organizations to educate Americans about the importance of protected lifetime income. Previously, she was a senior vice president and business leader for Harris Interactive, and vice president of communications at the American Plastics Council.
Eric Steffensen has worked with agents, advisors, IMOs, broker dealers and RIA firms to extract more value out of their businesses during his 22-year career in the life insurance and financial services industry. He’s held several roles at IMOs including a case designer, case manager, marketer and operations manager, which has given him a deep understanding of the workflows and challenges in the industry.
For the past 13 years, Eric has focused on helping the industry through technology solutions as a sales director at AgencyWorks, iPipeline and Laser App Software. During this time, he’s become a fierce advocate for technology adoption and efficiency.
Eric B. Taylor serves as Senior Vice President, Distribution – Independent Annuities for AIG Financial Distributors, the U.S. life and retirement distribution organization for AIG. In this role, Eric provides strategic and tactical leadership for internal and external sales activities for Fixed Annuity sales within Independent Distribution.
Prior to joining AIG in 2016, Eric’s 20+ years of experience included a variety of roles at GE Capital and Genworth Financial encompassing risk management, product development, marketing and distribution leadership. Eric, who lives in Nashville, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California in San Diego and his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is a board member for the National Association for Fixed Annuities (NAFA) and a member of the NAFA Education Committee.
Mike Tripses is principal owner of CM2 Holding Company, owner of CreativeOne. Because of his forward-thinking and visionary style, Mike has made CreativeOne one of the most robust infrastructures in the insurance wholesale marketplace. He broadened its scope to include a broker-dealer, three RIAs, a division exclusively dedicated to insurance services for RIAs and a fully functioning national advertising and marketing agency.
Since 2007, CreativeOne has distributed $18 billion of annuities and $139 million of target life insurance, partnered with tens of thousands of agents/representatives/advisors and scores of insurance companies to provide risk-appropriate financial security solutions to multitudes of clients. CreativeOne has 155 employees in Leawood, Kan., Scottsdale, Ariz., and Topeka, Kan.