I had the pleasure of interviewing Tyler Rees, owner of Innovative Financial Group (IFG). 

Tyler started his career working for an insurance agency in Central Pennsylvania. After learning about the industry, Tyler started his own agency and created a company in which transparency and work ethic are the primary focus leading to one of the fastest growing brokerages in the country that earned him recognition on the INC. 5000 List.  

Tyler’s expertise has led him to becoming a majority owner of seven insurance companies and owns a minority position in two more. Tyler’s favorite quote is, “Success is determined by those who surround you,” and IFG is confirmation of that! 

HL: Tell us about Innovative Financial Group (IFG) and the individuals and businesses you serve.

TR: Innovative Financial Group is an insurance and financial services brokerage. Over the years we have become a one stop shop for every platform and coverage individuals need, whether it be final expense insurance, mortgage protection, Medicare, property and casualty or financial services that help individuals prepare for a stress-free retirement.  The IFG family consists of over 8,800 individual brokers, agents, and agency owners that are located in all 50 states.  

HL:  Congratulations on being highlighted on the 2020 INC 5000 List.  What do you attribute to your success?

TR:  The success of every company, including mine at IFG, is truly a reflection of the people that make up the organization.  Whether it is our corporate staff, the executive team, our agency owners and agents and brokers, they are truly the reason why we have been able to achieve the goals and success we have. In our industry, agents and agency owners can choose to work with any brokerage they want at any time and we have just been blessed to be able to create a culture and opportunity that allows our team members to accomplish their professional goals.  

HL: You have quite an amazing team. How do you select your employees? 

TR: I always say there are only three things I look for in an individual when I am making the decision to work with them. Are they a hard worker, do they line up with us morally, and are they interested in helping others while trying to help those they work with?  That is the standard I hold myself to, my leadership team, and ultimately anyone that we choose to work with.

HL: Retirement planning seems to be a big topic today since most people feel as though they won’t be able to retire until they’re much older. What suggestions can you share given the climate today?

TR: My recommendation is that it is never too early to start planning. I feel like with our current generation of retirees and even those that are following them, don’t lack the ability but they just have not started planning and preparing. If you have the ability to start planning early in life, the easier it will be for you to retire and enjoy your senior years. The good news is that even if you have not started that process and you are quickly approaching retirement there still are tools and vehicles that you can use in order to achieve your goals. 

As far as the vehicles I suggest helping achieve this during this climate of volatility, really depends on what stage of life you are in. If you are younger and can ride the wave of the market and be more aggressive in your investment planning, there are a ton of options for you. Now if you are older and getting closer to the age of retirement, then I always recommend looking at vehicles that give you the ability to take advantage of the gains in the market but at the same time making sure you are protected from the losses. There are a lot of different types of policies and vehicles you can use that gives you this ability.    

HL: Most people think 401K plans are the best way to go.  What are your thoughts on this and what would you suggestion in addition to this?

TR: Americans need to start thinking about the debt we are accumulating as a country and realize that tax brackets can’t keep going down. At some point, taxes will have to be raised to make any type of dent in our national debt.  With that said, most Americans need life insurance to protect their family and all need to save for retirement.  They can solve both needs by purchasing a cash value life insurance policy.  The client would have protection if they pass away prematurely, and cash value in the policy if they live a long life.  If the policy is structured correctly, they could use the policy as tax free retirement income in retirement (by taking a loan against the cash value).

HL: Let’s talk about debt resolution.  I’m sure there are many people in precarious positions right now. What is the best advice for those suffering right now trying to get this monkey off of their back?

TR: My advice would be to speak with a Financial Planning professional ASAP, don’t go it alone.  There are many ways to start reducing the debt and get your head above water, but you need to speak with someone who understands all the options.  Don’t just subscribe to the debt consolidation ads you see on TV and the Internet.  Often times, there are better alternatives, but it’s tough to find them all on your own.

HL:  Are you saying with debt resolution, that there is definitely a way out for people to get through their situation?

TR: Yes, there are always an option for people.  For some, it’s a matter of creating a monthly budget, for others getting a fresh start through bankruptcy could be the answer.  There are a whole lot of choices in the middle as well but sitting with a qualified Financial Planner is the first step.

HL: What is the best advice you can give to people who don’t know where to turn to when it comes to the different types of insurance that are available to them?

TR: I always tell my clients, friends, or family that ask this question that whether it is IFG or another company it is really important that you work with a brokerage or broker when trying to figure out what is the best type of insurance or coverage you need in order to accomplish the goals you have. The reason for this is at IFG as a brokerage we not only specialize in all forms of insurance but we also have the ability to work with over 65 of our trusted carrier partners to not only shop around to make sure you are getting the best price but more importantly, the best plan for you and your family. Everyone has different things they want to accomplish so there is no one size fits all when it comes to coverage but working with someone that has the flexibility to shop around and find what fits best for you is critical.  

HL: What does giving back mean to you?

TR: Giving back is not only at the core of who I am and what I do but is truly the essence of what I have tried to build at IFG.  We are blessed to work in an industry that in its very nature is designed to give back to our clients. Whether it is protecting their most valuable asset, their family, with insurance coverage or helping them prepare for retirement so they can spend their later years in a stress-free manner, giving back is built into our profession.  Now outside of what we do professionally, I believe that giving back to the community whether in the form of charities or religious organizations or other groups that help the less fortunate, is extremely important and is a reflection of the values of the individual and organization.  We are very proud of the selfless and giving culture that we have developed at IFG.

HL: Will we see IFG supporting more charity events as the event business comes back post pandemic? 

TR: Absolutely! Giving back to the community is a core principal of who we are and what we do. Even during the pandemic we are always looking for ways to give back and help charities in anyway we can.  Obviously with the pandemic, we are living in a world where it is even more critical for those who can help to do so and we plan on leading the way in this space.  

HL:  What is the one piece of advice you can share with aspiring insurance agents?

TR: Invest in your business and bet on yourself.  Over the years I have had many people tell me that the vision I had for IFG was never going to be attainable.  From the beginning, I have always preached to my team that we are going to bet on ourselves, our work ethic, and our determination to do things the right way.  There are a ton of people in this world that will tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams and goals. Surround yourself with people that believe in you and your vision that you know you can count on. If you surround yourself with others that share the same values and work ethic as you, then you can’t lose. Invest in yourself, not just financially, but always try to be improving your craft and knowledge within your space.  If you do those two things, I promise you will have a lot of success! 

HL: Thank you for your time.  I enjoyed speaking with you.

TR:  It was my pleasure and I look forward to connecting with you again.

For more information on Innovative Financial Group: https://impactwealth.org