Inside Look: 8 Weeks as an Intern at Financial Independence Group

by FIG Marketing

Updated May 15, 2024, at 9:45 AM

Paul Matanovic and Graham Wald embarked on an internship with Financial Independence Group (FIG) in the spring of 2024 to learn more about themselves, their career, and the financial industry.

Below, they’ve provided a detailed account of the hands-on experience and insight they gained during their eight weeks that helped them kickstart their careers.

8 Weeks in the Life of an Intern at Financial Independence Group

Week 1: Drinking From a Fire Hose

In our first week at FIG, we heard the phrase “drinking from a fire hose” a lot. As we immersed ourselves in the intricacies of this company, we quickly understood what that meant.

There was so much information to take in; however, we had such an incredible team surrounding us, which made the learning process seamless. They guided us with expertise and open arms, so we felt comfortable asking questions.

We entered meetings with directors from various departments, so we could gain a full understanding of their roles and contributions to the company’s success. We also took personality tests during this week to gain insight into our individual working styles.

We also spent two days with the enterprise marketing team, learning about the strategic nuances of content creation, data utilization for client acquisition, and the pivotal role of marketing in driving sales.

This first week not only provided an understanding of the company, but it also fostered a deeper understanding of ourselves and our professional trajectory.

Week 2: Rolling up Our Sleeves

Our second week was spent working with and learning from the operations team. Through shadowing the team members and interacting with the insurance carriers, we were able to see how operations plays a crucial role in designing efficient workflows, managing resources, ensuring quality, problem-solving, and contributing directly to the overall success and sustainability of the organization.

Witnessing the team’s adaptability, quick decision-making, and the extent of their impact on the entire organization was eye-opening.

Not to mention how humbling it was having to roll up our sleeves and hop on the phones to speak with carriers!

All in all, we certainly have a newfound appreciation for the work operations does behind the scenes. We also decided operations wasn’t the career for us—and that’s okay! That’s what an internship is for: to learn about the financial world and about ourselves. We did just that.

Week 3: Relationships Are a Superpower

Our third week at FIG was spent with the sales team, which was particularly exciting because we got the opportunity to dive deeper into the products being offered and gain insight into how we build relationships and support advisors.

Leslie Lipscomb, a senior vice president, said something that opened our eyes to what sales should really be about. It wasn’t her vast knowledge of annuities and life insurance that made her so successful, it was her ability to build and foster lasting relationships.

“Relationships are my superpower,” she said.

That aligns with a quote we jotted down from Brian Bailey, vice president of the Annuity Division, who said, “My work directly affects people’s lives.”

While we came into this week thinking sales was simply pushing financial products, we now understand that the role extends far beyond that; it’s a commitment to the long-term, well-being of the clients.

The week was also full of memorable punchlines: “Always be more interested than interesting,” said Josh Martin, another senior vice president.

We felt that this quote perfectly summed up the main mission of sales: To serve financial professionals through taking on their goals, hopes, and dreams to allow them to be the hero of their story. While it’s important to provide the right information and guidance, it is far more crucial to show true interest in those we work with and genuinely care about their future.

Related: What Makes Financial Independence Group Different?

Week 4: From the Ground Up 

One thing that stuck out to us this week was the amount of care and attention to detail that goes into how we treat our advisors.

Before getting this internship experience, part of our perception was that people who work in the finance world simply want to make as much money as possible, but we learned that’s furthest from the truth. One thing Brian Heagan, vice president of the life division, said really stuck out to us: “If this were my family member, how would I go about this?”

Another side of sales we got to see was the work of FIG’s recent partnership with Mark Edward Gaffney, a boutique consulting and marketing firm for financial professionals. It was fascinating to see the blueprint on how to build agents from the ground up, helping them thrive and grow.

As we look to make a difference in the lives of others in the future, witnessing this process sparked a realization that we are in just the right place.

FIG is truly helping advisors fulfill their goals and dreams.

Week 5: Long-Term Care “Unicorns”

Our fifth week at FIG offered a pivot away from annuities and life insurance as we spent three days with the care planning team.

Coming into the internship, we had some prior knowledge on annuities and life insurance, but we knew nothing about long-term care (LTC). Alecia Barnette, the senior vice president of care planning, described their department as a “unicorn” and after a few days, we fully understood why. It’s a very niche space that requires specific knowledge and understanding. We looked on as financial professionals—and eventheir clients—called to learn more about care planning and how to properly plan for their future.

We were tasked with a few projects that allowed us to dive into everything that LTC entails including specific products and the underwriting process that goes along with them.

Switching gears for the last two days of the week, we partnered with the sales recruiting teams as they walked us through the process of identifying potential prospects and how to introduce FIG and all that we can offer.

Recruiting is a role that certainly requires plenty of perseverance and we witnessed that firsthand. One thing the sales recruiters emphasized is that it’s easier to sell when you truly believe in what you’re selling. They were 100% sure that everything they were pitching was beneficial and could help the advisor grow their business.

Related: Repositioning Asset-Based Long-Term Care Products

Week 6: Taking the Burden Off Financial Professionals’ Shoulders

Our sixth week at FIG and our fourth week with sales was when all the terminology and concepts really started to click, and we were able to fully engage and understand the day-to-day conversations taking place with advisors and potential prospects. We’ve been able to witness how FIG can take a burden off the adviser’s shoulder and allow them to focus more on their relationships with clients and continue to grow their books.

We watched as financial professionals reached out, interested in bringing their business to FIG, and even though we were just shadowing, we were still able to answer some of their questions about the capabilities of our marketing and the functionalities of our products.

There’s no doubt we came a long way in our short time here!

Week 7: Building An “Awesome” Career

In our final week with sales, we were able to get our hands dirty and help create scripts for specific upcoming events in hopes of driving in more business. We got to see firsthand how advisors grow their independent firms and speak to the challenges and obstacles they face.

As interns who strive to become financial professionals someday, getting this unique perspective has been instrumental.

Being so young and just finishing college, we certainly don’t have our futures set in stone and what we want to do with our lives is liable to change any given day. Getting the opportunity to foresee our current paths was helpful in our personal decision-making process. We want to be great, and FIG has provided us with a blueprint.

Andrew Ball, another senior vice president, gave a piece of advice that stuck out to us. He said, “Make sure your career is awesome.”

Week 8: Tying It All Together

Our eighth week at FIG, we met back up with the sales recruiters, and compared to three weeks ago, we were now able to understand the recruiting calls and objectives, which really showed our progress in understanding the financial industry.

The sales recruiting role certainly stuck out as a great introductory role because it provides direct exposure to the financial industry and leaves plenty of room to grow.

Having degrees in business and finance, technology is not something we are well-versed in, so it was neat to step into the world of IT for a day with FIG’s technology department.

We finished our week and the internship with the advisor-marketing team, which was a perfect way to tie together everything we’d learned. Now that we know everything FIG does in all departments, we got to see how that directly supports the advisors (which is our main goal!).

With marketing strategists offering branding services to the advisors and high-level marketing tactics to drive in more appointments, we got a lot of great exposure to the engine of FIG.

That’s a Wrap

All in all, our internship was the ultimate learning experience. We got the opportunity to not only shadow some incredible people, but also contribute to valuable projects and gain insight on what our individual futures hold.

Rotating through all the different departments allowed us to get unique perspectives and introduced us to different leadership styles and team dynamics. We built relationships that will live far past this internship and saw individual growth both personally and professionally.

We are extremely grateful for the opportunity here at FIG and can’t wait to see what the future has to offer.

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