Executive Bonus – Enhanced To Show Quality

Executive Bonus – Enhanced To Show Quality

If you wanna feel better about yourself just do an Internet search on something like Celebrities Without Makeup, or Un-photo-shopped VIPs.  It will do your heart good to see how plain looking or, in some cases, how down-right ugly-wuggly many icons among the “beautiful people” really are in their natural state.

Personalities whose reputation rests significantly on their physical attractiveness even have a critical team member responsible for the prior scouring of any pictures intended for distribution to assure that nothing un-doctored, un-enhanced, or unflattering slips through for consumption by the masses.

The Lady and Lord Mucks of the entertainment world understand that they work in a tough marketplace and things simply sell better when they look good.

Perhaps we insurance advisors could take a lesson from that when showcasing our own products and services.  The difference is that a properly accoutered insurance-funded benefit plan will not only sell more easily, it will remain an ongoing thing of attractiveness and substance to those it protects.

A prime example is the often unadorned (and as a result the often unsold) executive bonus arrangement.  The plan chassis is simply an executive-owned policy paid for by the employer.  But creative use of some of its flexible features makes it the most attractive non-qualified benefit in most business situations:

Eliminate sticker shock

The amount of premiums paid by the employer is reported on the executive’s W-2.  Avoid the sting of a year-end tax increase by adjusting the bonus so that the after-tax amount covers the planned premiums and the remainder can be withheld to cover taxes on the total bonus on April 15.

Forget about recovering costs

Too many employers worry about getting premiums back if the executive leaves after a couple annual bonuses.  If recovery is a serious issue than use a split dollar plan.  Otherwise provisions requiring reimbursement are burdensome and reduce the attractiveness of the plan to the executive.  An employer can reduce risk by funding a policy at lower premium levels in the early years, then increasing the bonus amount as the service period lengthens.

Make it a “gold watch” as well

A policy that must be maintained by the executive beyond retirement can be seen as an anticipated burden that takes some of the luster off the current benefit of the coverage.  Fund the policy in a manner that will achieve paid-up status and allow the executive to carry the self-sustaining policy into his or her non-working years.

Make it a “living benefit” as well

Adding a long-term care rider gives the executive lifetime protection as well by assisting with costs of care using tax-free accelerated benefits.  Funding the policy to paid-up status at retirement gives the executive this protection through his or her entire life.

Economize using a “two-policy solution”

A paid-up permanent policy, especially with an LTC rider, can get costly.  Recognizing that death protection needs are higher during the working years, structure the plan so that the bulk of the coverage is provided with a level-premium term policy for the duration of the anticipated working life.  This can be dropped at retirement when no longer needed.

In addition, carry a smaller permanent policy whose death benefit will cover a significant portion of costs if long-term care expenses arise, but will still provide adequate estate liquidity if long-term care needs don’t arise.

The ultimate futility of cosmetic or techno-treatment to shore up current or deteriorating beauty was summed up best by comedian Moms Mabley when she said, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone!”  But there is no decline in the beauty of a well-designed benefit plan that will keep good executives in the company fold through the provision of employer-provided lifelong protection.