Building a new business in a foreign land taught Sacks that working with others is the best way to learn and sell
Gerald “Gerry” P.R. Sacks might live in Houston, Texas, but nobody will ever call him Tex. He just doesn’t quite sound like your average Texan. No smooth Houston drawl here, but rather an infectious, South African accent that immediately soothes.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sacks qualified for MDRT and Top of the Table before moving in 1978 to the United States for better opportunities.
Imagine, for a moment, that you have qualified for the Top of the Table for the first time after just eight short years in the business. For Sacks, this high achievement alone wasn’t enough excitement. Imagine leaving behind family and friends, laws and culture, to wake up in a strange land, with even stranger laws and customs — essentially starting a business from scratch. This is precisely what Sacks did in 1978.
How he does it
After listening to him for just a few minutes, you are immediately drawn to his voice. It isn’t just his charming accent, but the way he conveys his caring. Sacks could read to you from the phone- book, and you would have no doubt that he cared about all of those people. Clients and prospects immediately recognize that he always has their best interests in mind. He has an ability to tell the stories of countless real people — families in politics, industry, entertainment and sports figures — whose family legacies were destroyed through lack of proper planning.
Like many of the best I’ve seen in my brief nine years at the Round Table, Sacks’ gift isn‘t technical knowledge, though he certainly excels there. In fact, for many years he taught continuing education credits to attorneys and CPAs, as well as to financial advisors. On the contrary, Sacks’ gift is the way he takes highly complex topics and reduces them to a simple discussion, helping people take the necessary steps to solve their problems. Sacks are generally flown in to solve special problems of old, wealthy clients—typically with a net worth of $10 million or more.
When he moved from South Africa to start over, he knew no one in the United States. Meeting and working with other advisors became necessary to build his business. Sacks convinced other advisors that if they worked with him, they would do better than working alone. “Two heads are always better than one,” he said.
Today, after nearly tour decades as a leader in the industry, Sacks no longer worries about learning the tax laws oi a foreign land. As an established estate planning expert in the United States, he presents, develops and implements business, charitable and estate planning programs for organizations, businesses and individual throughout the United States. Sacks have three Court of the Table and 12 Top of the Table qualifications, and he is never wanting tor new prospects. His calendar is always filled by people just like you who have a prospect who needs Sacks’ special care and expertise. In fact, all of his clients are someone else’s, and all of his clients buy life insurance.Sacks are proud to say he’s never sold a stock or a mutual fund. He believes in doing one thing and doing it well.
The Future of the Industry
To listen to Sacks, the future could never be brighter for those in our industry. There has never been such tremendous wealth among those we sen/e in insurance and financial services. The baby boom generation is just now entering retirement. Their parents are beginning to pass along their wealth to their children.
Vet, as this generation presents tremendous opportunity, our industry has shrunken from decades ago. There is simply more business to be spread among the few that remain in insurance and financial senlices. This may sound perlect to most, but even as the opportunity grows, the industry laces enormous challenges.
According to Sacks, the greatest problem facing the industry is the lack ot proper training.Companies used to invest a lot of money in hiring, developing and training the sales leaders of tomorrow. The old mutual companies have given way to huge, multi-national public corporations who just can’t command the resources to build a highly educated captive sales foroe. Advisors are forced to either tall behind or invest large sums of their own money and time into staying well-informed and up to date on cutting-edge strategies to help their clients and prospects. Those who view this as a necessary cost of doing business will continue to succeed, but the challenge seems to be in training and developing those advisors who are very early in their careers, and just can’t commit the time and money.
Sacks have a message for new advisors: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. “If there is a secret, it may be this,“ he said. “LOPE — Learn from other peopIe’s experiences. It takes too long to do it all by yourself. Learning from others will help you advance your career.“ Sacks have been sharing his experience with others through presentations at the MDRT Annual Meeting and other industry conferences, and he is an MDRT Foundation Gold Knight. “You get to a point when you have to start giving back,“ he said, “and at 64, that’s where I am.“
Time for family
Sacks and his wife of 41 years, Gloria, live in Katy, Texas, just outside Houston. Their oldest daughter, 37, is three-year MDRT member Lauren P. Sacks of Katy, Texas. She came into the business with her father alter completing her mastefs degree. They have three other children: Jonathan, 35, is a 401(k) wholesaler; Daniel, 33,is working on his MBA; and Nadine, 30, is in her tinal year of law school.
When he’s not on a plane on his way to help someone close another case, Sacks likes to watch ‘golt, tennis and football. He also loves to write and is finishing his second novel.When you stumble upon Sacks at the MDRT Annual Meeting — you can’t miss him — introduce yourself and bring him a case. You will never regret it.