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Joseph Michael, Head of Advanced Markets

Joe provides technical support services.  His work combines technical expertise, attention to detail, industry experience, and psychological empathy to help prepare a customized solution that is unique to each client.  His solutions combine clear concise explanations with academic rigor.

Joe believes that no solution is useful unless a client understands it, expects to be better off with it than without it, and is willing to act on it to improve their chance of financial success.

Since 2000, Joe has worked at the highest levels of the life insurance industry, either employed by some of the country’s most sophisticated life insurance brokerage firms, or acting as a consultant to them.  His hands’-on experience includes the design, implementation, and administration of Corporate-Owned Life Insurance (COLI) programs, executive disability income insurance programs, income annuities, wealth-transfer life insurance, multi-generational asset planning strategies, and Private Placement Life Insurance (PPLI) and Private Placement Annuities (PPA).

During the eight years prior to that, Joe worked with an estate planning firm that specialized in succession planning for closely-held businesses, and key executive retention programs.

Upon graduation from college, Joe worked at the Chicago Board Options Exchange for several years, first doing research for a private trader, and then trading for partnership accounts (in today’s parlance, private hedge funds).  Joe found combinations of overvalued options and undervalued options issued on the same underlying security, to buy some while selling others while remaining fully hedged.  When valuations came back into alignment, he would then reverse these transactions for steady consistent profits.

The advent of index options undercut this strategy.  It simply was not economically feasible at that time to hedge index options against all the individual stocks in the underlying index.  Without knowing what he would do next, Joe contacted his insurance agent to make sure he could transition all his coverage to his next position, whatever it might be.

At that time, he examined life insurance more closely and discovered that the same economic principles of his successful hedging strategies applied here as well, albeit over a far different time frame:  a proper economic valuation of permanent life insurance provides ways to lock in a long-term arbitrage in favor of the policyowner.  While life insurance is priced actuarially, when valued from an economic perspective, the cost of the premium outlay generally is less than the overall long-term combination of value of the benefits.  He has helped clients develop winning ownership strategies for life insurance ever since.

He graduated from Harvard magna cum laude, and his honors thesis “The Federal Income Tax as an Inflation-Control Device During World War II” was awarded magna cum laude plus.

Joe grew up in a suburb on the near west side of Chicago.  He enjoyed Boy Scouts, and built a working radio in elementary school and a rudimentary computer in high school.  He graduated high school as class valedictorian with varsity letters in cross country and track.

Joe enjoys gardening and wood-working.