Confirmed Speakers

Yolie Aleman-Rodriguez

Yolie Aleman-Rodriguez is an MDRT aspirant with 10 years of insurance sales experience and 10 years in insurance management. Her team is ranked in the top 50 agencies at State Farm Insurance in the U.S. in fire production. Co-founder and president of the National Hispanic Agents Network (NHAN) at State Farm Insurance, she also serves on several education-oriented boards and committees. She was awarded “Woman of the Year” by Mujer Inc. in 2012, and also received the “Alumni Excellence in Leadership Award” from the Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Bill Cates, CSP, CPAE

Cates is recognized as the foremost financial services expert in how to build a thriving referral-based business. His books, “Get More Referrals Now!” and “Don’t Keep Me a Secret!” have revolutionized the way financial professionals are acquiring more and better clients through referrals. His latest book, “Beyond Referrals,” is a groundbreaking next step in client acquisition strategies.

Cates has spoken at MDRT five times, including on the Main Platform in the U.S. and Korea. Thousands of financial professionals are using his Referral System to build their practices with quality referrals.

Eric Feng

Eric Feng has helped over 23,000 financial service professionals sell more and sell more easily by unlocking their charisma. Through his programs, agents have experienced 20-50 percent increases in their production within six months. Recruitment numbers have also doubled after his coaching with leaders, with an increased conversion rate of 47 percent. Feng has also published four best-selling communications books. In 2012, he was named one of JCI’s 10 Most Outstanding Young Persons of Singapore.

Colleen Francis, CSP

Francis is driven by a passion for sales – and results. A successful sales leader for more than 20 years, she understands the challenges of selling in today's market. Clients who work with her note her frank, no-nonsense approach to solving problems and addressing opportunities. Francis is renowned for her practical strategies and use of measurement and accountability to inspire sales team results.

She is the author of "Honesty Sells" and the upcoming book "Nonstop Sales Boom." Sales and Marketing Management Magazine called Francis and Engage Selling one of the top five most effective sales training organizations in the market today.

Gregory B. Gagne, ChFC

Gregory B. Gagne, ChFC, is the founder of Affinity Investment Group, LLC, in Exeter, New Hampshire, USA. The firm specializes in wealth management and distribution planning services for retirees. Gagne has co-authored three books on retirement and estate planning, and his articles on practice management, planning techniques and goal setting have been featured in numerous trade magazines. A past president of the New Hampshire Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, he is a 14-year MDRT member with four Court of the Table and five Top of the Table qualifications, as well as an MDRT Foundation Diamond Knight.

Rob Gawthrop, CFP, CLU

Gawthrop is a 21-year MDRT member with five Court of the Table and one Top of the Table qualifications. With more than 25 years of experience advising clients on wealth accumulation and retirement income strategies, he also acts as an advisor trainer. A founding member of the MDRT band Roundabout, he has entertained fellow MDRT members for more than 20 years.

Michael Hoffman, CSP

Hoffman is a professional motivator, helping his audience reignite their desire to achieve the highest possible success in their careers. He will bring actionable advice to make life manageable and to make an impact on the world around them.

Anthony Matthews Jones

Anthony Matthews Jones is a seven-year MDRT member with four Court of the Table and one Top of the Table qualifications. He is the MDRT MCC chair for Leinster/Munster and serves on the MDRT Ireland committee. Jones is a renowned international speaker and has spoken at several MDRT meetings. A trained singer and actor, Jones mixes his professional skills with his artistic talent to guarantee a unique presentation like no other.

Sarah Kaelberer, CFP, ChFC

Sarah Kaelberer, CFP, ChFC, is a 13-year MDRT member with nine Top of the Table qualifications and a Gold Knight of the MDRT Foundation. She has conducted Focus Sessions at MDRT meetings and participated in a business succession panel on the Top of the Table Annual Meeting Main Platform. Kaelberer is a partner and vice president of Business & Estate Advisers Inc., known for its expertise in pension law, creative financial planning and communication, as well as strong client relationships.

Duncan MacPherson

Co-author of “Breakthrough Business Development,” MacPherson is a master at client acquisition. He will provide ways to use referrals, prospecting and networking to establish new relationships and build a larger client base.

Logan Naidu, ACII, CFP

Logan Naidu, ACII, CFP, of Durban, South Africa, is a 32-year MDRT member with eight Court of the Table and two Top of the Table qualifications. He is the 2013–2014 Zone Chair in the MDRT Membership Communications Division, overseeing MDRT activity in the Middle East and Africa. He previously served two terms as MDRT Country Chair for South Africa, MDRT Zone Chair Southern Africa and in numerous other MDRT capacities over the past 20 years. Naidu is also a professional speaker who has presented his message of encouragement, hope and vision nationally and internationally.

Ryan J. Pinney

Ryan J. Pinney is a five-year MDRT member with five Top of the Table qualifications. Recognized for using innovative technologies to drive insurance sales, streamline the application process and speed up underwriting, Pinney leverages his experience in social media and online marketing to help agents and agencies create their online presence and profit from it. Using the same principles and technology his firm provides to agents, his agency sold more than 16,000 policies direct-to-consumer online last year. Pinney currently serves on the MDRT Member Communications (Zone 8) and Top of the Table Industry Relations Committees.

Steven A. Plewes, CLU, ChFC

Plewes is a 26-year MDRT member with four Court of the Table and five Top of the Table honors. An active volunteer leader of MDRT, Plewes currently serves as Chair of the Practice Management Committee He is the principal of Advisors Financial Group, a comprehensive financial services firm located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA where he specializes in income and distribution planning for corporate executives and widows. He has been published and quoted in numerous financial trade publications and is a frequent industry speaker, having spoken at the MDRT Annual Meeting, the Main Platform of the Top of The Table Annual Meeting and the Main Stage of the NAIFA Annual Conference.

Sam Richter

Richter is an established sales and marketing guru with proven techniques to make the most out of emerging technology, such as social media and Web keywords. He’ll unlock the door to building leads and growing business by providing the key: sales intelligence.

Jesse C. Rivera

Rivera is a 24-year MDRT member from Tacoma, Washington, USA, and a member of the MDRT band Roundabout. He is an agent and registered representative with New York Life Insurance Company who specializes in pre-retirement, post-retirement and estate planning. Within New York Life, Rivera has achieved the Executive Council, President’s Council and Chairman’s Council levels. Among other accolades from his 33 years in the profession, he has received the National Quality and National Sales Achievement Awards.

Janine Shepherd, AM

Shepherd is a qualified commercial pilot, aerobatics instructor, international speaker, best-selling author and a walking paraplegic. She was awarded an Order of Australia for her work in raising awareness of spinal cord injury. Shepherd’s recent TEDx talk, “A Broken Body Isn’t a Broken Person,” has been viewed over 1 million times. She is an agent of change and devotes her professional life to empowering others to overcome adversity.

Taylor Sledge

Sledge, a four-year MDRT member, is the owner and president of Sledge & Company, a growing small business tailored to serve affluent families and business owners. As a Member Agent of the Nautilus Group, Sledge works hand in hand with a team of professionals to provide a range of consultative services for complex cases.

He has led the Mississippi General Office as top producer for the past two years. Within his community, Sledge serves on several boards and volunteers with local ministries. Sledge also plays harmonica in the MDRT band Roundabout, playing at various MDRT events with fellow members.

Sanjay Tolani

Tolani is an 11-year member of MDRT, with two Court of the Table and seven consecutive Top of the Table honors. He currently leads Goodwill Advisory & Insurance Services in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Offshore, and he has authored many articles for international financial magazines. His company provides investment and financial planning guidance to high net-worth and ultra-high net-worth clientele in 53 countries. He is a highly regarded industry speaker and has shared his expertise at industry conferences and universities in Dubai, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada and others.

Jack Uldrich

Jack Uldrich is a renowned global futurist, independent scholar, sought-after business speaker, and best-selling author. He is noted for his ability to deliver stimulating, new perspectives on competitive advantage, organizational change, and transformational leadership, while helping businesses to adapt.

Executive Committee Panelists

Michelle L. Hoesly, CLU, ChFC

Hoesly is the MDRT President and a 34-year member, with three Court of the Table and 10 Top of the Table honors. Her commitment as a volunteer with MDRT began in 1983. She is an internationally recognized speaker who has spoken at several MDRT Annual Meetings as well as MDRT's Boomertirement Industry Summit in 2007, and has appeared on CNN. She is frequently quoted on financial issues by major publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's and the Financial Times.

D. Scott Brennan

Brennan is the Immediate Past President of MDRT and is 30-year MDRT member with one Top of the Table and nine Court of the Table qualifications. Brennan has been a speaker at more than ten MDRT meetings; is a member of the Quarter Century Club and an Excalibur Knight of the MDRT Foundation. Brennan is a graduate of Indiana University. In 2011, The Forum 400 gave him their first Humanitarian Award.

Caroline A. Banks, APFS

Banks, of London's West End, is MDRT’s First Vice President and a 24-year MDRT member, with 19 Top of the Table honors. She is Managing Director of Caroline Banks and Associates, one of the first firms in the U.K. to be recognized with the prestigious Chartered Financial Planning designation. Banks aims to share the benefits of MDRT with advisors worldwide. Through her travels, she works to promote ethical financial practices, increased standards and industry improvements. She is also active within the MDRT Foundation.

Brian D. Heckert, CLU, ChFC

Heckert is the Second Vice President of the MDRT Executive Committee. He is a 25-year MDRT member with seven Court of the Table and six Top of the Table honors. He is an Excalibur Knight of the MDRT Foundation and a member of its Inner Circle Society. Since 1985, he has focused his practice on creative retirement plan design and income distribution planning. Heckert is a frequent industry speaker and has been quoted in numerous business, industry and association publications.

Mark J. Hanna, CLU, ChFC

Hanna is Secretary of MDRT. He is a 25-year MDRT member, with three Court of the Table and 14 Top of the Table honors. He is also a Royal Order Excalibur Knight of the MDRT Foundation and a member of its Inner Circle Society. Hanna, a 35-year veteran of the financial services industry, is recognized internationally for professional and industry accomplishments. He has served on many local, state and national boards of directors.

2014 Annual Meeting Toronto, Canada