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Backstage at Highland: Tom Ellefsen, CLU®, ChFC®, Director, Advanced Case Design

Highland Capital Brokerage provides superior client service through a vast network of business and underwriting experts. Each of our team members has longstanding experience and is committed to helping you serve clients. BACKSTAGE, our new blogpost series, takes you behind the scenes so you can learn more about your dedicated professionals.

Tom Ellefsen, CLU®, ChFC®
Director, Advanced Case Design
Highland Capital Brokerage

After more than 27 years of experience in product development, product support and advanced case design, Tom Ellefsen knows full well how life insurance can function as a wealth transfer, wealth accumulation, business protection or estate planning vehicle. Tom makes it happen for large cases by putting together presentations, packages and illustrations that enable advisors to easily explain what they have in mind for a client.

While Tom is known as a “number cruncher,” that perception tends to cloud the true value of what Tom brings to the table.

It takes a unique skillset, for example, to select the right carrier and product before a plan can be packaged in a saleable manner. It also requires having deep knowledge about the products available, how they work, and mastering the software packages of each potential carrier. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s important to know the right people behind the scenes.

Negotiating on Your Behalf

While every carrier is different, most will have both internal and external wholesalers. Tom prides himself on finding someone inside each company who knows his or her stuff and is reliable.

“When you need a favor, when you need help getting something that you may not have access to, those people can help you get things done,” he says. “This situation occurs daily, and it all takes place behind the scenes. Most advisors don’t realize how many times you went to bat for them.”

Partnering with You for Success

Tom also sees himself as part of the advisor team, working to understand what each advisor is trying to accomplish. This helps Tom assemble the best possible package.

“A lot of cases today come via email, which doesn’t necessarily capture what the advisor is trying to do,” he says. “They should plan to follow up a case email with a robust discussion about it, so I have a clear understanding regarding the client and the objectives of the case.”

In a world that increasingly values one-off transactions over long-term relationships, Tom’s approach comes to many advisors as a welcome relief. But, as a long-term fishing enthusiast, especially ice fishing during Minnesota’s chilly winters, he knows that patience pays off in the end.

“If you are smart and lucky, you could catch a fish in 10 minutes,” he says. Otherwise you could be out in the cold all day and ultimately have nothing to show for it.”

To find out more about how Tom Ellefsen can help with your large case designs, call (317) 208-9166 or send an email to


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