With 47 years of business and life experience to draw on and 21 of that in the financial advice business, I’ve learned that if you look after the needs of the client, ask the right questions and work with other qualified professionals you will do well! I view my job as being the quarterback between my clients and other professionals to keep the process moving forward.
It’s true that people can find endless information on the internet, but too much information can be as dangerous as too little. Plus people don’t buy life, disability or critical illness insurance; they buy what it can do for them and their families when disaster strikes. One of the first questions I ask is, do they have wills, powers of attorney and personal directives, because about 50% of Canadians don’t have wills and of those who do, many are out of date!
There’s a growing call by vocal investor advocates and regulators to ban insurance agents from getting paid commissions and push them to a fee-for-service payment program. What needs to be considered are the unintended consequences of this, as it means that every time someone were to call, stop in or want financial advice, they will be billed for their time, for every page, letter and so on! Plus, small investors may find it difficult to find someone to work with that will offer useful advice.
It can sometimes take a few years of an agent and a family farm or small business working together before there is any compensation to the agent. If an insurance policy or other product is sold, an agent can get paid well, but that must also cover the time spent in meetings with lawyers, accountants and other professionals that lead up to this end result.
It’s true that there are a few in our industry who are in it for their own interests. Unfortunately every profession has a few bad apples. Then there are the deliberate crooks who promise huge returns for their so-called “clients”. But for the few who lie, cheat and steal from people, there are thousands of insurance agents who go to work every day because there is no greater satisfaction that helping people better their lives, protect their income earning ability or their families when bad things happen.
Another sad reality is that our children are not getting proper financial education in our schools, which I believe is contributing to the horrendous levels of debt the average citizen is carrying today. By doing a simple cash flow analysis and helping people to adjust their spending habits I can often find enough savings to enable a young family to pay off their credit card balances carried over every month, build future savings, pay for life insurance or save for their children’s education.
What we do is not rocket science; just a thorough analysis of each client’s needs, then figure out the right combination of tools to get them to where they want to go. One of the most important things we can help with is to protect families should some disaster strike. There are products that can deliver tax-free dollars at the cost of pennies, to help them through recovery, provide income, pay off debt or taxes, etc.
I believe that a visit to a trusted and experienced life insurance agent is still your best resource for good financial advice.
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