How Many Light Bulbs Does it Take to Screw (In) the Client?
Here is the good news. Your bankers, money managers, attorneys, insurance agents, fee based planners and CPA’s and other financial experts probably know more than you do. This means that they can help you solve problems that would have been tough to solve on your own.
Here is the bad news. You have to find half a dozen of these type of people to completely optimize your financial profile. And that’s only if the half dozen you find are good at their jobs.
I feel a rant coming on. I can give you examples out the wazoo of how asking simple questions of my clients has lead to discovering major gaps in planning. For those of you who do not know me, I am really just an insurance salesman… and I really just mean life insurance as that makes up the bulk of my business. Over the years, I have learned a little bit about everything my clients could do to complete their financial framework and do so, the best way.
Best? Yes, that is a good enough word for it. For me, it started in my mid 20’s finding the best insurance for my customers all over the country who found me through the internet. To me, this meant getting the coverage that perfectly serves its purpose at the best price in the market. Not many insurance agents sell insurance this way because they don’t know any better or don’t care.
In order to figure out how to discover the purpose of the coverage, I had to learn what questions to ask the client. Most of my questions bleed over to the expertise realm of the other financial pros because I need that info to make the right call. The more good answers I got, the more curious I became. Like a 3 year old, “Why?” is a favorite question of mine… and it seems to me that “I don’t know” might be the most popular answer.
Who is at fault? Most of the time it is the banker, insurance agent, attorney, money manager, and CPA. The reason they are to blame is that they refuse to get good at asking questions about other aspects of their clients’ financial lives. Because of this, the client misses opportunities to learn and improve each time.
Here are some examples:
Cpa: Does taxes thinking only about last year and next year. Does not ask about insurance, or estate docs. and often does not even offer tax planning solutions because they have 200 other returns to do before the 15th.
Banker: Loan quotas, checking accounts, credit cards. Some of them have daily calls from the higher up’s who are pushing these products. The guys on the ground are forced into being short sighted in order to help the regional managers meet their goals.
Attorney: Always afraid of saying the wrong thing. They often refuse to partner with experts in tax, insurance, and wealth management.
Insurance agents: Trying to make a sale for a weekly goal, or just plain product pitching. The bulk of these guys are very weak in knowledge even about insurance and especially about other financial issues. FYI: It takes 3 days to get an insurance license.
Money managers/Financial planners: These guys think no financial activity should be considered but through them… And since they often do not know much about insurance, they don’t mention it. Or they don’t because they think it cheapens them. As if that could be a thing. I have had conversations with many of these guys who say their clients don’t need insurance. My response… “Would you put that in writing?”
It isn’t as if everyone in these professions are inept at leading their clients down the right path and helping to fully optimize their financial picture. It is though, that it can be difficult for a client to find the right person for the job. I meet very smart and successful people all the time who have puzzle pieces missing that one of these professionals above should have caught years earlier. It isn’t the client’s fault. Who has time to sort through dozens of potential problem solvers to find the right one?
I don’t mean to rob you of confidence in the work that some of these professionals can do. I have seen and continue to see stellar work done by colleagues and competitors. What I am telling you is that you need to find professionals who know more than their business card would indicate. Be a smart client. Do not take your friends or family’s endorsement blindly either. Ask good, specific questions. When you get their answers, ask why? You’ll know it when you find the right person to help you… And if you can’t find the right person, let me know and I will point you in the right direction.