August 26, 2008

Learning The Language Of Investment Advisors

I said, do you speak-a my language?
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich.
--- Men At Work,
Down Under

How do you get investment-oriented advisors interested in life insurance? This is a great question if you're an insurance specialist. A 15 month experiment gave an answer.

An organization wanted to help their investment advisors incorporate life insurance into their business processes. Intrigued, I volunteered to help them for free.

Getting Started
I started with group meetings, showing how life insurance was used according industry research. Most strategies are simple, solid and change little over the years. This meant a small learning curve. I showed sample compensation for different ages, face amounts and deposits. I figured compensation would drive interest.

Next, I privately met interested advisors to understand their unique goals and concerns. Then I tailored confidential, individual strategies. Finally, I started visiting regularly, generally once or twice a week. I even got a nice large office with a nice view.

Long Lineups
I figured advisors would line up outside my door, clamoring for advice. Wrong! Advisors did visit --- then again, I was on the route to the espresso machine. This didn't lead to sales, though. I quickly learned that even volunteers need to actively market their services. I turned to blogging as a low key way to stay in touch.

Even so, cases were relatively small and infrequent. What could I do? I didn't want to play Solitaire.

One Day
During construction for expansion, the boardroom table was moved to an open area near my office. One day, the table was packed for a presentation about an esoteric investment product. I observed the investment advisors undetected. I heard numerous questions. I saw enthusiasm. The advisors were animated and captivated. Why?

The Spark
A different language is a different vision of life. --- Federico Fellini
I instantly realized that we spoke different languages. They spoke investoid and I spoke insuranch. While life insurance allows tax-sheltered growth, investment advisors

  • don't like the limited investment choices
  • don't like investment dollars going "off book" into life insurance

I knew the solution. Investment advisors have clients who are active investors, comfortable with financial leveraging and looking for tax deductions. That's what "10-8" leveraging by squeezing more benefits from the client's existing investment dollars.

Investment advisors get three three important benefits:

  1. continuing to make the investment decisions
  2. assets stay "on book"
  3. revenue increases

This appealing combination grew sales to record levels. The experiment ended in success.


August 19, 2008

Mastering The Five Relationship Styles

I know you know what you know
but you should know by now
that you're not me.
--- The Rutles,
Piggy In The Middle

There are many ways to categorize your clients. Net worth, business ownership, age, lifestage. How about by the type of relationship your clients want to have with you? The Ameriprise New Retirement Mindscape Study conducted by Age Wave found five main categories.
  1. Guide
  2. Motivator
  3. Teacher
  4. Partner
  5. Friend
Naturally, you'll be more effective if you can identify the style of relationship your clients want and adjust accordingly.


Looking for A Guide
These clients want you to help them explore choices and assist them along the path. They value recommendations.

This is the most popular style, which makes sense given the complexity of life.

Looking for A Motivator
These clients need help sticking to a plan. They want you develop a suitable plan and assure them that they can follow it.

Looking for A Teacher
These clients want to be educated. Unlike clients looking for a Motivator, these ones don't want to be told what to do. They want to make their own decisions.

Looking for A Partner
These clients want you to introduce new ideas or review their ideas. They expect you to have the same goals they do.

Looking for A Friend
These clients want more than a business relationship.

Style Mismatch
See, man, that's the difference between us. You think we're fighting, I think we're finally talking! --- football player Rod Tidwell to his agent Jerry Maguire
Naturally, there is overlap among categories and clients change. We are more comfortable adopting certain styles. You may even have a particular style you use all the time without even knowing. As a writer, I have a bias towards providing education and suitable guidance.

If you describe the styles to new clients, they can choose the one they prefer. You both benefit.