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Finding empathy through fur
Finding empathy through fur

Jan 03 2022

Finding empathy through fur

Animal rescue taught Aloyan to improve her connection with prospective clients.

By Ariana Ubina

Topics covered

The Zoom profile picture that greets colleagues, clients and prospects finds Irish Lucrecia Aloyan snuggling a small, gray cat against her face. Beyond instantly delivering a sense of warmth and care before the call has even begun, the photo represents the passion the three-year MDRT member from Cebu City, Philippines, has for protecting others — no matter the species.

“I found my purpose of protecting lives through my 15-year-old son, who has a heart for rescuing street dogs and cats. It made me realize that every life should have its basic needs met, and more people should know about it,” said Aloyan, who has rescued about 300 animals since 2013. “I became a financial advisor because it was a career that enriched my mission by extending life protection to people.”

Transferrable perspective

To avoid the frustration that advisors may feel when prospects decline to work with them, Aloyan applies her animal rescue advocacy mindset to her efforts to educate people about financial planning. Understanding the needs and emotions of animals helps her nurture empathy.

“Animal rescue requires you to be sensitive to what the animals think and feel, and you need to see the situation through their eyes,” she said. She has found that some animals are so social they allow her to care for them when she first meets them. Others, however, may hiss or bite when she approaches them. To win them over, Aloyan brings them food to show she has their best interests in mind.

Aloyan says this perspective carries over to her work as a financial advisor and guides her prospecting. Early in her career, she reached out to her family members. Although they didn’t have much exposure to financial education, she worked with her siblings to buy life insurance and begin a savings system to support their parents. “Since it was their first time, I was conscious not to be pushy and encouraged them to save what they could, regardless of the amount,” she said. “Eventually, they appreciated the value. We even got to buy a house and a car for our parents through our savings.”

Animal rescue requires sensitivity — a perspective Aloyan brings to her client relationships.

Aloyan uses another animal anecdote to show the importance of first impressions. As she and a colleague drove to a shelter, they saw a puppy in the road that was too close to speeding cars. As Aloyan’s colleague approached the puppy to rescue it, they noticed its mother nearby, who ran over to protect her offspring. “We left the puppy with its mother,” she said, “but ever since that day, the mother dog would always run after my car.”

The lesson Aloyan draws from this experience: “When meeting clients for the first time, do your research to avoid starting on the wrong foot, or else it’s not going to work.”

Empathy is crucial to a financial advisor’s ability to build relationships with clients. Aloyan pinpoints three ways that this skill has driven purpose and connections in her work:

Be authentic. Share information about your own policies with your prospects and clients. “It’s the best testimonial that insurance works,” she said. Aloyan shows clients her policy booklet — especially couples starting a family — and explains how the proceeds from her policies would be allocated to protect her husband and son in the event of a critical illness or death. For clients who already have children, Aloyan shows them her son’s education savings plan for college expenses.

Her own trust for financial advisors developed after Aloyan saw a friend benefit from insurance. “She and
her husband claimed 50 million Philippine pesos (about $1 million) while living in Australia due to an accident, and then they retired here in the Philippines. Seeing how it worked made me want to protect my family through insurance, and it’s one of the reasons why
I chose this career.”

Build relationships with clients. “Before meeting with prospects, it’s essential to know their interests first to understand how best to engage them,” she said. “It helps create the foundation for your relationships and possible friendships down the road.” This helped Aloyan close her biggest sale when she was a new advisor, only 14 months in the profession. Her social media branding highlighted her animal rescue advocacy, passion for gardening and charitable activities. This led to a connection with an online friend who shared her love for cats and gardening. “I would send her some vegetables grown in my yard,” Aloyan said. “Over time, she trusted me enough to be her financial advisor and introduced me to her network of friends who also became my clients.”

Go the extra mile. During a meeting with a prospect in her home, Aloyan noticed the woman’s dog hadn’t been bathed in awhile. The next day, she returned to her house to wash her dog. “It was my subtle way of letting her know that by helping her take care of her dog, I could take care of her family by offering great service that goes beyond insurance if she becomes my client.”

Ariana Ubina writes for Team Lewis, a communications agency assisting MDRT with content development for Asia-Pacific markets. Contact mdrteditorial@teamlewis.com.

Contact: Irish Aloyan plukirishaloyan@gmail.com