Nov 01 2023 / Round the Table Magazine
Adapting and triumphing
By Miho Hayashi
In his eight years as a wedding planner, Kengo Murasaki devoted himself to helping clients feel organized, comfortable and prepared for their special day.
After his mother died of cancer without any insurance, however, the now-eight-year MDRT member from Hokkaido, Japan, decided he wanted his work to help people for the long term, not just for a day.
Of course, entering the financial services profession without any clients or savings hardly guarantees success. At first, Murasaki stood outside a mall, hoping that some of his previous wedding planning clients would pass by. He would leave his business cards at the dry cleaner and wait for someone to call. While he was trying and failing to convert cold calls, he often ate just half a loaf of bread a day and lost nearly 30 pounds.
Changing his focus
Not unlike “Straw Millionaire” — a Japanese folk tale about a poor man whose wealth started with picking up a single piece of straw — Murasaki took some small but important steps that had an enormous impact on his development as an advisor.
The first was embracing the advice of his boss, who reframed Murasaki’s priorities by emphasizing the client’s needs.
“I wanted to control my clients and expected them to buy expensive insurance plans in a single meeting,” Murasaki said. “I was just trying to sell and prioritizing my needs, so I had to change my attitude and increase my appreciation. I now place the utmost priority on finding out what is troubling them, solving their problems, and making them feel useful and happy.”
Murasaki’s new perspective, mixed with his experience in building relationships and pursuing client satisfaction, changed everything. He currently helps with taxation and employee education for 50 corporate clients as well as providing information about travel, education, real estate, car purchases and more for 800 individual clients.
So, when a client who wanted to switch to a four-wheel drive SUV that he couldn’t afford to reach his favorite snowboarding slopes, Murasaki was armed with a strategy to resolve the situation.
“After consulting with the owner of a used-car dealer, who was also a client, the three of us found a car within budget and were able to make the purchase,” he said.
Adversity and adapting
Murasaki’s impact doesn’t end with his clients though. Since being invited to the leadership team of MDRT’s Japan Chapter, he has been actively involved in regional activities because, he says, MDRT is not about qualification but about participation. It’s that involvement, and the growth that comes from working alongside other members, that can help members become a whole person and the reason that Murasaki says “MDRT is my life.”
In March 2021, however, Murasaki’s life drastically changed when he was diagnosed with leukemia. The support he received from fellow MDRT members was hugely important as he received treatment, he says.
“Even though I couldn’t have any visitors in the hospital room, they delivered good-luck charms and cards to the hospital,” he said. “I felt like I was being kept alive by all these people around me.”
While Murasaki still experiences side effects from his medications, he has used his cancer battle as an opportunity to refine his processes. That means grouping clients by region to reduce travel time; delineating his schedule between days to visit clients, days working in his office, and days off, including communicating with clients about those days off; and further improving efficiency through online meetings.
Because he often feels depleted physically and mentally in the morning, he schedules the online meetings and training sessions for early in the day and saves client visits for the afternoon. Meanwhile, he embraces a proactive approach despite the adversity he has faced.
“My slogan is, ‘If you do it tomorrow, you’re the fool,’” Murasaki said. “I am very conscious of doing what I can when I am in good physical condition.”
With his doctor’s blessing, he was able to deliver a presentation at the 2022 MDRT Annual Meeting in Boston, determined to share his experience and encourage others. His motivation to inspire was enhanced by another immensely important role he has beyond advisor: dad.
“My daughter has Down syndrome, and I feel a deep sense of duty to support her,” Murasaki said. “I want to participate in MDRT so that I have no regrets and prove to myself and to my friends and everyone who was concerned and supporting me that I was still alive and that I would be able to live on.
“I also want to be a cool dad.”
Miho Hayashi writes for Team Lewis, a communications agency assisting MDRT with content development for Asia-Pacific markets. Contact email@example.com.