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Empathy as a superpower
Empathy as a superpower

May 09 2024

Empathy as a superpower

With his past experience as a nurse, Cleveland Crisostomo from the Phillipines shares how having empathy for his clients helps him build strong relationships with them.


“If something happens to me, call Cleve, my financial advisor,” a client told his mom. He was diagnosed with sepsis and eventually died. This was the result of how Cleveland “Cleve” Crisostomo, a two-year MDRT member from Biñan, Philippines, cultivated deep-seated trust and demonstrated genuine care to his clients. It didn’t just come out of nowhere but from a personal experience. He wasn't able to secure and protect his late father, who underwent dialysis due to chronic kidney disease. “While we tried our best to provide him the best possible care, my dad died due to his severe condition. We paid a huge amount for the hospital bills and other expenses and gave the best burial for my dad. I don’t want any of my clients to go through what our family did, so my clients trust me with the financial advice I provide because it comes from a place of concern, care, and experience.”  

Before becoming a financial advisor, Crisostomo graduated from nursing, but his urgent need to work to pay off bills prevented him from taking the licensure exam. He landed a job in the retail industry, where he earned sales skills that now benefit his career as a financial advisor. However, he considers empathy his superpower, as he leverages his background to help people avoid financial burdens when uncertainties arise. “When you know your purpose and love to help, how you impact their lives matters.”  

Most of his first clients were employees of the same store, including a young former colleague who only earned the minimum wage in the company and lived from paycheck to paycheck, with debts to boot. Crisostomo reached out to help him better manage his finances. They focused on improving habits, and he proposed a Variable Universal Life (VUL) plan that the colleague could use to save for his future. Crisostomo ensured the client stayed on track by checking up on him and asking about his personal and financial situation.   

Unfortunately, this client was hospitalized. After several tests, they found out he had sepsis. The client’s mom immediately contacted Crisostomo as he had told her, “If something happens to me, call Cleve, my financial advisor.” Crisostomo arranged for a hospitalization benefit. However, the client died after a few hours, so he then had to file for a death claim instead.  

Seeing his unwavering support and proactive efforts, the client’s family turned to him for guidance and assistance. Recognizing the depth of his commitment, they used the money they received from the claim to purchase insurance policies from him.  

 “While there are difficult moments in our lives, there are lessons to be learned. I’m both saddened by my client’s death and happy his family realized the importance of insurance, as they’re now protected.”  

For Crisostomo, care should transcend mere performance. He understands clients may have urgent concerns even late at night and ensures he can respond immediately while he’s still awake. When a client’s birthday or anniversary comes around, he greets them with an upbeat and appreciative voice message. “They must feel you are always there for them in good and bad times. Being present and available shows you prioritize their concerns. They are not a means to further our careers. They are people who have forever entrusted their lives with us.”  

His prospects and clients are fans of his relationship with his mother and how they care for each other. “There are times that my prospects and clients see my mom during virtual meetings, and they see how close we are. I post personal and family photos on my Facebook feed, sharing how we spend time together.” It shows he is not just a financial advisor but also a person who cares for their well-being.  

Through these experiences, Crisostomo advised, “If you prove to your clients that they can trust you, their family will trust you too.” He took the Philippine Nurses Licensure Examination despite not having practiced this profession for a long time. Preparing for the exam polished his knowledge and expertise in health, which he can tap into when advising clients. He uses the perks of attending MDRT conferences to learn the latest trends in his profession and serve his clients better. 

Through empathy, integrity, and a steadfast commitment to his clients' well-being, Crisostomo has created a legacy of trust and compassion between himself, his clients, and their families.  

Contact: MDRTEditorial@teamlewis.com