Jan 02 2024 / Round the Table Magazine
Maintain lifelong learning and long-term relationships with clients
A process has to be not just something that is in writing, but something that you are passionate about, something that, when you are teaching it to others, they understand why it’s important for them to follow. It’s sort of like arithmetic: If you don’t get the first part of the formula down, you’re not going to get the next formulas to take you to where you want to go. So, it’s all about starting with one process and building on it.
—Robert Abbate, FICS, CSA, Henrico, Virginia, USA, 18-year MDRT member
The right character for the stage
I spend time trying to understand the client’s personality first and then bring to the table the advisors from our team who match their needs, interests or goals. We always use a lot of analogies because clients get confused very quickly. So, we say that this is their stage, and we’re only going to bring to the stage those characters who have a role in their play. There’s no point in over-complicating the stage or stuffing it just to show how powerful you are. It’s really the right character at the right time to make sure that the play you’re putting together for the client works. In that sense, my business was built by finding the right people who can serve the client in the way we like to.
—Elke Rubach, LL.M., CLU, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, six-year MDRT member
Talking to clients about succession planning
The first thing I bring up to clients about our succession plan is that it isn’t an imminent retirement plan. It’s a bona fide succession plan that we envision taking years — a decade or more — to execute. Here’s the way we frame that to the clients: At every client meeting, we legitimately have on the agenda: “succession plan.” There are a lot of things on the agenda — technology, cash flow, insurance — but at the end of the discussion, we have that little talk about where we are in the succession plan, reassuring the client that it’s not going to happen overnight, it isn’t going to happen until everyone is ready, and we also have plenty of plans in place if I don’t make it that long, like any responsible business owner would.
—Andrew C. Lord, CLU, ChFC, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, 35-year MDRT member
Simple vs. easy
Understand the difference between easy and simple. They sound alike, but they mean different things. Easy means little effort required. Simple means uncomplicated. This is a simple business. Whatever the level of complexity of the product, whatever the level of complexity of the tax laws in your country, the simple principles for doing business are to see people, find out their issues and desires, and then deliver the solutions to them. That’s simple, but it’s not easy.
—Tony Gordon, Bristol, England, UK, 47-year MDRT member and MDRT Past President
Do the small things
I conscientiously do the seemingly small but important things to have a long-term relationship with clients. I always arrive earlier than the appointment time for all appointments with guests and maintain a neat appearance from clothes to hair. While talking, I make eye contact and lead the conversation so that the client’s attention is on me. After the appointment, I will text the client to thank them and continue to interact with them.
—Nhi Thi Yen Chung, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, three-year MDRT member
We used to meet clients over coffee in person, but virtual communication meant no personal meeting. So, I made it a standard practice to send coffee to clients at the start of our Zoom meetings online so both of us have coffee in our hands while our discussion goes on simultaneously. This was very appreciated by my clients and helped me build a stronger relationship virtually too.
—Rahul Chawla, Mumbai, India, five-year MDRT member
Commit to lifelong learning
One absolute key mindset for financial advisors is the ability to focus on lifelong learning. We need that to overcome all the challenges we have in an ever-changing environment, whether it’s the regulation in our country, the technical requirements of knowing our products, the tax changes, or the ability to focus more on our client and understand their psychology better.
We must commit to lifelong learning as widely as possible.
—Jeremy Mark Wellington, Dip PFS, Dip CII, Truro, England, UK, 12-year MDRT member
The QUIRK system
To provide clients with everything they need to make informed decisions about their policy upgrades, I follow what I call the QUIRK system.
Q is for questioning correctly and appropriately. We want to do our research while asking clients the right questions. This way we can easily gauge their readiness for an upgrade and make them feel we are looking after their best interests, not just making another sale.
U is for understanding the client’s current situation, which includes reviewing their policies, revisiting their cash flow and assessing their risk tolerance. This helps us identify areas where their current policies might not be adequate or perhaps where they can reallocate part of their budget.
I is for identifying potential gaps that could leave them vulnerable to financial loss. This may include areas such as income protection from illness or injury.
R is for recommending policies to fill these gaps. This may include adding riders to cover specific risk or increasing the amount of coverage in certain areas to mitigate risk exposure. We also take into consideration the client’s budget and financial goals, getting them the coverage that they need at a price they can afford.
K is for knowing your clients and maintaining a good relationship with them. Follow up with your clients regularly by staying in touch with them and providing personalized advice.
—Roneliz Tolentino Flores, Marikina City, Philippines, one-year MDRT member
Seasonal client meetings
In the corporate market, you must have a tool that makes it possible to continue contact. For existing corporate clients, I have a process that pushes me to meet them at least four times a year: In January, I provide them with the newly revised tax law and ask them about their business plan for the year. In March, during corporate tax adjustment time, I check in to make sure they didn’t miss any chance of tax deductions or tax reduction. In June, I review their change in assets and current net income based on the result of final accounts (statement of financial position and statement of profit and loss) and inquire about the trend of their first half of the year. When you keep track of these materials, you can show more than 10 years of corporation data on a piece of paper. Finally, in November, on the basis of the year’s cost-benefit analysis, we decide together whether to take more bonus in December or to pay out dividends next year and adjust the table of purchase and sales.
—Jong Soo Lee, Seoul, South Korea, 15-year MDRT member
Teachers’ Day touch point
I have a group of five clients who all happen to be teachers in the same school. In 2020, I didn’t get to meet up with them because of COVID, so I sent them personalized mugs as a Teachers’ Day gift. At school, they happened to sit around the same area in the staff room with the mugs. So naturally, the other teachers sitting around them started to get curious. They asked, “Where did this mug come from? Who sent it to you? How come all of you have the same mug?” That created conversation and led to them introducing me as well.
—June Rong Rong Koh, Singapore, three-year MDRT member
The prop advisor
I like to use props or pictures to help demonstrate the concept and to help remove some of the tension in the sales process. I have a Darth Vader prop that I reference and say, “Would you rather that guy get your money, or your loved ones or charity?”
—Todd D. Hruby, LUTCF, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, 26-year MDRT member
Customize your message
As I have a strong following on Facebook, I use it as my key platform to share financial topics, such as literacy, insurance, investments, life realizations and motivations. Fortunately, my organic posts garner thousands of comments and reactions. Whenever I receive feedback, I check who I can contact and prospect. I study their profiles as much as possible and personalize my message. A standard message is easier, especially when messaging many people, but customization increases their chances of responding. For example, if I see a woman who is a working professional in her mid-20s, family-oriented and likes to go out with her friends, I would ask about her savings and emergency funds.
—Jacklord G. Esguerra, Makati City, Philippines, one-year MDRT member