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Be the advisor with answers when circumstances change
Be the advisor with answers when circumstances change

Jan 02 2024 / Round the Table Magazine

Be the advisor with answers when circumstances change

MDRT members share how they became a resource when adapting to challenges.

Topics Covered

Participating members:

Lam Pui Ka, a six-year MDRT member from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Brad J. Myers, a 21-year MDRT member from South Jordan, Utah, USA
Leena Parwani, Cert CII, MBA, a 10-year MDRT member from Dubai, UAE

Even though these situations shared on a recent Zoom conversation arose during the pandemic, the way needs were met and the lessons gained are still relevant for advisors. Whether the problem was helping a client get admitted to a hospital where they can be covered for a specific treatment; finding a way to fight burnout while working from home; or onboarding a new staff member who wasn’t able to bond with colleagues in person, the solutions called for members to step out. A group of MDRT members shared how they handled these difficult, unexpected situations. Hear the full conversation in the MDRT Podcast.

Parwani: Even though you’re sending them email, “Hey guys, we are around, here to help you out,” is that really everything we could do? How far could we go? It was challenging. I received a call from a client in the middle of the night: “We have a person diagnosed with COVID. Where can we take him? Which insurance is going to cover this? We have this corporate health insurance. Can I take him there?” I needed to figure out which hospital he could be taken to, what is covered and what is not. So, that was the first alarming call to me, and I had to make several calls behind the scenes to facilitate that one admission.

During those days, all the hospitals were full, and admission was so hard. I had to use my connections to get this one person admitted in the hospital, and that was really hard. But after a little while, I could do it, and my client felt that I was influential in making this happen. But then I started becoming more alert about needing to know everything in the market, what’s going on with the news, how people normally get admitted if I don’t have an influential friend who can help. How would I help these people?

Every day, new rules and regulations were coming, and I realized it’s super important for us to stay on top of every single piece of news that was coming in and pass it on. That one call taught me that I must keep up with every single piece of information coming in. We also hired a lawyer on retainer to keep me updated. I passed that information on broadcasts, on social media and WhatsApp as well.

Lam: My challenge was that you might be very happy to work from home at the beginning, but after a while you just feel tired and not so disciplined anymore. So even at home, I make sure to dress up and put on some makeup because, just like in the office, the moment you look good, you bring up your confidence. When you talk to your prospects or clients, it’s totally different.

The second thing is I needed to attract attention from prospects and clients, and sometimes webinars about insurance may only attract other advisors. So, I created webinars about non-financial topics. My team finds relevant topics that are interesting for people to follow, and we post them on a weekly basis. 

For example, with so many people working from home and unable to travel, divorce rates were going up. People usually don’t see each other for so many hours; now that they’re stuck at home, it could lead to a lot of conflict. One topic might be about marriage, and another might be about how children can be hindered with virtual learning. Because a lot of parents have concerns about too much screen time for their children, we shared content on how they can limit it. As a result of this webinar, we received attention on social media from people inquiring about how to incorporate insurance as part of education planning. 

It can be tough to talk to a stranger about insurance, so I use webinars to first catch their interest, and then teach them about insurance. I think I did about 20 webinars in three to four months just during this pandemic. And it’s not just me doing it. I’ll send the invitation to my clients and invite an expert about the topic. At the beginning, I didn’t feel comfortable talking to the screen, but I think all of us had to adapt to the new norm. We got used to talking to the screen, and I made sure to always be visible in social media so clients and prospects see me. “What is she talking about today?” If I am not visible, sooner or later people will forget about me because I don’t get to see them physically. So, I must make sure to do something to allow them to see me.

Myers: The biggest challenge we had is we hired a brand-new person two weeks before we got shut down, not knowing we were going to get shut down. So, we had two great weeks of being able to go through and train him and try to talk about all our processes. And then immediately the office was shut down, and he was told to work from home. We weren’t able to make him feel like he was part of the team because our team was all over the city working from home, and he felt lost like he wasn’t part of the team.

So, my business partner and I started having more one-on-one calls with him. We explored how we could bring him along within the firm and continued to talk about our goals and why we do what we do. Then we would all get together and make sure that we weren’t leaving anybody out, because it was very easy for the rest of our team. We would get together on Monday morning, like we normally would, and talk about everything and then kind of break off. Throughout the week, our projects would be taken care of, and everybody knew what they were doing. But at the end of that week, we didn’t really check in anymore with anybody.

So, we just started making it more of a point to call him daily and just check in and see how he was doing. Sometimes he didn’t have any real role or business that he needed to be working on. The purpose of the call was just to call and make sure that he was still doing OK.

By sharing that we care and that we wanted him to still be part of the team, that allowed him to know, Wait a second, this isn’t just another company that I’m working for. I’ve learned so much more about snowboarding because he is an avid snowboarder. I learned about his family, and now I know how to interact and make sure that he understands that he is part of the team.

Hear the full episode at mdrt.org/becoming-a-resource. Subscribe to the MDRT Podcast at mdrt.org/podcast.