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Articles by Rodney Ballance, Jr.
"The Great Divide Widens"
Life insurance agents all over America are deeply aware of the growing divide in our industry between securities licensed agents, and traditionalists. We’ve watched this segmentation grow over the past three decades (with the popularity of 401(k)) as more and more rookies are brought into our business by companies teaching that the only way to help clients is to get them in the stock market.
Traditionalists, like me, have an understanding of what a good overall financial plan looks like, how the plans work and the reason for each phase of the plan. We further understand that it is absolutely irresponsible to throw someone in the volatility of mutual funds without first building them a strong foundation using guaranteed products. Read the full article..
“Think Like a Doctor”
I went to the eye doctor a while back for an exam, and to get my glasses adjusted. I am always astonished to see how many people are lined up to see him, and even more amazed at the number of people there to buy new glasses or frames.
As I sat in the waiting room several thoughts came to mind. I first thought about how nice it is to have people seek me out for financial guidance, since I shifted my practice several years ago. I shifted from the traditional format of a life insurance agent to the “Financial Leadership” approach where my office works just like a doctor’s office.
I also wondered if any of these people spending hundreds of dollars were upset about the doctor being paid by an insurance company. Every one of these people buying high priced glasses and frames from the doctor’s office had either health insurance or one of the government subsidized programs that paid most or all the costs.
As my mind wandered down this path, I couldn’t help but think of how professionals in our industry are viewed as evil sales people when we do the exact same thing. Read Full Article...
Fee Based, or Commissioned Based Planning
I always tell clients to think of me as their portal to the financial world, just like their family doctor is the portal to their medical world. I know, that’s a far stretch from the way the financial services industry has trained us over the years, especially when it comes to placing life insurance products.
Here’s a key reason why I do this though. Last week I had a working lunch with a potential new client. This particular gentleman is a doctor who owns his own clinic. We were joined by the doctor’s wife and their CPA.
We discussed issues from personal budgeting to estate planning and succession planning of his practice. We talked about college planning for their 2 kids, and how to take care of his aging mother. I was questioned on various issues by his CPA, and asked numerous times for my opinions both by the doctor and his wife.
One big question the CPA asked was, are you a fee based planner, or do you work off commissions? My answer made the CPA sit up straight in his chair, and the doctor lean forward expressing his firm level of understanding and agreement. This one statement caused this prospect to choose me for their financial planner over other highly trained and expensive advisors.
I answered him this way; “Doctor, do you allow insurance companies to pay you for your services, or do you charge patients just one large fee up front?” Of course he told me he accepts all forms of insurance payments, because most people can’t pay the fees out of their pocket.
Aren’t most middle class families in the same boat with their financial planning? If more American families looked at hiring us the same way they hire their doctor, would more people have a plan, and a better understanding of how their money actually works? Read the rest of this article...
Making More $ by Selling Less Product
I recently had a conversation with a dear friend in our industry. He had attended a training call I had conducted the previous week, and was telling me why life insurance agents would never do what I recommend.
I had shared that an agent who is considered to be the portal to the financial world by their clients should be well versed in all aspects of personal finance. I told them that they needed to be less concerned with selling a product every time they met with their clients, and more concerned with providing knowledge and understanding.
I know, this is completely opposite of what the companies tell us we have to do, but think about it this way for a moment. If your client Jane comes to you asking about investments, what do you have to do? If you’re not properly licensed, you may believe that you have to refer them to someone at Edward Jones or some other mutual fund salesman to get their questions answered.
Now the problem comes in, because you know that if you send the client to another rep, who can do the same thing you do, and more, you might lose that client all together. So what do you do? Read the full article...