Discussing Retirement And Legacy
When Grandpa died, Mom said, “Life goes on with the living.” At age 7, I thought it a horrible thing to say. As I grew up and became more involved with death from an adult’s perspective, I began to see what Mom meant.
When someone dies, the memories we have of him become intensely acute, igniting emotions that we otherwise suppress, deny or just take for granted in a kind of blissfully ignorant insouciance about life that goes on around us. Death helps breathe life into lives that have passed. Don’t forget to make this important point when you talk about augmenting one’s life with life insurance, or better named in many cases, legacy insurance.
Forever Young—Psychologically, Not Chronologically From life insurance sales training you may remember explanations of why young people feel immortal and won’t consider dying. The odds are not against them—they’re just too long term. That’s why they balk at life insurance. Somewhere along their lifelines (age 50 seems to be a great demarcation), people begin to accept dying as a possibility, and their feeling of immortality wears off.
At this age many people may still not want to talk about dying because their life plan (human life value) is hardly complete. Yet the needs of their spouses and children are expensive and very real, especially without their being there to bring home the bacon. Breadwinners do not want to think about how their survivors might regard leaving them as dependents unprepared to face the future alone.
If you want to cut through the emotional fog and start a serious conversation or learn that a serious conversation cannot be had with a prospect, ask: “What would your spouse and family be doing today if you had died last night? What would you like them to be doing?”
This is not just a life insurance question. You can help your prospects talk about fulfilling their investment plans or completing their human life value if they die prematurely or become too sick or hurt to work.
The concept: a complete plan is balanced to achieve one’s goals wherever he may be interrupted in transition—from person at work earning money to money at work earning money…from principal earner to principal earning–along the trek from success to significance.
One percent have already achieved having money at work earning their income. Mitt Romney’s tax returns exemplify this perfectly. He does not work to earn income; his money is invested to make more money. The 99 percent have not made this complete transition yet—they want to, no matter how poor their odds may be. The real American capitalist dream is to complete this transition:
Person at work –> Money at work
The psychology of the breadwinner is essentially, but not completely, the same. A breadwinner feels the pressure of leadership, including the potential doom of failure. He bears the burden of being the principal earner attempting to build wealth and attempting the transition to when principal does the earning in his place. The entrepreneur accepts higher risks for higher rewards:
Principal Earner –> Principal Earning
The mental status of an earner, breadwinner, entrepreneur or investor can vary a great deal, yet if you begin a conversation with anyone about his success and/or significance, you will begin a conversation steeped in the reality that significant legacies happen by good deeds and great donations.
Many people—rich or not so rich—often key on donations of money when they have it, leaving it to their favorite charity so they can be somehow immortalized by making something good happen. They pay back to life what they cannot take with them when they leave us. From success to significance is an important transition for most people with money, especially those who worked hard for it and gave up other important things in their life along the way (e.g., time with their families).
Success –> Significance
All change, no matter how big or how small, requires transition from here to there. Most successful changes that have occurred are the product of a successful transition well planned and smoothly placed.
Your Transition Advisor Role No matter what path clients are on or where on their path you meet them, they are in transition from one place in their lives to another. They may not know where they are or what possibilities exist for them, but they will accept you as their guide if you begin their thinking along transitional paths.
Transitions suggest changes toward something; adjustments in course rather than knee-jerk, abrupt, wholesale change. Here is a phrase that may help you bolster their view of exploring the possibilities: You don’t have to be sick to get better. This idea helps everyone realize that where they are is not failure or the end, and that they can always make improvements if they set worthwhile, meaningful goals and set their minds to it.
Now you become a transition advisor, a financial coach, a balanced money manager, a progress consultant. If you see yourself as something similar to one of these, then you should also be able to see that most clients and prospects would prefer that you help them with their transitions rather than simply being a problem-solver or guru who knows the solutions to their problems—especially when they may have no coherent idea of what their real problem actually is.
Solving problems is important, but more dramatic and tactical than strategic transition guidance. Having goals and a transition plan to complete them is more palatable to clients than having a problem that requires solving. Problem solving is transient and terminal unless there are more problems needing fixing as time goes by, and this is not a positive thought.
Transition coaches are almost always employable for a long term engagement because adjusting course needs guidance at the helm that is not a one-shot deal. In nautical terms, the captain and crew of a ship (your clients) need a pilot (you) with local and technical knowledge to steer them into ports and safe havens.
To place yourself in your client’s mind as an expert who can handle the full range of financial issues, show him a chart like the one above and ask, “Who is your most important advisor?” Paint yourself as the one who can coordinate all the disciplines to a balanced outcome and say, “That’s the job I want to apply for on your staff.”
Awareness. Successful life insurance brokers realize that investing without safeguards to protect the integrity of a financial plan is irresponsible. If you can balance an investment portfolio to reflect the best probable growth of net worth from investments, why would you not also balance the life portfolio of a client by enabling the completion of the plan otherwise cut short by death or disability? It makes no sense to pursue the dollar and neglect the family.
Today’s smart brokers make provisions to balance accumulation and growth plans with specific safeguards against the client’s dying or becoming too sick or hurt to work before investment goals reach completion. These are the real financial advisors. They devote their practices to encouraging clients to balance their financial lives according to their values, family situations and real circumstances. These advisors earn professional satisfaction from the personal satisfaction of their financially whole clients who value them as trusted advisors.
John H Melchinger for March 2012 issue of Broker World Magazine. Author’s Bio John H. Melchinger ETR, is semi-retired and coaches a few top advisors on growing their practices through effective professional < > client relationship management.