I Am Your Client
by Jane Blaufus, CLU
When I joined the life insurance industry as a financial advisor, little did I realize the impact it would have on my family and me for a lifetime to come. Sixteen years into my career, my 39-year-old husband kissed my daughter and I goodbye one Sunday morning; later that afternoon a police officer walked up my driveway and informed me that he had been killed in an accident. In the blink of an eye, I was a widow with a 12 1/2-year-old daughter and a tsunami coming my way. Because I was in the business, I had always foolishly thought that if anything ever happened to my family I would be able to handle it better than others — boy, was I wrong!
I knew everything that went on in our household from a financial perspective but after everything happened, I desperately needed to turn to someone who could calm my fears and assure me that everything was going to be all right. I had never been so scared in my life and needed someone I trusted to tell me when I asked just one question — "Will we be OK?" — to say yes. The person I turned to was my life insurance advisor.
For the first three months after my husband died, I was incapable of telling someone if I preferred peas or carrots with my dinner. Yet there I was, rudely thrust into the position of having to make some of the most monumental financial decisions of my adult life, when I could hardly pick out a vegetable. In complete turmoil, I turned to my financial advisor who literally took me by the hand and led me through the fog. When I planned the funeral, the director asked me how many death certificates I would like, and I numbly answered, "One." He offered me 15 to start with and told me to let him know if I needed more. I went back for ten additional copies. Every time I informed an institution or provider that my husband had died, I was offered hastily stumbled condolences, and then clearly asked for a death certificate. Around every corner, there seemed to be one more person with their hand out asking me for money to pay off a bill, but the only one with their hand out giving me money was my financial advisor.
Today I am an author and professional speaker, and I spend a lot of time sharing my story and talking to financial advisors about the amazing work you do. You see, I am your client, and I would like to help you to build trust relationships with your clients, much like the one I have with my advisor.
Here are some key points — as seen through your clients' eyes — to help you build lifelong relationships with them:
- You have to have courageous conversations with us. We are looking to you to help us with these conversations because 9 times out of 10 we cannot get them started ourselves.
- You need to develop relationships with all of the members of our family, which means you know who my partner is, my adult children, and possibly even my parents. I do not want someone I love meeting you for the first time because they are dealing with bad news.
- Although you are usually the first person who shows up with your hand out offering money instead of asking for it, please remember you might only be there because someone we love is ill or has died.
- We are on an emotional roller coaster after someone we love is gone, and so please be gentle and patient with us. If you have to repeat the same thing five times, then please do it with a smile.
- What might seem like a simple decision that should take two seconds to you, might be monumental to someone who is grieving.
- The hard work is not getting the sale; the hard work begins when you have to deliver on your promises.
- Wrap your arms around us and let us know you love us. Show us that you care, and we will never leave you. Please make sure you are taking care of all our needs and guiding us to make the proper decisions to safeguard our families and ourselves.
- Become the go-to person for us: you might not have all of the answers, but you know who to send us to in order to find them.
- When you have delivered on what you said you were going to do and have taken good care of me, just ask and I will be happy to introduce you to my family and friends.
If I had been faced with trying to pick myself up off the ground financially as well as mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I can assure you that I would not be whole and upright today. However, just as important, if not more so on some days, was the support of my advisor who was with me all the way. Today I am remarried to a wonderful man, and my advisor is now our advisor and my daughter and her boyfriend's advisor, and over the years has become someone I consider a lifelong friend.
Never underestimate the small things that matter to us as clients, and please never underestimate the importance of the wonderful work that you do each and every day. From my family to each and every one of you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
© 2014 Jane Blaufus
With over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, Jane has worked with four of Canada's leaders in the life and health insurance field: London Life, Great-West Life, Clarica and Sun Life Financial. Today, Jane is a highly sought after consultant working with a diverse group of companies to provide 'first in class' talent development and sales and marketing training programs. She also coaches individuals to help build their business and works with managers to select and retain high quality talent. No stranger to the entrepreneur role, Jane keenly understands what it takes to be successful and is passionate about helping individuals realize their full potential.
Jane's book, WITH THE [STROKE] OF A PEN®, Claim your life, is an educational as well as motivational book which has gained acclaim and recognition as a much-needed, thought provoking and planning resource for families and individuals alike. Jane is also a Huff Post blogger and GlobalNews.ca's Financial/Insurance Contributor. Visit JaneBlaufus.com to find out more about Jane and to order her book. You can follow her on @janeblaufus and join the Claim Your Life Community on www.facebook.com/jeblaufus.
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