The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
By Lew Nason
Insurance Pro Shop
One of the biggest problems we have in the financial services industry is that many of the people in our industry are not telling the whole truth; they are exaggerating, misleading consumers and flat out lying, just to make a sale. Then they wonder why so many people just don't trust insurance agents, financial advisors or financial planners, and why people are suing advisors and their companies? Is it any wonder that we have so many compliance issues?
Why has lying become an acceptable way of selling?
Unfortunately, not telling the whole truth has become a perfectly acceptable way of doing business for many salespeople. For most organizations, it's a case of the end result justifying the means. Even some of today's leading marketing and sales trainers, in a very subtle manner, are encouraging us to use these less-than-ethical techniques to attract prospects, set appointments, and close sales.
I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, my parents taught me to always be truthful and that lying was a bad thing. Even telling little white lies.
Everything we teach should revolve around being open, transparent, honest, and above all, listening to and helping people to understand and find real solutions to their problems, which is the basis of an honest business relationship.
Here are some examples of the truths you ought to be telling your clients, if you want to attract more clients, make more sales, get more referrals, and keep from being sued:
"Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. No one can accurately predict what the economy, income taxes, inflation, interest rates or the stock market is going to do a year from now, let alone 10-20 years in the future. The best we can do, by making some intelligent, informed decisions, is to give you a high probability of achieving your goals."
"The bottom line is that we can only make the best decisions we can, based on what's happening right now. We have no control over the future."
"Contrary to what the investment companies and the media wants us to believe, the most you can expect is a 6 percent to 8 percent overall return on your money, provided you have at least 10-15 years before you have to touch the money."
"Once you start withdrawing your money in retirement, the most you can withdraw is 4 percent to 5 percent per year if you want to have a good chance of making your money last throughout your retirement years"
"No matter where you invest your money, there are costs, annual fees, and/or withdrawal penalties."
"Based on what you want, the money you have to invest, and the timeframe you've given me, I have no way of getting you there. To get there, you are going to have to save/invest more money. You can cut back on your lifestyle spending. You can get a second job. Your spouse can go to work. You can change your timeframe. You can lower your goals. There are only so many options. We will focus on those within your control."
"I have no idea what the stock market is going to do."
"I have no idea what is going to happen with interest rates."
"I have no idea what inflation and income taxes are going to be."
"All we can do is make an educated guess and take the action that will give you the highest probability of achieving your goals, regardless of what happens in the market, the economy, or world events."
"If you can't afford to lose the money, then you can't afford to put it at risk it the stock market."
"No, I don't believe that the investment gurus can consistently beat the market. I believe that successfully achieving your goals is about having a diversified portfolio, with safe money."
"If you are set on getting a consistent 10 percent or better return, then I really can't help you."
"I don't think you are going to become disabled either, but the statistical probability is the same, whether you believe you will or you believe you won't. So, yes, you do have to invest in some disability insurance."
"The problem with term life insurance is that it is generally unaffordable at older ages, and it probably won't be there when you die."
Not only can you succeed telling the truth, it's imperative that you do so if you want to build a highly successful and profitable business now and in the future.
Consider you can tell your clients and prospects what they want to hear or you can tell them the truth. If you tell people what they want to hear, yes, you'll initially make some sales, but eventually you'll lose the client, their trust and respect, and your reputation, when things don't turn out as promised.
Your best prospects and clients, the ones who will stay with you over the years, are the ones who want to hear the truth and will appreciate the truth.
For those agents, advisors and planners who take the time to learn the proper and ethical ways to market and sell their products and services, the rewards are wonderful. When you are open and honest, and really listen to your prospects and clients, they will start to see you as a trusted financial advisor instead of just a salesperson. They'll seek out your advice. They'll buy from you over and over again. Price is no longer a main issue. They won't procrastinate. With confidence they will refer you to their friends and family, and you'll be working fewer hours, with much less stress. Plus, you'll be making a great income. But you have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in order to earn their trust and win their confidence. Every advisor has to prove their worthiness.
Best of all, when you learn to really help people get what they want and need, you begin to feel better about yourself and your profession. You'll want to protect your reputation and you'll want to protect your profession. This is no longer your job. This becomes your calling, distinguishes you from others, and enhances your career. You are proud to be a financial advisor.