The impossible mission made possible: make a positive difference and watch sales grow
By Lew Nason
Insurance Pro Shop
Your mission for 2012, if you decide to accept it, is to stop doing what everyone else is doing. Instead of chasing after the quick (or big) sale, your mission is to focus on making a positive difference in the lives of the families in your local community.
Start helping middle income families to spend, save, invest, insure and plan wisely for the future, to achieve financial independence. Become the most recognized, trusted, respected and sought after financial professional in your local community.
Consider, over the past 30 years we've seen a sharp decline in the middle-class disposable income, home values, earnings, job prospects, assets and net worth, pensions, health care and insurance, and the bright futures middle-class children once had.
Wealth distribution in the U.S.
In the U.S., wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, (the latest published statistics) the top 1 percent of households owned 34.6 percent of all privately held wealth, and the next 19 percent (the managerial, professional and small business stratum) had 50.5 percent.
This means that just 20 percent of the people owned a remarkable 85 percent, leaving only 15 percent of the wealth for the bottom 80 percent (wage and salary workers).
Income gains of the top 1 percent outpace all other groups
The gap in income between the wealthiest Americans and all others has grown strikingly. In 1979, the average after-tax incomes of the top 1 percent of households were 7.9 times higher than those of the middle fifth of households. By 2007, (the latest published statistics) top incomes were 23.9 times higher than those of the middle fifth -- a more than tripling of the income gap.
The ultimate problem is that 80 percent of the families in the U.S. are now only one or two paychecks away from going bankrupt. They don’t have any savings, or even an emergency fund (except for their credit cards).
Start helping middle-class families
In today's modern world, advertising seems to be everywhere we look: online, on television, billboards, magazines, newspapers, on buses, grocery carts, and even cell phones. These ads tell us that we can have whatever we want ... right now. This misleading and self-serving advertising has most people focused on living for today, and the heck with tomorrow.
Unless we help people to stop listening to all the misleading advertising messages they receive today, the wealthy are going to get wealthier while the middle class disappears into oblivion. If we want to turn this great country around, then we need to help middle-income families to stop spending their money unwisely, in the wrong places. We need to help them to realize they are sacrificing their children's and their future. If we don't help these people right now to identify and solve their financial problems by finding the money to eliminate debt, fund a college education, save for retirement and more, then who is going to have to support these people in the future?
Unfortunately, as an industry, we have added to these problems. The push by most of the financial institutions today is just to make money. They'll train you on their products, but not on how to truly help people. Consequently, in order to survive, most agents, advisors and planners are going after the quick sales.
They are telling people to put their all of their money in the stock market, because it's an easier sale. Their clients are losing money in the stock market, disqualifying themselves for the free money available for college financial aid, building huge consumer debt and are paying more income taxes than necessary. This is keeping many families from saving money and building a secure financial foundation, and in fact it has pushed many families into bankruptcy.
Is it any wonder that people are complaining and suing us?
Your mission today is to help families to see, talk about and address the financial problems they are facing now and in the future. It's about helping them to re-think and establish their financial priorities. You need to change your focus and start helping these families to find the money to:
- Reduce or eliminate consumer debt
- Maximize the amount they can save (invest) from current income
- Position assets to increase their eligibility for college financial aid
- Minimize income taxes
- Position their money to provide more current liquidity
- Maximize investment returns (with less risk and tax deferral)
Note to insurance companies, financial institutions, marketing organizations and agencies
If you want to solve your compliance and regulatory issues, then start training agents, advisors and planners on how to actually help people. And, start supporting and promoting the industry organizations, like NAIFA and the IARFC. The cost will be a lot less than the cost of being sued.
It's time for each and every one of us to step up and start making a positive difference in our clients' lives, instead of just making a sale. The truly amazing part is that if you learn how to actually help people, instead of just pushing your products, you'll make a lot more money. People today are looking for real help and guidance, not just another salesperson who wants them to spend money they don't have.