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Life Insurance – A Tool In the Financial Toolbox

When it comes to your financial plan, it’s important to have a fully stocked toolbox.

Last week, Alex and I were honored to attend a conference for our broker-dealer/advisory company, where our team was recognized as one of the top in the country. Over and over again, other advisors and attendees came up and asked us what products we recommend, and where in the world we find all the great clients we work with. 

I don’t typically talk too much about the inner workings of being a financial advisor, or the internal workings of our team, but it makes sense every now and then to remind everyone what we do, how we do it, and why it works so well for you, our client families. 

When it comes to that first question of what products we recommend, our immediate response is that there are a ton of financial products out there, whether stocks, bonds, ETFs, UITs, real estate, equipment leasing, oil & gas, mutual funds, managed accounts, yes even variable annuities, and, of course, life insurance. All of these products can help someone out. But, just like the tools in a contractor’s tool belt, sometimes a client needs a hammer, sometimes a client needs a screwdriver, and sometimes a client needs a wrench. 

After many years in this business, I’ve realized that the only reason new clients come in with preconceived opinions on what products are good or bad for their portfolio is that, the majority of the time, they’ve had an experience with an advisor who provided them with a hammer when they really needed a wrench, and the client then had a bad experience with that hammer. 

I know this may seem like an overly simple way to explain why certain people have a bad taste in their mouth about certain financial products. But think about it – you’ve probably run across someone in your profession who had a bad experience with someone else in your profession. You probably just shake your head and say, “you were given bad advice.” Right? 

The interesting thing in this profession however, is that when folks in our occupation say something, clients don’t think, “oh well, that didn’t work,” and move on. They carry that bad advice forward and use it as a shield against any new ideas that we might suggest to help them begin moving forward again. For us, this is when our role as financial therapists enters the picture. 

Oftentimes in our conversations, we don’t start with what you need to do. We start with the decisions you’ve already made, and how you feel about those decisions. From there, before I pull out any of my own hair, my goal is to educate, and then re-educate, you, on what you currently own. More often than not, we find that new clients either have a bag of hammers, a bag of screwdrivers, or a bag of wrenches, because the last person you worked with only had one category of financial products to advise you to purchase. You had limited options, and you aren’t diversified. 

Once we’ve looked at your situation and what you’re trying to do, we’ll determine whether you’re ahead or behind on your plan. We’ll look at your retirement timeline and how much you’re saving, which begets the question of, are you taking enough risk, or should you be taking more in order to catch up? That’s not normally what we’d recommend, but it could be your best option. 

Once we have all of these answers, then, and only then, do we start building out your portfolio to address your exact needs. When it comes to life insurance (September is Life Insurance Awareness Month), we find that some people in our industry will try to pull the wool over clients’ eyes and not explain exactly what they’re selling until they’re signing the application. Thus, many people tend to identify life insurance as sleazy, or underhanded, or they think it isn’t in their best interest. 

I’d like to set the record straight folks. Life insurance is a very important piece of your financial pie. But, it’s only one piece. It’s not the be all, end all, of every financial problem you have. It exists to provide additional capital to your family’s personal balance sheet when capital is needed, whether that’s to pay the mortgage, college for kids, debts, buy out a business partner, offset lost pension or Social Security income, or to pay ordinary income or estate taxes that would be due as part of an inheritance. 

As you can see, life insurance is not just a tool for death. It’s a tool that allows life to go on for those left behind. We recently helped one client purchase a new home for her family after a terrible loss, and she reached out with these words: “Without your help over the last two years, our big move would never have happened.  You have helped take something incredibly tragic and given us a silver lining. I am so grateful. I have never lived in a safe enough neighborhood to let my little girl play outside by herself and my dog has never been willing to stay outside and enjoy himself. It’s amazing.”

Life insurance is important no matter your marital status, as someone is always left behind to pick up the pieces. If you haven’t looked at your life insurance coverage lately, call us today. Let’s check that off the list. 

Now, to go back to the question of how we find our clients. It never ceases to amaze me that, when I’m asked this question by other advisors, and I ask them what they do on a daily basis to meet new people, they tell me, well, I’m in the office from 8 to 5. Despite all the industry experts who tell us our business is one of relationships, very few advisors actually hire enough staff to free up their time to be able to deepen the relationships with existing clients.

At Family Financial Partners, Alex and I have always believed that part of our job as advisors is not just to be the money guys. Our role is to be available to do life with you, as you have time in your schedule for us. What I mean is that you can only get to know someone so well sitting in an office. 

I also know that some people value their privacy, and only want to see us in an office setting. Some of you are super-busy with your careers, kids and sports – as are we! – and that there’s no space on your calendars for free time. Trust me, I get it. But for those of you who do have time, I hope that as you get invites from us to tailgates, Keeneland, boating trips, sporting clays, dinner parties, ballgames, movies, pottery painting, pool parties, pumpkin patches, golfing, etc, you’ll find something that fits your family and your current life stage, and that you’ll join us for some fun. 

These are all things we don’t view as work. These are things we would be doing anyway, with our families and friends, because they’re things we enjoy. The fun part is that typically, if you’ve chosen to join us, these are things you enjoy as well, and it’s not work for you either. Quite often, you bring your family and friends along too, simply because you enjoy their company and you think they’d enjoy ours. 

At the end of the day, people do business with people they A) have something in common with, B) find trustworthy, and C) believe can provide solutions for their problems – seen or unseen. We are blessed to work with all of you, our client families, and we truly appreciate all of the referrals and introductions we get from you weekly, if not daily. Please, keep them coming, as we are looking to add staff to our team in 2018 so we can continue to provide excellent service. 

That said, we’ve got some really fun weekends coming up. Tomorrow and Saturday, Brandon and I will be at the annual Christ the King Oktoberfest, where we’ll be sponsoring the Tap Snap photo booth. We look forward to seeing as many of you out there as possible. If you’ve never been, there are lots of fun activities for kids, as well as bands, brews and brats for the bigger kids. 

Next weekend, in case you’re living under a rock, is our annual Family Financial Partners football tailgate. Join us on Saturday, September 23 at 4 p.m. as the 2-0 Kentucky Wildcats take on the Florida Gators. And while you’re at it, go ahead and mark your calendars for October 14, when we’ll head to The Hill at Keeneland for our fall gathering at the races. We hope to see each and every one of you soon!

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