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Financially, it is never enough

A long while ago I was talking to an Insurance Agent. I called about possibly changing my term insurance carrier to see if I could get a lower rate. As usual the conversation was not just about Term Insurance for guys over 50. Unfortunately, the topic of retirement planning and insurance coverage to protect my family came up. I didn’t bring it up, you can guess who might be the protagonist in that part of the conversation.

Financial Despair
At the Signpost Up Ahead, you see you are entering… The Financial Despair Zone

I pointed out that I have a pension plan (a very good and generous plan). My family was going to be OK, in terms of retirement planning, or were they? The agent I spoke with pointed out that the Life Insurance that went with my pension wasn’t really that much. If I died, my wife would only get a fraction of my pension.

This statement is correct. However, after I hung up the phone I realized when you are talking to anyone selling financial services, you never are safe in terms of retirement or insurance coverage. I will plead guilty to this kind of doom and gloom dispensing, but I am not selling anything.

Let me give you a few scenarios I have been a part of over the past couple of years:

  • If I talk about Life Insurance and mention that I prefer Term Insurance, the agent I speak with inevitably espouses the importance of “Whole Life” insurance as it will protect me in my “Golden Years.”
  • Credit Card companies used to call me incessantly asking if I wanted to increase my Credit Limit, because you never know when something might go wrong, and I needed some extra help.
  • If I am negotiating a new Mortgage Term, the topic of Mortgage Insurance will inevitably come up, because it is important to protect my family in case something terrible happens.
  • When I call to talk about disability insurance, the topic of Catastrophic Illness insurance suddenly comes up.

My family is never really safe is it? I can never rest easy that I have enough insurance coverage, financial leverage or low enough debt load. While I realize that all of the cases I mention are sales folk simply trying to either up sell new services to me, or to make sure they have a bigger commission, but this does explain why I have such trepidation when I have to meet with anyone about my financial situation. I know I will be barraged with worst-case scenarios and how badly prepared I am for my retirement.

Feel Free to Comment

  1. Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income

    I like to talk to people, but it doesn’t mean I have to do what they say. I can always tell when I’m being sold something or someone is trying to help me. That tells me a lot of about the person or the business. I have sat down with a few financial advisers and show them what I have done and usually they are impressed. One person told me to just keep doing what I am doing and if I want any advice from time to time to give him a call. All the others told me well if you want even more money we can do this for you. At some point rich is rich, I don’t need to be more rich. I liked the first person who just said keep going. That guy earned my business if I ever need anything.

  2. BCM,

    You are not alone is this trepidation. I have it all the time, but I am getting better. I have finally realised that I am dealing with a salesperson first and a financial person second. Once I understood that the person is wearing a sales hat, I prepared myself for a different conversation.

    All sales people are trained to go through a script that optimizes their chance for closing a deal, any deal. This leaves the victim feeling trapped and having to constantly justify their assumptions. This is not a good place to be.

    My solution is to break them out of the script either by changing the topic, or by breaking the chain of questions and getting them to think on their feet. A good way of doing this is asking them to provide numbers that prove their point. If they have canned numbers take it offline and say you will review it later. There is often a hidden gotcha that will be easy to spot when you are looking at the numbers by yourself. Sometimes, I just challenge them and tell them that I know that they are working from the script and if they want my business they need to engage one on one. It is usually a short meeting after that.

    I still get angry and frustrated as I feel that I am being treated like a lamb to the slaughter. I am also angry that they are treating me like an anonymous person and that I am just another notch in their monthly quota. The anger comes from the fact that these industries are hypocritical in telling everyone that they are here to provide a service that is tailored to your needs and not theirs.

    So I guess I am becoming an angry grouch of an old man, but anyone who tries to feed me some sales BS is going to get a conversation that they will not soon forget.

    Keep up the good work, and if we ever meet up, we’ll have to have a couple of pints. After all, it has been years since the old Unix days @ BNR/Nortel.

    Now off to my “happy place”



  3. “…I have such trepidation when I have to meet with anyone about my financial situation. ” And this my friend is why I don’t meet with anyone about my situation. I have met with several “professionals” in the field over my lifetime, and what I typically ask are a few questions about their own situations… interestingly enough more times than not we are in a far better situation than they are, so why would I take their advice? Do your own research, even if the topics don’t interest you. No one knows your situation better than you, and no one cares about the outcome more than your family. Empower yourself and relieve the stress of having to decipher whether the “professional” has your best interest at heart. Don’t get me wrong there are professionals out there that do put you first, but they are usually few and far between, and out enjoying life. – Cheers.

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