A Top Agents Advice: Dont Let Your Ego Run Your Practice

By

San Francisco

“If mistakes are being made in selling variable life today,” said Stephen B. Wechsler, “its when agents think they know what is best for the client.”

Wechsler, a Million Dollar Round Table member for 28 years and a life member of the Top of the Table, spoke at the variable life conference of the National Association for Variable Annuities here.

“Its easy for big producers to get big egos,” he said. “Theyre always getting showered with awards, etc., by companies. But they shouldnt get so big that they think they know what is best for the client.

“But many agents selling variable life today let their ego get in the way,” he said.

Describing the way he conducts business, Wechsler said, “The client must see the need for permanent insurance.”

Most of his clients are high-net-worth individuals who are owners of small, closely held businesses. Wechsler said that when he meets with a client and his advisors–usually a CPA–the process begins with trying to discover the clients need for life insurance or “the problems that would occur if the client died without it.”

He said he gets the client to talk about his needs and dreams so that the client himself “realizes the permanent need for insurance.”

If the client comes to this realization, he said, “my job is easy.” Then the next step is “determining how much permanent insurance is needed.”

Wechsler said he will talk to the client about the different kinds of permanent insurance and “then I shut up and let the client decide.”

For instance, he said, “some people dont care about the cash value because theyll never touch it.”

What hes found, he said, “is that the best salespeople in this country talk the least.”

In a telling example of how he takes care of clients who have decided to purchase insurance from him, Wechsler said he has “been physically present at every medical of every client” hes had for 34 years.

And when high-net-worth clients go for these medicals, Wechsler said he makes sure beforehand that they will be able to go right in for the exam without waiting, even if he has to pay the doctor for time before and after the exam.

As for how he got started selling variable life insurance, Wechsler admitted that he was hesitant at first. “But the public is always going to chase rate of return,” he said, “and the rate of return of whole life wasnt sexy enough.”

But in large part because of the publics seeking a higher return, Wechsler said “agents have to manage client expectations.”

This is where the good agents professionalism comes in, he said, because education is needed to understand variable life.

“The average producer has a more difficult time dealing with the complexities of variable life than top producers do,” he said.

And complex it can be, he said, with series 6 and 63 licenses necessary credentials and many companies now requiring a series 7.

In addition, there is the prospectus and complicated proposals that demand that agents be fully educated on the product.

“With variable products we must be better at what we do,” Wechsler said. “Then everyone will benefit.”

As for the future of variable life, particularly in these volatile times, Wechsler said agents should be asking themselves questions like: Are clients prepared for the long term? How are our clients reacting to current market conditions? Are clients making changes or staying the course?

“Agents have to manage client concerns,” he said, adding that this means more visits with clients.

Wechsler concluded by saying that for years he felt somewhat abashed because his siblings were doctors and he sold life insurance. “But now Im proud to say I sell life insurance. We agents do good work; we help people.”

And “if everyone out there selling life insurance has that feeling,” he said, “well sell more permanent life insurance.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 18, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.