Now we know. The recession ended in November 2001.
That word comes to us courtesy of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Cambridge, Mass., nonprofit economic research organization whose economic calls are widely accepted.
This July 17 pronouncement may surprise you, given that your own business has not yet picked up. Given that you know plenty of people who, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it, are unemployed and available for work. Given that many insurers you know are looking to sell off books of business or even their entire business.
Nevertheless, this is the situation in which the country finds itself. It is a time of mixed signals in the economy.
The NBER itself recognized this in its formal statement. The committee, it said, “did not conclude that economic conditions since March 2001 have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity.” Rather, it said its finding recognized only that “the recession ended and a recovery began” in November 2001.
For a financial advisor, this raises several questions: Should I discuss the NBER determination with clients? What about the new unemployment, Consumer Price Index, Gross Domestic Product and similar figures? If so, in what context should this discussion occur? Will such changes affect client needs and goals, and will financial plans need to be adjusted accordingly?
Some of the larger insurance companies have economists and other experts on staff who regularly analyze economic trends. If you are lucky, the company may make some of their interpretations available to you via bulletins, Web site updates or perhaps sales training addendums. If you are not so lucky, you–and your clients–will be on your own.
What, then, to do? Use resources at your disposal to stay abreast of economic changes. Check newspapers, financial media, financial broadcasts, professional meetings and programs, educational courses, and the like.
It wouldnt hurt to spend some time on the Internet, either. The Web site of the NBER (www.nber.org) is worth a visit. So is the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). (See box on this page for a sample of the “latest numbers” table that BLS has on its home page.) Or, just surf the financial sites.
Then, after youve digested some of this material, think about your clients and how they may be reacting to the various bits of financial news they are picking up.
Because you are a professional, you have deeper and broader knowledge on these subjects than many of the people you serve. Therefore, why not develop ways to bring what you know (and what you have just learned) to your clients in value-enhancing ways?