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The Dream Team: You And Your Life Insurance Wholesaler

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Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to three straight NBA championships from 1991 to 1993. Considered one of the all-time greats, Jordan was named the NBA’s most valuable player five times and was named to the All-NBA First Team 10 times.

Despite his considerable achievements, Jordan credited teamwork for making him and his Bulls teammates champions: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships,” he said while leading the Bulls during the team’s glory years.

As a financial professional, you have something in common with Jordan in that your performance is measured by your personal achievements, too. Whether you are an independent life insurance agent, financial planner or a registered representative for a bank or brokerage firm, your production is what ultimately sets you apart.

If you’re in the life insurance game, though, teaming up with the right wholesaler can take your play to a new level. The best life insurance wholesalers work closely with you as part of a consultative team, providing technical expertise and marketing support that can broaden your ability to serve your clients’ needs.

The best wholesalers provide comprehensive support to both financial professionals and their clients. If you’re a financial professional or registered rep, these services start with an analysis of your book of business to determine which clients of yours have needs that can be best met with life insurance.

For instance, do you have a client who owns a business partnership that might need a buy-sell agreement? Have your well-heeled clients taken the appropriate steps to reduce the potential estate tax burden for their heirs? Are some of your clients charitably inclined?

Those life insurance needs are best probed and discussed at a face-to-face meeting with your clients. Wholesalers at the top of their game can bring real value to these meetings in part by helping you conduct the fact-finding discussions. An important dynamic in these sessions is reinforcing your relationship with your client, so it’s best for you and your client to sit together on one side of the table while your wholesaler sits across from the two of you. This reinforces the fact that you represent your client’s best interests, and you are there to help him or her go through the life insurance needs analysis together.

Because you know your client best, it makes sense for you to lead the conversation to a discussion of your client’s financial goals, personal dreams and concerns. Does your client want to retire early? Does he or she care about leaving a financial legacy for children or grandchildren? Is there a business interest to pass to the next generation?

Your wholesaler can be instrumental in gathering the necessary data for use in creating a life insurance plan. An experienced wholesaler also can ask probing questions about specific needs, such as whether your client’s business is a partnership or sole proprietorship and whether or not its success depends upon a key executive or salesperson. On the personal side, your wholesaler can assist in determining if your client may have a thorny estate tax issue or simpler wealth transfer needs, to mention a few life insurance-related issues.

Bringing a wholesaler into an estate planning conversation can help you uncover other assets that your client may have. It’s not unusual for affluent clients to rely on multiple financial professionals; therefore, you may not be aware of all the assets your client owns. Part of the fact-finding process for estate planning is detailing all of a client’s assets, including investments, real estate, business interests, art, collectibles and other valuables in order to accomplish a complete life insurance needs analysis.

In many instances, a wholesaler will gladly ask questions that you may have felt uncomfortable broaching. It may be awkward for you to inquire about other assets your client may own. However, it is important for you to ask about other assets to complete a life insurance needs analysis. And your wholesaler needs to explore these issues to help create an appropriate life insurance plan.

One question your wholesaler should ask is, “If there were no tax laws, how would you distribute your assets?” Listen to your client’s answer carefully because it can help reveal larger goals and objectives that you might otherwise miss. Those observations can be instrumental in helping you and your wholesaler collaboratively craft a life insurance plan for your client.

Your knowledge of your client, combined with your wholesaler’s technical prowess, should allow you to hit the mark and create something of long-term value for your client. But before you make the presentation, rehearse your roles together. As your client’s trusted financial confidant, you should lead the presentation by providing an overview of your client’s goals and objectives.

Let your wholesaler take you and your client through the details of the life insurance proposal. Once the presentation is complete, nine times out of 10 your client will ask you, “So, what do you think?” Your client already trusts your professionalism on financial matters so it’s only natural for him or her to solicit your opinion on life insurance, as well.

But what if your client doesn’t like the proposal? What happens if your client believes you’ve missed the mark? How can you keep the ball in play and still pull out a win?

Not to worry. One of the unspoken advantages of working with a wholesaler is that you simply can tell him or her to go back to the drawing board and address these concerns that your client has expressed. Or, in some instances, you can simply bench your wholesaler. In short, if your client likes the proposal, it’s the result of your hard work. If your client dislikes the proposal, it’s your wholesaler who failed–not you.

Like the Chicago Bulls, every player on your insurance team has a role to play. In this instance, you are your team’s Michael Jordan–the star, the leading scorer and All-Star performer. Your wholesaler, like the Bulls’ Scottie Pippen, is your foil, a talented player who is supporting your success.

Forming a team with a capable life insurance wholesaler can add tremendous value to both your financial practice and your clients’ financial futures. Make sure you take the court with the best of the best. Be a player whose goal is to help your clients and their families secure a bright financial future and to help you shine in their eyes.