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Learning to live with (and love) suitability

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“Suitability” looms big in every producer’s mind. Your application arrived in the company’s mail receptacle via the first delivery of the day. By mid-morning, it is working its way straight to the suitability committee to be scrutinized as to mathematical accuracy and correctness of additions and subtractions.

Percentages are critical. The next step is huge as the back office crew examines the completeness and accuracy of the much maligned suitability form. Will it be returned for further completion? Are your numbers out of whack?
Your professional career, not to mention your livelihood, college tuition for the kids and anticipated retirement income, is now in the hands of a secret group of “no-name” people. These folks are suspected of clandestinely holding your future in their hands. They are looking at your application about now. In a moment they will make
a gesture.

Is it thumbs-up or thumbs-down? These people control your income and constitute an ongoing threat to your future job security. The threat is big and your future is on the line. It hasn’t always been this way — business used to be a lot easier, you lament.

You carefully completed every question on the suitability form but an out of balance percentage can be a killer when it is off by an unimaginable margin. Your phone rings. “Who is it?” you ask. “It’s the suitability committee at XYZ Insurance Company,” your secretary replies. “I’m not in. Take a number,” you shout.

You are fearful the process could lead to cancellation of your important sale, the one you have worked so hard to cultivate and close. Most of us have had a dreaded phone call or two like this from the people on the suitability team.

But here is the truth. The suitability folks are your friends. That’s right. The suitability process is vital to you and your future career.

It is also your friend. Suitability protects clients from bad agents while protecting good ones like you. Suitability is not only in your best interest as a producer, but it is in the client’s best interest as well.

The last thing you want your client to do is make a bad investment. Not that the investment itself is bad, but rather, you don’t want it to be bad for your client.

The suitability process is one of the most appropriate functions of the application process. When you do your job correctly, and you have educated your client as to its purpose, you just elevated their respect for you as their agent. Suitability is, in fact, your friend and not a stumbling block.

Fred Cowley is the owner of Cowley Financial Group in Fort Worth, Texas. Responses and questions can be sent to [email protected].


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