WHIP. Snake Draft. H2H. PPR. There is an excellent chance that either you or someone you know is familiar with these terms. They belong to the ever-growing lexicon of fantasy sports.
More of a competition of mathematics, analytics, and gamesmanship than an appreciation or devotion to actual sports, fantasy sports has become a phenomenon since its advent 32 years ago, with an estimated 29 million participants in the US and billions of dollars exchanged annually.
For the uninitiated, fantasy sports is a hobby (obsession might be a more apt description) in which participants gather together to form a “league” and assemble fictional teams of real life players in a specific sport. Each league-member then competes based on the cumulative real-life statistical performance of their assembled team.
Real life team affiliation or team performance does not matter. For example, you can “own” both Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter on the same fantasy team, and if Albert Pujols hits a home-run, it does not matter whether the Cardinals won that game. Beyond those basics, the particular rules of each league and scoring methods vary greatly.
Introduced to the world of fantasy sports during college, I have been enthralled since, participating in numerous leagues that track the NBA, NFL and MLB. It has also introduced me to many new friends and acquaintances. Fantasy sports attracts an eclectic demographic – in my fantasy baseball league alone, membership includes a respected rabbi, an octogenarian engineer, a young producer for a popular cable drama, a father and teenage son tandem, a high school English teacher, and of course, an insurance agent.
Fantasy sports remains as fun and interesting to me as when I started. It is my escape from the rigors and stresses of everyday life. It has also taught me these important lessons, which have carried over to my professional life. Hopefully, they will also prove to be of value to you:
1. Know And Understand The Rules
Knowing and understanding the rules often makes the difference in many hard-fought fantasy-sports leagues. Every league has their own unique and sometimes peculiar rules and scoring methods — whether this involves setting lineups, adding/dropping players, trades, scoring categories, or how and when the league champion is determined. My aim as a fantasy strategist is to learn the rules, never be caught off-guard, and use that knowledge to further my team’s interests.
Likewise, in its essence, life insurance and financial services is dependent on understanding the rules, and the exceptions to those rules. For example, it is vital to be fluent in the fluid laws regarding the federal estate and gift tax system. The changes passed in December, 2010 are extremely relevant to life insurance sales. The new limits and rates regarding the federal estate tax, the re-coupling of gift and estate exclusion limits, and the introduction of portability between spouses for this exclusion are all essential to consider.
In addition to the federal estate tax, there are a multitude of other rules that govern life insurance and are important to understand. For personal insurance, examples include knowing the advantages and disadvantages of various qualified plans, ensuring your client does not violate the transfer-of-value rule, and being aware of the limits of generation-skipping. Just as I would not enter a fantasy-league without carefully parsing the rules to make sure I am not caught unprepared, how can I offer advice on crucial life decisions without knowing and understanding those rules?
Knowing the rules also manifests itself in other areas. For example, before offering a professional recommendation, a complete and thorough fact-finder is essential. Beyond the basics of a personal client’s income and net worth, I try to find out as much as about their personal and financial situation and objectives as they are willing to share.
If the client is a business, it is useful to know its worth, ownership, and prospects. In fantasy, I would not draft a high-scoring NBA player like Carmelo Anthony in a league where points scored did not matter. To wit, I recently spoke with a new client, a divorced mother with a modest income and assets, who had a small term policy that was ending. We discussed the merits and costs of purchasing a new small term policy for the benefit of her teenaged children, and applied for that policy.
It was only after attempting to place the policy that she felt comfortable enough to share that her ex-husband was financially secure and she considered her children well protected. This began a discussion over her priorities. While she had been initially interested in term insurance, she was instead more interested in long-term care insurance, as the prospect of bearing those expenses alone were of greater concern. Those were her rules.
2. Timing Is Key
Every fantasy-team owner knows that with trades and free-agents, timing is crucial. As with any commodity, a player’s value changes during the course of a season. If an undrafted rookie or unheralded journeyman has an extraordinary game or week, his trade-value immediately increases.
A player who is unexpectedly injured loses value overnight. A fantasy neophyte can predict that Peyton Manning is going to have a great season and draft him in the first round, but having the skill and fortune of buying low and trading high is often where leagues are won and lost.
Similarly, timing is fundamental in sales. Many things can change from the beginning of a sale to the end. As we have all probably experienced in the last few years, a client’s personal and financial situation can change rapidly, whether due to the general economic climate or the most unusual of circumstances. On the product end, especially in this low-interest rate environment, changes can happen suddenly as well – both in the general marketplace and within each carrier’s product portfolio.
There have been many outstanding products that I wish I would have had time to introduce to all of my clients, but when suddenly pulled from the market, there was simply not enough time to personally contact each one. The lesson of fantasy sports is not to wait – when a product is truly exceptional and beneficial for a client, that moment is the time to act. Treat each day as if it was the last a product is available, because it might be true.
3. Be Fair And Reasonable
Fantasy sports leagues generally allow trades among teams, mirroring how “real” teams can make transactions. Many fantasy-owners know the immense feeling of elation of having a trade offer accepted that they are convinced is clearly tilted in their favor. However, this type of exchange is rare. More typically, fantasy owners know the feeling of disappointment and even anger of receiving a trade offer that appears blatantly unreasonable.