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LTCI Watch: Patience

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The world could end tomorrow, but, really, it usually doesn’t. I always think I’ll be living in a cave, and, so far, no cave.

A related conclusion: Maybe the private long-term care insurance (LTCI) market will also continue to exist, and, maybe, once interest rates start going up again, the companies that have LTCI business still on the books will suddenly look as if they’re run by amazing psychic geniuses. Web publications like this one will be running glowing features about the brave executives that stayed the course on LTCI and are, at that point, making out like bandits. (Till the next crash comes along and the sky again seems to be falling.)

So, OK: Maybe LTCI has a bright long-term feature.

I can’t quite get Google to find the article for me, but I remember reading a few months ago about how brilliant French mothers teach their children to be polite at the table and have a long-term outlook in general: They put dessert on the table behind the dinner plate. If the children touch the dessert before they’ve finished their “real food” and met whatever other performance goals they have to meet to enjoy dessert, then, they get no dessert.

Of course, regulators hate dinner seminars and lunch seminars with a passion, partly because seniors who lose a lot of money when market conditions shift all seem to have sharp memories about how great the chicken tasted at the meal at which they learned about the ill-fated product that they bought.

What if, instead of using meal seminars to get consumers to buy, producers could actually use the meal seminars to change consumers’ actual personalities?

What if producers could organize, say, lunch seminars ostensibly set up to encourage consumers to buy the safest of shortest of short-term products. Products so short-term that even the “borrow at the discount window, lend for about two hours to the Treasury” Federal Reserve Board governors could like them. Low-margin products designed to protect consumers against the risk that  might sneeze and lack the resources to buy tissue paper sometime in the next day or so.

But the seminar runners could put the main course plates behind the soup plates, and the dessert plates behind the main course plates, and take plates away from consumers who used the wrong plate at the wrong time.

Maybe the producers could also get the attendees to sign up to play computer games that somehow rewarded the participants for … waiting. 

Once the producers had re-trained the consumers to think in terms of hours rather than minutes, then months rather than days, maybe the producers would have an easier time to get the producers to think more than a few weeks into the future. Maybe the producers could suddenly do more to sell those consumers LTCI.

And, around the same time, maybe the managers of insurance company units could use the same approach on the top-level parent company executives. And maybe the parent company executives could try using the same approach on money managers and securities analysts.

No mousse for you, Ms. Hedge Fund Manager, unless you wait everyone has finished with his or her filet mignon!

OK, no. That wouldn’t work. The hedge fund managers would probably just call the restaurant companies they own and have them deliver sushi, but a blogger can dream. 

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