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The value of advisors: it’s about asking the right questions

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This is a dangerous and uncertain time for the global economy. Our industry — insurance agents and financial advisors in particular — will play a pivotal role in the financial and retirement well-being of the American people now and in the future.

This is because you can solve financial problems political leaders of our country cannot. You can ensure prospects and clients don’t have to rely on government benefits to enjoy a quality retirement. You can also ensure they don’t need to worry about changes to their Social Security, Medicare or pension. You can give them the financial independence they need.

Not only do you provide the tools for your clients to succeed financially, but you also provide something more valuable: peace of mind. You are the only people who can do that; attorneys, accountants, bankers and trust officers cannot.

See also: The power of asking the right questions (21 of them)

That is partly because your prospects and clients probably do not share their hopes, dreams and fears with their attorney, accountant, banker or trust officer. But if you ask your prospects and clients the right questions, they will share them with you.

With the right questions, you can open discussions about family, income, college education, business transfer, retirement, disability, critical illness, longevity, nursing homes and more. In fact, in many cases, your prospects and clients have never really thought about the answers to these questions before because no one has ever asked them. As a result, many prospects and clients do not even realize all the challenges they face.

Your contributions are so valuable because you are the only people who can help Americans make the necessary transitions that will be required to survive and thrive in the 21st century. You are the only people who can spur them to take action.

This is the greatest time ever to be an insurance and financial professional because we play a vital role in the financial success of the American people. If you do not do what you do to the best of your ability, many Americans will see their financial and retirement dreams ripped away from them in the next economic downturn. That downturn will be one of the most serious economic disasters in the history of our country.

This is where many agents and advisors miss the point. They ask, “If everything is going to be so bad, why should our clients do anything?” They forget there is no good news or bad news; there is only news.

Do not portray doom-and-gloom scenarios to your prospects and clients. Instead, ask them whether they understand planning for these scenarios can help them and their families prosper, even during difficult economic circumstances. Ask them if they understand the only way these scenarios can hurt them is if they are not prepared for the future.

Then ask your prospects and clients how they would like to proceed. Ask if they want to get started today.

Remember, the parents of the baby boomers  — known as the Silent Generation — control 70 percent of the wealth in America. These people lived through the Great Depression; and they became wealthy because they learned two important lessons from that experience. First, they learned that in order to achieve financial independence, they must be great savers. Second, they learned they must live within their means.

They want to work with agents and advisors who understand these core lessons. They want agents and advisors who understand the point is not to make them rich, but rather to make sure they are never poor again. 

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