Does this sound familiar? Our reader Jolyn wrote in:
I met up with a financial planner last Friday, and the first thing he said was: ” I just graduated from University of London and this is my first job…”
I couldn’t process anything after that.
To that we say, this happens more frequently than our MRT trains having a signalling fault. (Sorry, bad example. But still apt)
With over 17,000 professionals choosing Financial Planning as a career, there is bound to be a fair amount of new entrants. In fact, the number of planners has been increasing over the years.
So what’s the problem with working with new Planners who are fresh out of school? Without pulling any punches here, we jump right into the common complaints about these freshies.
“He just came out of school mah, what does he know?”
“Will he have the experience to make the correct judgement or not?”
This is the difference between a seasoned practitioner versus a wet-behind-the-ears rookie. The seasoned guy has probably seen it all, while the rookie might still have to check for terms like moratorium underwriting. (We wrote about it here, if there are any freshies reading)
Regardless of the supposed training and certification rigor that all practitioners have to undergo, experience does play a part in exercising good judgement. But inexperience is perhaps a slightly smaller problem compared to the next insinuation.
“So many people quit and leave, what if he is one of them?”
Most people cannot get past this leap of faith – and there is simply no way around it. A person who has been at his job for 5 years signals a certain level of commitment – and perhaps even competence (if you are bad at your job, you won’t last that long). A freshie just hasn’t proven that yet, neither can he do so, unless you care to stick around for 5 years.
These would be the two main stumbling blocks as to why people tend to not want to work with newer agents and planners.
But surely there are some good points about working with them right? Right you are, as only the Sith deal in absolutes. Here are a few potential plus points about your newly minted planner.
Fresher than a newly cut Daisy
There is no denying it. There is a certain sort of energy, vigor, that younger folks have. You know what I’m talking about. New hires have the hunger and ambition to want to prove their worthiness that just isn’t readily found in veterans.
They are eager to prove themselves, willing to go the extra mile, and more likely to bend over backwards when it comes to service. As well they should, especially if they are serious in what they do.
You will be more valued as a client
Subtle, and not many people realize this. Who would they remember more: their first client or their 1,000th client?
Most people we know would rather be treated as a valued customer than a regular customer (think SIA first class, where they make the effort to address you by your name and remember your favourite drinks). You would be more likely to receive that treatment from a new planner than one that has tonnes of clients.
3 Step Evaluation Process
Ok, so back to the question at hand: Should I give this new planner a chance?
Actually, we are of the opinion that age in the business may not be the biggest factor. There are people who are new but really good at what they do, there could be others who’ve been around and coasting on their prior success. It is all really subjective.
To which we suggest this 3 steps evaluation process (only suitable for agents and planners, not for evaluating your life partner. Though I must admit, the similarity is remarkable). This evaluation process is useful, regardless if it is a new planner or a seasoned one.
1 Does he know what he or she is doing?
Does he fumble around when it comes to the important stuff? Do you get the sense that he is really knowledgeable, or just pulling a fast one by throwing around big words and scary concepts?
2 Are you comfortable with his advice?
End of the day, it is a relationship of sorts between you and him. You divulge sensitive information for him to make recommendations, so you will need to make sure that you agree / understand his rationale – else the relationship will eventually fall apart.
3 If he leaves, can you handle it?
A number of high level poaching incidents should underscore the importance of this point. (the AIA-GE sage comes readily to mind) If he leaves, are you comfortable with handling or understanding the policy on your own?
Ideally, once you have bought the policy, you would be perfectly clear on its purpose – and how to do some basic policy servicing on your own (change of address, nomination of beneficiary, etc)
(but seriously, don’t worry. The Insurance company will always handle your policy, regardless if your agent is there or not) This point serves more as a security blanket for you.
We’ve met all sorts of agents and planners before. Good ones come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and backgrounds. What makes them unique are their attitude, mindset, and commitment.
Experience may be useful but should not be the ultimate determinant of suitability. So have an open mind, and take your time to decide if you want to work with that particular agent.
Remember, every expert was also once a beginner.
www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.
And yes, we were once young and wide-eyed too. We hope to stay that way for as long as possible!