How a song by US pop star Taylor Swift gave me the confidence to discuss with other advisers how I charge for insurance advice.
Taylor Swift has helped a lot. For a while there I found the song 'Shake it off' to be the most annoying song, but lately it is a nice little confidence boost, a silent fist pump to the haters.
So who is hating, you're wondering? Well, that's a good question. Hate is a strong word and probably not quite appropriate but let’s say there's a little bit of angst in the industry at present.
I'm not rehashing exactly what is going on; it has been done to death and there are plenty of opinions on Trowbridge. Instead, I want to ask if you have seen this image before:
You may have seen this in relation to grief response – the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle which represents our response to terminal illness and illustrates our response to change. The curved line reflects our efforts to avoid, work through and accept the change in front of us. All of us go through it – some faster than others, some get stuck in a phase and some are in a cycle where they slip back to an earlier phase. The key is recognising it, either in yourself or in others, and helping each other through change
What I've learnt is that the emotions and responses of an individual – no matter how loud and angry – don’t need to be taken personally.
Why do I say that? Well, after running many workshops this year there comes a point that people want to discuss and want to know more about the fact that I work in a fee-based practice and charge a fee for all insurance advice.
The consistent experience has been that the majority of advisers are interested. The other experience is that people start to attack me, our business, our brand, say it can't be right, and that we must be broke – and I let it get to me. I've felt I needed to shy away from the topic and avoid being attacked, which is silly. It is silly because it takes all kinds of businesses, all kinds of people and all kinds of approaches to be able to accommodate the diversity of our clients. It is also silly because I should be proud of what we have built. It’s not easy to start a business, to run it, to employ people AND make your staff and clients happy.
I'm truly ‘Switzerland’ in this debate. I will never assume that what we do in our business is right for everyone. Fees take time, commitment and an appetite – both you and your clients – but I can't ignore our journey and where I currently work. So if anyone asks going forward, I won't shy away and deflect, I'll proudly answer. After all, we should all be supporting each other and the best way to learn is from each other’s experiences.
In positive news, the workshops I am running around the country indicate positivity and openness to new processes and strategies and more people talking about insurance – particularly those that haven't done much before. Remuneration will always be touchy, but everyone has been open to process mapping to understand the cost of delivering advice.
And all we can do is help where we can, however we can.
Have you ever focused on the negatives rather than the positives? What helps you get through and 'shake it off'?
Melissa Crawford is an insurance strategist and principal of 19Thirty
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