As a business owner, you can't afford to waste time or money on a professional recommendation that's well intentioned, but doesn't meet your needs. That's why many owners become frustrated trying to work with their banker, CPA, attorney, or insurance agent.
Lack of communication. Too often, your team of professionals approaches your needs with an I've-seen-it-all attitude. While you're shaking hands, they may be already thinking about four possible solutions to the problems you haven't mentioned yet. But, as a business owner, you must generally share at least some of the blame. Most entrepreneurs are good at what they do but sometimes have difficulty sharing their vision. They don't make it easy for their team of professionals to know them, and to understand their needs.
Learn how to select and work with professionals so you actually get your money's worth from the services they provide. The key is in becoming so old-shoe comfortable with and knowledgeable about each other that your New York Life agent is like an employee. That can take a little time and work on both your parts.
How to get your money's worth when selecting and working with your New York Life agent:
- Meet in a formal interview and get acquainted just like a job interview. All too often, agents and clients remain virtual strangers. So get together and ask a lot of probing questions about such things as experience, how agents are paid and, most of all, what they may already know about your business. Remember, you're hiring their services. You want someone who want to know everything possible about you and your needs.
- Educate your agent. Don't expect him or her to be a mind reader. Your agent may be knowledgeable about insurance and financial products, but he or she may not know anything about your particular business. He or she should also be asking a lot of questions about you and the business. Don't hold back. Be candid. The more that's known, the better and more accurate your agents' product recommendations will be.
- Listen to your agent. When you select your agent, don't forget that he is very knowledgeable in his field. If you've done your job right, and he's done his homework, the product recommendations should fit like a round peg in a round hole. Listen to their suggestions.
- Make it a team effort. Don't abdicate ultimate control and responsibility to your agent. Continue to probe and question all recommendations. After all, it's your business.
What to look for: A good listener, a person who wants to find out what you want not someone who walks in and tries to tell you how to run your business. Make sure this person is someone with whom you feel comfortable, someone with whom you can talk. Then talk. Exchange views on how each other thinks and feels about a whole range of things. If possible, try to get personal; find out this person's value system and make sure it coincides with yours.
Some business owners fail to get full value from their agents because they don't understand all the services available to them. Your New York Life agent can work with you and help you...
- Analyze and review your business and personal insurance situation and objectives by using insurance and financial products.
- Develop a coordinated product strategy for achieving long-term financial objectives.
- Introduce products that are cost-effective employee benefits.
- Initiate a succession planning discussion, with the aid of your attorney.
- Protect the company from the loss of key employees through either death or disability insurance.*(*Issued by UnumProvident Corporation.)
- Offer products to fund a deferred compensation arrangement.
- Identify products to help fund a cost-effective retirement plan.
- Offer products that can help achieve your estate conservation needs.
- Most of all, your New York Life agent can serve as the quarterback to your financial needs, helping coordinate the activities of your other advisors.
It's a four-step process.
- Fact Finding: Expect to be thoroughly interviewed during the initial meetings. It is only through the gathering of such information that your agent can analyze your situation and custom tailor recommendations to your company's specific needs. And, of course, all information you provide remains strictly confidential.
- Analyze & Review: Your agent will work with you to identify your objectives and, most of all, help you prioritize them, establishing benchmark goals.
- Recommend & Implement: The true value of an insurance professional is that she offers the products to help you put your plan in force and achieve your objectives.
Based on the information you share, your New York Life agent will more than likely make specific recommendations. Some may be "process" suggestions, such as meet with your attorney to draft a revised will or a buy-sell agreement. Others may be "product" recommendations, such as insurance or other financial vehicles to provide adequate funding.
- Ongoing Review & Service: The true test of your New York Life agent's value is his or her commitment to work with you over the years and to help you keep your plans on track with your needs as your business and family grow and your needs change.
Take the time to systematically meet with all your professional advisors and begin building a solid working relationship with each.
*For informational purposes only. Neither New York Life nor its agents are in the business of offering legal, tax, accounting or financial planning advice. See your own professional consultants for more information about your particular situation.
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|How to Get Your Money's Worth From Your Insurance Professional|