What Beneficiaries do not Know Could be bad for Your Client Relationships


The Beneficiary Book was born on January 20, 1990 by Marty Kuritz who was a financial advisor at the time.  Here is his story about why he took the time to create the book.

I flew from San Diego to Chicago to deliver a million-dollar death claim check to the widow of an airline pilot.  Captain Jim’s death at age 58 in an automobile accident was both a shocking tragedy and the first death claim I had experienced since I started almost exclusively working with airline pilots two decades before.

Even though dealing with death is part of what all life insurance agents must sooner or later face, until January 1990, I was one of the lucky ones.  Because a pilot’s job depends upon s/he being in top health, death claims among working commercial airline pilots are typically few and far between.

Commercial airline pilots made great clients.  As a rule, I found them to be loyal, smart and decisive professionals who bought large amounts of permanent life insurance, almost always paid their premiums on time, and best of all, they seemingly lived forever.  They were also easy to do business with.  Most business was conducted at my office during scheduled layovers in San Diego or on the phone.

The drive from the airport on icy roads to Elgin, IL, a suburb of Chicago, was harrowing, but I found comfort knowing that I had come here to help carry out my late client’s wish for me to help his beneficiary select and purchase several (SPDAs) single premium deferred annuities with the death benefit.

When I arrived at Captain Jim’s widow’s home, she and a young man who introduced himself as Captain Jim’s nephew met me at the door.  They invited me in out of the cold, offered me a cup of hot tea, thanked me for delivering the check and ushered me to the door, all in the space of a few minutes.

When I tried to explain who I was, where I had just come from and the purpose for my visit, the nephew (who I later learned was a new-hire for household name brokerage firm) stopped me in mid-sentence and informed me that he would be handling the family’s financial matters from here on out.  I looked to Captain Jim’s widow for support, but found none. She simply said, ‘Mr. Kuritz, I don’t know you from Adam.  How can you expect me to trust you with a million dollars?  I’m sure my nephew will handle my affairs just fine.’

She was right!  Even though I had a relationship with her late husband, she didn’t know me.  The fact was, she didn’t know I existed until the day I called to set an appointment to deliver the check.

This was a very expensive lesson that I swore I would never repeat.

On the flight home, my initial reaction was to immediately inform all my clients’ beneficiaries that I am a key and trusted advisor, and when the time came, I would be there to help handle matters.  But by the time the plane landed in San Diego and I regained my cool, I realized that introductions and recommendations like these needed to come from my clients.  More so, I recognized that it was going to take more than an introduction to fill the vast answer/information gap between clients and heirs, and the relationship/communication gap between advisors and beneficiaries.

The solution to this complex problem was a simple book of questions…

That simple book of questions, titled The Beneficiary Book, took more than a year to write and edit.  As soon as the first printing of a 1,000 copies rolled off the press, we sent a flyer to our entire client base (1,800 clients) and received orders for more than 3,000 copies at $30 each!

Obviously, the idea of getting one’s stuff organized and centralized hit a nerve—big time—because in addition to ordering The Beneficiary Book (sight unseen) for their own use, many clients also purchased copies for family members, friends and fellow pilots.

The more we worked the book, the more the book worked for us…

Right from the beginning, using the book as a prospecting and referral-harvesting tool significantly increased life insurance and annuities sales.  And when we saw lead-to-sale ratios jump and the costs to develop qualified leads dropped, we made it an agency policy to give a book to each and every new client, regardless of case size.

Fact Finding too and More… Using the book in the field as a fact-finding tool helped to quickly pinpoint planning deficiencies and also allowed us the opportunity to gain clearer insight to sensitive issues that often prevent or delay prospective clients from taking action.  Administratively, the book assisted with the difficult task of keeping client/beneficiary data current by simply requesting clients to send us photocopies of specific pages from the book.  (Very often, the pages we requested identified additional planning needs and presented potential business opportunities.)  And when we wanted pertinent client/beneficiary (provided by us to clients) retained kept accessible, we printed that information on three-hole punched paper, instructing clients to keep the information in their copy of The Beneficiary Book.

Offering The Beneficiary Book to prospective clients, in advance of telling them everything you know, personifies How to Win Friends and Influence People guru Dale Carnegie’s philosophy:

‘People want to know how much you care, before they care how much you know.’”

Fast forward to 2017…

The Beneficiary Book is now available as a downloadable PDF file and can easily be stored in the cloud or on a flash drive.  The cost is now only 19.95 per copy.  You can go to http://new.beneficiarybook.com/?aff=6 and purchase your copy.

If you would like to make The Beneficiary Book available to your clients, we can set up a special program to allow your clients to purchase copies at a discount.

Marty was right; many agents do not know the beneficiaries.  Statistically, 70% of widows change advisors after their husbands die.  We need to do a better job.  We need to shift the focus from just the client to the spouse and children.  We need to move up the family tree to parents and sideways to siblings.  We need to think households.  We need to connect with other financial services professionals and build a network of people resources to assist our clients and help them do the things they haven’t done.

Want more referrals?? After you’ve given a client a copy of the book and explained the benefits of being better organized, simply ask: “Would you mind giving me the names of a few people you know that would appreciate receiving a gift copy of The Beneficiary Book (given to them in your name)?”

To get started, give me a call to talk about:

  • The Beneficiary Book,
  • The Gift of Answers Workshop
  • The Planning BluePrint.
  • The FireProof FileBox
  • Building a professional network around your clients.

These are the tools that will help you solidify your relationships within a household, provide you with a flow of new prospects and position you as the trusted lead advisor within the family.  This approach will also help rekindle interest with prospects that previously turned you down.

Are you ready to improve your practice and help your clients do the things they haven’t done?  It’s time to call me.

Ed Howat 651.405.6644

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