June 1, 2012
In this claims case study, adviser Susan Jackson talks about her first claim experience, in which the client unfortunately had no cover. She also shares the learnings she subsequently applied to her business.
At a glance
Submitted by: Susan Jackson
Business: Executive Director, Women’s Financial Network
Client: female, passed away from cancer
Susan was only two months into her career as a financial planner when a client called with the sad news that their mother had died. “Maggie’s passed away. She had cancer, and we’re just ringing to find out what we need to do to claim the insurance,” the client told Susan.
Unfortunately, Maggie did not have any insurance, and Susan was the one to have to deliver the bad news. “Because she had an adviser the family automatically assumed she had insurance,” recalls Susan. “I remember having to say to them: ‘I’m really sorry but she doesn’t have any insurance.’ And I felt sick. Because the thing that really stuck in my mind was that I was one of the first people they called, and it was a really awful conversation.”
The knowledge that she would always be the first or second person called upon after a client suffered a traumatic event had a profound effect on Susan, and she changed her approach to client conversations almost immediately.
The hard conversations are where you add the most value
“What I learnt from that experience was when you get ‘that phone call’, you need to be able to know that you did everything you could to make the process as stress-free as possible. It’s not just managing the process of lodging the claim, but knowing that you had the conversation about insurance with the client in the first place.”
Susan says that while clients will not always take her advice, she is careful to provide them with as much detail as possible upfront so they can make an informed choice.
“Our job isn’t to be their best friend – our job is to advise them on their financial matters as best we can. Be aware that if anything happens – good, bad or in-between – you’re going to be the first person they call. How that conversation goes is often going to depend on what you did before. If they’ve made the informed choice that they don’t want the insurance, or they don’t want to put a binding nomination in place, or do their wills, then fine. But when you get that phone call, you don’t want to be thinking, ‘Oh, I probably should have talked to them about that’.
“This isn’t a job about easy conversations. The hard conversations are where you add the most value.”
Susan believes those conversations can also have a positive effect on a business’ bottom line: “When a claim is paid that’s when you get the good referrals. The client tells you how thankful they are to you for making them have the hard conversation at the beginning, and when their friends see that they were able to deal with the most traumatic situation, and be okay financially, that’s when you know those client referrals will stick.”