Aurora Tancock, CFP, FLMI, AIAA, president of Aurora Tancock Financial Services and 15-year MDRT member, says that what she does is “a calling.” She does financial planning, taking into account both the wealth side and the risk side. She takes a holistic approach with her clients, many of whom are 45+, including finding out what makes them tick. Let’s find out why.
How do you bring life insurance into your client meetings?
When I first meet with clients we look at their overall current financial situation including existing life insurance, and then look at what their needs are. Of course, everyone wants to talk about the wealth side of things. But I make sure that they consider the risk management side and I ask them, “What if something should happen? Is your family protected? Would your spouse be able to stay in the house?”
With younger clients, I look at cash flow—where is the money you’re bringing in going? How much is paying down debt, or education costs for the kids, etc.? I make sure to ask, “Even if the mortgage is paid off, would the other spouse be able to stay in the house, based on one income?” And they truly don’t know. So we go back to the cash flow before death: What are the costs before death? Some expenses will go down, but a lot of others won’t, like property taxes and utilities. So they really should cover the income—without the mortgage—with life insurance until the kids are no longer dependent.
You help clients with retirement. How do you view it?
There are three stages. The first is the active stage. During the first 10 to 15 years, they are probably going to spend more money because they are more active. The second is the passive stage, where they probably won’t spend as much, because they aren’t going as many places. And then there is the third, or unknown stage, because there may be health issues or they may want to go into a retirement home. That’s also where permanent life insurance can come in. They can put the money for the third, unknown stage into permanent life insurance. Because if they get to that third stage and need some money, they can access the cash value, and if they don’t need it, it means the heirs will end up with more money.
What are the objections you hear? And how do you counter them?
The objections tend to be from younger clients—in their 20s and 30s. They don’t think anything will happen to them. Helping them understand cash flow really helps. If they say they don’t need life insurance, I say, “OK, then what are you going to cut out if something should happen?” And sometimes the husband will say, “She won’t stay in this house.” That comes up quite a bit. And I say, “Do you want her to make that decision right away? Do you want her and the kids to have time to properly mourn you before they’d have to make a big change in their life like that?” And the truth is, this isn’t the husband being “insensitive”. Men are much more willing to sell the house, whereas most women wouldn’t want to.
Also, some of it has to do with educating them on how low the premiums are for term insurance. When you tell them the actual cost, they’re surprised.
You say, “A well customized financial plan is much more than a roadmap to your financial future. It’s a roadmap to your life.” How so?
It’s not just about the money side of it, it’s what they are trying to achieve for their life. I spend a lot of time with the soft facts, finding out who they are and what’s important to them.
The one question I ask when I’m meeting with a client is: “What keeps you up at night? Is it too much debt? Are you stressed out at work?” I try to get to know where their head is and then plan—not just for retirement—but for the short term, and then for five years and above. I have them visualize what they are trying to achieve—what they want to do with their money, and what are the goalposts along the way. It could be education or a dream trip overseas, for example. And then I have them attach a date to achieving that.
It’s not just about net worth but what that money is going to do for them—and then holding them accountable. I see my clients at least once a year, and keep them on track.
What can agents and advisors do to improve their business or better serve their clients and prospects?
They need to do financial planning for every client, some more in depth than others depending on life stage—how can we come up with the amount of insurance needed, if we don’t know the whole picture? That, and staying in touch with clients, as things change a lot.