About 15 years ago, I was a stay at home mom with children of 6 and 8. Although I was active in my husband’s investment management business, I had no source of my own income and it started to worry me. I suppose I was asking the “What happens if…?” questions.
My husband thought he had enough insurance, but there just seemed to be a pile of policies and no thread of a plan. The time had come to review them – and so began the discussion with our insurance guy. I had figured out that there would be a need to cover some death taxes, as well as an amount to replace his income until at least his age 60. These days I know he and we needed an amount for whole life insurance and another amount for term cover.
The “insurance guy” and a proud member of the million-dollar broker club – came back to us with two life policies for whole of life (you need to read “maximum commission”). Without any knowledge of the industry, even I could figure out that the proposal couldn’t be the right solution. I noticed that the broker hadn’t done a calculation to determine how much life cover was needed to cover the estate duty, nor the amount to cover Victor’s earnings until the end of the policy when retirement savings would take over. It all seemed determined by affordability of the monthly premiums rather than a quantified amount.
Victor wanted to make sure his family looked after, so he signed the documents with my reluctant agreement. But I remained frustrated with the unanswered questions. That added to my motivation to studying for a post graduate diploma in financial planning from the Free State university. The same year I wrote and passed the Certified Financial Planner® board exam. I then went on to study the advanced higher diploma in financial planning with a focus on investments and estate planning. Along the way I attended every conference and course at institutions to educate myself about planning and about the relative benefits of insurance and investment products. I challenged every professional I met to understand the best solutions.
With my passion for detail – and answering the “What if…?” questions – I opened my practice and began to do financial plans for clients that quantified how much life cover he needed. It was natural to me to be truly independent of the insurance companies and to have loyalty to my clients first, whatever the commission differences. I also knew that advising for best commission, would not let me sleep well at night.
Soon after I could calculate the numbers, we cancelled some of the cover. There were still some policies that made my head ache with complexity and promises but more about those elsewhere.
Much of good Financial Planning is about asking the right questions, to get the answers and provide for the “What happens if…?” conscerns that we all have. Reducing the risks and costs to numbers and solutions.
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