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Confessions of a not so wicked salesman

I hold my hands up, I am a wicked salesman. I confess to selling a £181,000 Norwich Union mortgage protection insurance policy and a Holloway income protection insurance plan to a couple in the next village a couple of years ago. The husband has just had a terminal-illness payment for stomach cancer, which has cleared his mortgage and the Holloway policy will carry on paying until his eventual demise but hey, aren’t us salesmen awful?

A while back, I did some pro bono work for an individual who came to us dying of nasopharyngeal cancer. He had a mortgage but no cover whatsoever and his wife and kids were set to be left penniless and probably homeless. The saintly adviser who arranged his mortgage made no serious attempt to sell him any form of cover. Wicked salesman that I am, I secured payments from the National Union of Mineworkers benevolent fund and pension schemes the client didn’t even know he had. As a result, his family still has a roof over their heads.

While I am in the mood for ‘fessing up, I suppose I might as well add that I love selling life, critical-illness and income protection insurance. I like selling it because I know that it needs selling and it benefits those who buy it. Hell, I am such a protection junkie I have even sold myself some. I am worth a lot of money dead.

We need to get rid of the hypocritical, stupid, snobbish stigma on “selling” propagated by thick journalists, thicker regulators and the exalted boss of Towry Law. It is a symptom of the anti-enterprise culture which still persists in this country dressed up as consumerism.

Without salesmen, 90 per cent of the public will not buy cover at all. Most of the remaining 10 per cent will buy the wrong sort or will fail to disclose all the relevant facts to the underwriters. Pretty much all will fail to use trusts.

Every business sells its goods and/or services. The ones that don’t are not in business very long. At this juncture, maybe Lord Fisher should be looking at Towry Law’s recent massive loss and wonder whether he shouldn’t perhaps be doing a bit more selling and a bit less pontificating?

You can be the smartest and most qualified financial planner in the world, producing the best recommendations ever written, but if you cannot put it over to the client in a fashion that leads them to act on your recommendations, then you might as well have given them an old copy of the Beano.

I am an adviser and I give my clients the best advice I know how to give but I also sell them the idea because if I don’t, then I have wasted my time and done them a disservice. Thanks to me and those like me, a lot of families are a great deal more secure than they might be.

Advice and sales are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are the two essential sides of the same coin. It is utterly wrong for anyone to sell inappropriate products through ignorance or greed but it is totally inexcusable for an adviser to fail to sell his client on a product he does need and can afford.

Let’s hear it for the salesmen – maybe we are not so bad after all.

Neil Liversidge

Managing director

West Riding Personal

Financial Solutions

West Yorkshire

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  1. Very well said
    I’m sure many of us could say exactly the same thing and have similar stories. I’ll repeat this bit Neil said as I’ve said similar before elsewhere….. am an adviser and I give my clients the best advice I know how to give but I also sell them the idea because if I don’t, then I have wasted my time and done them a disservice. Thanks to me and those like me, a lot of families are a great deal more secure than they might be.

    Advice and sales are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are the two essential sides of the same coin. It is utterly wrong for anyone to sell inappropriate products through ignorance or greed but it is totally inexcusable for an adviser to fail to sell his client on a product he does need and can afford.

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