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Don’t worry, be happy

Dispensing advice on life, work and the benefits of selling protection

Ladies and gentlemen, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, selling protection would be it. The long-term benefits of selling protection have been proven by the Institute of Actuaries whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Worry about the power of the ombudsman. You will not understand its power until you get the bill but, trust me, in 20 years you will look back at your old fact-finds and recall in a way you cannot grasp now how much risk lay before you. You are not as thorough as you imagine.

Do not worry about the future or worry but know that worrying is as effective as trying to understand the value of joint-life premiums. The real troubles in your life will be the things that never crossed your worried mind – the kind that blindside you via email at 4pm on some idle Friday afternoon.

Do one thing every day that scares you. Sell family income benefit.

Do not be reckless with other people’s money and do not put up with people who are reckless with yours. Avoid too many clawbacks. Do not waste time on professional jealousy. Sometimes you are ahead and sometimes you are behind. The race is long and, in the end, it is only with yourself. Remember the compliments you receive and forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell Nic Cicutti how. Smile.

Maybe you will start your own business and maybe you won’t. Maybe you will employ people and maybe you won’t. Maybe you will retire at 40 and maybe you will dance the funky chicken when you sell shares in your business to an insurer. Whatever you do, do not congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chances and so are every- body else’s. Support Aifa.

Enjoy the days out that insurers take you on and use them every way you can. Do not be afraid to go on them or wonder what other people think of them – they are the greatest networking opportunities you will ever have.

Dance at the Money Marketing awards night, even if you have to do it with John Lappin. Do not look at your own PR photos as they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your Money Marketing journalist. You never know when they will be gone for good.

Read the FSA’s rules and try to follow them. Be nice to the insurers’ sales directors as they are the best way you have to get what you want. Understand that most broker consult- ants come and go except for the precious few.

Work hard to find older clients because the older they get, the bigger their premiums are. Live in London once but leave before it makes you hard. Live in the suburbs once but leave before you go too soft. Travel, especially to see rich clients.

Accept certain inalienable truths – reviewable premiums will rise, underwriting takes too long, you too should buy some insurance. When you do, you will fantasise that when you arranged cover for your clients, prices were lower, underwriters were quicker and clients did not blame you for delays. Respect your clients.

Do not mess too much with your hair or by the time you are 40 you may not have much anymore.

Be careful of those you advise. They may turn out to be mystery shoppers. Hope that the Financial Ombudsman Service, the FSA and your clients are all happy with your advice. Be careful whose advice you take but be patient with those who provide it.

My advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the bin, wiping it off and recycling it for more than it is worth. But trust me about selling protection


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