I am a bit obsessional about some things, as my wife and family will tell you. Obsessions are usually irrational, often very irritating to some people and incomprehensible to others.
I think I am a bit obsessional about protection – I blame a lot of life salesmen that I met when I was an impressionable young boy with an innocent and enquiring mind.
When I was a young reassurer I worked in the CU group. It was an interesting role, particularly when it came to placing mega-policies on very well-known and glamorous people. When we placed a big case – and I placed many – the City inspectors who usually benefitted financially would take me down to the pub and buy me industrial quantities of beer.
Distasteful as I found this, it was all part of the job and as a young lad with an osmotic desire to absorb pearls of wisdom, I used to listen to them talk about selling life insurance. It was not about the large amounts of money they gained from doing so. They shared a belief, which I have thankfully found in many salespeople and advisers since, that making sure people had the right protection policy was as important a job as one could find.
I eschewed the chance to go to the London School of Economics to do this. My contemporaries from school thought I was mad when I not only got a job in the City but seemed to be enjoying it. I was enjoying it because I started to believe those committed beer drinkers who used to tell me very real and inspiring stories about cheques they had handed out to widows and widowers.
Above all, I remember one very well-known salesmen telling me that when he retired he would be able to sleep at night because he had tried to help as many people as he could to ensure that financial catastrophe was not going to strike them on the heels of major emotional catastrophe.
Looking back on that conversation from a vantage point where I occasionally pass on the odd, hopefully helpful – if far from inspirational – piece of advice to the emerging generation of protection specialists. I love it when I meet people who really care about ensuring that they do everything they can to ensure people have the right cover.
Many of you reading this will know this feeling very strongly. Others may think I am an old nutter who has been part of an era where the awareness of the value of protection has diminished – part of the problem, not part of a new and relevant solution.
I really do not care what stance people take as long as they have a restless urge to make sure the protection industry does as good a job as it possibly can for the many millions of people who need cover.
Peter Le Beau is managing director of Le Beau Visage