At the recent PAA AGM, Chairman Bruce Cortesi made one of the best speeches about advisers I have heard in a long time. The essence of his presentation was not ‘doom and gloom’ but more about the untold story of the great work that advisers do and the passion that all advisers need to have to continue to be successful in the future challenging times. And that this will be a focus of Financial Advice New Zealand.
However, the part that I will remember for a very long time is the story Bruce told of his first terminal illness claim and how he dealt with it.
I have been saying for a long time that the amazing help and guidance advisers provide their clients at claim time is the untold story of why everyone should use an adviser. This is what needs to be promoted as the value advisers add to the advice process. But for some reason these types of stories are rarely told. I urge you to change this. Read the story Bruce told below which was provided with his permission.
Ian was 34, a builder who I met and made a recommendation for insurance – Life, Trauma, TPD and Income Protection. He chose Life and Income Protection. I had to persuade him that it was a good decision to take out some cover – he was reluctant, did not see the value – despite being a self- employed builder he thought he was immortal.
Seven months later I received a phone call at 4.00pm in the afternoon from his wife. You see, Ian had been having problems swallowing, and at first he had been on claim under his Income Protection then went back to work. Now the diagnosis was complete – cancer of the lymphatic system stage four. His wife in tears on the phone – me remembering he had a daughter aged 5 and a son aged 3.
My devastation, my sadness all wrapped up in theirs. My first experience in dealing with the emotional roller coaster of helping another human being through a very dark future. How does one do this? How are you supposed to react?
How are you supposed to feel, cope even? This is the void in regulation, in education, in process – none of these things will ever prepare an Adviser for this event – they cannot. Together this client taught me how to cope – that eventually enabled me to suggest when the end of the road was in sight to put in a claim for “terminal illness”.
His wife Kelly could not cope. I was alone. When I went to see Ian and Kelly to complete the paperwork for the Terminal Illness claim – all Kelly could say was “Bruce, I can’t deal with this – you will have to – Ian is in bed”. To sit beside a human so previously full of life – with so much that should have been – do you know what that is like? Do you know what it is like to have a person say to you “Bruce, I am scared – what is going to happen to me – what is going to happen to my family?”
How would any of you answer that? What would you say? “Sorry regulation does not allow me to give advice on that”. Passion….passion for people – for life. When I presented Ian and Kelly with the cheque of $300,000 for the terminal illness claim – no words were spoken – just very intense silent gratitude. No words were needed.
Four weeks later I attended Ian’s funeral. Ian had written his own eulogy. How did I feel when in his eulogy he paid special tribute to me and what I did, how grateful he was for what I had done? Humbled.
I had done my job. We all do our job – whether it is the emotional highs of helping someone purchase a home, the emotional lows of facing a health crisis, or the emotional comfort of guiding someone through life to a secure retirement. No one – yes no one can take that away from you.
And yet, that is the silent success of this industry – the success that never gets celebrated by the industry. The reason for its existence and no other.
Sales get celebrated – the numbers get celebrated – but the passion – this is back to the future – this is what we do – every single one of you. What is this passion you say? It is called advice. That is what we do – advice – and that is what Financial Advice New Zealand will celebrate – what we do – not who we are.