Educating clients is among the top priorities for an advisor. This typically involves information on the products most suitable for their situation, long-term savings strategies, or how to set up a balanced household budget. Thanks to a swelling wave of online criminal activity, advisors can add one more item to their list of talking points: cybersecurity.
According to PrivacyRights.org, the last five years have seen roughly 9,000 reported breaches, which compromised more than 11 trillion records. Servers for everything from the popular online video game Fortnite to Capital One have fallen prey to hackers. The attacks have exposed a wealth of personally identifiable information, including in some cases Social Security and credit card numbers. The need for data security awareness is more important than ever. As a trusted advisor, it’s up to you be someone clients can turn to for answers.
Oversight agencies are taking the increase in data breaches very seriously, especially as it pertains to the financial industry. Advisors need to stay up to date with any new moves made by the SEC and FINRA regarding the safety of client data. For example, the SEC has made fraud prevention/cybersecurity a top exam priority and will frequently post new risk alerts related to safeguarding client records and personal information.
Transparency has long been a crucial part of the client-advisor relationship. With the constant threat of cybercrime and data leaks looming overhead, an upfront approach is now more important than ever. This is a lesson software firm Redtail Technology, which develops CRM solutions for advisors, learned the hard way. In March, Redtail discovered a glitch that dumped a file with clients’ personal information online for anyone to download. The company waited more than two months before giving notice to those whose info might have leaked. The time between discovery and disclosure was longer than regulations for all 50 states allow. The leak was caused by an internal error, and not related to an outside hacker, but Redtail’s hesitation could lead to legal issues for the company.
Obviously, advisors with clients affected by the leak were likely unable to sound any alarms until they were notified themselves. However, the Redtail incident highlights the need for advisors to develop their own set of safety protocols and internal policies regarding data protection and how to handle the fallout from a breach.
Beyond keeping your business practices regarding personal data in compliance, it’s important to make every effort to safeguard your own information. For one, taking steps to protect yourself is an exercise in common sense and a necessity. As many victims of fraud could attest to, identity and information theft can leave a huge mess to clean up and take months, if not longer, to recover from.
Another benefit of walking yourself through the protection process is the experience yourself. When talking to clients about the why and how of data protection, you’ll be able to speak from a “when the rubber hits the road” perspective. Instead of rambling through a scripted “How To Protect Your Data” spiel, you will be more relatable and credible by sharing your personal experience with the matter.
Extend an Invitation to Educate
Advisors looking for the next consumer engagement opportunity can find one in data protection awareness. As concern over cybersecurity grows, clients and prospects are becoming more receptive to learning how to protect themselves. Call your existing clients and schedule a time to sit down and determine how well they are protected, and what holes need to be filled.
The issue of safeguarding one’s data can also be a good prospecting strategy. With cybersecurity and data breaches in the news on almost a daily basis, it’s become nearly impossible to not think about. This means prospects in your drip list are more likely to open and read an email on the topic. And as a trending topic, SEO and social media campaigns have a higher potential for engagement.
Data protection might not be within the traditional wheelhouse of an advisor, but changing times demand a changing approach. As someone in the finance industry, many consumers probably already consider you a trusted source of advice and assistance. Taking the time to help people safeguard their personal information can lead to a long-term advisor-client relationship rooted in trust and credibility.
Most financial advisors are probably already aware that seminars are like any other marketing tactic. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. If your efforts have been more “bust” than “boom” lately, it might be time to consider a different approach.
A low-to-no-cost financial Q&A session can be a more practical and casual alternative to costly seminars and workshops. The concept is simple and, in many ways, works like any other seminar would. The difference here is in the content and attendee experience. Rather than deliver the traditional presentation on one specific topic, personalize the event by covering subjects that are relevant to those in the room.
Structure for Success
A Q&A doesn’t mean attendees are welcome to bombard you with a series of random questions. That would be impossible to prepare for and could easily get out of hand. You want to keep things on topic and running smoothly. To do so, set up an online registration page that requires your guests to submit 1-3 questions when signing up for the event. This will make sure your final presentation covers a variety of topics but doesn’t go in too many directions at once. Use these questions to build a presentation customized specifically for your audience.
Obviously, you will want to leave certain details out of your final presentation and only include questions that are both relevant and appropriate for a public seminar. Use your own judgment here, but as a general rule, avoid the following:
- Personal information
- Stock / Investment Advice
- Specific scenarios (someone’s complicated situation that would require a 1-on-1 appointment to properly address)
To address the third point listed above, you should expect the majority of questions submitted to pertain to the prospect’s specific situation. That said, because the goal here is to bring people from the seminar to your office, those questions will open the door for a follow-up conversation. A good approach would be to reframe the question in a way that still addresses the prospect’s concern but is also broad enough to apply to the audience as a whole. This creates an opportunity for you to approach them afterward about setting up an appointment. And by collecting everyone’s contact information, you have a new batch of prospects to place into a drip campaign.
Preperation is the Key
As anyone who has given a seminar already knows, preparation is just one of the ingredients for success. But for a custom-tailored presentation such as this, the time and effort you spend preparing your material is probably the most important factor. Ideally, the inquiries you receive will be wide-ranging enough to deliver an hour’s worth of information on a variety of topics. However, it never hurts to have some additional content and/or topics of discussion ready to roll out just in case. And be prepared to tackle at least a handful of follow-up questions from the audience as you’re wrapping things up.
Beyond that, you can set up a Q&A session much like you would any other seminar. Take advantage of spaces that invite conversation (library room, upscale bar with a meeting room, gallery space). Just remember to keep things casual, low-pressure, and informative. Well, maybe not too informative. After all, any good performer knows that you have to leave the audience wanting more. Good luck!
Thanks for another great year!
Over the course of 2018, the Legacy Financial Partners team has worked to deliver a treasure trove of marketing collateral. Our guides, sales kits, and blog posts are all crafted to put agents and advisors on the fast track to success.
To say thanks for another great year, we have compiled our Top 5 Marketing Corner posts from 2018. The list below is just a sample of the valuable insights, tips, and exclusive content we provide every week.
As an added bonus, we are offering a newly updated collection of sales tips and marketing ideas that will help jumpstart 2019. Scroll down to receive our New Year Revitalization Guide and start 2019 off one step ahead of the competition.
Stay connected and keep tuning into Marketing Corner for more kits and tips throughout 2019. Thank you and Happy New Year from Legacy Financial Partners.
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May is National Disability Insurance Awareness Month. The campaign was launched in part by the Council for Disability Awareness. It is used to educate wage earners on the importance of planning ahead should their income source be disrupted by an unexpected disability. Because many advisors and agents butter their bread with retirement planning and life insurance products, disability insurance is probably not a topic that comes up in too many client meetings.
But it should. If you’re asking why, the answer can be found within the annals of pop culture.
Dr. Steven Strange was at one time considered the top neurosurgeon in the world. That all changed one fateful night when he was involved in a fiery car crash. While Strange survived the crash, his hands—once skilled surgical instruments—were injured beyond repair. Despite months of treatment, his hands never fully healed. Dr. Strange would never perform surgery again. One tragic incident, one miscalculation on a windy, mountainside road was all it took to ruin a lucrative career.
Fans of the movie or comics know that Strange drained his life savings in pursuit of a remedy for his career-ending disability. Sure, he eventually stumbled upon an ancient mystic, gained superpowers beyond imagination, and has saved the universe a dozen or so times. But in the real world, the story of Dr. Strange would have ended with “drained his life savings.” Unless, of course, he had a good disability insurance plan
Assuming that none of your clients are superheroes, the following paragraphs (rooted in facts, rather than comic book fantasy) should illustrate the value of a private disability insurance plan.
Staggering Stats on Disability
According to the Council for Disability Awareness, at least 51 million working adults in the U.S. do not have disability coverage other than what is available through Social Security.
Roughly 48% of American adults would not have enough savings to cover three months of living expenses if something happened that prevented them from earning any income. This is an alarming statistic. Especially in light of a recent report that found nearly half of all foreclosures on conventional mortgages are caused by a disability or other medical-related setback. This is why agents and advisors should encourage their clients to consider adding disability insurance to their existing plan.
Far too many consumers believe (or at least hope) that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) will be enough to keep them afloat if they become disabled. Data from the Social Security Administration reveals a much more sobering truth. At the onset of 2018, the average monthly disability payout was $1,197. That’s barely enough to keep the beneficiary above the current poverty level.
Why SSDI Isn’t Enough
Even the federal government discourages people from banking on SSDI should an injury or medical condition renders them disabled. The Social Security Administration gives a very strict definition of the term “disability.”
- You cannot do work that you did before.
- They determine that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Furthermore, SSDI benefits are not available for those determined to be suffering from a partial or short-term disability.
Of those who meet those guidelines and applied for benefits, only about one-third were actually approved to receive payments. And those payments typically won’t start coming in until after the roughly six-month waiting period. Someone who is forced to live within those means for several years, if not permanently, can forget about setting up or holding onto any sort of retirement nest egg.
Life insurance provides a way to soften the financial blow that comes with a death (income loss, funeral expenses, medical/hospital bills). Clients need to know that disability insurance can provide the same protection. A personally-owned disability insurance policy, used with additional sources of income, can provide the insured with a sense of stability and security after becoming disabled. If the insured is able to return to the workforce, it can keep money coming in while they recover or learn a new skill. This can also be the key to avoiding asset liquidation or dipping too deeply into existing retirement or life insurance funds.
Developing a DI Plan
Several factors will determine the details of an individual personally-owned disability insurance policy. First, the policyholder’s current situation should be taken into account. How much income will they need in the event of a disability? What additional sources of disability income are available to them? How much can they currently afford to put toward monthly premiums?
Once those questions are answered, then you can start hashing out the finer points of the policy. How long must the insured be disabled before benefits kick in? How long they will receive those benefits? Most policies only pay until the insured turns 65.
An important component here is the definition of total disability. Carriers give a much looser definition of “disabled” than the government. Most look at whether the insured can perform duties related to their current job or skillset.
There are additional factors that will affect the overall policy. Do they want benefits for partial disabilities following a period of total disability? Do they want any rehabilitation expenses covered? Premium waivers, renewability options, the impact of inflation, and cost-of-living riders should also be a part of the conversation.
Be A Super-Advisor
The astonishing tale of Dr. Strange is perhaps the only example of NOT holding a personally-owned disability insurance policy working out for a person whose main source of income was taken away due to a disability. But he’s not real. And in the 12 years that May has been used to raise awareness about the value of disability insurance, the numbers suggest consumers are still slow to get the message. So, it’s up to you—Super Advisor/Agent—to the real hero here.
Next week, we’ll explore how liability insurance could have protected a science lab from litigation after a high school student touring the facility was bitten by a radioactive spider. Just kidding…