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Expanding Your Practice

When your career is involved, it is wise to have a road map to find the most efficient route.

By Donald Ray Haas, CLU, ChFC, CFP, MSFS

If you know where you are right now, it is easy to know how to get to your intended destination. For example, on your first trip to a new shopping mall, you typically find the store directory and the first thing you see is a big, red “you are here” arrow, pointing to your location.

Once you locate a store that is on your shopping list, you use the directory map to plan the most efficient route. Some people, however, prefer to wander around the mall, hoping to arrive at their target by accident. For these folks, even if they do not find their desired store location, they will still enjoy their shopping experience.

Whether you are a careful planner who prefers a road map or an explorer who takes things as they come, when your career is involved, it is wise to have a road map to find the most efficient route. To get started, place a red “you are here” arrow on your career directory.

First, determine which services you are already providing to your clients:

  • Personal data/assumptions
  • Financial objectives/risk tolerance
  • Net-worth statements
  • Itemized investments/liabilities
  • History net-worth statements
  • Income tax information
  • Income sources
  • Cash management statements
  • Property and liability
  • Medical
  • Disability income/long-term care insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Protection recommendations
  • Emergency funds
  • Investment portfolios
  • Investment recommendations
  • Retirement analysis
  • Education funding analysis
Too many advisors have chosen to limit the number of services and products they provide, thereby leaving too much money on the table.

These services are the components of a comprehensive financial plan. In your practice, you are probably involved in offering some of them to your clients. Most advisors refer to the act of providing some of these services as “focus” or “segmented” planning. What we choose to practice and how well-trained we are in those areas is up to us. Our profession is more flexible than other occupations, allowing us to select which services we wish to offer our clients. However, too many advisors have chosen to limit the number of services and products they provide and thus leave too much money on the table.

If you are not currently offering all of these services and want to enhance your bottom line, your next step is to explore what is available and decide what other services you would like to add.

Getting career advice
As you explore your career options, a wide range of industry associations and organizations can help you enhance your professional development. For example, The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., offers extensive career path advice as well as courses that prepare you to obtain an array of professional designations such as the LUTCF and the ChFC. Earning these and other credentials means that you have the knowledge and professional stature required to excel in today’s competitive financial-advising arena.

If you have limited your career focus to only insurance planning, you can develop a fulfilling and highly successful career. But many advisors find it easier to boost their incomes by increasing the number of services they provide than to focus on just one area.

Other services
If you are already seated at your client’s kitchen table, why not use the meeting to offer these additional planning services?

  • Asset allocation—total portfolio or retirement-funds asset allocation
  • Retirement cash-flow analysis
  • Estate-planning analysis
  • Personal cash-flow analysis
  • Income-tax exposure analysis, not necessarily tax-return preparation
  • Mortgage financing analysis

While it may take years for you to acquire enough knowledge and practical application techniques to perform all of the services on this list properly, do not give up. Throughout these learning and building years, your income will probably increase much more than if you elect to do nothing.

A future in planning?
In future columns, I will address many of these plan elements. Note that each item could be a focus plan in itself, and many clients will welcome them when offered. Your gain is twofold—additional compensation and better knowledge of your client’s situation. This invariably can lead to even more compensation for you.

Next month, you will learn what personal data you will need to know and whether your practice should be comprehensive or should focus on planning.

Donald Ray Haas, CLU, ChFC, CFP, MSFS, Southfield, Mich., has been an insurance agent and financial consultant for 45 years. You can reach him at 248-213-0101 or at


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