Sunday, December 18, 2016

When I started to feel aversion with Financial Advisors

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This has to be one of the topics I've been meaning to write. The words seemed to be elusive as soon as I organize my thoughts. The title already provides an obvious prelude. Nevertheless, I'd still like to be clear and straightforward, I had negative experiences with most financial advisors (insurance agents back then). Of the 5 financial advisors I met, 4 left me annoyed and unsatisfied. There was only one financial advisor who made me appreciate the profession. I'll mention him in the course of this post.

I got my first insurance policy when I was 20 years old. At that time, I just started work and still hoping to obtain my permanency status. It was a family friend who offered an insurance policy from Philamlife. It was one weekend evening when she visited me at home to explain everything. I wasn't very attentive with the benefits. Because of my limited income, added to this my intentions of pursuing a masteral degree, I was more concerned with the money I needed to set aside. I took the longest terms of payment because of the smallest monthly premiums. Never mind if it would transpire costly. 

I admit that I'm one of those insurance owners who doesn't fully understand its terms and conditions. All I knew was I'm protected and I can get the total value of my policy when I reached the age of 70. Typing this, I'm not entirely sure of the latter. See, I'm a lousy policy owner. 

I was about to finish paying my first insurance when a friend introduced me to PruLife UK. She was starting and trying a career as a financial advisor. While investing to a second insurance may seem to be a sign of responsible financial management, I have to admit something. I'm struggling paying the premiums. It is expensive for my current financial state. Half of me already feels regretful. More than the struggle with the premiums, my financial advisor has not been functional. I knew she is my friend, but I have to admit that she did not perform well. 

Having these experiences, here are some realizations I had with financial advisors. In a way, this can explain why I have become averse in dealing with them 

1. I acquired insurance policies to help a friend and or family member - Unfortunately, I realized that one of the major reasons why I secured insurance policies is because I wanted to help a friend or family member. While it appears as a win-win relationship, I realized that I became worst off.

My experience with Philamlife and my advisor was not the best. There were times when my receipts would not arrive for months. I directly complained through the company's service hotlines. It will take months before my complaint gets addressed. I brought the issue with my financial advisor. Let's not anymore get into details. In the end, I resolved the problem on my own. 

One of the benefits of my insurance with Philamlife is the opportunity to receive yearly dividends. I was suppose to receive an annual check that represents the amount of my dividends. There were years when I did not receive any check payment at all. I complained via the customer service hotline. I sent emails, nothing happened. I personally sent a letter to the VP for operations, it was a desperate move. Months after, someone from the head office called and the check was finally delivered. Amount of check payment for dividends : around Php 500.    This happened twice, I followed the same procedure and nothing happened. 

I acquired my second insurance because of a friend. I made amendments with the policy because I was struggling with the payments. She processed my request and I thought everything was working well. I was expecting to receive a copy of the revised policy. It was already a year and my patience was tested, both by PruLife and my friend. I was diligent in paying my premiums, despite struggling with the payment. I can't understand what's taking them so long to send my revised policy. I called the customer service hotline only to get useless instructions. They insisted to communicate with my financial advisor whom I repeatedly reasoned out was not functioning at all. 

I took matter in my own hands. I visited a PruLife branch near the workplace. I even have to skip some hours at work to accommodate. Apparently, the PruLife service branch is closed during lunch time!!! (In my standards, this is not valid for servicing companies.) I requested for a reprint of my policy for a fee. I requested that the reprinted policy be shipped to my address. Unfortunately, the request was not granted. I even took another hassle of visiting the branch to pick up my revised and reprinted policy. 

What I realized after all these experiences, it might be unhealthy to secure an insurance policy from a friend, family member or relative. The personal relationship may be placed at stake when one party fails to perform his / her responsibility.

This experience also led me to my second learning

2. Some financial advisors don't have after sales service - I have observed that financial advisors are only accommodating in the course of opening a policy. Months or years after, they don't anymore accommodate concerns of clients. My observation may not be conclusive for everyone. Although I have friends who shared the same experience. This is sad and frustrating because it builds an image that financial advisors are only after achieving their sales quota. As it appears, all those words of concern during the initial discussion were nothing but money making opportunities. 

I'm sure, not all financial advisors carry this attitude. There are those who treat clients with utmost care and concern. Unfortunately, it's quite a challenge to land on them. The only financial advisor I knew who offer after sales service is Kuya Remil, who I met from an older friend. He used to be a typical office employee, shifted career to become a full time financial advisor, built his own company and continuously aims to reach out to clients, regardless of financial capacity and status. I appreciate that he reaches out to clients even after their policies are settled. He regularly sends informative emails. I now regret that I only get a non-life investment through Kuya Remil. 

3. When financial advisors shift to another company, they leave clients helpless - It doesn't make me happy when I learned that my financial advisor moved to another company. After making me believe that the previous company is the best in the industry, here goes a claim that there's something better than the best. 

This happened with my Philamlife financial advisor who now works with PruLife. When we met in one family reunion, she admitted how her knowledge about the industry was too shallow during the time she offered me the policy. Honesty is appreciated, but part of me felt fear. 

I would have appreciated if they inform recruited clients about their decision. Giving out instructions or transferring them to another financial advisor, expressing a little gratitude for helping them in their career as a financial advisor.... those little gestures would go a long way... if only it is being practiced. 

My friend who led me to PruLife already parted with the company. She requested that I submit a photocopy of my policy. Initially, I didn't want to follow her order. I failed to receive a revised copy of my policy. I worked my way to secure a revised / reprinted copy. I felt it was too much task from my end. But then I realized I'm always the one on the losing end. If I don't cooperate, I might be on the place of being inconvenienced in the future. 

Overall, I'm disappointed with my friend and how PruLife handled my case. While typing this post, I sent a message to my friend. The reply I received contributed to more disappointment. Apparently, no financial advisor wanted to take custody of my policy. I'm starting to think it's because they will not gain anything from my policy. While I can always call the customer service hotlines for assistance, I would feel more valued if I have a financial advisor to assist me anytime. This makes me feel that financial advisors only work during the acquisition process. They can easily escape the responsibility after securing their income.

4. When some financial advisors impose fear to make you acquire the insurance - You will need this blah blah blah amount of money when you get hospitalized. It would take your family more than 10 years to recover from your disability or death. Your relatives will not be able to provide assistance. When you reach this age, you need this amount of money. Cancer is the most expensive disease. Once you caught it, you will need millions of pesos for hospitalization and treatment. In the next five years, you will regret not getting this policy with investment. 

I heard these so many times. While all those unfortunate incidents may happen, I don't adhere to this kind of orientation. I believe that there's a more positive yet encouraging way to present the benefits of an insurance policy. It requires a little creativity, which financial advisors should possess. 

5. When financial advisors become too aggressive - Pet peeve! So when do we meet again for the requirements? Your 13th month pay is about to come, when do we meet for the initial payment? Some of you have probably encountered those insurance agents from CocoLife, Prudential Life stationed inside the malls. They will try to get your attention, bring you to their satellite office, ask for your credit card and the last thing you know,  you have been trapped to pay a monthly fee for a new insurance policy. It may not be scam, but the recruitment strategy is not humane.. at least in my opinion. 

Yes everyone is aware that an insurance is a great and wise investment. You are protected and have the opportunity to earn at the same time. I hope some financial advisors would return to the basics and remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Physiological needs should be fulfilled before responding to other needs. If the person is already struggling to fulfill his basic needs, buying an insurance policy may not be a priority YET. A wise and considerate financial advisor would instead offer techniques to a potential client. Better yet, a plan that will help in achieving financial security. Instead of pushing the insurance policy, a real financial advisor (in its truest essence of existence) should help a client achieve financial independence. 

I didn't realize how this post has gotten longer. I wanted a short but meaningful post. But there's just so much details to vent out. Hahaha While I had negative experiences, I'm wishing that everyone here had and will have better experiences. 

And to all financial advisors who landed here, I'm not placing a red flag to everyone. I still believe there are better financial advisors around. Problem is we don't know how to detect a great one. 

1 comment

  1. Ow, so sad na you have bad experiences with financial advisors. Maganda talaga kung may open communication kau ni FA and you should also know kung anong klase ba yung pinapasok mu. Unlike you, I had my very first VUL nung 27 yrs old ako. Medyo nagsisisi pa nga ko kasi parang medyo late na. So far ok naman, wala akong naging problems even nung iniwan ako nung 1st FA ko, naging busy sya to take licensure exams. Yung insurance company ko mismo ang nag assign ng panibagong FA sa kin at hindi naman nya ko pinabayaan kahit na wala syang sales sa kin. Lahat ng concerns ko sinasagot nya pati lahat ng mga queries at pagchange ko ng mga dependents sa policy ko. So now I join groups din sa FB and basa basa ng mga financial blogs para maging updated din ako. I hope mahanap mu din yung FA na para sayo. Lalo na kung breadwinner ka at may mga umaasa sau. Mahalaga tlaga if meron teung aasahan in case na mawala tayo.

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