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. Yes, 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. Only one satisfied me, the rest left me annoyed, irritated and to some extent, worst off. Allow to relate the details of how I landed on this negative experience. 

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. A family friend offered to me an insurance policy from Philamlife. She personally visited me at home to explain everything. I wasn't very attentive with the benefits. Because of my limited income, 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, 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 reach 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 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. She is my friend but she did not perform her responsibilities.  

Having these experiences, here are some of my realizations. In a way, this can explain why I have become averse dealing with them 

1. I acquired insurance policies to help a friend and or family member - Unfortunately, I realized that I only secure insurance policies because I wanted to help a friend or family member. While it appears as a win-win relationship, 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 was 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. 

My Philamlife gave me the opportunity to receive yearly dividends. I should receive an annual check for 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 made a desperate move to personally send a letter to the VP for operations. 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 anymore functioning. 

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 and had it shipped to my address. Unfortunately, the shipping was not granted. I took another hassle of visiting the branch to pick up myreprinted 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 the 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. This is sad and frustrating because it builds an image that financial advisors are only after their earnings. As it appears, all those words of concern 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 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, 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. 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 are trapped to pay a monthly fee. 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. 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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