Ben Burgess, LifeSearch

I arrived in London in 2017 with no UK work experience after studying geopolitics and Spanish at school in America. 

My first job out of uni was in Chile to run an English language computer lab at the Chilean Naval Academy.  I met my wife in a Santiago hostel. My parents and grandparents were schoolteachers. I was the first in my family in the protection industry.

Almost ANY authentic person can be a successful protection adviser. I am not trying to wild out on LinkedIn and teach you how to stunt on your peers with these knowledge darts. I practice authenticity by using a few simple principles highlighting the three pillars of protection advising.

Tip 1 - Be Yourself.

We are not high-pressure salespeople selling wonder products to Dorothy at the beginning of the Wizard of Oz.   Our clients buy into us as much as they buy into the products we offer them.  These products financially compensate families who are suffering through things that you would not wish on your worst enemy.  Doing this work requires care, compassion, and a big heart.  If your want to make a quick quid, sell krills.  If you want to be a protection adviser, be there for your people. 

Tip 2 - Be a Good Listener

This is probably the most unheralded jewel of all.  As advisers avoid the urge to control the conversation.  I am all for getting in early with some probing, engaging questions.  Doing so illustrates your knowledge of the subject and changes the conversation from a run of the mill sales call to an OH MY GOD this person is trying to help me epiphany.  However, once the table is set, you absolutely must know when to shut up and listen.   Let your people talk.  Let them talk a lot.  Cousin Greg is important to the solution because Cousin Greg is important to your client Tom!!!   You can’t make a Tomlette without cracking a few Gregs.  Take copious notes, build rapport, and then come back with a suggested solution tailored specifically to your clients’ individual needs.  Listen to feedback and revise until the client is satisfied.

Tip 3 - Always Be Learning

Even though everybody prefers a Cadillac over steak knives, we don’t have to Glengarry Glen Ross ourselves through life.  This career can be like a snake eating its own tail.  Make work/home balance a priority.  Set personal targets and know how much effort you need to put in to meet all your professional and personal goals. Prioritize mental wellness!  Your work life deserves your best effort but so does your family!   Partner with your account managers to get tricky cases through underwriting.).  Finally, stay current with product knowledge and CPD. 

Use these three pillars to thrive in this career. Never lose sight of who you are, where you come from, and where you can take your clients. 

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