Get the designations that truly help you do the job you want to do, says Jim Ruta in this column from Insurance Journal’s archives.  

Q: Will getting more professional designations help me get more business and make more money? 

The secret weapon of top advisors is a deep knowledge of the business, its products and their uses. But it is not the secret to greater success in the business. Unfortunately, with more education comes an unexpected danger. It’s like the difference between being a Scientist and an Artist.

Scientists can tell you what ideas should work. Artists can tell you what moves people to make things work for themselves. This makes a big difference in business results.

“Financial Scientists” are those advisors who know and focus on tax law, legal angles, accounting principles, and contract provisions – much of what you will get from more professional designation programs. With all that information, these advisors do all the math and have all the facts and technical reasons why a particular course of financial action is right. They can tell you exactly what you should do and why you should do it. And they can back it all up with the facts.

On the other hand, “Financial Artists” have a different take on the business. These advisors focus more on helping people do what they need to do to create essential financial security for themselves, their families, and their businesses than they do on the legal, tax, accounting, and product technicalities. Of course, they know and use the facts – they are critical to an on point and competing presentation, but they are not their focus.

Their focus is helping people do what they need to do but may not necessarily want to do to help themselves financially. Artists appreciate that consumers buy for emotional reasons and then justify their purchase with the facts. They know that prospect feelings are every bit as important as the facts when it comes to making their financial decisions. For this reason, these advisors know and use the words, questions and stories that get people to act in their own best interest. They lead them to what the need to do but not necessarily what they want to do. As you might expect, Artists in this business usually outperform the Scientists.

So, to what end do we get more designations?

The life insurance business attracts very smart people; and they like to know more about their business. There is a lot to know to do the best job. But, you must not only be able to absorb all that information, you must be able to deliver it in a consumable format to your prospects to help them and do better yourself.

But here’s a question – Can you be too smart or too educated? I believe you can. When we are too smart and then overeducated, we tend to overthink things and throw up obstacles to our progress where none need to be. We invent issues that don’t matter to prospects, but we think they should, and we hesitate. We overthink our products and their application and we hesitate. We even create objections for our prospects and then decide there is no way out and don’t even ask. We become prejudiced about what our prospects will or won’t do. We don’t even give them a say. This does not help clients. 

This can also impact business management. Some will judge the activities required to succeed based on their education, pronounce a negative decision, and then procrastinate. We often create our own “Analysis Paralysis” and find ourselves not doing what we need to do to help more and sell more. Many advisors with many designations do. The well educated, well credentialed advisor who barely ekes out a living is far more common than we would hope. 

It’s not that hard to outsmart yourself and end up on the outside looking in on those less credentialed advisors who have not overthought everything and move forward consistently.

Designations are good; not bad. But you don’t need to accumulate them for their own sake. They are not a guarantee of more business and they can hold you back. Instead, get the designations that truly help you do the job you want to do to help the people you want to help. Focus on your expertise and then get to work to do better. As Eszylfie Taylor said at this year’s Canada Sales Congress, you must believe in yourself, your business and your product and then you have to be prepared to “do the work”.

Successful advisors get the education they need to do what they need to do. Then they just do the work. Like Eszylfie. That drives their results and their income.

So, if you need an extra designation to help your prospects do more of what you already do, go for it. But if you are just adding designations for the CE credits or to impress yourself, you will be disappointed in your income growth. You are better off investing that time in your clients and that money in people and programs that will help you use what you already know to better effect. 

This column by renowned advisor coach Jim Ruta was first published in the February 2021 edition of Insurance Journal magazine.

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Jim Ruta’s mission is simple – to preserve, promote and propel the financial advisor business. A former insurance advisor and executive manager of a 250-advisor agency, Jim is a highly regarded coach, author, podcaster and keynote speaker. He has spoken 4 times at the MDRT Annual Meeting including the Main Platform. Jim Ruta is an Executive Coach and Keynote speaker specializing in life insurance advisors and leaders. He works with top advisors around the world and re-energizes audiences with his deep insight and passion. 

If you have a question for Jim, you may send an email to [email protected]