Integrity is the life insurance agent’s most important quality, but make no mistake: it takes hard work to maintain that integrity. You have to be willing to put in the hours and do the work so that you can be sure the numbers aren’t just saying something… they’re saying the correct thing.
The tricky thing about math is that you have to know what your variables mean, and how to interpret answers. And what’s unfortunately all too common in our industry is that people either aren’t willing or don’t know how to dig deeper mathematically. Truth Concepts exists to make it simpler for you to input the facts and actually follow the logic to an answer, rather than having the logic exist behind nice graphics. Yet it still requires attention to detail.
The Importance of Knowing Why
When you’re calculating something, your inputs are just as important as your outputs, if not more so. After all, your inputs inform your outputs. Each of the Truth Concepts calculators is designed around a particular concept so that you can get a panoramic view, yet that doesn’t mean you’ll enter an input into every single empty field.
If you’ve attended a Truth Training, for example, you’ll know that we often enjoy using only a few variables to start. For example, if we’re showing an example in Cash Flow, it’s often wise to keep things simple. We might only use a Cash Flow and a rate, to establish money coming in and out of an asset. Everything else—like taxes and fees—can come later, if relevant. The important question for you, the advisor, to answer is are they relevant?
If, for example, you’re showing a withdrawal from a tax-advantaged account, you won’t need to show the effect of taxes. The same goes for a loan. Taxes are irrelevant unless you’re going to make a comparison to a taxable account. If the account is whole life insurance, there’s also no need for you to include any fees, as those are baked into the available Cash Value. In fact, if you’re illustrating anything with whole life insurance, your best course of action is to copy and paste an illustration into Life Insurance Values.
If you don’t have a grasp of the assets you’re working with, or why you’re inputting variables, take the time to think it through. Because the calculator will give you an answer, however, it may not be the answer you’re intending to give. Remember: you are the essential piece of the equation that makes the math work.
Your Behind-the-Scenes Work
At Truth Training, I often stress the importance of doing the behind-the-scenes work. Don’t input something for the first time when you’re in front of the client. This invites too much room for error, especially if you’re still learning how to use the calculators effectively. You might be able to make it through, however, you’ll feel much more confident if you’ve already run the numbers on your own time.
It’s okay to make mistakes and get things wrong, you just don’t want to do that in front of a client. It’ll chip away at your confidence and their trust in you. Instead, the more you can play with the numbers behind-the-scenes, before your next conversation, the more clarity you can get on the math and the results.
If you’re not calculator oriented, consider having someone on your team who has the analytical mind to crunch numbers. That way you can project confidence and accuracy in your client conversations.
While every calculator was designed with a concept in mind, that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment and get creative with the calculators. You just want to be sure that everything you do is intentional, and that you understand how your inputs are affecting the outputs. That way you don’t get in front of a client with misinformation.
However, do be cautious of things that seem too good to be true. If you keep getting a result that seems above and beyond what you’d expect, it warrants a deeper dive. It doesn’t necessarily mean something wrong, however, you’ll want to reexamine those inputs and make sure you don’t have any anomalies. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to send a TC data file to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can attempt to be your extra eyes.
Keep Learning and Practicing
One of the best things you can do, if you want to be proficient with Truth Concepts, is to keep learning. Attending Truth Training is one way to do this, however, we highly encourage using our video resources in Truth Concepts Academy, in addition to the blog. Many advisors have jumpstarted their learning by following along with the tutorials with the goal of getting the same answers.
(Note: If you do follow along and the example uses stock market data or tax rates, there might be some small discrepancies in your answers, as the information is updated annually. In those cases, you’re aiming for “close” not exact.)
Some advisors even choose to foster connections with each other to support each other and practice together.
Regardless of what you choose, practicing will help you build your confidence and your understanding of what calculators, and subsequently what inputs, will answer the questions you’re asking. This, more than anything, will help to sustain the integrity of this industry and the ways in which we all talk about whole life insurance and other assets.