What do you do for a living?

Financial Representative with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.

How would you describe what you do?

I meet people and  find out their financial goals on 7 issues:

1. How important is it to provide for you children’s education?
2. How important is funding a comfortable retirement?
3. How important is it to protect loved ones in the event of a premature death?
4.  How important is it to have an income if you were sick or disabled?
5.  How important is it for you to address long term care needs?
6.  How important is it to evaluate your investment portfolio?
7.  And how important is it to address estate tax issues?

Then I drill down to what they need to do and which was most important and offer the most tax efficient solutions with world class companies with proven track records.  Lastly, I stay in touch with my clients to address their ever changing needs.

What does your job entail?

Creating Personal Needs Analysis and client specific presentations in both risk management and investments tailored to my prospects needs and risk level.  Networking to meet new people, and very frankly being on the phone quite a bit.

What’s a typical work week like?

40 hour week.  Deal with underwriting/rollovers in process/emails first hour of the day.  9 o’clock to 10 just dialing and the rest of the day seeing people or fighting to see people.

How did you get started?

I started when I went to have a beer with a buddy and asked him how his day was.  He said he set up two kids college education investment accounts.  I was about to have to fire 13 people in Buffalo New York, and they didn’t know it yet, with my current employer at the time, so I knew I wanted a career that would have a positive impact on my community.

What do you like about what you do?

I feel good know that probably without me my clients wouldn’t have saved money using the market, or wouldn’t have done as well.  Seeing a 529 college plan build up over the years and seeing that child knowing I will have had an impact on his education is fulfilling.  What is most fulfilling to me is to come in and provide financial relief when families are hurting and need it most.

What do you dislike?

I love that I was able to make it in this business and help so many people.  I know that and have to remember that because here is the bad part.  This career is sales and full of heart ache, chasing people, getting stood up without the courtesy of a phone call,  dialing people who probably don’t know who I am, and don’t want to meet me every day.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

I get paid if I am able to provide benefit to my prospects and clients.  If I am able to sell an annuity, mutual fund, life insurance, disability insurance, long term care insurance, trust services, or group or individual health insurance products whichever company I sell pays me.

How much do you make as a life insurance salesman?

This is a tricky question and I will try and explain it the best I can.  Bare bones…I make 10 grand a month net.  However, I have a 6 figure residual base that continues to increase along with consistent annuity and mutual fund investments and trails that I get paid on every year.  So if I didn’t work at all next year, I would probably make almost 50k because I have completed 8 years of service, but starting out, I had none of that, and guys with 25 years of service walk in the door each year and make 100k before doing a thing.  I also have 2 fully funded retirement plans with Northwestern Mutual.

How much did you make starting out in this career?

I made almost the exact same starting out as I did in my previous job.  I was 24 years old in 2003 and made around 40ish.   Again I earned more money than that on a deferred basis, but that is what I took home.

Are there any perks associated with this career?

You have the freedom to make as much or little as you want by the effort you put in.   I have the support of my team, but don’t have to rely on them.  NML will pay for any additional education like CFP designations for me.  I also win a trip or two every year to an exotic location.

What education and skills are needed to do this?

Skills and education can vary, but I would generalize that a degree is needed.  Prior sales experience helps.  Knowing people in a community so you can introduce yourself helps too, but isn’t a requirement.  The skill set is to care about people even when they don’t care about you, and be persistent, resilient and don’t give up when you are down or had a bad paycheck.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Most Challenging for everybody in my business is to get introduced to more good people and make the calls out to those people.

What is most rewarding?

Easily the most rewarding has been paying benefits to my clients/ delivering the promise.  I have paid disability benefits to a family.  I have paid life insurance proceeds to 3 families.   They used this money to survive and one used it to help fund a nonprofit.  I have paid a long term care claim where my client never wrote a check for the 20 thousand plus they could have been on the hook for.    I talked a guy with 150k given to me not to sell in March 09, so his money is back to where it was, effectively saving him a year of his take home income.

What advice would you give someone considering this career?

I would help them on their training and sales language, but the biggest advice is to know you are doing good, and when someone rejects you, they are making the mistake, not you.

How much time off do you get/take?

I take a couple vacations and now that I have a decent base, maybe more time off than I should.  It is so flexible.  Old guys sometimes take months off at a time and some people can’t afford to take any vacation days.  Sorry to not give a straight answer, but it really is up to the person.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

I think the biggest misconception that people have is that some of the products I sell are rip-offs because of what they heard on the radio or from some other media outlet.  Not only are they dead wrong, it hurts my feelings for someone to call me a crook.

What are your goals and dreams for the future in this career?

This will sound weird because I am not in a corporate environment.  Meaning I am sure many people will want to move up the ladder for a promotion or a job of higher stature.  I aspire to do the exact same job as I do now for the rest of my life.   Most of what I do is out in the field, and because I want to give back to my organization, I do coaching/recruiting/development for new reps as well.  I want to impact more people, make more impact, (meaning bigger sales) and at least double my income in the next 10 years.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

I would like people to know what I do is exactly the opposite of the movie “Boiler Room”   I am committed to help people achieve their goals.  So when someone calls from Northwestern Mutual, they are working, but they care.