Most financial advisors offer their clients life insurance planning but few find it worth the effort. It’s not the core of their practice and the sheer number and complexity of the various policies and regulations combined with the mountains of paperwork can be a major headache.

As a result, less than 52% of financial advisors describe life insurance planning as a successful aspect of their business, according to a recent survey by Saybrus Partners, Inc., a life insurance partnership firm, and 30% avoid it completely.

“There are a lot of advisors who don’t touch it at all,” says Kevin Kimbrough, national sales manager of Saybrus Partners.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are a number of strategies advisors can employ to improve their grasp of life insurance planning—and better serve their clients.

Here are five that Kimbrough says pay dividends.

1. Put in the Time

Whatever approach an advisor decides to take, there is no avoiding a time commitment. Life insurance is tough to master and even basic skills are not easily acquired. How adept an advisor becomes is largely a function of how much time they're willing to put in.

"Because life insurance can be complex and cumbersome," Kimbrough says. Advisors need to "really just invest the time in growing their knowledge base."

2. Hit the Books

While reading up on life insurance policies and regulations can’t compare to hands-on experience, it doesn’t hurt to crack the books.

“Study up on life insurance," Kimbrough says, "perhaps take some of the industry study courses, and work closely with particular insurance companies on the information and resources they can provide.”

3. Partner Up

But few advisors have the spare hours to master the intricacies of life insurance planning. For many it doesn’t make economic sense to take so much time away from their core practice. That’s why it's often worthwhile to take a shortcut and team up with someone who does know the ins and outs of the business.

“Where we see it getting better is where the partnerships have been formed,” says Kimbrough. He recommends planners “find another advisor with their firm that does have the life insurance experience and knowledge and knowhow and work to form a partnership with that individual so they can gain the experience.”

4. Engage an Outside Specialist

Another potential time-saving shortcut for advisors is acquiring the services of insurance experts. These specialists can walk them through the paces, sitting down with them and their clients and offering in-depth guidance and instruction.

"Some advisors have formed partnerships with life insurance professionals, who can provide information, recommendations, and sales assistance," says Kimbrough.

"By meeting with their clients and being part of the process," he says, "these specialists get in the trenches with them and help them learn."

5. Just Do It

However an advisor chooses to get up to speed, there is no substitute for hands-on experience, of learning by doing. Advisors who want the skills need to roll up their sleeves and work with their clients on life insurance planning.

“It’s more about a practical application than an academic study process,” says Kimbrough. The best way for advisors to “grow and expand that knowledge base is by actually doing it.”

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