Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth, and sooner or later, that debt is paid.
— Valery Legasov, Chernobyl (HBO)
Many years ago, I worked for a large, well-known life insurance company. A household name.
One night, I was working late with my boss. Well, actually it was my boss’s boss.
He was a financial planner and also ran the entire office.
Anyway, we went out to meet one of his clients, deliver their financial plan to them, and collect a fat check from the clients for the plan. On the way back to the office, I asked my boss if people actually read through all those pages… I mean, the financial plan looked like a small telephone book.
His response was something like “Who knows?”
At the time, this really baffled me. My employer really harped on the idea that financial planning was this thing we did where we took a “comprehensive” view of a person’s finances and helped them build a balanced investment plan.
And, if you looked at how the company operated, it certainly seems like this was the approach everyone took. In my office, we had a handful of life insurance agents, several Certified Financial Planners, an investment advisor, and a stock broker. Basically, all bases covered and we all worked, more or less, as a team.
Anywho, when I pressed my boss further on the issue, his response really hit me hard and has stuck with me ever since: ‘I invest some of my money in our 401(k) plan but most of my money goes into our whole life insurance… $60,000 in premium a year… you know why? Because I know exactly where my money is and I sleep well at night.’
This guy who had been in the business for 30 years, was a Certified Financial Planner, and by all measures was a competent and successful investment advisor chose to put the bulk of his own money into whole life insurance.
And it wasn’t just my boss… the other CFPs in the office also owned a surprising amount of whole life insurance and for similar reasons. That’s when it really hit me. This was the great lie in financial planning. Everyone recommends this “balanced” approach but they really adopt an “insurance centric” approach in their own financial plan.
That’s why I get a chuckle out of all the talking heads on YooToob who argue over this topic or say things like “the only ones who recommend whole life insurance are the ones who sell it.”
Maybe, someday, these truth debts will come home to roost. Who knows?