Getting Some Skin in the Game

One of the downsides of choosing to work in the financial services field is that many of the jobs are commissioned based. Even the ones that start salary, eventually decline that salary as the potential employee is supposed to gain clientele and then live off the corresponding fees from assets under management. The problem I had with many of the models was what is expected of new employees.

Let me start by saying I believe I know more about insurance and investments than the average person off the street, but I am far from an expert. I also knew going into this business, as much preaching goes on about helping people, ┬áthat ultimately this is a sales transaction. I do believe that I am trying to help people, but If I can’t sell my products and services I ultimately don’t eat.

So as I was conducting interviews, fully knowing that this is ultimately a sales job, I was appalled with one of the offers. I was asked to, more or less, go and prospect for clients. It was sold to me as a way to find out public perception of the financial services industry. One of the last questions posed on the pre-approved prospecting script was about meeting with a representative of the potential company. That last question was the deal breaker for me. Not only was I expected to approach people about financial services without knowing anything beyond internet searches, I was expected to attract potential clients that wouldn’t ultimately be mine since I wasn’t approved by the company yet.

All of the companies I interviewed wanted me to start with insurance licensing, which is where I am at now. It is quicker and easier to obtain than the series 6, which I hope to get done soon. Getting my in insurance license will allow me to start attracting clients through the life insurance market. The company I chose to start working for at least paid for the licensing requirements and provided me with other education material before I was expected to start prospecting.

In the grand scheme of things, their investment is small, but at least it is an investment. They at least have some skin involved in my failure or success. Right now my investment is limited, a little financial, a lot of time, and a bunch of opportunity cost. However, in a couple weeks my financial stability of a salaried paycheck will be ending, and then I will have a lot of skin in the game.

Part of the reason I pursued this career is to stay in an industry that allows me to have some sort of relationship with people. I am terrified that in a couple weeks I will have too much skin in the game, and will just become another pushy salesman. I don’t need many clients to make this work, I just need to build a steady stream for a few years.

All I have right now is about two weeks of official experience and a bunch of hope.


I have never worked a commission based job before. Every job I have ever had was based upon me trading my time for money. Now, I need to generate some sales and service to make an income. The time that I spend on that is actually irrelevant. It is possible to spend hours and hours during a week and not generate any potential income, or if I am lucky, I could generate a month’s worth of income in one or two meetings. That’s just kind of the nature of the beast.

Ultimately, like anyone running a business, it is up to me to generate a clientele. Because I don’t have the capital set aside to open my own office, nor the time to slowly let potential clients trickle in, I have to talk to my natural market. A natural market essentially is just going through a list of people I know. Since I a living in an area where I didn’t grow up, lack family, spent time in an all consuming job, I have a very limited natural market. Not only is my natural market numerically limited, many are not at a place in their lives to really focus on financial matters.

The other problem I have is that I am new to this profession. Sure I have been interested in finances for several years now, and have taken control of my own retirement and insurance needs, but that doesn’t mean someone else is going to necessarily trust me with their financial information. Money issues just isn’t something most people want to talk about. Then someone new asking to talk about it just makes it worse. So I am relying almost exclusively on the trust I have built up from previous relationships. For the most part that means I am asking former students, who knew me as a math teacher, to trust me when it comes to financial protection and investments.

I feel kind of awkward contacting people I have been out of touch with for at least a year or more to meet with me to just chat, but I know it is a habit I have to get used to. Last week I was able to meet with four people, and I was filled with anxiety going into these meetings. I am basically asking to meet with people who got to know me as teenagers, in a teacher-student relationship, to know come and view me as more of a peer. I was worried that these would be extremely awkward.

Awkwardness wasn’t the case though. I was surprised at how comfortable it was, and how much I appreciated meeting former students to find out what is going on in their lives. One thing I was warned about at training, make sure coffee chats are productive, that they aren’t dead ends. Well, two of my four meetings were business dead ends, but personally they were not. I hope I don’t lose sight of that moving forward, that there is value to a simple human relationship, even if there is no potential for money to be involved.

I went kind of slow the first week, but now I need to step up my pace and meet with some people. I will be sending out a bunch of messages out tomorrow, to just find out if people are willing to visit with me.

However, if you happen to read this, and are in the Tiffin area, and would like to meet, please fill out the contact form. I could use all the help I can get.