Written By: Joseph W. Jordan, Barbara O’Neill, AFC®, Ph.D., CFP®
The author, Joseph W. Jordan, is a seasoned insurance industry professional who oversees Met Life’s Behavioral Finance Strategies unit. The book’s major theme is that financial practitioners (with an emphasis on those selling insurance) make many positive impacts on the lives of their clients. Multiple generations of families are often affected by their advice and services.
Jordan weaves personal and professional experiences into this five-chapter, 84-page, book, a quick read on a 2-hour airplane trip. He also provides a review of various financial “storms” during his 30+ year career including the collapse
of insurance company Baldwin United, the Michael Milken junk bond scandal, and the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.
Readers learn that Jordan’s father died when he was nine-months old, days after cashing in a life insurance policy. His mother was left with four children and few resources. This life-changing event fueled Jordan’s passion for motivating financial professionals to boldly reach out to uninsured potential clients and save them from a similar fate.
The book is liberally sprinkled with real-life stories that illustrate how insurance helped families stay afloat financially and/or created legacies following the death of a loved one. In Chapter 2, a young widow is a profiled who has a baby. Her mid-20 year old husband nearly canceled a life insurance policy before he died, but didn’t because of an insurance agent. In Chapter 3, readers learn how life insurance on a college student who died was used to fund a college scholarship program.
Granted, some would argue that insuring a child ought not be the highest priority for a family’s scarce insurance premium dollars, and funding scholarships is not really the purpose of life insurance. In this particular case, however, life insurance brought the parents peace knowing “their child’s name will live on for generations.”
You should feel proud and enthusiastic about your chosen profession.
While a bit “sappy” in places, Living a Life of Significance held my interest. Jordan describes how he turned his anger into passion. The anger was “about the basic injustice to families [like his] left without resources at their times of greatest need.” A recurring theme is urging financial advisors to consider “how much your work can do for other people.” He repeatedly frames the sale of life insurance as adding benefit to people’s lives and calls insurance proceeds “love letters” from deceased policy owners to their beneficiaries.
AFCPE members can benefit from reading Living a Life of Significance in several ways. First, Jordan’s stories can be cited to discuss the need for life insurance and what happens when people die with and without it. For example, the book describes how the father of his daughter’s friend died without adequate coverage:
“If he spent $50 a month on a million of term [life insurance], his wife’s life and his daughter’s life would now be dramatically changed for the better.”
Second, while few AFCPE members probably sell life insurance, we, too, change lives for the better with our financial counseling, research, teaching, publications, social media, and more. When you finish reading this book, you should feel proud and enthusiastic about your chosen profession. As Jordon notes, “what we do is immeasurably significant.”
Dr. Barbara O’Neill, CFP®, AFC® holds the rank of Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and is Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s Specialist in Financial Resource Management. Her personal finance web site is ttp://njaes.rutgers.edu/money/ and she tweets research-based personal finance information at @moneytalk1.