“Sometimes in this business, you just need a friendly voice and clients are often that friendly voice,” Chalom said. “Many longstanding clients always take my calls, and I would always take their calls. Every advisor needs that client who is receptive and open to them when they need a lift themselves.”
But relationships like that don’t happen overnight. They take time to develop and are rooted in the need for clients to share intimate financial details with their advisors. They require high levels of trust and are unique to the insurance and financial services profession, Chalom said.
“In some cases, I have known a client longer than they have known their spouses or children,” he said. “We developed a relationship and a degree of trust based on the service I provided over the years.”
During the many years of service, these relationships have proved personally rewarding for Chalom and financially indispensable for his clients. Early on, for example, he encouraged many clients to get long-term care insurance, but some were reluctant to purchase a product they felt certain they would never use. He persisted with his recommendation and after several years, based on the trust Chalom had earned, several clients agreed.
Years later, some of these clients required home health care and other costly long-term care services, and the plan they put in place paid out tens of thousands of dollars in tax-free benefits.
In some cases when a client passes away, Chalom began working with their adult children on their retirement and financial plans. He even set up custodial accounts for their children, his original clients' grandchildren.
“That’s what this business does,” he said. “You have the capability to build relationships with generations, and I just don’t know of any other business where you can do that.”
Building NAIFA Connections
Under Chalom’s leadership, Retirement Council, Inc., has become the latest NAIFA 100% Agency. Chalom joined NAIFA early in his career to take advantage of the association’s professional development opportunities. He received encouragement from a successful industry veteran to take LUTCF coursework offered by NAIFA.
“So, I did it, because, you know, I figured everybody knows more than I do,” Chalom said with a laugh. “I figured, I’m here to learn. So I took the class and during that class I learned about the association, which was NALU at that time.”
Further along in his career, during a transition from being a captive agent to forming his own independent agency, he benefited from NAIFA’s networking opportunities. “What I found with the association was that there are other people like me out there and that it was a place to learn – to meet other people and learn from them,” he said.
His involvement with NAIFA has grown deeper through the years. He started writing the local NAIFA newsletter and served on the local Board of Directors. He has also served on national NAIFA committees. He continues to be active in many of NAIFA’s political advocacy efforts. Today, he is the Immediate Past President of NAIFA’s Florida chapter.
Enrolling Retirement Council, Inc., as a NAIFA 100% Agency made perfect sense, he said.
“I look at it as a benefit, because the way NAIFA is shaping the program you’re able to get a little bit of extra attention, a little bit of extra focus, a little bit more engagement, and those are all good things,” he added. “For the benefit you get, why wouldn’t you do it?”
He encourages the members of his team, as well as all his NAIFA colleagues, to take full advantage of their memberships and actively participate in the association.
“You get out what you put in,” he said. “There are different levels of engagement. By investing a small amount of time and not going anywhere, except your computer screen, you can get so much out of your association…. The way NAIFA has developed over the last few years, where there is so much on-demand and virtual engagement, all you really need to do is learn how to navigate it.… There is so much material available, it’s well worth the membership.”
Clients Provide Career Motivation
Most early-career agents and advisors go through highs and lows as they work to build a book of business, Chalom said, and he was no exception. Maintaining his commitment to serving the best interests of clients and understanding that they really need him helped him through the valleys.
“Clients make you refocus on them, and you really don’t have time to have any kind of negativity in your life because you’re busy helping somebody else, and that was really helpful to me even later on,” he said.
After more than three decades in the business, maintaining client relationships and empowering the people he serves are motivators that keep Chalom energized and engaged. Continuously earning clients’ trust remains crucial to his success.
“As I gained more experience in this profession, I realized how important the role of an advisor is,” he explained. “I believe that we have a sacred position in serving as an advisor to someone, because we learn things about people that no one else knows. They don’t tell their doctor. They don’t tell their lawyer. They don’t tell their accountant. Oftentimes, financial advisors are really the only ones that have a relationship with people.”
Interestingly, Chalom said his business model and the fact that he receives commissions and fees rather than an hourly rate often make clients more eager to open up to him and have the types of ongoing conversations that lead to successful long-term relationships.
“We don’t have our hand out looking for an hourly rate every time we talk to someone,” he said. “What I’ve seen with financial advisors, especially those not looking for a billable hour, is that there’s an opportunity to develop deep relationships that can easily go beyond dollars and cents. That’s very rare. We’re the only ones who do that.”
Insurance and financial professionals, working to help clients achieve financial security and attain their life goals, do indeed hold a sacred position for tens of millions of American families and individuals. As a NAIFA 100% Agency, Retirement Council, Inc., epitomizes those practices that work in the best interests of clients to financially empower them and provide them with individualized attention and service. And when those clients think of the agency’s President, it’s very likely they think fondly of Joseph Chalom.