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Overcoming cultural taboos in Jamaica

Antoinette Tuscano

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Robinson talks about investments first, which leads into insurance with prospects.
Marina Burnel Photography

IN JAMAICA, where the dollar fluctuates and devalues, people can be suspicious of life insurance agents and financial advisors. Yet, Loeri Ann Robinson, BSc (Hons), LUTCF, is embraced by her clients.

“I don’t see barriers,” said Robinson, a six-year MDRT member from Kingston, Jamaica. “To actualize to your full potential, stop competing with others. Compete with yourself. Each and every day I strive to be a better person. I strive to better my best.”

The financial profession in Jamaica is evolving, What was once a life-insurance-centered industry is now branching out to include banking and investment solutions. To adjust to the changing environment and client concerns, advisors are increasing their education levels as well as promoting high ethical standards in their profession.

Robinson makes sure she knows as much as possible about her profession and her niche market of professionals and business owners. She specializes in key person insurance to protect companies against economic losses.

Furthermore, she said, “I’ve developed my own formula for advising clients, which came from years of trial and error. It allows an individual to open up their ears and listen to what you have to say. And not only listen, but apply it in their own minds as applicable to learn what they want out of life.”

To do this, she shares real-life experiences about what financial products have done for others, and she also asks in-depth questions.

Start with investments

Everybody wants to talk about money and how they can make enough, Robinson said. “I tend to start off with the word investment. In Jamaica, the word insurance sometimes is taboo. That’s because of unpleasant experiences — not just with insurance, but with advisors. Instead, I ask them about different investment products they might already have, such as stocks.”

From there, Robinson asks about what they’re doing for retirement planning, such as if they have a pension. Next, she asks about other benefits they might already have from their employer, such as health and life insurance. “The wall is broken down then. They’re now more open and willing to hear the word insurance,” she said.

Even though Robinson solicited the meeting on the basis of discussing investments, she’s now able to talk about a variety of insurance products — such as key person — in the context of how it connects to clients’ financial goals. Throughout the process, she asks open-ended questions, including “What’s your take on life insurance?” This lets her unearth any negative feelings clients have toward the different plans.

When those feelings from clients are revealed, Robinson will say something like, “I understand you think life insurance is highway robbery. Maybe this is what has happened, but did you know that life insurance actually can do X, Y or Z?” From there, Robinson asks the client if they’d like to see an example of how life insurance can work. The clients always do.

“It’s a matter of making people become comfortable and helping them realize what’s important. At the end of the meeting, which was initially about investments, clients actually want to do insurance more than investments,” Robinson said.

Knowing that another family’s financial future is protected is extremely satisfying for Robinson. “Being a financial advisor, we’re faced with a lot of noes,” she said. “I want every advisor out there to know their worth and to not let any negativity stop them from their mission. We’re the beacons of hope. Sometimes, there will be opposition, but use that to fuel you to help another individual.”

Contact: Loeri Robinson


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