How To Shop Financial Services Products While Black

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We have worked in Insurance and Banking for three decades.  We have seen how our White colleagues behave when discussing internally, or when working directly with persons of color.

This video is difficult to present because we don’t dare presume that we know what life is like to be Black in America. We can only empathize and attempt to put ourselves in your shoes.

We share some advice on how you should expect a financial services professional to behave if they are treating you with the equal respect they provide to their white clients.  We created this advice based on how we have behaved with clients, knowing that we have standards that are severely Anti-Racist, and how we have observed other professionals with less savory standards behave.

 

  • Language.  An Anti-Racist uses language that is respectful at all times, not only the words used, but the tone of voice used.
  • Education.  The quality professional, treating all customers equally, seeks to educate clints. They bring to the presentation deep reserves of patience and empathy.  They never behave in a way that disrespects the client’s lack of knowledge about the service or product.
  • On Time. Your Professional should be on time and prepared for the meeting/call.  This demonstrates their ability to take you seriously.
  • Respect. The Anti-Racist professional never speaks down to a client.  The Anti-Racist professional asks questions with a patient demeanor, or explains things in plain English with a respectful tone.  Example, “I’m asking for your Identification because I’m required to do so for every client when we will run their credit report.”  That’s respectful, seeks to demonstrate a patient educational tone.   The opposite is, “I need to see your ID.”
  • Polite.  Language and words truly demonstrate how a person thinks.  When a person is polite to a customer, they use the appropriate words such as “Please” “Excuse me” and “Thank You.”

We recommend that you, as a Black American, or a person of ethnicity or different gender, absorb these key points of behavior and, most importantly, act on the points with the best action you as a consumer of financial service products can take: Walk away.

Too often, we’ve seen an African American customer being treated badly by a white professional but that customer stays in the meeting.  Walk away.

The best way to demonstrate your requirement that you be treated equally is to walk away from, or hang up the phone on, any financial services professional who you feel is not sufficiently Anti-Racist. There are plenty of us out here in the world who know how to treat our fellow human being equally and with respect.

Walk away from the racists and find those of us who are Anti-Racist.

We’re here and we’re waiting for you.

3 Things to Expect From Your Insurance Broker

I’m going to hit you between the eyes, and you may like it.  I’ve worked in the Insurance Industry for 30 years.  My ultimate accomplishment was owning an Independent Insurance Agency.

I’d like to think I know a couple of things about insurance.

Here it comes, the part where I hit you between the eyes:  Your Insurance Broker may not be servicing you properly, and it could be costing you money, probably a lot of money.

I know, I know, insurance isn’t something you think about all that often, maybe once a year, when it’s renewal time. And, that’s when you discover how your Insurance Agent is managing your account.

Maybe your premium went up. A lot. And no one from your Insurance Agent’s office contacted you to let you know that they are aware of the situation. So, you go through the strife and stress of dealing with that situation, whether you go through the motions of switching to another company, or you complain and ultimately paid the higher premium.

You get through the moment. Then, return to your normal life. Until the same thing happens next year when you’re stressed out again.

My Insurance License in Connecticut is still active. I kept it as a matter of convenience for the occasional client. My primary focus since 2018 has been building the Commercial Financing Broker business as a part of Aurora Consulting.

But, here’s the thing. With the COVID-19 crisis and the assistance we’ve been providing business owners to get Disaster Relief financing, I’ve been exposed to other elements of their respective businesses, including their insurance costs, as part of the financing process.

When I see how business owners are being serviced by their Insurance Agents I am, quite frankly, surprised and confused. What I see most often is these businesses have insurance policies where their business is under-insured, over-priced, and minimally serviced.

I didn’t run my Independent Agency that way, and for the clients I’ve assisted over the past 18 months, I don’t service them in that manner either. Your Insurance Agent should be doing these three things.  If they are not doing these to honor your business relationship, then call me and we will review your insurance to see where you can improve.

  1. Annual Review. Your Agent should contact you once a year to review your current policies. The review should include questions about the status of your business and plans for the future. We review your current coverage and premium as well to see what changes have occurred with the policy in the past year.
  2. Updates on Coverage.  Insurance Carriers can change their underwriting standards from time to time. It’s up to your Agent to be aware of those changes and to update you when those changes can affect your insurance, negatively and positively.  Your Agent is the one with their finger on the pulse of the industry while you’re busy running your business.  Your Agent should notify you when a change will affect your business.
  3. Service the Heck Out of You. Practically every business owner I’ve come into contact with in my financing business states that they never hear from their Agent. When I need an insurance document for their financing request, the process of obtaining that document takes longer than necessary because of the lack of communication. The Insurance business is a SERVICE business.

Reach out if you think your insurance needs attention. Email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz.

The Dreadful Disorganized Document Disaster

Our resident Chief Financing Rock Star, Trevor Curran, was a Mortgage Banker for 30 years. His specialty was helping first time homebuyers with low down payments to achieve the American Dream of Home Ownership.

From the early days, with no computers, no internet, no email nor a beeper on his belt—until the day of his retirement in 2018, a mortgage loan application was all about the paper. Documents to support the application needed to be submitted, reviewed, dissected, parsed, and collated.

Trevor’s clients submitted their documents in many and varied ways, including coffee-stained tax returns, crumpled paystubs pulled out of an old wallet, and badly-scanned PDFs.

Considerable time was spent by Trevor and his loan processing team to put these documents into a manner acceptable for review by an Underwriter.

And of course there was the pushback from clients.
“Why do you need that (document)?”
“I can’t find my tax return.”
“The dog ate my homework.” Oh, wait, wrong story.

Trevor’s response, time and time again, including in the early days when he would literally drive to the clients’ home, workplace, a McDonald’s parking lot, or the real estate office, to pickup their required documents, was, “We need these documents because the bank requires it since you’re asking the bank to lend you several hundred thousand dollars.”

This obvious message was delivered in a kind and patient but firm manner.

Still, it always seemed incredible, time and time again, how people could be so cavalier about their loan application requirements. “Don’t they want the house?” he would often ponder in the moments of extreme frustration.

Now, as the primary processor for Aurora Consulting, Trevor’s manages the document flow and the loan applications for our business clients. When we launched this business we remember discussing how this document issue is going to be so much better because we’re dealing with serious business people.

Unfortunately, we were mistaken.

Especially over the past eight weeks as we have assisted over 30 businesses to apply for and receive Government Disaster Relief financing, the poor quality of document management is mind-blowing. Especially at a time like this, when the desperation of keeping a business alive requires this emergency infusion of cash. You’d think business owners and their representatives (CPA’s, mostly) would be sharper than ever to get documents submitted in an organized and prompt fashion.

Again, mistaken.

Moral of the story for anyone thinking they want to ask a Bank or Lender for money—whether you’re buying a house or financing a business—it’s all about the paper. Organize your documents, submit them in a clean, efficient manner, and submit them promptly.

Rant over.

Send us a message with how you’ve successfully managed your team to understand your high level of standard when it comes to managing your documents.