“Acres of Diamonds” Should Apply to How Advisors Think About Life Settlements

Think about the needs your clients and whether they could be fulfilled by a life settlement

Many of us in the financial world are familiar with Russell Conwell's famous "Acres of Diamonds" speech. Conwell, a Civil War captain, minister and attorney, was the first president of Temple University. He delivered this speech thousands of times beginning in the 1880s, earning millions of dollars in speaking fees (the profits of which he sent back to Temple, to support the education of thousands of students).

For those who haven’t heard or read the Acres of Diamonds speech, it concerns itself with the pursuit of wealth.

Conwell offers many interesting, useful points—that money itself is not evil, that being born into money is a handicap, that earning money provides some of the greatest pleasure a man can know, and that in order to make money, you have to give people something they need.

But it’s the first idea he offers in the speech that resonates with me the most—probably because it’s so easy to forget. Conwell opens with a story that he says he heard from a Persian guide while traveling along the Tigris River.

The moral of this fairly long story is that if you are looking for wealth, look first in your own backyard. This can easily be applied to the work that we as financial professionals do, especially when it comes to the life settlement business.

For example, let’s say that you’d like to start facilitating more life settlements because you want to have all the tools you can to help your clients reach their financial goals.

Where do you start?

It might be tempting to start looking for new clients—maybe advertise in publications or on websites tailored toward Baby Boomer users, or try to gain more referrals. And while this is certainly part of a successful business strategy, it requires significant resources, both time and monetary, and will produce uncertain results.

Instead, why not start with the clients you already have?

  1. Identify potential clients.

    The first thing to do is to identify existing clients who have needs that could be met by selling their life insurance in a life settlement. To even qualify for a life settlement, the client would ideally have to be over the age of 65. 

  2. Think about the needs they have and whether they could be fulfilled by a life settlement. Life settlements are certainly not for everyone, but in specific circumstances they can be an extremely helpful financial lifeline.

    Do you have a client who is struggling to pay exorbitant premiums on their policy? Or another who is burdened with the high cost of long term care? Maybe you have a client who no longer needs her policy due to a change in life circumstances, like divorce or the death of a spouse. 

    And then there’s retirement—if an individual finds they haven’t saved enough to support the retirement lifestyle they want, sometimes a life settlement can be a beneficial decision. In all of these cases, a life settlement can possibly help to ease financial stress and provide an additional source of income.   

  3. Talk to your clients about the possibility of a life settlement. The first step is to give an overview of what a life settlement is, as many laypeople, and even some in the financial world, don’t have a good handle on how they work. It’s also important to emphasize that the life settlement market is extremely well-regulated. 

If you’re thinking of expanding your work with life settlements, instead of looking for new clients, first take a look at the ones you already have. Chances are you have one, or more, who have needs that a life settlement could help meet.  

About the Author

Jon B. Mendelsohn is CEO and Co-­‐founder of the Ashar Group, LLC, a nationally licensed life settlement brokerage firm dedicated to representing the seller and their advisory team in appraising and securing fair market value for their life insurance. Jon is recognized in the industry as a thought leader and tireless champion for transparency and life settlement best practices. Jon is a sought after speaker on the national stage and a valued consultant to professionals working with sophisticated clients in the planning process. Jon graduated from the University of Florida with two bachelor degrees and a master’s degree. Jon is a proud supporter of the company cause, The Crohn’ and Colitis Foundation of America. He and his family reside in Orlando, Florida.