Share Your Umbrella Podcast: A Conversation with Bob Brotherton

For each episode of Share Your Umbrella — the First Financial Security® podcast dedicated to sharing stories from entrepreneurs who help families in need with financial solutions and opportunities — we take excerpts from the most interesting parts of the interviews and post them on our blog. This week, our guest was Bob Brotherton, an Executive Field Chairman who has been with FFS since our earliest years. We spoke to Bob about his unique approach to the cold market, his prospecting strategy, and his interesting journey before joining the insurance industry.

See below for an excerpt of our conversation — you can listen to the full episode here.

Bob, why did you choose the insurance industry? What did you do prior to joining FFS?

Prior to FFS, I had a long history. I'm originally from Ohio, but I’d been a college professor in Colombia, South America. I taught English as a second language. I worked in the department of Arts and Letters in Bucaramanga, Colombia. It was an industrial engineering college, and I taught a lot of professors.

Eventually, I went over into the mortgage business, and the mortgage business is the reason I'm here today. When the whole industry imploded, a lot of people ended up upside-down, so I came into the insurance business with First Financial Security. That was 12 or 13 years ago now, so I guess I was one of the original people to join. I'm so glad that I got an insurance license because I had put all my eggs in one basket with the mortgage industry. The financial services basket is 100 times bigger.

What made you take a chance with FFS? What made you join this opportunity instead of another company?

Four or five things got me through the door — I tell people that if they talk to somebody about FFS, I want them to take away these same things. Number one: these are really good people. Number two: this is a really good company. Number three: these are really good carriers that we represent. Number four: they have really good products. Number five, which is the biggest one: I knew I could do this.

So, when I looked at FFS, it wasn't a hard decision. I had been with other financial services companies, so I knew a lot of the key people. When I looked at First Financial Security, I saw people with integrity. The staff and the people that I worked with were the uppermost priorities to me. I learned about the committed people we have here, that they were serious about this business and that the carriers were second to none.

We have companies that have been around for over 100 years, many of them with over $100 billion of business in their books. Many of them are debt-free companies. If we compare our carriers to other people’s, we're right up there at the top of the food chain. The products are cutting edge, too. I had never heard of the indexing concepts. Indexed Universal Life, indexed annuities, these were totally new to me. They sounded way too good to be true. I did my homework and came away saying, “I've got to tell this story to people.” If I talk to 100 people today, 95 of them have never heard of our concepts.

The money is good too, obviously. I should have added that. There's good money to be made here. And going along with that: I knew could do this. That's the impression I want to give people as well. You can do this; we'll help you out. We'll be a team here. Whatever level you are when you come in, we will be a team for you.

How have you been finding clients since the pandemic? Did you have trouble finding prospects when the industry switched to virtual?

Well, when I first came into this business, I came up to Tampa from Miami — I didn't know anybody. So, I never had a warm market. I never had a natural market, and that ended up being to my advantage because I learned to just get out there. There are some simple things that you can say to people that open the door. My whole strategy is that you've got to keep it simple. If you keep it very brief and have a light touch, the market is everywhere.

With the way the economy is today, people are keeping their eyes open. We’ve learned to use zoom webinars, something I never knew how to do before. I'm not technical by nature. I'm on the other end of the technical spectrum, but I’m so glad that certain people can do it.

What other challenges did you face when you were first starting out? What did you do to overcome them?

I didn't have a team. I didn't know anybody. I didn't know how to get around town. I had nothing really going on. But I was a crusader. I knew how to prospect and how to meet people from scratch. I knew I could either do a product approach or I could do an opportunity approach. I had little scripts I could use to call people — in those days, you would cold call.

I found out that if I got 100 people in a room and said, “How many of you in here need a mortgage?” A few hands would go up. “How many of you in here need real estate?” A few hands might go up. “How many of you need life insurance?” A few hands would go up. “How many of you need to accumulate more money?” All 100 hands go up.

I looked at that and decided to use the business approach: the opportunity approach or the entrepreneur approach. If you learn how to do that diplomatically, with a very light touch, most people will talk to you. I don't try to sell people, and I don't try to recruit them either. All I want to do is expose them to an opportunity. Give me a few minutes — let me share something with them, we’ll see if they have an interest.

Listen to our full conversation with Bob Brotherton for more valuable insight into running your own business.

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