Over the course of my summer internship, I’ve learned a lot about the industry of financial planning and insurance. I love to understand how stuff works in the world, so to see the whole business structure and compare it to other companies is fascinating to me. In the beginning, I didn’t even know what it meant to be a mutual insurance company. Quickly, I realized that I was not the only one who was under-informed on personal finance. The reality is that most people have not taken the steps necessary to maximize their hard-earned salaries. From what I have experienced, education level plays very little importance in this knowledge. As a business and leadership double major at a highly respected school such as Richmond, I have not taken a single class that helped me manage my finances, nor would I ever know how a life insurance policy works. This is not a criticism of Richmond, but rather educational priorities in general. I don’t think I’ve met a single person who knew the difference between a Roth and traditional IRA, but public high schools in America would rather teach chemistry or Shakespeare. Those are worthy endeavors for a scholar, but why don’t we teach students how to live their actual lives? I can guarantee I will never use an ounce of what Ms. Osipenko taught me in public school chemistry, and I can also guarantee that every single American would benefit from basic financial literacy.
As I’ve learned that everyone can benefit just by meeting with an adviser for free, I’ve gained a lot more conviction in pitching it to people. When I started out with zero product knowledge, I did not know how or why someone would want to do business with Northwestern Mutual. Now that I have seen the whole client cycle and how we can help, I know that I am educating people and not selling them a product. Building relationships is about building trust, and a business model based on cutting corners would not be successful. For a client to take action toward their financial goals, the decision must come from them every step of the way. Luckily, I do feel strongly that any logical person with all the facts would see that working with Northwestern Mutual is a no-brainer. In fact, when I explain cash value life insurance to my friends, they want to sign up even though they don’t have jobs yet. Because of this knowledge and reaction, I am confident that Northwestern Mutual does good work for people. I am excited and grateful to have had this opportunity, and no matter what happens in the future, I will benefit greatly from what I have learned.