Wow, hard to believe that 2011 has run its course and we are into 2012. Not sure about everyone else but for me personally, last year seemed to have more challenges than many of the ones prior. Obviously, when a carrier decides to make major changes, and in the blink of an eye, no longer pays you for business that you brought to them over a long period of time, it will change your outlook very quickly. I have always been the type of person who trusts in others and if I give you my word, it is golden. Others have told me that in today’s world, you have to have everything written in a contract. But to me, whether you write it down, shake my hand, or just make a commitment, it will always come down to trust. Our clients put a lot of trust in each of us. As insurance professionals, we don’t actually give them something of value that they can put on the wall or park in their garage, but rather, we promise to do something for them in the future. We promise to assist them with financial means if they get hurt, get sick, find they are unable to work, or possibly die. That is when we really deliver the product that we sold. Our clients have to trust us when we tell them we will be there. I am not sure that all agents understand that simple fact. Many so called professionals think the end of the sale is getting the dotted line signed. But in the scheme of things, that is when the clock actually starts on the agent earning their keep. See, when something like insurance is sold, unlike anything else, the client doesn’t see any value until the time it is needed. When a carrier takes away the client from a professional agent, the client is the one who suffers. They purchased the product because of a professional agent’s promise to be there when the financial need arises. The agent looked the client in the eye and made a commitment. The carrier’s CEO didn’t do that, their management team didn’t do that, the carrier representative didn’t do it either. It was the professional agent who made the promise. But when a carrier has the ability to remove the agent, without any cause, from the transaction, someone is left with empty promises. I never was one to worry about not having the ability to carry out my promises, as I have said many times, “A commitment made, is a debt unpaid!” But now, find it hard to keep promises made because of a carrier’s decision. I find that I read a lot more fine print than I would in the past. I hope that I never lose my trust in people, even when things happen that tend to sour my ideals. I still tend to trust a person’s word. I absolutely dislike complicated contracts and would rather keep agreements simple but am aware that they are sometimes necessary. My hope for you this coming year is that you keep your commitments. 2012 will bring some tremendous challenges as well as fantastic opportunities. The professional agent has never had better opportunities in my opinion to prove their worth. No matter what the Supreme Court, or the election’s outcome, people will always need someone they can trust.