Advisors unscripted: stories and strategies on the Discovery Series

In the final installment of a two-part series, Rehan Bhanji and David Lee of Desjardins Insurance share stories and strategies from their webinar series

Advisors unscripted: stories and strategies on the Discovery Series

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During the widespread lockdowns, many life and health insurance advisors found themselves isolated at home for weeks on end, suddenly disconnected from their close network of colleagues, clients and fellow advisors.

There were no more coffee breaks and lunches. No quick chats by the water cooler to catch up and share stories.

It was a problem that caught the attention of Rehan Bhanji and David Lee at Desjardins Insurance. With many years of experience as mentors in Canada’s insurance industry, they understood the importance of regular meet-ups to share information and seek advice.

As a result, they decided to create a series of online webinars that brought insurance professionals together to discuss their experiences, ask questions, and generally restore the connections that so many were missing. Called the Discovery Series with Desjardins, the series has gone from strength to strength, drawing in a growing audience from all across North America.

In part one of this two-part series, Bhanji and Lee discussed the origin of the webinars and why it has proved to be so popular with insurance professionals long after the lockdowns have ended. In part two of the series, they share some popular experiences and solutions from the show.

When Bhanji and Lee started the series, they knew they wanted to do something new. There were already a number of webinars for advisors, but the style was usually stiff and formal, with industry experts using a lot of jargon to have a one-way monologue with a mostly silent audience.

They wanted to recapture those moments people enjoyed when they met for coffee or caught up at the water cooler. It needed to be more intimate and conversational. And they wanted information to be shared through personal stories and experiences.

“We wanted to use a different language,” Bhanj says. “It needed to resonate with our listeners on a personal level.

“We want our listeners to come away thinking ‘if that person can do it, so can I, and I don't have to be the smartest person on the block, maybe I just have to be more passionate, or find clients in a slightly different way.”

To capture the power of storytelling, Bhanji and Lee search for speakers with compelling personal experiences that helped shape their professional lives.

Bouncing back

A webinar in April featured Sarah Balram, CFP, CDFA, CFDS, CHS, who has used her own experience navigating a separation as a first-time mom to help others find a path through the financial difficulties around separation and divorce.

Sharing her experience with the Discovery Series audience, Balram discussed how important it is to prevent emotions from clouding your judgement. She urged others to ask the questions she asked herself at the time.

“What do the numbers look like, what are you entitled to, and how do you pivot from the chaos” to ensure you emerge on a sound financial footing.

As a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst today, Balram is a perfect example of what the Discovery Series aims to achieve: sharp industry expertise wrapped in a compelling story that other advisors can understand.

Part of a team

It’s important for advisors to create a network. The building blocks of a network come in many forms. They could be referrals from existing clients, walk-ins, and cold calls.

Or you could join a team. For Paula Andreychuk, that began quite literally when she started working for the Canadian football team the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in her early 20s.

Through her work in merchandising and ticketing, to helping plan Grey Cup events across Canada, Andreychuk was with the organization during their thrilling highs as well as their disappointing lows.

“Sport is a team, and you have to rely on the people around you,” Andreychuk said during an episode of the Discovery series. “Bread on the table was based on the performance on the field, which came back to the team.”

Some of those shared emotional connections decades ago have turned into client relationships today, said Andreychuk, who now works as an Insurance Advisor for Genesis Wealth Solutions Inc.

The importance of connecting with others in a team still resonates with Andreychuk today. Looking to challenge herself and make a difference in the lives of others, she applied to be a volunteer firefighter in Norwich, Ontario.

It was hard work. Every weekend, she climbed ladders, cut holes in roofs, and wore 70 pounds of gear all day.

But it was worth it. After months of shared pain and success, she was again part of a team – with more connections and new friendships.

The experiences shared by Sarah Balram and Paula Andreychuk are just two examples of the intimate, story-telling atmosphere of the Discovery Series.

Other episodes have heard from Munira Dhanani-Jeraj, MDRT, CoT, who escaped the turmoil of East Africa in the early 70s to start anew in Canada, where she became an Insurance Broker specializing in life, health insurance, and savings plans.

Other parts of the successful webinar series have heard from advisors about the importance of empathy, life as a young entrepreneur, and the risks and rewards to be found in the economy today.

When Bhanji and Lee began the Discovery Series they wanted every show to be an engaging narrative. It needed to provide rich insights and advice that could be applied in the real working life of their listeners.

Whether it’s managing client relationships, navigating regulatory changes or crafting business strategies; the Discovery Series has become a journey of discovery where each episode unlocks something new. And their avid listeners agree.

“Something like this, very new in the industry. The direct knowledge coming from an advisor going to an advisor … this is really going to make a big change in the industry,” says Sim Ghakhar MDRT Country Chair – Insurance and Investment Advisor.

Along with meaningful life lessons, the webinars provide some immediate practical advantages as well.

Listeners are able to earn CE credits throughout the series, helping them to meet their annual commitments at the same time they’re learning so much else about their profession.

Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company.

Desjardins®, Desjardins Insurance®, all trademarks containing the word Desjardins, as well as related logos are trademarks of the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec, used under licence.