• Michael Oneal

    This discussion is dangerously wrong and half baked, written by someone, including Ron Lieber from the New York Times, who hasn’t drilled down deep enough to find the truth. I’m a former journalist trained at Columbia U and am now a New York Life-trained life insurance agent.

    Before delving into the life insurance world, I was as ignorant as Ron. Not all agents put their interests first and only the truly skilled, honest, and courageous can make it 20 years in the business living on commissions. Nine out of 10 people will look down their noses at commission-based income, but I bet you not a single one could pull it off with integrity.

    And the idea of universally panning whole life, in favor of term, insurance is dumb, too. True, there is value in the buy-term-and-invest-the-rest (in index funds) concept, but the truth is everyone is a financial snowflake deserving of financial advice uniquely tailored to his or her circumstance.

    The hope is that the agent has the tools, and the knowledge of how and when to use them, needed to put the customer on the road–which tends to be quite long–to financial peace of mind.

    The level of financial ignorance in this country–whether it’s a professor, doctor, lawyer, millionaire, transit worker, preacher, or a business reporter at the New York Times–is amazingly low. And, as noted, I was just as stupid as everyone else until I got in the business and experienced what is really going down.