This is my first solo hosting episode, please be gentle with me!
Catherine Morgan is joining me to start off this season. We are talking about people’s mindsets, embedded beliefs that dictate how we feel about finances and whether we do or don’t trust insurance. I came away with some personal revelations about how my money mindset has been shaped since childhood.
We also chat about Catherine’s experience applying for insurance having had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a recent claim on private medical insurance.
Our 3 key takeaways,
1. 90% of our decisions are based upon emotions.
2. The typical types of questions that will be asked about post traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders, when you apply for protection insurance.
3. Two case study clients that have experienced PTSD and the insurances that were available to them, including a specific life insurance that has a permanent self-harm and suicide exclusion.
Catherine owns The Money Panel and has her own podcast In Her Financial Shoes. This year she has also launched a financial coaching programme and I recommend that you take a look at it.
I hope that you enjoy this episode (quickly hides in case solo hosting isn’t my strongest skill!). Next time I have Roger Edwards joining me and we are going to be talking about what we like in marketing and insurance, and some no nos.
Kathryn: Hi everyone, this is a brand-new season of the Practical Protection podcast. In this first episode, I’ve a new guest with me – Catherine Morgan. Hi Catherine!
Catherine: Hi Kathryn! Kathryn with a K, I’m Kathryn with a C.
Kathryn: Yes. I was going to say, do you ever have any of that issue with people with – that Catherine have, that it’s always – no one ever gets it right?
Catherine: Oh, I always just say ‘It’s Catherine with C, I-N-E at the end.’
Catherine: And it’s just – it just kind of happens now. Like it’s one of the reasons that actually we called our children George and Thomas because I was like ‘No one is ever going to have to ask them, ‘How do you spell that?’’
Kathryn: Absolutely and I completely agree. I did the same. My middle child’s Alexander but I did have someone ask me how to spell Alexander. And I thought – I was really surprised that that wasn’t like a commonly known name but I did an online tai chi class the other day and there was three Kathryns there and we all had the same spelling and I think my spelling is quite an unusual version.
Kathryn: I was just like – I was kind of like, ‘How dare they? That’s my spelling.’
Catherine: Yes. Well I didn’t realise when I called my boys George and Thomas, it wasn’t until my second son was born and he was about a week old, I abbreviated it and said, ‘My two boys, George and Thomas, G and T.’ And I was like ‘Oh, no they’re going to think I’m an alcoholic!’
Kathryn: Perfect. Now you see, I just think that’s perfect.
Catherine: But I can’t get a tattoo now, can I, of my boys’ names because they’ll literally think I’m an alcoholic. Anyway, yes. [both laugh]
Kathryn: Well, you never know. I’m sure you’d be able to figure out something. But anyway, so to everybody, we have a jam-packed, full episode for you and I’m going to be talking about Catherine’s work and it’s all about, if I get it right, it’s all about encouraging people to engage with their beliefs and emotions when it comes to their finances. We’re also going to talk about your recent – you were in hospital recently – well, a year or so ago weren’t you and there was a bit of a claim on private medical insurance and as always, I’m going to have some case study examples to chat through as well. So, how are you doing Catherine? How’s life treating you in the pandemic and lockdown?
Catherine: Yeah good. It’s getting a little bit like Groundhog Day at the moment but we’re good. Like, I’m a massive believer in just being very grateful for everything that we have and I’ve actually really enjoyed having my children at home and I didn’t think I’d ever say that. My boys are six and nine so yeah, the home schooling situation has been interesting but I think I’ve never – I always go into the day with no expectations of what my kids are going to do, what mood they’re going to be in and remembering actually that their emotional capacity, their psychological and mental health, I think is probably more important than anything else. So, you know, if they can get through some spellings, maths and a bit of reading each day then we’re onto a winner.
Kathryn: Yeah, I think that’s a really, really positive way of looking at it. So I’ve got three boys, eight, almost six and almost three and it’s difficult but I keep doing that thing as well where I’ll just go ‘Yes it’s difficult but I’m also really grateful because when am I ever going to get kind of solid three months with them?’
Kathryn: And it’s tricky at times. It’s, you know – tired and my head is about to explode with all the different things that we’re meant to be doing but it’s, you know, we’re safe, we’re comfortable and we’re all together so I’m just – I’m really grateful that we’re in that situation and I certainly can’t complain. At the end of the last season, I don’t know if you are aware but we have what I keep referring to as our famous truth or lie feature of the podcast where at the end somebody says obviously some truth and some lies. And we had Rosalie Hayes from the National AIDS Trust and Andrew Wibberley was involved at that point. So, I had said that my first thing post-lockdown was to go to a spa. Andrew said he was going to go ice skating and Rosalie was going to go to her favourite pub. So, we’re just wondering, who do you think was telling a little porky pie?
Catherine: Oh, so it was the pub, the spa – what was the middle one?
Kathryn: Ice skating.
Catherine: Probably the ice skating.
Kathryn: You are right. I have to say, he’s not here anymore but Andrew is terrible at lying. He’s so terrible. I was going to say, I don’t know if you know him at all but he’s about a million foot tall so the thought of him on ice skates is just the most hilarious thing that you could possibly envision. I don’t think that would work well for anybody involved on that ice rink.
Catherine: Well I was kind of thinking, I can see that, you know, the hot weather, ice could be quite nice but I think definitely the spa and the pub would top those two for me. So –
Kathryn: Yeah, absolutely. I am absolutely ready for a spa and I just can’t wait. I can’t think of anything better at the moment to be honest. So, going on to what you’re here for. I think it’s quite fair to say that we are both quite out there when it comes to social media. We’re all over the social media – different sort of like platforms and everything and I – you know, we pretty much met through Twitter as well which is quite nice and to now be able to meet each other obviously in this podcast as well. And I know you do your own podcast. You’re a financial coach and planner and you’re also involved in the Institute for Financial Wellbeing. I’m possibly missing out some things there. It seems that you’re in so much stuff which is incredible. Can you just tell us a bit more about them all?
Catherine: Yeah sure. So, I’ll give you a very whistle stop tour. So, I’ve been a financial – I’ve been in financial services since day dot really, since I was 18. I moved into financial coaching almost four years ago now and I became involved with the formation of the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing, the IFW, in the latter part of 2019 with Chris Budd and what drew me to that was actually the IFW’s principle is about how to help advisers and planners and financial experts to help their clients to be not just wealthier but happier. And our whole concept of happiness is, you know, so – what’s the word I’m looking for? Like, it’s – there’s no right answer.
Catherine: Like, what is happy for somebody, you know, is happiness in a different way to somebody else and so it’s been really interesting actually to form this initiative to have these really interesting conversations about what research tools can we use to help people to focus more on happiness rather than products.
Catherine: And that’s a big part I believe in the work I do as a financial coach, because a financial coach’s role is about exploring the emotional connection that people have with money and often, even when we’re talking about things like insurances, it can be a very emotive subject for people for many different reasons. But actually, we attach a meaning to money and depending on what that meaning is that we attach to money depends on how we feel then about talking about money. So some of your listeners will hear that in – you know, when we go through application forms with clients or we’re having conversations about critical illnesses and protecting their income and things like that. Some people are very, very open to talk about those things and some people are not and what’s interesting for me is what meaning are they attaching to that? Is it because they’ve had some experiences? Is it because of some of the messages they’ve had growing up around money?
Catherine: All of those things have an impact on how we feel about money because money in itself is just, you know, a physical, neutral thing.
Catherine: It’s just, you know, just money but it’s what we attach to that – to the meaning of money that makes a difference.
Kathryn: I think that’s really important and that’s sort of like twigged something in my mind as well. So obviously you were saying about how grow up and different things so like from my parents – my parents are incredibly guarded about their money and like their finances and things and I managed to get them to speak to a financial adviser at some point because obviously I do protection insurance, I don’t do the full financial advice because my Dad’s not particularly well. He’s got Parkinson’s Disease and at some point, we’ll probably have to think of a care home and different things like that and I was trying to get them to speak to a financial adviser and everything and just the walls were up. They just, you know, they just couldn’t and it was – to them it was just such a huge emotion. You know, I know for a fact that my Mum would just love – she – well, she – I’ve just managed to get her to do online banking which is incredible because we also live in a town now that has no banks.
The closest bank we have to travel is – we have to drive 20 minutes to get to the closest town. And I managed to get her to do that which is brilliant but she is, you know, they’re just so guarded and they’re so worried about like, ‘Well if the bank has this much then am I going to be okay because – can I trust the bank?’ And you know, there’s just so much like that, but then for myself, I have a financial adviser, you know, they’re looking after my pensions for me and my investments and a number of different things so it’s strange how you are – like you say, you can grow up with certain things – but how that could maybe – you could follow that but then how it may also encourage you to be slightly different potentially.
Catherine: Yeah, I think generationally there is a big difference as well between – you know, you mention the word trust in there. Trust is a big thing so if there’s no trust around money, then that can lead to certain behaviours and often the behaviour that’s linked to lack of trust is either kind of this concept of sort of burying your head in the sand or being quite carefree and really just not wanting to even talk about it. But I think generationally as well we’re much more open to talking about money now than we were 50 years ago and you think about your parents’ relationship with money is often governed by their parents’ relationship with money and you – you’re talking now about the generation of, you know, potentially pre-War and even post-War when there was a lot of kind of – not conflict necessarily but a lot of societal changes and impacts.
So, you know, pre-War for example it was all scarcity, it was rationing, it was lack of so that can have an impact obviously on the beliefs that somebody may have about money and that maybe if they were to talk about money then that would be uncomfortable and they would be judged and you go right back to even British history, you know, aristocracy – all around the rich and the poor and land and title and if you didn’t have land or title, you weren’t considered to be of anything substantial in society. And so it’s really interesting to think about even just from a cultural perspective and this will be very different to people who are living in Ireland or Scotland, you know, the culture of that country can be deeply rooted then in our unconscious belief system because it’s then carried through the generations. So it’s a generational pattern and that’s why I’m a massive believer in actually talking more openly and honestly about money because then we can actually explore some of our unconscious beliefs that sit in our unconscious minds that we may not even be aware of that can have a huge impact on how we feel and how we make decisions around money.
Kathryn: I think that’s really, really interesting because at university I did some work about normative behaviour and metanorms and different things like that and I think that it – it is, it’s a really fascinating thing when you go beyond what is sort of like that kind of first thing that you see and you start to delve deeper into how peoples’ minds are working and how that social construct is sort of like making the way that they’re making their decisions. And you also have your podcast as well don’t you?
Catherine: Yes, In Her Financial Shoes, yeah. So I do a weekly podcast. We’ve just – in fact we’ve just gone to two episodes a week now where possible.
Kathryn: Wow. I was going to say, with home schooling and working and everything as well that’s pretty – that’s good going on you.
Catherine: Yeah, it’s just – I think it’s one of those things that I could just sit and interview people all day long. I just think it’s fascinating to hear peoples’ stories but yeah, we’ve been running for about 15, 16 months now, so yeah. Yeah, I’m really enjoying it.
Kathryn: Oh fantastic. I know that I saw recently as well on Twitter going back to the emotional connection with money and different things, that you’ve been promoting the use of – it’s a specific sort of like positive psychology model called PERMA –
Kathryn: To help people focus on things and I think that at the moment, especially in lockdown, especially it seems to be in our community at least where we are locally, that everybody just seems to have really focused upon, you know, that community mindset. You know, more and more people helping the local butchers, the local fishermen, the local fruit and veg people, the local farms and I think that seems to be something that I hope will be carrying on for more time so what is this PERMA model that you were sort of chatting about?
Catherine: Yeah, so I’m currently studying financial psychology and I’m in a US mastermind program and every month we kind of take a topic and we talk about it and I interviewed a guest who is a positive psychologist and on that particular interview we were talking about the PERMA model. So one of the things I’m a huge advocate for is about how our mental wealth – our mental health – that’s quite a good word actually, mental wealth – but mental health –
Catherine: You know, our self-worth is as important if not more than our net worth. So actually a lot of people focus on the practical steps around money because we’re not taught at school and we don’t necessarily understand how to make financial decisions or, you know, for example if I wanted to start investing, how do I start investing? So the practical steps but actually more than anything it’s working on our, you know, our unconscious belief systems, our behaviours, our habits, our thoughts because that’s essentially what drives the decisions that we make. So the PERMA model is all around positive psychology and I’ve got to remember what the PERMA stands for now. But the P stands for positive emotion, the E is around engagement, the R is relationships, the M is meaning and the A is accomplishments. So it’s a model that you can help people to think about their financial wellbeing so more holistically by thinking about all of those aspects within their life.
Kathryn: I think that’s sort of like nicely sort of like translates to sort of like the next stage of what we’re going to be chatting about because I’m – anybody who knows me knows that I’m a huge advocate for positive case studies when it comes to insurance and insurance claims and things like that. I’m a big believer that statistics are good but I don’t think that people, you know, if people are emotionally not sure about going for insurance and trusting insurers, I don’t think to me that statistics are going to – are enough to tackle that kind of uncertainty. So as I often say, you know, if someone says, ‘Oh if it pays out 98% of claims you know, this insurer, and they’ve paid out this many million or billion potentially, then you know, even so –’, I initially think it’s just me, I think the way I’ve been brought up and being brought up by police officers so I’m suspicious of anything. I immediately – I’m just like, ‘What about the two percent?’ You know, ‘Tell me about that two percent. Why didn’t they pay?’
And, you know, I know some insurers are making some big steps now to sort of like be able to be much more open about where those two percent haven’t paid because there’s obviously often – most of the times there’s a very legitimate reason why it hasn’t paid but for people who are, as you say, emotionally maybe not connecting with the need for insurance and that ability to trust people to do right by their family if something were to happen to them or to look after them if they’re ill, I do think that this kind of thing like the PERMA model could be quite a useful model to kind of sort of like look at when people are trying to – insurers are trying to engage with their clients.
Catherine: Yeah, I think what’s interesting for me about what you said is that if people are driven by statistics, they’ll always – that’s the logical side of their brain but actually we make 90% of our decisions from the emotional part of our brain, not the rational part of our brain. And actually I did a really interesting post out on LinkedIn this week and it was a picture of a – well it was a picture and you – your – it was – the question above it was ‘What do you see first, the monkey or the tiger?’ And – go and have a look at that. It’s really interesting.
Kathryn: I’m going to stop myself going now sort of like on the side trying to do it.
Catherine: But it was – what was interesting about it is that loads of people – ‘Oh the monkey, I saw the monkey straight away.’ Which is more the right-hand side of our brain and a lot of people were like ‘No, tiger,’ which is the logical side of our brain. So – and some people are like ‘I just cannot see the tiger. Where is the tiger?’ And people were going, ‘It’s here on the picture, top left, it’s on the picture.’
Catherine: And people were ‘I can’t see it, I can’t see it.’ And so what was interesting about that is that we all have the same capacity in our brains but the way that we use it is different so we’ll have a more of a bias maybe with either the right side or the left hand side of our brain and people often talk about it that it’s a male-female thing but it’s not necessarily a gender thing, although there is a lot of research to show that men are more logical with their brains, they use more of the logical side of their brain than they are for women more creative and more emotional. But that’s not always the case because a lot of men I know are very highly emotional so that’s not always the case. But for me when we talk about statistics, that’s the logical side of the brain when actually in actual fact if you want to engage into more conversations with clients about protection, we need to be thinking about how do we do that more emotionally because if they’re not using the logical part of their brain and looking at facts and figures and spreadsheets and things doesn’t turn them on, then you’re never going to turn them on to that conversation by using statistics.
It’s about understanding the importance of protecting their family legacies. Why is it so important? What is it that’s important to them about having that protection and understanding their stories around money. I think it’s a really good opportunity to explore that with clients, you know, and what I would call like a storytelling discovery meeting where you really want to get underneath the bonnet of what has maybe happened to them. Have they had any experience of being poorly? Have they had poorly family members? Because sometimes it could just be one experience that they’ve had that they’ll be making decisions from because that will trigger them to believe something and that belief that they hold about insurances may not even be true. It just might be that somebody said to them once – once upon a time, ‘Oh don’t take insurances out, they never pay out.’
Catherine: And then that belief goes into their subconscious belief system and they believe that that’s true and the brain will then look for evidence to support that belief. So they’ll be the people that will look at the two percents –
Catherine: Because they’re looking for evidence to support that belief. It’s one of the human biases. So I think what we can do better in the financial services profession is to think about how we can use more questions around the emotion – that’s going to trigger the emotional side of the brain rather than just the logical side of the brain.
Kathryn: Yeah. It kind of sounds like there needs to be – with the engagement tactics, that there needs to be at least two versions of it. There needs to be the bit that’s directed logically and the bit that’s directed to the emotional people as well so sort of not just to say like ‘This is a blanket approach,’ but just to be, as always, reactive to what people need and what they are wanting. So when it came to – so to talk about the case studies and different things like that and peoples’ experiences, you were saying to me that you were obviously in hospital I believe last year? Was it with sepsis? Is that correct?
Catherine: Yeah last January I had kind of like flu-type symptoms that turned very nasty very quickly and for a whole array of reasons which I won’t necessarily go into but I ended up being sent home from hospital when I shouldn’t have done and I ended up with sepsis.
Kathryn: Oh no.
Catherine: And then I ended up with an abscess in my pelvis, nine centimetre abscess in my pelvis so –
Kathryn: Wow, that’s a good size.
Kathryn: Because you’re only a little slight thing as well aren’t you? So that’s a –
Catherine: Yeah, they thought it was my appendix originally and it turned out to be an abscess so – and then they were going to operate and they decided they weren’t going to operate so it was a bit of a –
Kathryn: Oh wow.
Catherine: A bit of an experience but yeah I ended up spending a week on a side ward because the hospital was so busy. January time apparently is the second most popular time of the year to have a baby so I was supposed to be on the gynaecological ward –
Kathryn: Right, okay.
Catherine: For my pelvis and they were full up with people having babies so I was stuck on a side ward for a week.
Kathryn: How very inconsiderate of them.
Catherine: I know [both laugh].
Kathryn: You did have, was it an experience with claiming on your private medical insurance at that point? Did that make it all go – was it then that you had the private medical claim or was that a different incidence?
Catherine: Yeah, I’ve made a lot of claims on my private medical insurance over the years [both laugh].
Kathryn: I’m with you there, you’re alright.
Catherine: Yeah, mainly musculoskeletal and after-effects of childbirth stuff so – and because of my pelvis actually so I didn’t actually even remember – obviously because I was in the hospital at the time, I was under NHS treatment –
Catherine: I actually was discharged, or it was almost like a voluntary discharge because they were so busy, they couldn’t even get me in for an MRI scan so I said, ‘Look, discharge me and I’ll go privately.’ So I did. I was discharged on the Friday. That weekend I made some phone calls and I managed to get a private scan booked in for the Monday.
Kathryn: Oh brilliant, that’s really fast. That’s brilliant.
Catherine: Yeah, that was really quick and it was funny because the doctor who was the private consultant was the same doctor as the NHS consultant. It was just a, you know, a kind of fast track way of seeing her and funnily enough the day I was discharged on the Friday, because they couldn’t fit me in for the scan and I just didn’t want to just sit in hospital, I wanted to be at home with my family, they actually rang me on the Saturday morning and said ‘Ooh we’re ready to bring you down for your scan now.’ And I was thinking ‘Well I’m not in hospital any more.’ And they said ‘Ah.’
Catherine: ‘Oh well we’ll have to put you back to the start of the waiting list.’ And I was like ‘Ugh.’ So in the end I went private, had the scan on the Monday and then I kind of thought, not only did I use my private insurance for that but also I – because I was in hospital for seven days, I had a bit of like a pay out. I think I had –
Catherine: Seven hundred pounds or something as a pay out for inpatient treatment or time. So yeah, so that was pretty cool. It means I didn’t have to kind of dip into any of my savings but more importantly it was the private referral that was like – I just think, I’ve had so many occasions where I’ve had to use private consultants to fast track the NHS and I also believe that because I’m able to do that, that I should do that because then that would free up that space for somebody else that maybe can’t afford to have private medical insurance. So I feel almost like I should do that so that it frees up that time for the NHS.
Kathryn: That’s brilliant. I mean, I have private medical myself and I’ve done a few claims on it and it is incredible actually just how quickly you can be seen and at your own – pretty much at your own time and convenience as well and it’s certainly something that I think there’s probably going to be more – I think people are seeing it, especially with like value added benefits when you get them with some insurances where you’re getting a private GP appointment and sort of remote access and people – obviously that’s not private medical insurance but that kind of facility to kind of have on demand medical experts, you know, it’s – I think that’s bringing it even more to the forefront of people sort of thinking, ‘Actually this is quite nice. If I can potentially have that it’s a nice thing to have.’ But I know we were chatting as well that there was – there’s been a few other things, so obviously this podcast is pretty much focused upon people who’ve had medical conditions and different things and their sort of like potential – potentially any difficulties they’ve had in getting insurance or even potentially their feelings – their – like we’ve been saying, their emotions going for insurance.
I know there’s been a few things in your past. Would you like to share with people what you’d like to share?
Catherine: Yeah, I mean I’ve had nothing major really. I’ve never broken any bones, touch wood. You know, I’ve never had any what I would call major issues. You know, I’ve never had cancer, touch wood, or anything like that but I have had what I would probably consider to be quite common medical conditions and having been a financial adviser for 20 years, I’ve seen these, you know, over and over again and they – a lot of the conditions I’ve had, people do think, ‘Oh well I couldn’t possibly have insurance because of these conditions.’ So I had eating disorders in my teenage years so that was probably one of my biggest challenges in – when I did my initial critical illness insurance actually when I was in my 20s, I remember having to disclose periods of depression and issues I had around my eating and then I’ve also had PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder twice in my life and alongside that kind of anxiety-related kind of conditions. I’ve never been on any medication for them.
I’ve always sought alternative therapies and things to support me through those periods. But I remember the last time I did some insurance was when I did my relevant life cover actually when I set up my limited company a few years ago and I remember having to go through an application form at the time and disclose anything I’d had in the last five years and I had to disclose my PTSD diagnosis which was after my son had meningitis when he was five weeks old. And when I disclosed it, I remember them asking me questions about like ‘Have you had any time off work?’ And I was thinking ‘No. No time off work.’ ‘Are you on any medication?’ ‘No.’ But because I had the diagnosis they actually wanted to increase my premiums and I remember having a conversation with the underwriter saying, ‘Well I didn’t have any time off work, I wasn’t – didn’t have any medication, I had some counselling and things like that and some therapy,’ and actually when I gave them more specific information, they then decided that they would just accept my policy under standard terms.
But it was interesting that initially they wanted to go straight to, you know, putting special conditions attached to it. And is that – is that my kids in the background? Was that your – yeah it was.
Kathryn: It’s yours [both laugh].
Catherine: Apologies if you can hear little ones, like the beauty of having kids at home during lockdown. So yes, they’re obviously having some fun in the morning.
Kathryn: It’s alright, I’m just taking it as a win that it wasn’t my children for once [both laugh]. So I think that’s probably, you know, what you’ve experienced is probably what a lot of people would experience to a certain extent and then probably a lot of people, you know, there’s like the first half of it where you’re saying, ‘Well I went for insurance and because I’ve had post-traumatic stress disorder they were wanting to double my premiums.’ And then I think that’s probably a very common experience that a lot of people experience, you know, have but then that next bit where you say, ‘Actually I went to the underwriter and just said, in a sense went, ‘Hang on a minute, no, don’t do that.’’ And then they agreed with you and I think a lot of people don’t necessarily get to that second stage and obviously with what we do at Cura, we are there to do all of that kind of thing.
But I think, you know, for the general person who’s not a financial adviser, who’s not somebody who knows what to do, who’s not somebody who’s going to get to speak to an underwriter and explain things more, they’re going to hear – just stop at that, ‘Your premium’s are doubled.’
Catherine: Yeah, I think it’s about just challenging things sometimes. I mean sometimes the underwriters are 100% correct and they’re obviously basing the decision on the information they have available to them.
Catherine: So I always think if the more information you have, the better position the underwriter then is to then make that decision. But I’ve had several occasions, multiple occasions over the years where we have made challenges on underwriting decisions and probably challenge is the wrong word because it’s not like the underwriter’s a bad person. It’s like – we often have this conversation about compliance. It’s not that –
Catherine: The underwriters are wrong, it’s just that they’re – they have – they are making a decision based on the information they have available to them. So the more information that people can put on their application forms and give to their advisers just makes that job much, much easier.
Kathryn: Absolutely, and I think as well that it’s being quite open that probably, from a statistics point of view, people who have had PTSD or are sort of like experiencing that are probably at a higher risk of potentially making a claim or sort of their family making a claim on something like the life insurance but that’s not always the case. I know I had a case with somebody where I was applying for them for insurance and they had post-traumatic stress disorder and the insurer I was sort of like chatting to initially didn’t particularly like the fact that they weren’t on medication and that they were self-controlling it and doing alternative things, really active, fit lifestyle to try and get through it all. And they actually preferred – would have preferred it if they had been somebody who was potentially medicated, who was seeing a doctor regularly just so there was that constant – sort of like a consistent kind of official medical view from a medical professional as to how their mind was and I can kind of, you know, I can appreciate why that that’s there but then also you hear somebody who like in your instance where you sort of think well actually, you know, a lot of the time we’re constantly saying to people, ‘You don’t need to have – you don’t necessarily need to have antidepressants in some situations, you don’t need to do this, you know, if you go to alternative therapies that can help.’
But I think, what we were saying before about the logical brain and the emotional brain, I think you can’t just put everyone under one banner. You know, there are some people who will need antidepressants and much more – maybe more of an intervention from medical professionals and there’s people like yourself who are able in your situation, in your specific circumstances, to effectively monitor that, you know, condition and be able to live a very full life.
Catherine: Yeah, see for me, I mean I think I could probably talk about this for a good number of hours. I feel quite passionate about this actually that in a lot of situations, I believe that medication just masks symptoms and – or it can provide immediate support for someone who’s going through something very traumatic and so it’s very needed in a lot of situations but for me, the reason I had PTSD was because I was triggered by my son crying. So every time he cried, it took me back to a moment in hospital when he was being jabbed with needles and cannulas, being treated for meningitis. So –
Catherine: For me, if I was put on tablets, whilst it may have helped me at that time short-term, it was never going to be the solution because it wasn’t actually helping me to remove that trauma, psychological trauma and that’s why I believe that going through therapies or counselling or whatever it is – that for me was about exploring how I could change the meaning that I attached to that situation rather than actually just masking the symptoms with tablets. So – but I’m not saying that tablets are necessarily wrong, I just think that from a long-term perspective, for me it would make much more sense that if someone was receiving ongoing support for trauma, then we know that that’s going to be a much greater way of helping that person through that trauma.
Kathryn: Yeah, I think that’s definitely a good thing to be passionate about and the thing is that it has worked for you and it’s your ability to work through that situation and if it works for you then that’s absolutely fantastic. So for people who aren’t aware, if someone has post-traumatic stress disorder, with most insurance applications you’re going to be asked things about seeing psychiatrists, community health teams, inpatient treatment, suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts. Did you feel okay sort of like being faced with those questions?
Catherine: Do you know, as you’ve asked me that, I’d completely forgotten that when I was applying for the insurance, I was working for an IFA practice that was local to me and, you know, I obviously did my own application really but I remember having to have a phone call with a nurse I think it was, like on telephone underwriting – and I remember going into the office and closing the door and thinking, ‘I don’t want anyone to hear this.’
Catherine: So actually I’d forgotten about that. So I think whether you’re a financial adviser yourself or not, it is hard. It’s hard to have those conversations and you don’t necessarily want people to hear about them. I didn’t necessarily want people to ask me questions and – but because of fear of judgment and fear of shame and, ‘What would people say about me? What will people think about me?’ So I think it’s a really interesting one actually, Kathryn. I think that, in an ideal world it will be great if the client could have somewhere confidentially that they can have those conversations and sometimes I remember, when I was advising clients, is to actually – if they were doing like a telephone interview or a telephone application, where possible, which I know is –
Catherine: Much more available now than it was even, you know, five years ago – that I would leave the room and just say, ‘I’m just going to make a cup of tea. I’m just going to leave you to have this conversation.’ And then leave the room because as an adviser, you almost become like a – almost like a – I used to jokingly say like, ‘I feel like I’m a doctor asking you all these questions.’
Catherine: So I think, as much as we can support that kind of confidential environment as a doctor would, that would be really important for me because whether you’re an expert in financial services or not, we all have emotions attached to experiences and sometimes people aren’t willing to share that. And I actually wonder whether that could be a reason why consumers are less comfortable to reach out to financial advisers to make applications for insurances. Maybe that’s why they do do online applications and things because they don’t want to have those conversations.
Kathryn: There is meant to be a thing – I can’t remember where the study was, but there was a study that said that a lot of people with mental health conditions prefer to do online applications because of the fear of the stigma.
Kathryn: And I think in some ways, in Cura I’m kind of in a little bubble because I specifically do a lot of help with people who do have mental health conditions and I speak to them and I’ll chat through the questions that I’ll be asking people and there are times that I have to go more in-depth than what the insurance application will ask because I know I need that information. But we essentially kind of do a little bit of a tele-interview so people come to us and chat to us and we’re already in that kind of, you know, we’re that buffer for the questions in a sense. So we’re already going through all the medical information. They come to us knowing that they’ve got to go through that medical information. They’re coming to us to specifically tell us their medical information and to use our knowledge there. But for probably a lot of financial advisers, as you say, you know, there could be that situation where they are maybe not prepared for all the medical information they’re suddenly going to hear.
The client may not have felt that they would suddenly be face-to-face with questions that could potentially be about medical histories that they maybe don’t want to be talking about because to them they’re maybe thinking, ‘Well this is finance, this isn’t anything to do with my, you know –’ It’s a lot of different – there’s so many different like intricacies to it isn’t it?
Catherine: I think the fact though that you are very open and vulnerable and passionate about sharing your like mental health stories for example –
Catherine: Means that, you know, if you’re going to then attract people to come and make an application with you, hopefully they’ve checked out your website, they may have listened to your podcast, they, you know, they’ve seen some of your videos, your social media content, that I think is huge because the more vulnerable we can be about our own stories, the more that helps them to think like, ‘Oh well, I’m not the only one to feel like this.’ Because it’s, you know, this – what’s really interesting for me is that our profession doesn’t dictate who we are. Just because we’re financial, you know, advisers or underwriters or whatever we are in financial services, we’re still human, we still make bad money decisions. We still make –
Catherine: Decisions, you know, decisions around money. We still hold money shame, we still have secrets around money. It’s not – just because we are in financial services doesn’t mean that we are a different person. It’s not who we are. So I think the more vulnerable we can become with sharing more about our money stories – as one of the things I did in the very early days of sharing my money story about being in thirty grand’s worth of debt in my 20s as a financial adviser –
Catherine: And it doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s just – that was just my experience. So I think what you’re doing by having these conversations is so good because it just explores and opens out and shares that vulnerability to people that, you know, ‘It isn’t just me that’s had this mental health condition.’
Catherine: Or, it just makes that a lot easier to talk about.
Kathryn: I think so – I think what you were saying as well, just going back to that, is that kind of normative behaviour again, isn’t it? It’s that metanorm of kind of insurance because insurance I think is just automatically – we’re bundled in with finance which means we’re automatically kind of in peoples’ minds eyes are kind of banks, and you know, it’s just that image of, you know, big grey buildings in London, men in suits. It’s all hard and fast. It’s just money, money, money. There’s just – there’s no emotion. Everybody’s just – that’s it. You know –
Kathryn: Everybody’s just got glum faces and that’s it. And being in this world, that isn’t the case at all but I think we are still battling that kind of sort of like mindset and I think, you know, I don’t know we sort of like fully tackle that but I think there is quite a lot of us that are obviously doing a lot of things to really humanise the process and I think especially in financial advice, you can see there’s like yourself, there’s quite a few others who are just really – and like you say there’s Chris Budd, there’s quite a lot of other people as well that are just trying their hardest, as I say, to humanise our industry which is – I think is really key to, as you say, do that emotional engagement which is – was it 90% of people work on the emotional side of things?
Catherine: Yeah so the statistics are that – I mean Freud talked about 100% of our decisions are made from our subconscious belief system, our unconscious beliefs but modern day psychologists believe that around 90% of the decisions that we make every single day come from our unconscious beliefs and most of those decisions come from the emotional part of our brain. We’re triggered by how we feel about something. You know, whether you decide to wake up tomorrow morning and start that diet or put your gym shoes on and go for a run because you’re – you’ve been telling yourself over and over perhaps during lockdown you’re going to do more exercise.
Catherine: But the actual doing part of it, the behavioural part of it is driven by how we feel. So if we’re not motivated to do something, we won’t do it. So the motivation’s got to be there, the habits, the beliefs, the thoughts have to be there. The emotion has to be there, the emotional connection has to be there.
Kathryn: Absolutely. Well I’m going to give some examples now for people as to what kind of questions that they would be faced if they go for an insurance and they’ve had post-traumatic stress disorder. If there’s anything that you think of that I’ve missed from your experience of going through that then please do let me know. So the main things people are going to want to know are things like – the insurer is going to want to know is when you were diagnosed. If you can be open sometimes to discussing the cause of the PTSD, that can sometimes help so again it kind of – it’s very hard I think for people to do that sometimes but I think sometimes that allows the underwriters to understand the human and the emotional side of what’s happened to somebody and why the reaction has been the way that it has. Medications, treatments, any hospitalisation, seeing a psychiatrist or the big ones are like the suicidal thoughts, the self-harm and the suicide attempts and mainly as well they’re looking for things like the ongoing symptoms.
So if somebody’s had PTSD and it’s something they’ve recovered from then a lot of the time, you know, there’s a big difference from, you know, obviously recovering from it a week ago to recovering from it, you know, sort of like a year or so. But that is often sort of like in a sense the better situation. If it is something you’re no longer experiencing but even if somebody is still experiencing it, that doesn’t mean that they can’t get the insurance. Depending upon the timeframes, there may be like you to be able to get standard insurance sometimes and well sometimes I’d say to more often is the case is that somebody will experience a premium increase and we’re actually one of three brokers in the UK that have been given specific permission to advise on a life insurance policy within the UK for people with mental health conditions. Now it’s certainly not necessarily the first route that you would potentially go down.
It’s just one of the options that are there and the reason that I say that is because it comes with a permanent self-harm and suicide exclusion with most life insurances that – that kind of a suicide exclusion would last maybe the first 12 months of a life insurance policy. Most – a lot of people don’t realise that and a lot of people I speak to with mental health – if this, you know, specific policy is the one that is right for them, they’re really surprised that life insurance ever covers suicide or self-harm, you know? It really shocks people. They go, ‘Well why on earth do they cover that? It’s life insurance.’ And I’ll say ‘But that is – that is the case,’ and that’s why they’ve maybe experienced issues and had declines when they’ve applied for cover before. So that is something that can be available for people as well as some specialist ones.
And I’ll just quickly off the top of my head as well just with you mentioning the eating disorders so similarly with the eating disorders, what they would want to know is when you were diagnosed, any medications and treatments you’ve had, when the last symptoms were and what they would generally want to know as well is probably what the person’s lowest weight has ever been, what their current weight is and how long that’s been stable. You know, how long they’ve been in probably what’s – I’m going to do like little bunny ears, you know, sort of quote things, say, you know, the “normal” BMI range. But even if somebody’s slightly lower or slightly above that sort of the standard BMI, that doesn’t mean that someone can’t get cover. It’s just really important to research. And with the sepsis – I’m just remembering the different things you told me – that would be the kind of thing that again, assuming that you’re fully recovered and there’s been no complications or anything like that, that most insurers are going to be absolutely fine about. And I’ve got some case – was there anything else that you wanted to add there in regards to the applications that you went through or anything in your experiences?
Catherine: Yeah, no the only – and I think that was one of the questions I was asked by the nurse actually on that telephone call around the PTSD, was about what – whether – what it was linked to and so because it – for me it was linked this event when my son was poorly, it was like a one-off event and because I was receiving treatment – this is probably why actually they didn’t offer any kind of exclusions or anything like that or an increase in my premium because it was just one event and so they could probably realise that it was because of that specific event that caused the PTSD. So – but actually sometimes PTSD is triggered by something that people actually don’t know. They don’t necessarily know what’s triggered them and sometimes people can go into what they call PTG which is post-traumatic growth. So post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t always mean that someone is anxious or depressed or anything like that. In fact, I was the complete opposite. I did get very anxious but I actually almost used that to fuel me to grow.
Catherine: And that’s why I talk about it a lot, how it’s made me grow as a person. So I think that’s an interesting one as well, is if you’re getting treatment, is to understand whether your body is responding through fight or flight and it’s going into PTSD and then you’re suffering from things like depression or anxiety or whether actually you go into fight mode and then that’s often when people go into PTG, which is post-traumatic growth.
Catherine: But I do remember them being very specific about sort of, ‘How long did you feel that for?’
Catherine: And, ‘Did you get to the stage where you did feel suicidal or anything like that?’ So yeah, 100% what you just said there, Kathryn.
Kathryn: Yeah. I think that’s really interesting about the PTG as well because I’d never thought of or sort of come across that term before and I think that’s really good because I’m somebody who has anxiety and I’d most definitely go into flight mode. It’s very rare that I get into the fight mode if I’m in my kind of trigger situations. So that’s really, really interesting to hear about that. So I’m going to give a couple of case studies and then we’ll chat about this new financial training program that you’ve set up and you can tell everybody about that and where they can find you for your podcasts and anything else in regards to your financial coaching. So I’ve got two case studies for everybody today. The first case study that we have is a 30-year old man who required some mortgage protection. He had anxiety and depression for many years but he’d been symptom-free for about two years or so. And prior to – 10 years ago before speaking to us, he’d had a suicide attempt and then he’s had another one about four years before speaking to us around the time of being diagnosed with some PTSD and he hadn’t realised in a sense that he had PTSD and it had built and built and built up and resulted in that event.
And he’s had some extended time off work just to try and come to terms with everything and process everything he’d been through. So for this person, it’s a – it was the insurance policy that I mentioned before with the permanent self-harm and suicide exclusion. He was able to get decreasing life insurance of £175,000 over 30 years for just over £10 per month so I think that’s a really important one to show people that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. You know, some people could come and go like ‘Well actually, I’ve got this condition, you know, I’ve had potentially suicide attempts, I want life insurance. They’re not going to cover me and if they do it’s going to be crazy money.’ I mean this person as I say it’s just over £10 per month. The second case study I have was another middle-aged man. He had PTSD following being involved in some active military duty and a few years prior to speaking to us he had also taken some recreational drugs.
But there had been no self-harm, no suicide attempts, no psychiatrists. He’d been a few years since symptoms so it was something he’d had but it was something he’d overcome. He was currently in quite a high – well-paid job and he wanted to put some family protection in place just for, you know, with him being the main breadwinner, if something were to happen to him that his family would be taken care of for a while. So he went for – or we – well we arranged for him to have £1,500,000 worth of life insurance over 10 years and the premium came to £230 per month with no exclusions. Now with that one, there had been a premium increase. It was a combination of the drugs and the PTSD so it was because there was that little bit extra there as well but it was one of those things where, again if somebody’s faced with that kind of situation there’s a premium increase. Like for this gentleman, we are due to go and speak to him soon to review it because when we are obviously a few more years away from when he’d taken drugs, everything becomes just that little bit easier to sort of like arrange. So there are my case studies. So Catherine, please tell us about your financial training program that you’ve arranged.
Catherine: Yeah sure. So yeah, if anybody’s interested or listening to this and are interested about exploring the emotional side of how we can help working with clients then I actually earlier or just before as we were in lockdown actually released a brand new program into the market which is called The Financial Coaching Training Program but it’s really a 12-week deep dive into different exercises and tools that you can actually use with clients. We’ve got 27 people going through the first cohort at the moment –
Catherine: So we’re kind of three quarters of the way through at the moment and we’re running the second cohort in September and because what we’re seeing in the market is a lot of advisers who are wanting to focus more on people not products and that’s where the meaningful work comes in and some financial advisers are setting themselves up as financial coaches either within their existing regulated businesses or separate businesses and that’s what I – I would love to help as many financial advisers or planners or mortgage advisers and protection specialists to really understand how we can help clients to uncover their relationships with money. Because really that’s where the magic happens. If we can uncover their relationship with money and help them to reconnect some of the meaning around money and the purpose around money, then we layer it on top of that with all the practical stuff that we can give them help with in financial services, that’s when the magic happens.
So yes, we’re opening up the second cohort in September 2020. So if anybody’s interested in finding out more about that that’s on the website themoneypanel.co.uk and you can just click on the tab that says ‘Financial Coaching Training Program.’
Kathryn: That sounds brilliant. We’re coming to the, as I say, famous truth or lie feature and I will set it off and will reveal all next time. So my latest thing is to say that – you have to decide if it’s truth or lie listeners, is that my latest lockdown project is attempting to learn origami.
Catherine: So I was once a film extra in a film called The Young Victoria.
Kathryn: If that’s true that’s far more interesting than my origami [both laugh].
Catherine: Now that will be impressive. Origami looks way complicated [both laugh].
Kathryn: Well thank you everybody for listening and thank you Catherine for joining me. It’s been lovely to have you on.
Catherine: Thank you so much for having me.
Kathryn: I’m going to be back in two weeks with Roger Edwards, marketer extraordinaire and we’re going to be chatting about how to make insurance more engaging which is perfectly run-on from what we’ve been doing today about emotional engagement. A sort of like when to do outreach, what to do with it and sort of like looking – sort of like not necessarily naming or shaming any kind of marketing techniques or anything, but maybe sort of like saying what we think is good and then maybe looking at some things we think, ‘Ooh actually they’re no no’s, let’s try and avoid them as much as possible.’ If you’d like a reminder of the next episode when we’re going to be chatting, as I say, about marketing please do drop me a message on social media or visit the website www.practical-protection.co.uk. Again, thank you very much for coming on Catherine.
Catherine: Thanks Kathryn.