Graduation presents typically run the gamut from cash and gift cards to computers and coffee makers. Erik Cush received something a little more unorthodox. With his high school diploma in hand, he was told to have bloodwork done.
“My dad said, ‘You’re getting a life insurance policy, and you’re paying the premiums,’ ” Cush recalls more than a decade later. “I was 18 years old. Why would I ever do this? It didn’t seem necessary at the time.”
As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and senior sales consultant with Transamerica’s Advanced Markets Group, Cush has learned to appreciate the value of his father’s practical gift. While he’s enjoyed good financial and physical health, he knows people who haven’t been as fortunate — or prepared for the unexpected.
One friend had a seizure while helping Cush move and needed brain surgery to remove a cluster of blood vessels. At 34, the friend is fully recovered and recently got married, but affordable insurance is no longer available as he prepares to start a family.
“He has some insurance, but definitely not enough,” Cush said. “But what if he’d had a 30-year term policy that cost $8 a month when he was younger? It’s wildly important because you don’t know what might happen.”
When it comes to financial preparation, Cush had a good teacher. His dad, John, is a financial professional who’s the registered principal of Cush Financial Group in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Two of Erik’s older brothers, Jonathan and David, also work for the firm.
“I have a very strong relationship with my brothers and dad,” Erik said. “It’s a checks-and-balances system. Since I’m in the industry, when my dad says something, I understand it. If my brothers don’t agree with it, we all talk about it.”
Like his four older brothers before him, Erik earned his bachelor’s degree at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The decision to attend Miami was again based on practicality.
“My dad said we could go to school anywhere we wanted,” Erik said, “but if we went to Miami, he would pay for it.”
Up the ladder
Cush landed an internship with Jackson National Life Insurance Company out of college and became an internal wholesaler less than a year later. He attained his CFP, Certified Fund Specialist®, and Series 6, 7, and 63 designations along the way.
“When I graduated college, I was done with school,” he said. “Since then, all I’ve done is school. You learn so much. It’s helped me see that everyone’s financial plan is different and everyone’s goal is different.”
Cush worked with Jackson’s Advanced Strategies team and its Private Wealth & Trust Group before joining Transamerica in September 2018. He immediately embraced Transamerica’s emphasis on helping financial professionals expand conversations to include healthcare costs when building a long-term strategy for clients.
Cush points to a former co-worker whose college-age son was hit by a drunk driver while walking on the sidewalk. The teenager went into a coma and faces a long road to recovery.
“I imagine their medical costs are outrageous,” Cush said. “What if you were paying $500 a year in life insurance? Wouldn’t it be nice to recover some of that so they can have a better quality of life today?”
Show your value
These are the type of discussions Cush has been having since his teen years when he’d direct a portion of his summer-job earnings to a Roth IRA. And they’re the type of discussions financial professionals can have with their own clients to provide value beyond a robo-service.
“We’ve seen a lot of companies that do tactical management strategies based on algorithms,” Cush said. “They work for a while — and then they don’t. I think it’s important to have a human element. You don’t control a cruise ship from the shore. You put a captain on it and you put lifeboats on it for when unexpected things come up. I don’t know if a computer system can do that yet.”
Being the youngest of five boys brought up by a financial professional, Cush also stresses the importance of building relationships with a client’s children.
“My dad has a plan for his clients to help them pass on wealth to their kids,” Cush said. “It’s important to bring kids to the meeting. Even if you don’t give them specific numbers, let them know the plan. Now he has the trust of the parents, and the kids start thinking about working with a financial professional when they’re in their 20s.”
And if they’re lucky, someone might tell them how a little bloodwork can go a long way.
Sales Consultant, Advanced Markets
Whether they’re discussing taxes, Social Security claiming strategies, or controlling the distribution of retirement assets, the members of Transamerica’s Advanced Markets Group have the knowledge and experience to help financial professionals deliver the best service to their clients.
Between them, they hold 13 CFP®, CLU®, and ChFC® certifications, a law degree, one M.D., and an MBA. But we want you to get to know the people behind the credentials.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
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