Life Assurance as opposed to life insurance, what is the difference? You assure against a certainty and insure against a possibility.

I joined the life assurance industry long before the FSA came along, or the phrase political correctness had been coined, or the sexual harassment bill came into force. So our insurance office which was almost completely male dominated was no place for any shrinking violet who didn't like the company of men and their sexual attentions.

Start of article about the demise of life insurance.

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One morning, when a new batch of sales recruits were settling in at their desks, one of the office secretaries who was well known for her office affairs came into the office and started talking to a grey haired gentleman about his paperwork. I walked over and bent her over the desk and smacked her arse and said. "Show us your suspenders Perry." She l aughed and didn't make any attempt to move, so I turned to the new recruit who was totally transfixed by this and said. "What's you name?" "Henry" he replied. "Slap her arse Henry she loves it." I said, although he declined the offer and Perry stood up, a little disappointed, straightened her skirt and walked out giggling.

"So what did you do before you decided to become a life assurance salesman?" I asked. "I was a Roman Catholic priest." He replied. "Shit, you're kidding me." But I knew he wasn't before he confirmed what he had done in his previous life. "God, bloody hell, what the.. I mean, Christ, Jesus… I am so sorry.." I tried to shut my mouth but just kept making it worse. "Please don't change for me." He said although there was little chance of that happening.

It turned out that Henry had got a young member of his congregation pregnant and had to marry her. The church had excommunicated him, turned him out of his home, without a pension or any Christian thought or care of how he, his new wife and baby would survive in the real world and Henry had ended up in a life assurance office which was about as far away from a heavenly experience as he could get.


Henry was a nice guy and had been punished for doing something that came naturally to any healthy red blooded male and now, unable to find or secure employment had ended up at the gates of hell - welcome to the world of commission only life assurance selling!

As usual, the managers, having put Henry through the one week sales training course, like Pontius Pilate, more or less washed their hands of him and waited for the crucifixion to take place. Failure in the life assurance industry was often a slow and painful death for many innocents and Henry was going to be no exception.

Ostracised by his congregation, Henry had no friends he could turn to as potential clients which was the normal advice the sales managers gave new life assurance salesmen. So Mike and I took it upon ourselves to teach Henry the art of door knocking and took him out that afternoon.

We took it in turns to let Henry stand next to us as we worked our way down a street and after he felt he could cope on his own, he started at one end of a street and I the other planning to meet in the middle and exchange notes. By the time I was half way up the road, there was still no sign of Henry, so I pressed on and eventually spied him talking to a lady at one of the first doors he would have knocked on. Mike and I waited for him to finish and join us by the car.

"Did you get an appointment?" Mike asked. "No" replied Henry. "She was telling me her problems and I was trying to give her some advice." It was obvious that doorstep confessionals were going to be Henry's strong point and selling Life assurance was never going to be his future.

I had a client who owned a large printers who also happened to be a rabid atheist and anti-catholic and managed to secure Henry a job in his offices where he continued to work until he retired. He discovered late in life that his idea of Christian behaviour often came from the most unlikely places.

Henry was just one of hundreds of people I met who should never have been recruited into the life assurance industry.

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