“Russell, if you had died yesterday, everything you have in your brain would have died with you. As a consequence, you would have missed a golden opportunity to have left your legacy to our industry!”

These words came from Daryl LaBrooy, a Financial Adviser based in Melbourne, and his “if you had died yesterday” comment was actually repeating back to me what I usually tell my audience when I talk to them about how to create a sense of urgency amongst their prospects and clients. I had joined Daryl for lunch in Sydney in late 2010 where his kind words unwittingly caused me to seriously think about my legacy to the industry.

For years people had been asking me when were they going to see my book? Or had I planned on writing one? My answer was always the same – I had no time! Until Daryl happened.

I didn’t start on the book immediately after that luncheon, but the thought was regularly on my mind. Finally that December I started to look back on important milestones of my career: the national and international professional advisers who had influenced and mentored me; the things that I had learned and was able to pass on to others for their benefit; the hard business decisions that had enabled me to build a clientele from scratch – all of which had added meaning and value to my life. This helped to start the fire. Skills That Succeed is the result.

This book represents my professional odyssey and chronicles the knowledge that I acquired during my four decades as a Financial Adviser. It addresses the importance of developing communication skills which people will both understand and act upon. These skills enabled me to achieve a level of success which far exceeded my initial expectations, as well as the personal satisfaction of knowing that when I left home for work each day I had the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Hopefully, my book will provide you with the opportunity to discover your own untapped potential.


Russell Collins, 2020


From the “preparation” to the “sale”, the basic denominator in Skills That Succeed is
communication. This book is A Communication Guide to success in the financial services industry. Here is a sample of some of the chapters in the book.


How can you separate yourself at the outset from your competitors? Preparation is one of the most neglected areas of the fact-finding meeting training process. Every initial meeting with a prospective client should be treated as a job interview – you’re being interviewed for the position of trusted adviser! Preparation is crucial.


How do you take all the details from the confirmed file note and turn them into a Strategy
Paper presentation that communicates very simply your solutions to their problems? The
answer: Presentation Skills 101 – Reveal the Need, Fix the Problem and Offer the Solution.

The Strategy Paper is designed to invite the prospective client into the decision-making process which then enables you to put together your final recommendations with a greater
the anticipation of success.


The primary purpose in each initial meeting with a prospective client is to develop a relationship; secondarily, its purpose is to gather information. So communication is key.

How do you open and close this meeting in a positive manner which, at the same time, will also eliminate competition? What you say after you say ‘hello’, sets the tone for the rest of the meeting.


Agreement to proceed with your recommendations is one thing, but getting those
recommendations underwritten can be the hard part! You need to have a process that not
only allows you to negotiate your way through the underwriting process but at the same
time keeps your client in touch with what’s happening.

The latter is very important because
if a medical loading or exclusion is eventually imposed by the underwriters, then you need
to have established a relationship which will allow you to successfully educate your client
into why these decisions should be accepted.


Turning your notes from the initial meetings into a file note and then sending that note back to your prospective clients for confirmation enables them to quietly review your actual questions and their specific answers. The file note is actually a pre-presentation vehicle and
their confirmation of the details guarantees that there will always be a second follow-up meeting to discuss your suggestions and recommendations.


Ultimately, all you have to offer your clients is your brain, your time and your integrity. In
relation to the brain, your role is more that of an educator rather than an adviser. And the
self-education starts with you – your goal is to become the best you, that you can be.

Time management is crucial to your success so it’s important to plan your day in a manner that every spare minute is utilised in the service of your clients. Integrity is individualised. Never sacrifice character for reputation!


The numerous changes that have taken place in the Financial Adviser area of the financial
services industry over the last five years have greatly encroached on an Adviser’s time to
read books. For that reason, Russell Collins has recorded the full book as an audiobook to
which Advisers can have regular access as time permits.

The print and E-copy of Skills That Succeed has been very well received by Advisers both
nationally and internationally and some testimonials follow below.

  • Russell Collins’ book is a game-changer for any adviser regardless of their time in the business. It will help you be referred to larger cases that are more easily placed and have better persistence.

    JIM PITTMAN, CFP, CLU 2014 MDRT Secretary
  • This is a must for every Financial Adviser to invest in and use every week in planning their meetings with clients. Russell has done the hard yards for them, they just have to ‘execute’ and ask the ‘right questions’. It was a pleasure and honour to go through this masterpiece of 40 years’ worth of learning in our great life insurance industry.

  • Are you a Risk Protection Specialist? Do yourself a favour & get industry legend Russell Collins’ latest book “Skills That SUCCEED”! I highly recommend it.

    DAVID J. EARLEY, Dip. FS (FP), AFA, Dip. FS (Brok.), QPI
  • Russell,

    Just wanted to put into writing how much I enjoyed your book. The messages and lessons for all of the industry are awesome. Insurance underpins everything we do and I hope this book helps others protect families and businesses.

  • Our industry needs clarity and leadership. Russell Collins has written an excellent book that is a guiding light for anyone on the financial service journey. His practical and explicit comments and tools are keys to success. Any practitioner, new or experienced will benefit from reading and applying his wisdom and experience.

    GUY BAKER, CFP, MBA, MSFS, Past President Million Dollar Round Table
  • With 30 years of experience as an insurance adviser, I purchased Russell Collins’ ‘Skills that Sell’ with an expectation that it would be excellent and also reaffirm what I already know. I was only half correct; yes Skills that Sell is excellent, but it also taught me more about the business of offering insurance advice. ‘Skills that Sell’ should be compulsory reading for anyone new to advising on life insurance as well those you want to move up to the next level of insurance advice.

  • This book will help you discover what it truly means to be a professional in one of the greatest professions of all: the sale of Life and Disability Insurance.


    JOHN CRAIK, Former National President of AFA
  • Your book on financial planning is just great. I am reading it and it’s turning out to be simply a treasure. Made me remember that I should not forget my basics and what brought me to MDRT. Wow! The best part was in me emerging as one of the top advisors in this financial year for my company out of its 1.1 million agents.

  • Russell,

    Thank you for your book. I won’t loan it out to anyone and it’ll stay pretty close by. I finished it a few weeks ago and have marked it up as a quick reference guide. It is the most useful and highly relevant guide I have thus far. I am lucky to have some fantastic mentors, which now include you via your book. Thank you!

    PAUL CONTE, B.Com (Accounting) ADFP
  • Russell,

    I finished your book over the weekend. It took me a couple of weeks as I was so enraptured by it, I was changing some of my systems/processes as I was reading it. It is a great read and I thank you for putting a “Lifetime of Effort” in writing. I got so much out of it.

    TROY EDMONDSON, Business & Estate Planning Specialist, QLD
  • Brilliant! At last, a book published by a successful adviser with a lifetime of Risk Insurance experience. Russell’s book illustrates his knowledge and commitment to his career. Whilst Russell’s expressed target market for his book is new advisers with less than ten years’ experience and advisers with ten to fifteen years’ experience, I believe all advisers interested in becoming proficient in the Risk Insurance market, irrespective of their number of years’ experience, will gain tremendous insight and motivation from Russell’s book.

  • A must-read for every financial adviser who cares about their clients. Russell has given us a step by step review and raison d’être of what works in the marketplace and why. Every financial adviser can benefit from his time tested, integrity filled advice and guidance. One of the very best books on the subject that I have read in my 50 years of practice. Bravo!

  • What should you read after you think you have read everything about how to sell life insurance? Russell Collins’ new book! I’ve read scores of ‘how-to’ books in my nearly 50 years in this great business. This one is the best as far as I’m concerned. A new ‘rookie’, as well as a seasoned veteran, will find gems within its covers. Russell’s tips on questioning, on note-taking, on presenting and on follow-up, are things that are as important today as they have ever been. Each time I re-read this book I find new insights. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

    GENE MAHN, CLU, ChFC , MDRT President, 1998