Turning tragedy into success

Shamar Clarke is Sagicor's Rookie of the Year 2018

Sunday, September 22, 2019

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The year 2016 was a defining one for Shamar Clarke. The 28-year-old met in a car accident and barely escaped with his life.

The experience would serve as a pivotal moment for him and his career, as it ignited an all-consuming passion and set him on a mission to achieving financial security for himself and his family.

Clarke shared that during that ordeal he thought a lot about the fact that he could have died and would not have had enough provisions in place to care for his family left behind.

“That is when I started to think hard about life insurance and eventually I became a champion for it,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

He was further inspired after a close friend of his, Niko, with whom he would often have discussions about the importance of insurance coverage, met an unexpected end.

“Niko would promise to get it done, but never got around to it,” Clarke shared.

One day he got the devastating news that his friend had been badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Niko died a week later.

Shaken by the tragedy, Clarke decided he wanted to actively champion the cause of ensuring people are adequately covered by life insurance, so that their family and loved ones have a security net in the event of sickness or death. He applied to Sagicor Life Jamaica for a job and quickly secured an interview. Thus began his journey as a financial advisor, in October 2017.

After just one year into his new-found profession, the 30-year-old performed so well that he was awarded the company's coveted Rookie of the Year for 2018. Beyond that, he was honoured as Court of the Table in the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table, the premier international association for financial professionals. He is the first advisor ever to achieve Court of the Table status in his rookie year.

He was also a Century Club qualifier for the year and received several other awards, including the third-place trophy for volume of cases, and the Branch Manager's Trophy for having the highest first-year commission at Sagicor Life's New Kingston branch.

“Success favours the prepared mind,” he said, repeating a quote told him by one of his mentors. “That is my mantra and I use it to encourage [others] and my clients now.”

Of his journey to date, Clarke said the “The most valuable thing to me since I started is the relationships which I have been able to develop; since I have been here at Sagicor, some of my closest friends are my clients. I enjoy working hard and I enjoy this career. It is fun for me, so I don't see it as work.”

A Glenmuir High School alum, Shamar studied political science at The University of the West Indies, but instead of pursuing a minor, the Chancellorite used his free electives to do business and hospitality courses, which would earn him a job in the hospitality industry fresh out of university. The job as an events coordinator and later, a sales coordinator gave him the introduction to customer service and sales, which proved particularly valuable skill sets as a financial advisor.

Clarke, the eldest of five siblings, grew up in Clarendon and was raised by his mother, whom he describes as a firm disciplinarian. He spent his youth in several volatile communities in the parish, often experiencing the pull of negative influences in his environment. Despite those challenges, he managed to keep his head above the fray through his abiding desire to make his mother proud.

His consistent love for reading since he was a child, he noted, also helped to shape his career and life. This passion was evident as he recalled an incident that took place when he was 10 years old and witnessed his family home going up in flames.

“On the night of the fire, while everybody else was trying to save the furniture and the appliances, I tried to make my way back into the burning house for one thing, my books. Books were my escape when I was younger, and they still are,” he shared.

Now, he uses books to help his clients achieve financial security, often making recommendations and lending his own copies. His favourite, Richest Man in Babylon, is a 1926 book by George S Clason, which dispenses financial advice through a collection of parables.

“I found the way to the achievement of wealth through mentorship and reading books, and I am excited to share it with my clients,” he said.

“Regardless of where you are in life, insurance is about having peace of mind and security for yourself and your family that if you should pass on prematurely, they will be taken care of,” he said, explaining the value of being able to help others achieve that goal.

“I have this saying that I came up with – 'selling a policy doesn't necessarily solve the client's needs, but solving the client's needs sells a policy',” he quipped.

The young man added that he is focused on helping people to achieve their own financial security and he enjoys meeting with people and helping them develop a plan, which is in line with their goals.

Clarke has co-authored the ebook Distilled Jamaican Wisdom, and is now working on his second publication, Lessons from my Clients, a collection of life and financial lessons from his interactions as a financial advisor.

Meanwhile, he is looking forward to even more growth and success in the field, and hopes to continue impacting lives and no doubt, racking up accolades.

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