NAILBA Perspectives Spring 2019 | Page 16

MANAGEMENT Top producers talk about their wholesaler relationships Charles K. Hirsch, CLU Chuck Hirsch, CLU, is the former editor and publisher of Life Insurance Selling magazine. He continues to contribute to insurance industry publications, in addition to providing consulting and marketing services through his firm, Hirsch Communications Consulting, LLC. He can be reached at [email protected]. We’re in a business that thrives upon relationships, and the best BGAs I know are extremely protective of the profitable ones he or she has built. 16 Perspectives Q2 2019 If I were to poll NAILBA member agencies and ask what drives their success with any productive advisor, I believe the word I would hear most often would be “relationship.” We’re in a business that thrives upon relationships, and the best BGAs I know are extremely protective of the profitable ones he or she has built. But there’s more to it than that. After all, if you’re going to develop new relationships with a new group of advisors, what’s going to attract them in the first place? What are they looking for from you and your team? What’s going to pique their interest long enough to even give you a chance to develop a relationship? Expectations To help get a clearer view of what top producers are expecting from the wholesalers with which they do business, I recently asked those kinds of questions of a couple of top advisors. Both Steven P. Arengo, CFP, AIF, of Interdependent Advisors in Glendale, Ohio, and Michelle L. Binder, CFP, of Potomac Financial Consultants in Germantown, Maryland, do business with brokerage general agencies on a regular basis. And both were kind enough to share their thoughts about what advisors expect from their relationships with wholesalers. Mr. Arengo told me about the importance of the advisor and the insurance brokerage firm working together like teammates. “I like using my insurance brokers like extensions of me,” he said. “So in a perfect world, I would tee up my insurance prospect, and the brokerage general agency would do the rest.” Importance of support He pointed to the value of support materials that he receives on a regular basis from one of the insurance brokerage firms with which he does business. “I love the kind of stuff I get from them. They’re always open to mentoring me and growing my practice. I’m slowly getting to the point where I have a process that tees them up enough so that they can carry out all the details. The firms I work with do a pretty good job of running with it and keeping me or my assistant in the loop.” Ms. Binder talked about the biggest value she sees the insurance brokerage firm bringing to the table. “For me,” she said, “it is the firm’s ability to offer us access to various insurance companies and products at one single place. They are willing to work directly with the insurance companies on our behalf without us having to get involved.” Mr. Arengo added that he sees the greatest value in the firm’s “breadth of knowledge, experience, and mostly support, as if they were an extension of my own practice.” I asked whether there is a part of the business where the wholesaler offers the potential to be of significant help, but for some reason that potential is not being realized. Mr. Arengo pointed out that he could use help with more complex business arrangements. But he conceded, “This is primarily an issue with me, not the insurance brokerage firms. I’m in the process of tidying up my practice so I can grow.” Ms. Binder said, “My current wholesaler is great about helping us with life and long-term care insurance needs, but does lack a bit on help with disability insurance. We don’t write a ton of disability insurance, but it would be nice to have a stronger support system in place for those times when that need does arise with my clients.” “I like using my insurance brokers like extensions of me.” Steven P. Arengo, CFP, AIF, of Interdependent Advisors in Glendale, Ohio Since the competition among brokerage general agencies can be fierce, I thought it would be good to get an advisor’s perspective on what a relatively new insurance brokerage might do to set themselves apart. Ms. Binder pointed toward technology. “I would encourage the insurance brokerage firm to have software available to the advisor that enables people like me to give quotes, process, and follow up with cases if the advisor wants to be a ‘do it yourself’ kind of advisor. On the other hand, the insurance brokerage firm should be willing to do the process work for the advisor if the advisor is the kind who doesn’t want to handle those things by himself or herself. In addition, any new insurance brokerage firm should have access to numerous top carriers.” For Mr. Arengo, an insurance brokerage firm can set itself apart by keeping it simple. “Simplify the process,” he said. “Let the advisor tee up the client, and then let the insurance brokerage take it from there.” He, too, sees effective technology as a plus. “Use DocuSign as much as possible,” he said. “Some are better than others in this area.” Certainly, no one expects all brokerage general agencies to appeal to everyone. There is, in fact, a lot of specialization in this business. But generally speaking, good agencies know their market and who they want to do business with. The smartest agencies, though, are good at listening to their market, and improving in those areas where they need improvement. The result, of course, is more — and stronger — profitable relationships. EVENT CALENDAR MAY 2019 JUNE 2019 NAIFA (National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors) Congressional Conference May 14 – May 15, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. AUGUST 2019 MDRT Annual Meeting (The Million Dollar Roundtable) June 9 – June 12, Miami Beach, FL. Registration for NAILBA38 opens May 15, 2019. NAILBA Webinar: Don’t Worry, Retire Happy! Steps to retirement planning and long-term care for clients. May 21, 2019 at 10:00am EST. IAMS 2019 Marketing Summit August 25–29, The Ritz-Carlton Naples, FL. NAILBA Webinar: Life & Annuity Objections and How to Handle Them. August 22, 2019 at 12:30pm EST. SAVE THE DATE NOVEMBER 2019 NAILBA38 – November 7-9, 2019, Dallas, TX, Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center. NAILBA Webinar: Things to Remember about Succession Planning. May 29, 2019 at 1pm EST. Ongoing: Brokerage in Motion Podcasts: The “Vitality” of Independent Distribution with Brooks Tingle, President and CEO, John Hancock Insurance. Outlook for Term Life & AXA Product Focus Now & Future with Trey Reynolds, Head of Life Distribution, AXA. Life Products Development: Current & Future Opportunities for Brokerage with Warren May, National Vice President, Principal. Product Development, Industry Challenges & Commitment to Independent Distribution with Jeff Barker, Senior Vice President, AIG. Increase Producers, Increase Revenue & Serving Underserved Markets with Mark Hug, Global Diversity Marketing. 17