NAILBA Perspectives Spring 2019 - Page 12

Joe Bosnack, Jr., President Katz Nassau Agency, Inc. Debbie Hannam President Brokers Clearing House, Ltd. Carrier impact In thinking through how to streamline processes and be more efficient, the question was asked if there were ways for the carriers to help in bettering the system for the agencies, advisors and the consumers. Bosnack: “Carrier help is always appreciated and needed. Education is a big key, back office support when problems arise can be a differentiator, but mostly we appreciate efforts to simplify the process. The sooner we are out of the tree killing business with paper use, the better!” Hannam: “The obvious answer might be that we intend to deliver products as effectively and efficiently as possible to consumers who desire aggressive technology for applications. While I believe that is important, the word that resonates most with me is partnership! We must be able to depend on the carrier’s integrity. Life is unpredictable, but the carrier’s commitment to deliver on its promises to policyholders must be totally predictable and unwavering. I also believe carriers should be careful not to put every advisor or consumer in the same box. Everyone has a story, and it’s our responsibility to make sure we have communicated it correctly so the carrier can make informed decisions on contracting an advisor or underwriting the insured.” Phillips: “Carriers have done an excellent job at enhancing their websites and providing training tools and resources to help recruit and retain advisors. But I think the support a carrier could provide is to hire better people internally; train them more effectively; and instill a sense of what we do in the brokerage community, our issues and pain points. Maybe that’s a Quixotical, almost unrealistic, notion given the multi-channel distribution world we all work in. I find our time is increasingly spent chasing down errors, missteps, and no-way-that-should-happen situations. It’s a time-consuming 12 Perspectives Q2 2019 Ray Phillips, President The Brokers Source, Ltd. James Wong, Area Executive VP, Partners Advantage Insurance Services, LLC. effort that takes us away from generating revenues and laying the groundwork for new opportunities.” Wong: “As we better address consumer needs (product features, benefits and customer experience) one core objective is to deliver awareness and education on the many options available to the independent financial professional (IFP). With this as a backdrop, the two items that would aide our efforts would be for carriers to share their intelligence on products relative to competitive products. Secondly, it would be beneficial for carriers to get underwriting/suitability reviews through a common portal/system, ultimately bringing greater consistency to the buying experience.” Change — the constant denominator With change being the constant theme in the industry, the four leaders provided their perspectives on business growth and ways to achieve it. Bosnack: “Coming off last year, I decided to ‘go back to basics.’ I am on the ground more, trying to stay in front of the producers and helping them grow their business. More face-to-face, phone time, etc. to help them meet goals.” Hannam: “I don’t believe it is a big secret that the financial planning space is where we are all seeing changes in insurance conversations. It’s our job to better equip financial planners by giving them the education, guidance, and means to offer insurance services to their clients. Long term care continues to be in urgent need of attention in the financial planning space. The importance of protecting assets that clients have taken years to grow should be part of an advisor’s conversation with every client to ensure that a catastrophic LTC event doesn’t consume those assets in a very short period. With the partners and employees in our agency, we are well equipped to serve this space while continuing to service all our advisors in various capacities and helping them provide coverage to consumers. Statistics tell us we all have a lot more work to do!” Phillips: “I don’t think change in our agency — and maybe our industry — comes in a sudden, flashpoint way. It’s more of an oozing into pliable strategies, protocols and offerings. We’re not making any ‘changes,’ per se. We are continuing to engage the market the way it wants, by using new tools and resources to meet the ever-changing ways our market wants to consume our services. Along those lines I still favor the hand-to-hand combat approach to marketing, face-to-face meetings, workshops and appointments. Over the last year or so I have started to recognize that isn’t, perhaps, what the market wants from me or my firm. We’re doing more webinars, screen shares, recorded video sessions, etc. than I ever thought we would. And, grudgingly, our metrics support this direction.” Wong: “I’m a big believer in Jack Welch’s philosophy of ‘change before you have to’ and so we are continuing our investment into two growth areas. One is the Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) space, both to serve as an insurance exchange for them and Investment Advisor Representatives (IAR), and as a professional development opportunity for insurance-only IFP’s. The other is supporting what I consider as international business that includes foreign national cases. Our leadership team believes there’s great growth ahead for US dollar-based insurance products, and with our skill set, relationships and carrier support, we increase the odds of our ability to serve this sophisticated marketplace.” Consistently trending Acknowledging that change is a constant trend raises the importance of being nimble, as well as providing ongoing education and marketing along with increasing the collaboration between carriers, agencies, advisors and consumers. As Ray Phillips stated, “We’ve started to become an ‘insurance partner’ rather than an ‘insurance wholesaler’ for many of the firms and agencies that engage us.” As the second half begins, further discussions around efficiency, streamlined processes, and improved communications can equate to business growth at all levels. As Debbie Hannam summarized, “Without insurance carriers, agencies, advisors, and consumers working together, we have nothing.” In order to keep ahead of the changes, look to Tiffany Markarian’s article on social media (page 20) and Kim Magdalein’s column regarding marketing essentials (page 22). And, in the next issue of Perspectives in the 3rd quarter, the focus will be on technology for the industry. Pam Sheehan Director of Content & Strategic Partnerships, NAILBA [email protected] Checking in with the independent agents Graphs from Use and desire for life insurance sales tools Independent agents Source: Independent Agent Business Placement Preferences Survey, LIMRA, 2019. Online access to insurance carrier 69 % Tools to speed up the application process (e.g. eApp, eSignature) 69 % Client marketing and education tools Digital support tools to help identify appropriate solutions for my clients Already have & use 15 % 44 % 14 % 41 % 26 % Have now, but do not use 33 % 41 % Do not have but want 6 % 17 % 6 % 22 % 28 % 12 % 12 % 14 % 8 % 55 % Modeling tools on life insurance strategies Analytical tools that help prioritize your opportunities or leads 11 % 8 % 14 % 14 % 21 % Do not have and do not want 13