Ensight has surpassed one million digital sales presentations for life and annuity wholesalers, financial advisers and agents. What have we learned?
Our learnings fall into five broad areas. Whether you are an insurance carrier, BGA, FMO, insurance agency or producer, these lessons are key for the decade ahead.
Millennials are starving for life and annuity digital sales
Millennials are using Robinhood, Acorns, Betterment and other fintech apps daily and are conditioned to expect a similar digital experience in the workplace, including an advanced digital sales toolset for life, long-term care and annuities.
A consistent refrain that we hear from advisers is: “I am tired of trying to explain life and annuity products using PowerPoints and PDF brochures. Every other financial services experience is application-based. Even my 401K experience is interactive now.”
Millennials demand that there be a more visual, interactive and intuitive way to sell life and annuity products that matches their every-day fintech experiences.
Financial advisers expect a “digital experience,” and greater life and annuity adoption depends on it
Financial advisers today have already completed the shift to digital financial planning platforms. Whether it is EnvestNet Money Guide Pro (MGP), eMoney, RightCapital, AssetMap or RetireUp, the financial planning experience today is managed through a fintech platform. These platforms have simplified the discussion and engagement between the financial adviser and the client, making it easier to understand financial options and their benefits for the overall financial plan.
This is the expectation – digital, visual, interactive and easy to understand.
See also: In Search of the Digital X-Factor
If life and annuity carriers and distributors want to return to growth – and increase sales within advisory channels – they will have to “speak the language” of the market, selling and servicing products through modern digital delivery.
Experience is everything
The adage, “Experience is everything,” has become, “Digital experience is everything.”
We increasingly talk about the paramount importance of the customer experience (CX) and the user experience (UX). Each sits at the forefront of organizational strategy and service delivery. And nearly every financial services product class has already shifted onto this agenda. Even cars are now designed and ordered through an online digital experience.
Unfortunately for the life and annuity sector, the sales experience remains entrenched in a legacy model – static, 45-page PDF illustrations; long PowerPoint decks; and traditional, print-oriented “brochureware.”
Without modernizing the pre-sale to in-force digital customer engagement (for a world where “experience is everything”), the life and annuity sector stands little hope of returning to sustainable long-term growth.
The chief learning from over a million digital sales presentations?
A legacy sales experience today undercuts the sales effectiveness of wholesalers, advisers and agents and ultimately reduces closing rate and top-line sales numbers across the P&L.
RIAs, BGAs, financial advisers and insurance producers are “de-localizing”
One little-noted potential long-term outcome of COVID-19 and the transformation shift to remote work is the “de-localization” of RIAs, BGAs, financial services firms and financial professionals.
Historically, financial services firms have focused their services on a local market or region, so they could meet and serve their clients, face to face, at the office or in the home. COVID-19, however, broke this model.
First, the permanent shift to virtual client engagement (e.g. via Zoom or Microsoft Teams) has proven that the face-to-face relationship can be retained even when in-person meetings cannot.
Second, the growing relocation of individuals over the past year has meant that many financial professionals are having to virtually follow clients to retain them. Finally, as firms have gotten smarter about lead and client acquisition driven by data, the opportunity of digitally targeting new clients -- at a micro-individual level -- in new cities or regions has become a reality.
What might this trend lead to over the long term?
It is possible that the trend may spark a new era of innovation in the advisory space, as “niche specialists” are able to digitally scale their service proposition.
Transformation of the wholesaler model is well underway
Wholesaler demand for digital sales enablement and marketing tools is growing by the day.
What digital sales enablement capabilities are wholesalers crying out for?
In our experience, this has been concentrated around three critical areas:
- Digital, interactive product analysis tools that support virtual sales engagements
- Modern platform-based product training, education and marketing experiences
- Real-time data insight to drive case and account follow-up
See also: False Dilemma Facing Life Insurers
While the digital hybridization of the adviser-client discussion has already been underway for several years, the wholesaling shift is just now taking off.
If you are a life and annuity carrier or distributor, start now. Not only will your GenX (age up to 55) and millennial (age up to 40) wholesalers double their sales effectiveness, they will also personally thank you, as will the advisers you serve.