One of the best things about the conference was the way industry leaders talked about where the industry will be in 10 years. Here are some take-away points we picked up at the conference from visionaries who are really focused on the future – instead of the “survival mode” that we were dealing with just a year or so ago.
Where will the life insurance be in 10 years?
Steve Callahan – Robert E. Nolan Company
- The customer life cycle – from prospecting, through selling and customer service – require flexile, quickly configurable systems.
- Intensified regulatory oversight means that the industry must focus on clarity, transparency, and suitability for all products and services.
- Continuous investments in enabling technology are essential, with implementations staged to deliver consistent improvements over shorter time periods.
- A depot of legacy systems and thinking are constraining growth, and we need to take immediate action to change both.
Esfand Dinshaw – Sammons Financial Group
- No magic elixir of lower distribution costs and access to the middle class is apparent right now.
Michael Fanning – MassMutual
- I expect to see more focus on the middle market.
- Nearly a third of US households have no life insurance coverage, the highest percentage in four decades.
- A winning company in 2020 will be one that: (a) Expands more broadly to the larger – and more traditionally underserved – US population and (b) Develops solutions that leverage brand, product, technology and customer service for the middle market.
- Customer interactions are changing. Ten years ago, we were still tapping into the vast potential of the Internet. Now social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have changed the way people interact – and our industry is beginning to see the impact of social media on our customer interactions.
Doug French – Ernst & Young
- Two large demographic groups — Baby Boomers and Generation Y – demand very different products and delivery methods, but both have growing insurance needs.
Eileen McDonnell – Penn Mutual Life
- According to LIMRA, the sales capacity in our industry has been flat since 1998. So, it’s pretty obvious that we need to focus on increasing our talent base.
- Four years after being hired, only 15 out of every 100 producers hired remain in the industry – a very costly problem.
- Producers are aging. The average age of a life insurance producer is 55, compared to the median age of 37 for all US workers.
- More people are leaving our business than entering it.
- With one in four producers planning to retire or sell their practices in the next five years, and just 27 percent prepare with a succession plan. We need to focus on helping our producers in the later years of their careers.
Elaine Sarsynski – MassMutual International
Advisors remain essential to helping participants determine their needs and creating the package of products and services to meet them.
- We need to focus on understanding the needs of participants of all ages as well as their communication and advice preferences.
Craig Weber – Celent
- Smaller insurers have to focus their attention on building and maintaining relationships with their customers and agents.
- Targeting for products, services, and delivery methods must change as customer wants and needs change.
- These steps are important in improving our industry’s image.