Over the past several years I have read so many articles regarding the displacement of the agent or predictions of who will become formidable competition that it has reached the level of ad nauseam.
It is interesting to note that such articles are not being written by agents commenting on actual experience. Rather, the authors are usually just observers, many of them consultants helping companies make gigantic mistakes.
Most often mentioned as the new competitive force are bankers, the Internet, CPAs and lawyers. I do not know much about the Internet as an insurance marketing tool, so I am not qualified to comment on that. However, early reports that I have read, published by researchers, do not indicate the Internet has been much of a factor so far.
I suspect that like direct response selling by mail, it will appeal to some. However, direct response selling has never amounted to more than 2% of the market.
Insofar as bankers are concerned, I believe they have already discovered that to cover wide insurance markets, they will need a staff of agents. Since I have previously written on this subject, I will move on to the main focus of this article–CPAs and lawyers.
While both lawyers and CPAs have been mentioned as prospective major players in our marketplace, I believe it is safe to say that most people regard CPAs as the most formidable. A few companies have specifically targeted them for joint ventures, and some have encouraged their agents to form liaisons with accounting firms. A number have done so, and thus there is a body of knowledge and experience beginning to develop.
I have talked with people who have devoted much time and energy to creating working relationships with accounting firms, and so far the results have not been promising. I am sure there are examples somewhere in the country where this has not been true, but there are factors now becoming evident which mitigate against large-scale success.
I am told that there are several major reasons that interfere with the use of accounting firms in the marketing of insurance as well as other financial services. First of all, to a CPA marketing financial services, this will only be a part-time endeavor, or perhaps a sideline. Such professionals will not give up their identity as a CPA in the pursuit of ancillary business.
As I heard this, I could not help but wonder how many life underwriters in taking on sideline products lost their own unique identity in the process.