Rancho Mirage, Calif.
What do producers and branch managers in the broker-dealer channel want from variable product insurers?
Speedier service and stronger wholesaling support.
That was the message delivered here at a marketing conference held by the National Association for Variable Annuities, Reston, Va.
At first blush, that may not seem the most exciting trade news youve ever heard. But forget the first blush. Those remarks have weight.
You see, it wasnt just one or two people calling for speed and support. In this conference of 1,000-plus people, numerous securities executives said the same. Whats more, they made their entreaties before NAVA, whose members come mostly from insurance companies, the target of many of the suggestions. In fact, NAVA asked these executives for their views, as part of its effort to spark ideas on increasing insurance and annuity sales in wirehouses and regional b-ds.
Several of these speakers were reassuring, in the sense that they predicted variable sales will pick up as the economy improves. But they didnt pull punches when it came to offering ideas on how insurers could help that along.
For instance, “make it easier for us to contact the wholesaler,” urged Ken Meyers, branch manager and managing director at First Union Securities, in Grass Valley, Calif.
Reps dont want to have to “go through four or five layers (at the insurer), and play perpetual telephone tag,” he said.
Another suggestion: The inside wholesalers at the insurance company should stay in touch with the producer and let the producer know the status on a case, Meyers said.
Further, “we like companies that offer continuing education and training sessions on estate planning and tax law changes.”
What is on his “dont” list? “E-wholesaling is not a good concept,” Meyers said. “This is a people business, and we need to retain relationships.” One firm did move into e-wholesaling, Meyers added, “so we dont use them any more.”
Producers “have a lot to do,” pointed out Dennis Modrich, first vice president with SalomonSmithBarney in Palm Desert, Calif., “so we dont have time to know, use, and keep your sales tools as effectively as youd like.”
His suggestion? Insurers should use wholesalers who know how to use technological resources to help producers find sales opportunities.
For instance, Modrich said, “the wholesaler should be able to come into the shop and say, lets click on this and filter for that and then bring up three people from our customer base who have eight-year Treasuries that are about to mature.”
They should also be able to filter their own companys system, Modrich added, “so they can get the presentation and sales material that will help make the sale.”