Agents Ride A Learning Curve In Selling Bank Products
The idea that customers can walk into an independent agency and find insurance and bank financing products under one roof might seem like a logical fit, but knowing what is right for a given client requires some experience and a thorough understanding of all the financial services being sold.
Essential to success in selling bank products, agents say, is having a good organization behind you providing support. Such organizations should educate insurance agents about product lines and selling opportunities, and be there to assist them if providing broader financial services becomes overly burdensome or too complicated.
For agents working with InsurBanc, based in Farmington, Conn., chartered by the Independent Insurance Agents of America, the key is learning a whole new game and product line.
“Theres a learning curve,” acknowledges Mark Connelly, president of Connelly Agency Inc. in Fairfield, Conn.
Throughout its 55 years of existence, the agency has had an interest in financial services, explains Connelly, noting that his agency has been involved in group plans, life insurance and real estate.
The agency knows how to cross-sell and does it well, he points out.
However, when InsurBanc opened its doors, Connelly saw the opportunity to offer banking services to clients and still remain independent.
In the first four months that the agency was affiliated with InsurBanc, Connelly says it closed on over $1 million in home equity loans. He says it helps to have a product that is very competitive with other banks.
Indeed, he adds, having banking and insurance services under one roof “adds value to our client relationship that they can only get here.”
The agency is building on this success, adding more banking services for customers, and soon hopes to be able to market mortgages.
However, there have been stumbling blocks. “Our main business is insurance, and although InsurBanc offers a great product, it takes away from our insurance business [in terms of time spent selling],” Connelly observes. “Until we have a separate, dedicated profit center [for bank products], it will be a little cumbersome.”
Learning bank products thoroughly to market them better to the customer also helps, Connelly says. With that knowledge, it is easier to identify the right product for the right client.
“Our approach is not to sell the client another product, but to sell them something that is better than what they can get out there,” Connelly says.
Hiring someone who knows the banking business can also be a great help, according to Dave Wyrsch, president of Van Dyk Group. The agency, based in Long Beach Island, N.J., has three office locations and lots of experience in real estate.
Wyrsch says that having that extensive real estate experience and hiring someone with deep understanding of the banking system helped pave the way to joining InsurBanc.