Generating insurance sales in an agency owned by a financial institution is the new frontier of the life insurance business. “New?” you might ask. Well, lets just say the West has yet to be won.
At FirstMerit Insurance Agency Inc., we market customers through bank referrals to our financial consultants. The challenge was and remains getting the financial consultants to include insurance with their investment sales. Id like to share how our agency is getting it all off the ground.
The big challenge has been to get the financial consultants to buy in. The FCs have trained and worked with their bank partners on the art of profiling and referring customers for possible investment sales. Yet most FCs hesitate to embrace insurance sales as a part of their practice. As one remarked to me, “If I wanted to sell insurance, I would be an insurance agent.”
Many factors can help achieve the buy-in. To get the buy-in, we needed to understand the framework under which FCs would embrace insurance sales.
First, we knew we had to have an effective back office that was exclusive to insurance sales and would provide total and dependable sale-product support. Second, we needed to create an insurance sale opportunity that was easy to understand and had simplified paperwork. Third, we needed to deal with the reality that our FCs were uncomfortable discussing health issues with customers.
Fourth, we needed to deal with the delayed financial gratification of the typical insurance sale. Annuity commissions are almost instant. Insurance commissions are delayed by underwriting, issue and delivery requirements.
Last and most importantly, we needed investment and banker management support.
Our back office is staffed with licensed personnel with sales support experience. This provides the producer with the confidence that comes with knowing they have technical back up. Most sales support is provided from the back office. This includes applications, illustrations, point-of-sale brochures, outstanding underwriting requirements and commission tracking.