By Timothy K. Traynor
Financial convergence is, at its core, a marketing issue. To be effective in convergent marketing, however, producers and financial services companies need to find ways to align their core competencies and customer needs within a cohesive strategy.
Following are some suggestions for doing this:
Identify the core. Increasingly, producers and advisors must ask some challenging questions about their future direction.
What are my core strengths? How do I best “package” and present myself to my targeted market? Am I a life and health agent, an estate planner, a financial planner, a mortgage brokeror am I most effective blending two or more of those roles? Do I stay in a traditional agency, go out on my own, or pool talents and resources with other professionals?
This questioning must occur in all sorts of distribution channels. For example:
John A. is a career life agent who has built his niche in insurance and investment counseling to upper-income professional and retiree clients. He has just been approached by First & Last National Bank to join its trust department and minister to its high-net-worth clients.
Mary M. has a health insurance background, has moved comfortably into marketing and selling long term care insurance and sees her mission as helping families with older, disabled parents address their special needs. She is increasingly using reverse mortgages as a tool.
Tom S. has a good career as a multiline agent, but his main carrier is pressuring him to sell a lot more life insurance, and soon the company will be rolling out a mutual funds and investments campaign.
Each of these individuals is being swept into the realm of converging financial services. How they identify what they do will determine the marketing direction they will take.
Be open to new products. Producers need to be aware of, and thoughtfully approach, the type of questions and tensions that arise when new products and services arrive. In the convergent marketplace, these arrivals will bring new features, systems and possibilities.
Sooner or later, producers will need to decide whether to go with an expanded portfolio or stick with the familiar and comfortable. XYZ Insurance Company may, for example, insist that its producers expand sales to include the new offerings. Even if XYZ allows producers a choice, are these same producers prepared to see some new-look distributors, emblazoned with the familiar XYZ corporate logo, active in “their own” marketplaces?