Using Technology Can Strengthen Relationships, Not Replace Them
More than anything in the past century, changes in information technology have revolutionized business practices in every industry.
In the financial services business, technology has changed everything–from how you communicate with your clients to how consumers shop on the Web for financial products.
The ways in which insurance and investment carriers approach the services they offer also varies widely. Now is a good time for agents and brokers to put some thought into what they should look for in a best-in-class carrier regarding technology services.
One of the most important issues to consider is how your carriers value the relationship with you and how effectively they incorporate and maintain that relationship in their technology approach.
Technology should serve the agent. The agent should not have to serve the technology.
Are the companies you work with committed to using technology to make your job easier, or is their technology adding more complexity without corresponding value?
Here are some elements that creative distributor-focused carriers should be building into their technology systems:
Enhance relationships with effective training technology. As an independent distributor of financial services, you are highly selective about which carriers you work with and recommend to your clients. You value the relationship you have built with your clients and understand the importance of effective communication. Expect that same level of care in how your carriers use technology to deliver training communication to you.
For example, in todays expense-conscious climate, many carriers are cutting back their sales forces and internal agent customer support staff and using high tech methods in their place. The goal is lower expenses–not a higher level of service to the agent. In this scenario, producer training and support–things you need more than ever–suffer from this short-sighted strategy.
Carriers may look to “virtual wholesaling” technologies as a way to streamline product education, training and service support. But think about what “virtual” really means–it means “almost there.” Agents and advisors in todays business climate need something that is more than “almost there.”
Carriers may implement business entry systems that require agents and advisors to do online business entry and servicing. But if these methods simply shift operating expense from the carrier to the agent, while the carriers labor costs may decrease, you, the agent, may lose valuable prospecting and selling time.