Why You Should Expect More From Todays Wholesalers

By Terry Mullen

Most of us in the financial services industry have similar professional goals. We like to believe we are doing the best job possible of guiding our clients and, as a result, seeing our businesses grow.

While this is a tougher challenge than ever in light of the evolving retirement needs of baby boomers, the complexity of todays insurance and investment products, and the strict regulatory environment, there still is hope. More than ever, success requires a hefty dose of creativity, resourcefulness and tenacity.

Youre not in it alone.

I recommend that you take these words to heart the next time you receive a visit or phone call from a wholesaler. In an increasingly competitive market, todays wholesaler has a lot to offer beyond expertise in annuity, life insurance and mutual fund products. What separates a great wholesaler from the pack is his or her ability to listen to your situation and provide tools to help you build your business.

In my experience, a wholesalers level of client service is directly related to top-notch recruitment and training techniques. A diverse wholesaling force that represents a wider cross-section of the population and brings unique perspectives will be better equipped to meet your needs (and those of your clients).

In addition to bringing more women and ethnic minorities into the profession, I also advocate recruiting top talent from outside industries such as pharmaceutical sales and equipment leasing. These people often possess the right combination of sales savvy, personality and business skills. With thorough product training, they have the potential to serve as valuable assets to financial advisors and thrive in our sales environment.

Once hired, wholesalers should go through an extensive competency assessment to identify their strengths and weaknesses so their training can be customized. Although this may not be standard at all firms, I believe financial services companies must seriously invest in wholesaler training to maximize selling results.

That includes more than basic product training. Many wholesalers come to the job with impressive credentials and industry knowledge. But their training can be taken further, with education centering around a companys business model, channel variances, database management, practical selling ideas and products (not just the ones they will focus on). This will help create the “total wholesaler,” helping them understand their “piece of the market” and related client needs.

Implications for financial advisors.

The nature of the relationship necessitates that wholesalers provide technical know-how to financial advisors. But what you should expect from your wholesalers are value-added “solutions”: unique product suggestions, strategies to maximize sales and ways to optimize your talents.

Here are five things you should expect good wholesalers to do for you:

? Make you look smart by creating compelling, non-sales materials that you can pass on to your clients. There is great consumer demand for informative trend pieces and white papers on retirement topics, such as long term care and income needs.

? Provide access to meetings or seminars with leading sales gurus, industry experts and well-known academic professors. These are the people who will give you the market insights to help take your business to the next level.

? Take a personal interest in your business development. This could include bringing you turn-key informational seminars that you can host for groups of your clients. Just like you, wholesalers are sharpening their pencils and focusing on key accounts where they can generate the greatest returns. This attention can be great for advisors, and it makes for mutually beneficial relationships.

? Speak your language and relate to your daily life. Wholesalers should understand the structure and environment of your firm or business. And they should have basic knowledge of your internal systems, databases and product offerings. In short, they should make your life easier.

? Respect the competitive pressures you face. Todays products are numerous and more complex, especially on the life insurance side. You want to work with wholesalers who are less interested in “wining and dining” and more focused on helping you with “winning and signing.”

Terry Mullen is senior vice president and head of sales for Lincoln Financial Distributors (LFD) Inc., a broker-dealer and registered investment advisor and the wholesaling distribution organization for Lincoln Financial Group (LFG). Terry can be reached at tmullen@lfd.com.

You want to work with wholesalers who are less interested in wining and dining and more focused on helping you with winning and signing


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, March 10, 2005. Copyright 2005 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.