Financial professionals say they would like to see variable annuity manufacturers cut distribution costs, expand product options and add better wholesalers.
The financial professionals — Craig Bernard, Kelly Campbell and Joan Valenti — shared their ideas for insurers in the VA market here during a general session at a marketing conference organized by NAVA, Reston, Va.
“I think you pay us too much,” said Campbell, a founder of and principal at Campbell Wealth Management Inc., Fairfax, Va. “The reason why variable annuities have received such bad press and are perceived by consumers as a poor choice is because it pays out more than other products. If the product costs could be lowered to be more in line with my managed account business, I absolutely could do a lot more business–easily doubling or tripling my sales numbers.”
All of the panelists agreed that VA wholesalers should offer advisors more practice-enhancing tips and services.
Too many manufacturer reps are ignored because they simply pitch new products or product features, the panelists said.
Campbell said he would most like to know about the strategies of stellar producers who have doubled or tripled their own sales.
Bernard, president of Madison Investment Center, Madison, Conn., said wholesalers are well-positioned to gather and tell such success stories because of the many opportunities they have to meet with advisors when on sales calls.
Even if they don’t have sales ideas to share, wholesalers could find advisors more receptive to their calls if they come to meetings knowing more about a financial professional’s expertise, market orientation and plans for growth.
Wholesalers also could benefit from ratcheting up their education level, panelists said.
Few wholesalers are Certified Financial Planners, said Joan Valenti, a Farmington, Conn., advisor and CFP.
Some manufacturer reps could improve their social skills, Valenti added.
Valenti cited the example of a wholesaler who, after having failed to win her business for more than 10 years, first bought her a pumpkin pie (which she didn’t like), then a CD of French-Canadian pop singer Celine Dion (whom she does like). The problem: The wholesaler tried handing her the CD during a company move to a new office location, seemingly oblivious of the fact that she could accept the CD only if he took possession of a large and heavy box she was holding.