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What should companies be doing to remain competitive in this market?

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DiSylvester: Companies all have segments they’re good at. Look at those 1-3 areas you’re really good at and focus on those. Also, if you think about it, look at the marketplace, not just the product. You’ll find solutions in the marketplace.
Pfeifer: A company needs to have a plan for product development. They need to really assess it critically, and assess what works.
Secondly, in this environment, it would be easy to hunker down and not be creative … just hold onto what you have. However, this could be a great opportunity. If the competition is in the fox hole, it’s a good time for someone to spread their wings and take advantage of the situation.

On 2008 sales:
Pfeifer: 2008 sales were down. But 2007 sales levels created a tough benchmark. If you put it into perspective, the 2008 sales figures were competitive, considering we were faced with possibly the toughest environment globally, ever.

On future trends:
DiSylvester: There’s a shifting focus of boomers entering their 60s. They are more aggressively seeking access to their wealth and looking for guidance. They are looking to consolidate assets to an advisor who provides advice for a comprehensive retirement income strategy.

Editor’s note: Ben DiSylvester, chairman of Robert E. Nolan Co., Inc. and Timothy C. Pfeifer, president, Pfeifer Advisor, LLC, spoke at The Life Insurance Conference, held March 31-April 1 in Orlando. Following are highlights from their comments on trends in life insurance products.