LIMRA, president & CEO Robert A. Kerzner

As the 95th LIMRA Annual Conference opened today in New York, Robert A. Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, challenged the more than 500 financial services executives attending to better leverage the power of social media, mobile devices and other technological advances to grow life insurance and investment sales in the future.

“The changes in available technology are happening at a staggering pace,” said Kerzner. “Do you think there is any way iPhones, iPads, Droids and other mobile devices are not going to materially change our business model? Is it realistic to think that this type of device-to-device communication won’t change how people buy our products?”

Kerzner suggested that the industry must leverage these advances to find ways to increase productivity from our existing distribution so they can close many more sales per year; to find new sources of distribution; and to reach the consumer directly and frequently in new and different ways.

From recruiting, hiring and training producers, marketing and communicating with consumers to data collection, Kerzner described how current technology is being used in other industries and how it can be adopted to improve and expand the business model of the financial services industry to better align with how people are living.

He showed the audience examples of online job fairs and how some companies are using social media to attract new candidates both in the field and at the home office. Kerzner encouraged the industry to train their producers differently, using mobile devices to provide on-the-spot lessons and mentoring.  

According to Kerzner, communicating with consumers needs to change. “Many of our companies continue to post lots of pages of text on their websites and wonder why no one’s really getting the message.  It’s not just the younger generations who play games online – consider if we incorporated our messages into games like Angry Birds.”

“Gen X & Y consumers want to buy differently – they want to retain control,” noted Kerzner. “What if we invert how we think about prospecting, really turn the model upside down?” Kerzner then showed a video portraying how future customers will not wait to hear from an advisor but will search online for an advisor that closely meets their needs, reading online reviews from past customers and friends.

“Are you ready for something like this?” Kerzner asked the audience. “Are you training your reps on social media?”

Throughout his remarks, Kerzner provided examples of how social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn could be used to reach new customers, collect data and get referrals from satisfied clients.  He advised that insurers not allow negative distractions prevent them from reevaluating how they conduct every aspect of their business and see if they can improve.

“Growth is the imperative,” closed Kerzner. “We must embrace the new world and make it ours.”