Be prepared to see an entire new wave of digital distribution advocates proudly donning the fresh and exciting new acronym, “DMO.” Just as all agents, all agencies, all broker-dealers and all insurance carriers have had to quickly adapt to the Internet revolution, expect the insurance distribution to have to follow similar suit.
Kind of a harsh title coming from someone who has worked with, helped grow and promote, formed countless relationships from, and made a decent living from FMOs over the past 10 years. However, I really do have an urgent warning for all of the annuity and life insurance distribution out there that could render you extinct in due time if you choose to ignore it. Let me explain.
For the agents, advisors, wholesalers, distributors, broker-dealers and carriers involved in the fixed and fixed indexed annuity and life insurance independent channel, the terms field marketing organization (FMO), independent marketing organization (IMO), and national marketing organization (NMO) are common and recognizable terms. For those of you not familiar with these acronyms, they are fairly interchangeable terms for groups that market, sell and distribute insurance products, such as annuities and life insurance.
Think of them as the middleman distribution system for the insurance marketplace, similar to any distribution center for cars, alcohol, furniture, etc. Simply put, the insurance carrier creates, registers and underwrites the insurance product while the FMO distributes and wholesales the products. It is a distribution system that has worked, and it is one that has been around for the last couple of decades. So, just what is a DMO, you might ask?
A DMO refers to a digital marketing organization. This is a relatively new description, and it began as a way to refer to the small handful of insurance distribution groups who truly understand, accept and promote digital marketing and branding. Although no one seems to argue with the fact that everything (including annuity distribution) is going digital, not many in the insurance industry seem to be doing much about it or even understand the implications for the industry as a whole.
However, it appears as if a small few are leading the charge while others stay complacent and hold on to their archaic model that hasn’t changed in nearly two decades. The digital marketing organizations are those which strive to teach their advisors how to brand themselves, how to educate and how to be found online.