The sales industry, regardless of product, traditionally has a herd mentality when it comes to marketing or overall sales strategies. The annuity industry is no different, but this is not a good reason for agents and FMOs to flock to the next “shiny thing.”
Not everyone can have “six pack” abs or can afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on Internet display ads. My definition of a successful agent is one that knows who they are, knows the client types they like to work with, and are consistent with their business and marketing strategies. They don’t get distracted from all of the ongoing “noise” around them.
The annuity world is very small, and we all hear the crazy sales stories that tug at the subconscious to chase after that “perceived success.” I encourage agents to stay the course and be true to themselves, and to remember the reason(s) that they have chosen to offer “transfer of risk” annuity strategies to a starving public who are hungry for these products.
For decades, I personally witnessed the “me-too-ism” of the large wirehouse brokerage firms leap frog from focusing on mutual funds, then to muni-bonds, then to alternative investments, and then to the incorrect premise that every client needs a fee-based account. It was comical to watch the ongoing “mine is better than yours” product marketing strategy between the firms. It still goes on to this day, even though it seems like the final fork in the road is with fee-based accounts.
Wall Street firms love to be able to track future projected revenue, which is the primary reason they love fee-based accounts. Please spare me the argument that it’s because fee-based accounts are in the client’s best interest. That might be true for some clients, but is not the primary reason firms push this strategy to their advisors. I’m waiting for annuity companies to eventually end up in the “world of trail commissions” because Wall Street fee strategies are usually the forecaster of things to come.
Since leaving the “master of the universe” wirehouse firms years ago to become Stan The Annuity Man, I have witnessed annuity sales trends that are ever changing, always copied by the herd, and fun to look back on. Below are some recent annuity marketing “pucks” that agents have been skating after.
Bad Chicken Dinner Seminars
Florida has really cracked down on this, which is sad for my parents that live in St. Augustine and who ate for free on a weekly basis. I used to send thank you notes to the agents for feeding them, and lowering my mom’s and dad’s monthly food bill.
Mass Postcard Mailings
I know that carriers and FMOs still do this based upon the mail I get on a weekly basis. My parents tell me that they don’t get these anymore, so I guess agents aren’t doing this as much.
Made Up Certifications
Thank goodness that the industry has started cracking down on this nonsense.
Ghost Written Annuity Books