For Senior Market Advisor’s 2013 Industry Survey, more than 150 insiders weighed in on the most pressing challenges as well as the biggest opportunities for them as they look ahead to 2014. The respondents came from a cross-section of marketing organizations, services companies, consultants, brokers, advisors and agents.

Let’s go inside the numbers and responses…

Lead generation

Getting leads is always an issue for advisors. As one respondent told us, “Leads have been a problem for the industry for a hundred years and they will continue to be an issue a hundred years from now.”

So, what’s an insurance professional to do to get around that problem? While there’s little debate that getting good, qualified leads is the lifeblood of a practice, how those leads are acquired has some wiggle room. With that in mind, we asked insiders, “What is the number-one strategy they use to generate leads.”

The top 10 answers:

  1. Referrals
  2. Provide good service to existing clients and CPAs/Attorneys
  3. I work from my database of prospects and clients
  4. Networking
  5. Seminars
  6. Adult financial education on college campuses
  7. Radio
  8. Word of mouth and a pre-approach letter
  9. Direct mail
  10. Internet and social media squid program

Business changes

From the survey: What changes in your business do you have planned for 2014?

When asked about changes they had planned for 2014, nearly 34% of respondents said they have new lead generation techniques ready to roll out. Also, almost 30% said they will increase advertising next year while only 1% will decrease their ads.

Also, respondents provided us with unique changes they have in store for the upcoming year. The following are 10 of those ideas: 

  1. Greater protection services and fee-for-advice techniques
  2. Gather more assets and quality households
  3. Increase web traffic
  4. Financial Wellness Workshops
  5. Hire an appointment setter
  6. Better web presence
  7. Stay constant!
  8. More personal/face to face contact
  9. Hiring additional Financial Representatives
  10. Obamacare Alternatives
  11. Doing more Strategic Alliances with P & C agents & Benefit Brokers


Technology

Technology is both the present and the future of the insurance industry. Some agents like to tell us they only use a yellow legal pad or a dry erase board to communicate with clients, but, let’s face it, today’s consumer likes the ease and efficiency that technology provides.

From the survey: How has new technology, such as smartphones, tablets, social media and personal websites changed the way you do business? Respondents said technology has increased productivity (50%), decreased productivity (3%), complicated things (29%), taken away the personal touch 28%).

10 technology thoughts from the insurance industry:

  1. “It’s given me more connections.”
  2. “Technology makes people lazy and they think they know all about insurance and pricing!”
  3. “We’re not fully there yet.”
  4. “Since technology has decreased the personal touch we have added more touches from us to the client.”
  5. “In the area we live, not many people have access to the Internet yet.”
  6. “We’re quicker now in looking for information.”
  7. It’s just another set of tools – no dramatic effect.
  8. “Technology has reduced travel expenses.”
  9. “It’s opened up new marketing/sales channels.”
  10. “Sometimes, it’s easier to reach people by email and text.”
     

Client fears

From the survey: When you or your employees talk to clients, what are the biggest fears they are facing? The economy (56%), the government (55%), outliving their money (55%) and having to work longer than they had planned (40%) all scored high in the fear category but all took a backseat to health care (59%).

More client fears:

  • Paying for non-budget items and emergencies
  • Cash flow and employment
  • Long-term care
  • Not understanding today’s insurance
  • The Tea Party

Business plans

From the survey: Which of the following do you incorporate into your current business model?

  • Retirement Income Planning: 77%
  • Health-Care Issues: 60%
  • Estate Planning: 49%

While the big three business model changes appear to be retirement income planning, health-care issues and estate planning, based on the information above, we asked what else will industry professionals be incorporating into their business in 2014.

  • Retirement needs analysis
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Review of Health Plans
  • More Integrated Marketing
  • Medicare Supplement
  • Avoiding Probate for Clients
  • The importance of properly planning in the event of needing care
  • How to deal with rising costs and less benefits
  • Current business model is more consultative to increase fee for service revenue

Marketing organizations

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they work with a marketing organization; among that group 84% said their marketing organization provided the value they needed. 

More feedback on marketing organizations:

  • They’re helpful with Illustrations, strategies, etc.
  • They offer great support and service.
  • The FMO I use offers all the fixed and indexed life, annuities, LTC, DI, and Med Supps I need.
  • I’m not getting much help for generating leads with CPAs and JDs
  • Frankly, I don’t need or use a lot of support other than managing the cases during the u/w process
  • They help with coaching, mentoring, marketing
  • I’ve experienced slow administrative side of their business, no rush in getting business issued.
  • They keep me up to date with both vendor and industry changes.

Products

From the survey: Where are you finding your biggest success?

  • Annuities (30.6%)
  • Life Insurance (28%)
  • Investment Products (13.4%)

In what product areas do you predict your business will expand in 2014?

Life Insurance Sales

67.6%

Fixed Annuity Sales

28.4%

Indexed Annuity Sales

43.2%

Securities and/or Managed Money

27.0%

Long Term Care

39.2%

Medicare Supplements

38.5%

I do not expect my business to expand next year

5.4%

Five more places industry professionals plan to expand in 2014:

  • PPACA Marketplace Health Policies
  • Supplemental health insurance
  • Alternative Investments
  • Voluntary/Ancillary benefits
  • Under 65 health insurance

Securities, Mutual Funds

21.1%

Life Settlements

16.2%

Advanced Uses of Indexed Life Insurance

41.5%

Strategies for Combining Fixed and Fixed Index Products

31.7%

Social Security Maximization Strategies

61.3%

Medicare supplement Sales

42.3%

Baby Boomer Demographics

35.9%

Gen X Demographics

19.7%

Managed Money Programs

19.7%

Estate Planning

43.0%

Retirement Income Planning

67.0%

Demographic markets

Seventy-four percent of respondents indicated that the oldest boomers transitioning to seniors has had an impact on their business. But only 52 percent said they differentiated their marketing and sales approach between boomer and senior clients. Just 32 percent differentiated marketing and sales for women and men clients/prospects.

What are you seeing regarding boomers and their retirement plans?

  • More income needs, revised investing questions.
  • Increased demand for income-guaranteed products.
  • More retirement income planning and Social Security issues
  • They are beginning to withdraw money and not so much wanting to invest.
  • They don’t know their problems yet.
  • This is my client base; there’s more attention to income streams
  • They have income concerns and rollovers, and want expert advice on Social Security
  • More long-term care protection needs. Also, the boomer prospects are asking questions regarding their retirement needs
  • With baby boomers becoming seniors they look for alternative safe investments
  • There is now more interest in sustainable and increasing dividends and less on capital gains.
  • Their children are becoming even more aware of their “issues” and are having more scrutiny.
  • Most of my business is transitioning 401k/403b plans from market-risk positions to preservation of capital.

Prospecting

Forty-three percent of respondents said they spent, on average, less than $100 to obtain a new qualified prospect. An additional 35 percent spent $100-$250; 13 percent spent $$250-$300; and just 9 percent spent $400+.

How do you currently get new prospects?

Direct Mail for Seminars

15.5%

Direct Mail for Products

20.3%

Referrals

90.5%

Partnering with other professionals, such as CPA’s or Attorney’s

40.5%

Internet Advertising

18.9%

Magazine, Newspaper Advertising

7.4%

Radio Advertising

6.8%

10 additional prospecting ideas:

  1. Client events
  2. Financial Seminars for Small Business
  3. Direct mail for College Workshops
  4. Paid telemarketing
  5. Presenting and moderating at professional conferences
  6. Turning 65 list
  7. Newsletters, soft marketing and events
  8. I teach CE classes to insurance agents, who sometimes send me referrals.
  9. Mortgage leads
  10. Retirement associations