For Retirement Advisor’s 2014 Industry Survey, we asked insiders to weigh in on the most pressing challenges as well as the biggest opportunities for them as they look ahead to 2015. 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…

annuitiesAnnuities rule

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

Annuities continue to dominate the industry survey. According to respondents, annuities remain number one with 35 percent of those surveyed claiming the safe product as their biggest area of success. Others clocking in were life insurance (23%), long-term care insurance (15%) and investment products (18%). sleeplessSleepless in insurance

From the survey: What issue keeps you up at night?

While much of the global economy experiences seismic shifts of extreme volatility, the insurance industry is nothing if not consistent. Every survey we’ve conducted at this publication has resulted in “generating leads” (33%) as the biggest challenge folks in the industry face. Other reasons for insomnia include: industry legislation (21%), the economy (18%) and cap rates on indexed annuities (7%). transformerTransformers

From the survey: What changes in your business do you have planned for 2015?  

Sixty percent of respondents said they plan to develop new lead generation techniques in 2015. Other big changes include: “I plan to offer new products” (30%), “I plan to increase advertising” (24%) and “I do not plan to make changes in 2015” (18%). tech talkTech talk

From the survey: How has new technology, such as smartphones, tablets, social media and personal websites, changed the way you do business? 

For respondents, technology has increased productivity (51%), it’s complicated things (39%), taken away the personal touch (24%) and decreased productivity (12%). fearFear factor

From the survey: When you or your employees talk to clients, what are the biggest fears they are facing?

The economy (64%), the government (44%), outliving their money (73%), having to work longer than they had planned (38%) and health care (67%).

More client fears:
Paying for non-budget items and emergencies, cash flow and employment and long-term care. business planBusiness plans

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

Retirement income planning: 82%

Health-care issues: 45%

Estate planning: 52%

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 2015 and here are the results:

  • Retirement needs analysis

  • Long-term care insurance

  • Review of health plans

  • More integrated marketing

  • Medicare supplement

lead generationLead 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 5 answers:

  • Referrals

  • Provide good service to existing clients and CPAs/Attorneys

  • I work from my database of prospects and clients

  • Networking

  • Seminars

marketing Marketing organizations

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they work with a marketing organization; among that group, 81 percent 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 underwriting process.

prospectingProspecting

Forty-six 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+.

Additional prospecting ideas:
Client events, financial Seminars for small business, direct mail for college workshops, paid telemarketing, presenting and moderating at professional conferences. demographicDemographic markets

Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated that the oldest boomers transitioning to seniors has had an impact on their business. But only 48 percent said they differentiated their marketing and sales approach between boomer and senior clients. Just 35 percent differentiated marketing and sales for women and men clients/prospects.

What are you seeing regarding boomers and their retirement plans?

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 have income concerns and rollovers, and want expert advice on Social Security.