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Survey: Internal and external wholesalers bring unique value

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New LIMRA research has revealed that internal and external product wholesalers provide distinct value to financial advisors, depending on the issue at hand.

The LIMRA report, “The Whole Team: The Importance of the Sales Desk in the Distribution Model,” offers new insights into advisors’ views of wholesaling strategies across manufacturers and intermediaries.

“Advisors tell LIMRA that both internal and external wholesalers are able to answer advisors’ questions and solve their problems,” said Breana Macken, senior analyst, Distribution Research, LIMRA, and the author of the report. “But who does what best depends on not only the request, but also the advisors preference, and the wholesalers themselves.”

Advisors believe internal sales teams are the best at handling advisors’ requests concerning planning tools, illustration support, and basic service issues, according to the study.  However, advisors surveyed believe external wholesalers are best with point-of-sale assistance with a client and with product positioning.

For most other requests, like identifying sales leads and new hire training, about half of the advisors surveyed said either internal or external wholesalers are the best provider of services.

“All too often, manufacturers’ primary focus is around which sales team — internal or external — is most efficient, but they should also pay attention to who provides advisors with the most value. The reality is that both remain integral in the minds of advisors,” said Macken. “And while it would certainly be less expensive for companies to rely exclusively on their internal teams, advisors tell us that wouldn’t be providing them with all the solutions they need.”

According to LIMRA, some manufacturers of financial services products and intermediaries continue to experiment with their wholesaling platforms and strategies to maximize productivity and efficiency.

“Whether it’s a hybrid wholesaling model or a team-based structure, for some companies, the strategy continues to be a work in progress,” said Macken. “And it basically comes down to companies trying to figure out what will work best for all of the parties involved.”

LIMRA surveyed 900 financial professionals for the study and conducted 17 one-on-one interviews.