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How advisors can win in today's marketplace

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Let’s face it, advising clients on their financial futures is no easy task – and it doesn’t appear it will become simpler any time soon.

Increased competition, product complexity and tighter regulations continue to  present challenges for agents and advisors alike.

Combined, they make it seem like there is less time to handle even the basics of running a successful practice.  

While there are no silver bullets or shortcuts, there are proven tactics that top advisors use every day to grow their practices.  All of them revolve around understanding the client’s “sweet spot” – the intersection of their particular needs and the ever-changing product solutions marketplace.

Personal Best Practices

Top advisors exhibit certain traits and follow processes that make them stand out from the crowd. While these behaviors may not be easy to replicate, aiming to master them can help advisors to be the best they can for their clients. Key practices include:

  • Have a Client-Centric Focus – Many top advisors cite their ultimate goal “to be of service” for their clients. Putting clients first and treating them like a family member creates an immense level of client trust and loyalty, which ultimately retains existing clients and inspires referrals to new ones. There are high performing advisors out there who don’t advertise or host seminars because they build their practices purely through word-of-mouth.

  • Go Outside the Comfort Zone – Don’t fall into the trap of selling the same product over and over again, even though it’s easy to tell the product story and work through the mechanics of the application process. Advisors may ask … “why fix what isn’t broken?”  The answer: long-term success is about learning something new every day and taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Constantly scan the marketplace for new and innovative products that might solve a client need more effectively. 

  • Education Through Conversation – A lot can be learned by tapping into existing networks. Take the time to talk to IMOs or broker dealers, product providers, and/or colleagues who are willing to share their experiences. Also, join as many webinars as time permits. These resources may unveil a product or idea that could be a game changer to a practice. 

  • Have a Dialogue - Make sure to have an open dialogue with clients and do more listening than talking. Take the time to discover what is most important to a client by being a great listener rather pushing product.

  • Look at the Big Picture – Always look at client’s needs holistically, honing in on four key areas: accumulation, income, family protection and personal care. With these factors in mind, advisors can recommend the most suitable product for the client.

Become a Product Guru

Today’s products are not your grandfather’s annuities or life insurance. In the last decade, there have been many innovations that can significantly affect client outcomes.  

What’s new and notable? From an accumulation perspective, carriers have gone beyond traditional capped strategies in order to provide more upside potential in the existing low-rate environment.  Some real innovation has taken place on this front with the introduction of participation rate and spread rate strategies. These strategies allow for greater crediting potential by removing the cap or the ceiling.

There has also been some buzz around customized indices that have recently launched in the FIA space. Some agents describe these new indices as “game changing,” “next generation” and “revolutionary.”  What’s the hype about? These new strategies give agents and clients access to greater diversification and more upside potential versus more common S&P 500 strategies.  

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Additionally, carriers have continued to launch combination products that can be customized to clients’ needs in retirement. Annuity products now offer a variety of death benefit and personal care riders that can be considered along with life insurance or long-term care insurance.

Take the opportunity to learn about these new products – get “into the weeds” and become an expert on which clients they are a fit for. These new products can help provide unique and clever solutions to help address client needs.

No need to call the “Geek Squad”

Technology is another area of rapid innovation, and there are a number of terrific new technology solutions in the marketplace. First stop? Check in with your IMO or carrier.

Many carriers, vendors and IMOs have spent millions to beef up their technology platforms. Some have even created proprietary solutions that are at the forefront of the industry. One top IMO has developed a fully integrated platform that covers contact management, activity menus, product research, quotes and client presentations. 

Technology is also being leveraged for training purposes, with pre-recorded videos and presentations ranging from how to conduct a client meeting to advanced product techniques. One IMO boasts over 60 hours of video training content to help its agents.

Carriers can be another great source for tech solutions – from electronic applications to story-telling and data-collection software that effectively combine marketing and suitability discovery with your clients. The bottom line is that state-of-the art technology solutions exist to help you every step of the way in building a practice. Leveraging this new technology can increase efficiency and help elevate overall product and selling techniques.

Service that will earn loyal clients and referrals starts with understanding the client’s “sweet spot,” where needs and product solutions meet. Advisors can increase that understanding by following a range of personal best practices, keeping up with the latest in product innovations and adopting technology that can help clients – and practices – succeed.