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Newsmaker: 5 Questions With LifeMark CEO William J. Shelow

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At NAILBA 36, this week, there’s been buzz about technology, distribution, and the middle market, among other topics.

ThinkAdvisor sat down with William J. Shelow, president and chief executive officer of LifeMark Partners, and asked him five questions about the industry and National Association of Insurance Life Brokerage Agencies.

1. TA:
What are your thoughts about the efforts and success of more advanced digital systems and digital processes in the life insurance industry?

William J. Shelow: As an industry, our adoption of the digital transformation process has been relatively slow.

I see most of the focus on the application and underwriting process side of things, as opposed to the sales and marketing side.

(Related: Life Happens President Promotes Digital Outreach)

I have seen some firms trying to more in digital marketing but i think regardless of how fast and easy and attractive the application process is, people still need to be given a reason to buy life insurance, and have that motivation and inspiration to buy it and I don’t know if that digital transformation has met that part of the need yet.

2. TA: How is the industry addressing the middle market consumer?

WJS: It’s no secret that the middle market is underserved. We have to make life insurance more prevalent in the eyes and minds of the middle market.

That will take better focus on marketing by both carriers and distributors.

We see organizations in the fintech arena working hard to get access to that middle-market consumer.

We also see organizations and associations like NAILBA and Life Happens with initiatives to reach the middle market.

But there is no doubt that we, as an industry, need to continue on that path to help them get better educated about the products and the need for the products.

3. TA: We’ve heard so much about change in the industry this week at NAILBA. From your perspective what is the biggest change taking place and how can insurance professionals adapt to this new environment?

WJS: We see lot of change in the forefront on the application and underwriting process.

Radar (Image: Bram Janssens/Hemera)

(Image: Bram Janssens/Hemera)

I think the ability to issue policies faster is going to come to the forefront very quickly.

We’re almost there with some of the processes.

In fact, we have some carriers that can actually issue policies in a couple of days or even a day.

It’s not everywhere yet, but as more and more data become comes available in the underwriting process on an instantaneous basis, we’re going to see that change first.

4. TA: What’s the biggest challenge the industry is facing and what can be done to address it?

WJS: The distribution arena is where I see the biggest challenge.

We have a shrinking independent producer population, and we’re working closely with financial advisors and property and casualty agents to help fill that gap.

We consider them consumer touch points.

We know, for instance, that financial advisors are taking with consumers about financial plans.

We know that property and casualty agents are talking about other insurance needs.

To us, that’s a bridge opportunity to delve into the life insurance discussion with those same consumers because life insurance should play a role in financial planning and in overall family and business risk management.

5. TA: Tell us about the new NAILBA CEO Dan LeBert?

WJS: I was on the selection committee that hired Dan and during the selection process, he exhibited to us the leadership attributes and skills needed to drive NAILBA forward.

Also, throughout his career, Dan has demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit and, when you’re dealing with BGAs and carriers and other marketing organizations, you need someone with deep relationship skills, and Dan is a master at relationship building. We knew after the election process that this was our guy.

—Read NAILBA Adopts 7-Point Strategic Plan on ThinkAdvisor.

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