For Mike James, COVID-19 is not a friend.
James has been president of NFP’s NFP Life Solutions unit since July 2017, and head of individual solutions at NFP since January 2006. He came into NFP as a sales executive with NFP’s Partners Financial, after spending 14 years at John Hancock.
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James now oversees the sale of huge amounts of life insurance and annuities, mainly through financial professionals who have depended heavily on face-to-face client meetings, with clients who have traditionally completed most major financial services transactions through face-to-face meetings.
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Then, the pandemic came along. With the lockdowns, and the masks, and the Zoom meetings.
Here are three things James said about what it’s like to try to sell life insurance now.
1. Selling life insurance and annuity insurance this year is nothing like selling those products a year ago.
James said making any kinds of year-over-year comparisons is difficult, because the situation this year is so much different.
“I think we are performing well,” James said. But “we’re not operating the same way.”
James said he and the financial professionals he works with are moving quickly to develop new strategies, based on strategies such as connecting people with webinar tools.
“I’m trying to build conversations around engagement,” James said. “Everything is about engagement.”
But “lots of things have been lost and can never be replicated with virtual communication,” James said.
One social-distancing-related issue he’s thinking more about is retaining in-force business.
“If you can’t see clients, it’s hard to retain clients,” James said.
Another issue he sees is uncertainty about how the pandemic will be evolve. ”No one knows what the future holds,” he said. “There’s so much that could change.”
2. Getting the webinar going is the easy part.
James sees typical financial professionals and typical clients adjusting to the new web call universe.