Tom Harris knows the painful, lonely path of financial professionals who try to persuade clients to protect themselves against mortality and longevity risk.
Harris is executive vice president and chief distribution officer at The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co.
He oversees the distribution of Penn Mutual products both through the company’s own career agents and through independent producers.
He has a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, as well as the Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant and Fellow, Life Management Institute professional designations, meaning that he understands the math inside the products as well as the clients’ need for protection.
Via email, we asked Harris a set of VIP questions that touch both on his professional knowledge and on what he does off the clock.
1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now and why?
Tom Harris: I’ve got my eye on technology. I’m watching how protection, management and the use of data are being used to drive our business and create better experiences for our financial professionals and clients.
2. How has it been changing recently (2021), and how do you expect it to change (2022)?
The shift to digital new business and in-force policy support had started prior to the pandemic. It’s greatly accelerated in 2020 and 2021, and I expect that to continue in 2022.
3. What would you suggest advisors do now or consider doing in the future about it?
Continue to be flexible in running your business, especially as it relates to your employees and how your clients want to interact with you. Embracing these changes can increase efficiencies and better meet client expectations.
4. Who or what critical source of information do you track, or follow online, to keep up with this or other trends?
I’m really following developments related to information protection and cybersecurity. CNBC and The Wall Street Journal are daily sources for updates on cyber-related companies, security and news from D.C. related to regulations on the use of data.
5. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? Why/why not?