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Jerry Blair. (Photo: Sammons)

Life Health > Life Insurance > Permanent Life Insurance

The Millennials Are Getting Older: Sammons Life Executive

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Jerry Blair wants to see consumers who are young today get life insurance today.

Blair is president of the Sammons Life Insurance Group, the life insurance arm of Sammons Financial Group.

He entered the world of financial services through a job in a men’s clothing store more than 30 years ago, by selling a suit. The buyer turned out to be a new Prudential district manager. He called the store a few days and asked Blair to meet with a Prudential sales manager.

“I’m grateful I took that call,” Blair says.

Blair went on to work in life insurance sales, and to earn the Chartered Life Underwriter and LIMRA Leadership Institute Fellow professional designations.

He spent about eight years as a marketing executive at Transamerica, then, in 2005, joined Midland National Life Insurance Company, a Sammons division, as a distribution and sales executive.

Blair became head of the Sammons life group earlier this year.

He answered questions via email about the challenges he’s faced in the past year, and how he sees the future of life insurance distribution.

The answers to the questions in this interview have been edited.

THINKADVISOR: What took up the most time and energy last year, and what did you learn from that?

JERRY BLAIR: What I appreciate most about this position and opportunity is the diversity in the projects that require attention. In 2022, I spent much of my time assessing opportunities and closing gaps on the financial, reinsurance and human resources sides of the business.

Those projects can range from growing our distribution opportunities to understanding the market, and the need and opportunities for new product development.

My other primary focus areas this year have been to build and develop the Sammons Life Insurance Group team and assess new technology and capabilities.

What are you focusing on the most right now?

While there are many items that demand attention, diversifying our distribution and updating our technology stack are demanding the most time and effort right now.

We are centered on building a business model that is focused on efficiency, speed to market, and that keeps customer and agent experience front and center.

What forces out there are helping, and what forces are hurting?

How much time do you have? The quick answer is the recent rise in interest rates has certainly been a big help in terms of managing our blocks of business — both new business and in-force business.

The forces that provide the greatest challenges are the ongoing mortality impact of COVID-19 and the pending regulatory impact of the revised illustration rules tied to Actuarial Guideline 49-B.

What do you think your market will look like five years from now?

I’m anxious and excited to see where the next five years take us. In five years, the youngest baby boomer will be 63, and the oldest millennial will be in their mid-40s.

Both groups have, and will continue to dictate, the features and products we distribute.

They will also most certainly have a strong influence on how, when, and from whom the life products are being purchased going forward.

What, if anything, should readers or other players, such as industry groups and members of Congress, be doing to bring about positive change?

First and foremost, we must lead with empathy. It must drive our product development and innovation.

We should all continue to support the many benefits of the insurance industry to make it even easier to obtain and maintain our products and services.

The life insurance industry has been fortunate to provide protection for families and businesses for well over 100 years: We offer a vital service.

The need for our products will only increase over the next century.

Jerry Blair. (Photo: Sammons)


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