For Financial Advisors, Finding the Right Partner is Key in Tough Times

Robotic Process Automation Experts 407-706-0245

For Financial Advisors, Finding the Right Partner is Key in Tough Times

By all accounts, 2009 looks like it will be a tough year. A slowing economy and uncertain outlook leave consumers reluctant to spend money and agents face a tougher market than we’ve seen in years.

Surviving and thriving in tough times is possible, and easier than it seems! The key for agents and agencies of all types and sizes is to get back to basics. Everything starts and ends with the client! In a world where life products are a commodity, it pays to focus on your competitive advantages. Your competitors can bring the same products, quotes, and spreadsheets, but what they can’t bring is the personal commitment to excellence that you and your staff embody.

2009 will be the year of the client-centric practice. The most successful agents and agencies will be those who commit themselves to building relationships and standing out as an island of stability in the economic storm. Successful agents will go back to the basics of good customer service, such as returning phone calls promptly and making sure clients understand that you are committed to solving their problems.

Remember to say “thank you” to your clients! Start every appointment with “thank you for coming to meet with me”, “thank you for taking my call”; don’t forget to say “thank you for your business”, and most importantly “thank you for the referral!” Use your client’s name five times in the first five minutes of conversation. This habit will reinforce the personal nature of your discussion. After the greeting, when you start to talk business, lower your voice! This technique reinforces the perception of confidentiality sets the correct tone for a private discussion of important financial matters.

For financial planners, life agents, and even those who only write the occasional life case, finding the right wholesale partner is the most important thing for you to do. Getting access to product is easy, but the insurance business isn’t about product. We are in the financial service
business and at a higher level the relationship business.

Picking the right wholesale partner is the key to success in turbulent times. Not all wholesalers are created equal, and the services they provide can vary dramatically. Most have access to the same range of products, but the back-room support is what enables you to spend more time selling and advising, and less time with doing paperwork and wrapping up loose ends.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, find a wholesaler who will give you what you need, and otherwise stay out of your way. If you want to run your own quotes, and download forms off of a web site, make sure your wholesaler will provide you with this capability. Just remember, every hour you spend tracking down forms or dealing with home-office headaches is an hour you could have spent in front of your clients.

Building a client-centric practice requires a commitment to being in front of your clients, and showing them the added value you provide. A full-service wholesaler is not just a product provider, but a business partner that can help you grow. Outsourcing administrative work can be a successful strategy, if you can find a reliable partner. The agents positioned for success in 2009 are those who understand that they can let someone else handle small details such as finding the right forms, ordering exams and medical records, and making sure an insurance company doesn’t let an application sit in the mail room for weeks without being processed.

  • Before you choose a wholesaler, decide what you’re looking for.
    Do you want product and nothing more, or are you looking for a full-service backroom?
  • Ask about the size of the marketing and new business staff.
    How many people stand ready to help you when you need quotes, applications, or have a problem with a case in underwriting?
  • Ask how your wholesaler is organized.
    Is it a one-man shop, a monolithic bureaucracy, or something in the middle? Does the new business department use a team-based model, or are your cases assigned to one person? If the latter, what happens when that person is out of the office?
  • Make sure your key point of contact is ready to take ownership of your problemsand make sure that there are other people ready to help, if you can’t get in touch with your normal contact.
    What kind of credentials does the support team have? How long have they been in the business? Do they really understand how the products work, or are they just order-takers punching data into the quoting software?

Building a client-centric practice is the most important thing you can do to be successful in 2009. Choosing a wholesale partner for various product lines is a key decision that will determine how much time you actually have to spend with your clients, compared to how much time you spend doing back-room work. Remember, clients can only recognize the work they see you doing! Focus on your clients, help them with their problems, and delegate as much of the behind-the-scenes tasks as you can!