When I first started in the life insurance business, my manager handed me a yellow rate book that listed whole life and term premiums by age, one—maybe two—underwriting classifications, and cash values for year 20 and age 65.
“This,” he said, “is your tool to success, and it will give you all the information you need.” After a few weeks of basic training, I would sit in a room with 25 other young recruits and call prospects from lists that were provided by the company. Sounds a lot like Glengarry Glen Ross, doesn’t it!
A few years later, in the late 1970s, my first interaction with technology in the business was life illustrations from the home office – a process that took about three days after I completed and submitted a two-page information sheet with carbon paper.
Looking back, I am amazed that I was able to make a living! As the years progressed, so did technology. It quickly became increasingly important to clients, carriers and all of us out on the street selling life insurance.
Every segment of our lives has been affected by technology; we started with eight-track players and progressed through audio cassettes, CDs and DVDs to video streaming. We lived through the Lanier word processor and then computers arrived – remember the AS400 and the Commodore 64. When the first box phones came out, we all felt like we were in an episode of “Get Smart” or “James Bond.” Some in the industry are too young to remember the days before photocopy machines, but today we have a combination of fax, photocopy and printer all in one device!
Once technology caught on, carriers needed to upgrade to more sophisticated policy service, marketing and accounting processing methods which were supposed to make our jobs not only easier but faster. And technology did make our lives easier in some areas – but more difficult in others. Today clients expect faster and better service – they do not want to wait for the mail, they want everything yesterday via fax, email or overnight delivery.
As an advisor and life insurance agent, the question you need to be asking yourself is: How will new technology enhance my business?
Currently, many brokerage agencies offer websites; downloadable forms; term quote engines; and access to case status, underwriting and product information. But will sitting in your office with all these tools help your business? No! You still have to get out for a face-to-face consultation with your clients.
Today there is the E-App, E-Delivery, E-Signature, Check 21 processing and many other items that begin with an E. With these applications come several questions: Will a direct link to an internet-based application really help build my business, or will it only confuse my clients? Will delivery of a policy via PDF cause me more or less work, and how will my clients like it? Will I be able to submit a $20 million application over the internet when I am not even with my client? The answer to all of these questions should be: Yes, technology and a mobile app can enhance your practice.
Here’s how: Let’s say that you have just finished a round of golf with some friends. At cocktail time, one of them asks you: “How much do you think $10 million of term insurance would cost me with my health conditions?” With your iPhone and mobile app you can quickly give him a simple answer and make the sale!
Communication between advisors, BGAs, clients and carriers has become one of the most important aspects of our business, and the introduction of the smartphone and tablets has enabled us to keep in touch anytime and anywhere. Enhancing this level of communication available to us today is access to a user-friendly mobile app specifically built for the purpose of education, communication, and providing important information to you, the advisor, in order to provide enough information so that a sale can be made.
The most important feature of an advisor-friendly life insurance app is that it is a communication device that has enough information, but not too much. It needs to be easy to use, easy to navigate, and easy for a BGA providing the app to their advisors to educate them in how to use it.
Conclusion and Summary
Yes, technology is moving faster than all of us and we need to keep up with it as much as we possibly can, while at the same time continuing to write business, contain cost, retain relationships and maintain everything that goes with being an advocate for life insurance clients.
Here are my recommendations, and I know that if you follow these practices you will be even more successful in your practice, enhance your relationships and build some new, vitally important relationships.
The questions to ask about technology are:
- Am I working with a BGA who can help me in the area of technology and use of a mobile app?
- Do I know enough about technology?
- Do I have the tools necessary to make this new technology work for me to enhance my business?
- Does my staff know enough about the new technology, and can they adapt to it?
- Will using a BGA mobile app help me make more sales and communicate better with my BGA and clients?
The steps to take in order to achieve the goal of enhancing your practice with technology are:
- Become educated in technology and the terminology used in the new
- Read as much as you can about new hardware, software and technology for your practice in general.
- Leverage your knowledge about technology with your staff and your
- Work with a BGA that is a leader in technology – to not only enhance your time management, but also to enhance your bottom line and make more
Working with a BGA who can provide you with leading technology – which needs to include a mobile app – will be a game changer for you and your entire organization.
Gary Bleetstein, Principal
Gary has more than 30 years of experience in the BGA marketplace and is a principal of Agent Support Group — a multi-office LifeMark Partner agency located in New York and New Jersey. He is a past board member of NAILBA, and presently co-chair of AALU’s brokerage task force, a member of the Forum 400, and New York City Life Underwriters. Bleetstein can be reached at Agent Support Group, 99 Park Avenue, Suite 100, New York, NY 10016. Telephone: 212-292-5765. Email: email@example.com.