Reader Insights – What Matters Most to You and Your Business

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We recently asked our Annuity Outlook readers for their insight into the industry, their business and what works best for their practice. The results provide a meaningful reflection of the views and habits of our most committed readers.


By Annuity Outlook

The Product Portfolio

Annuities are a large portion of our reader’s business, being over a third of their products sold. Life insurance follows close behind with 26% of total business; with securities, Medicare supplements and Long Term Care products making up the rest of the overall portfolio.

Annuity Outlook readers are very optimistic! Over 90% of readers view the glass as being half full and are optimistic about the product’s future role in the industry. They believe that annuity sales and awareness will continue to grow in the years ahead and the appeal of a guaranteed income stream will improve. Even with today’s low interest-rate environment, a fixed annuity’s compound growth and tax deferral status is viewed by many professionals as a favorable solution.

Client Base and Conversations

In regard to growth, 52% of respondents said the most expansion in their client base was within the age group of 55-64, followed by 30% of clients being over the age of 65.

In reviewing the topics most often discussed with clients, there was a near even split between retirement income, protection against outliving assets and insuring protection against risk. To meet with a client and discuss these topics, the in-person meeting is the most popular, either having a client come into the office, or the agent visiting the client’s home or place of work. While much of our day-to-day lives are now digital and online, the face-to-face conversation is still the most preferred.

When it comes time to write the application, nearly 75% of respondents use a paper application, while the other fourth use their computer or tablet to complete this process.

Marketing and Communications

The majority of respondents not only prefer in-person conversations to prospect and initiate the sales process, but it is the number one mode of communication overall. Email and phone communication fill the second and third spots, with postal mail and text messaging being the least popular forms of communication. When it comes to insurance and planning for retirement, customers often prefer personal interaction.1 Insurance products rely greatly on personal trust, and when it comes down to it, people want to buy from people.

The Need to Succeed

When asked what is the most important issue in selecting an Insurance Marketing Organization (IMO), the cited reason was personal service and knowing they can count on them when they need them. Also among the findings, the products available and choice of carriers were also essential; with 20% of respondents saying this influenced their decision of which IMO they selected. Other important factors include the sales systems, tools and training available, but were all outweighed by the desire for committed service they can trust.

In the mission to drive sales, a large portion of agents said they were interested in attending a national sales expo. These events are often a terrific opportunity to network, prospect and learn more about important issues affecting the industry.

Knowledge is Power

Training has always been an important and essential need for insurance professionals, and Annuity Outlook was interested in finding out if our readers felt they were receiving adequate education from their IMOs and Carriers. More than 40% of respondents believed they did not receive enough training, while 39% said they were very satisfied and receive excellent training. The remaining group of readers said they do have access to educational opportunities, but the topics and subjects provided could be improved.

Print and online media, such as Annuity Outlook, can help professionals keep up-to-date on current industry news, sales ideas and client needs. We wanted to know what matters most to readers and among the findings, sales ideas and tools were the most prominent topics. Near equal in interest, were product education, insight into growing a practice, and technology solutions to improve the business. Articles discussing better compliance and suitability practices were also desired, as well as discussions of social media and succession planning.

Looking Ahead

Over a third of our readers felt they plan to work in the industry for another 10-14 years. Another third responded with 15 years, and 23% said they would be selling products for another 5-9 years.

The biggest challenges readers face when it comes to their business is not having enough qualified prospects, followed by trying to set new client appointments. Prospecting, receiving referrals and finding clients is often a common struggle of many professionals in this industry. Over 11% of the group felt they spent too much time on administrative duties, and the same percent were concerned with marketing expenses. Other challenges included compliance and online issues.

When asked about adding agents to their practice to expand their business, 30% of respondents said they would be interested in having other agents work with them. An additional quarter of the group does not currently have other agents in their practice, but are in the process of joining forces with other professionals. Another 16% of the survey respondents already have other agents working in their practice, while a little over 28% wish to remain solo.

Overall, readers wanted to not only receive dedicated customer service and assistance themselves, but be able to provide excellent service to their clients. Even with the changing times and a predominately digital world, the face-to-face conversation with potential and established clients is the leading and respected approach.

When it comes to growing their business, readers pinpointed key factors and methods that can help their practice expand and diversify. Comprehensive training and resources, specifically those discussing sales ideas and tools, are important and a valued element that agents request of their IMOs and Carriers. The biggest challenge is to continue to find qualified prospects and expand within a marketplace that is ever changing. Readers do have a positive outlook about the road ahead, specifically the future for fixed annuities, and are dedicated to preserving and further developing their business.

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