This is about the most effective annuity sales technique you can use. We have thousands of clients using this technique and I want to be sure you’re taking advantage of it.

It is well-recognized among financial advisors that commercial annuities can help clients achieve retirement income security. Both immediate annuities and deferred annuities can supplement traditional lifetime retirement income sources such as pensions and Social Security. For advisors, understanding where annuities fit into retirement income planning is the easy part; getting clients and prospects to see this, and take action, is the hard part.

Consumers Love Lifetime Income—Cautious About Annuities

Despite what we believe, it is critical to acknowledge that annuities have a bad reputation among many consumers. The distaste for annuities is likely a result of the constant refrain heard from pundits that annuities are “bad”—that fees are excessive and annuities are commission-driven sales. There are signs, however, that things are softening a bit, as articles about the usefulness of immediate annuities for retiring baby boomers keep popping up. So now might be a better time than ever to talk about annuities.

Nevertheless, the residual effect from the long-term negative press is that many consumers are left with a vague and fuzzy notion that annuities are bad, even though there is nothing they can specifically point to or articulate. Add to this the fact that annuities are difficult for clients to understand, and it’s easy to see why annuities can be a hard sell.

How Can You Overcome This Negative Bias?

Simply put, by starting with something clients and prospects already have: Social Security. Virtually all clients and prospects are or will be covered by Social Security in some fashion, and most are likely entitled to a substantial lifetime benefit. The fact that there are so many people in this pool of prospects, coupled with the fact that they have no idea when it’s best for them to start taking Social Security, makes this a brilliant prospecting and selling strategy.

Think about this: what will the client’s or prospect’s reaction be when you point out, at the right time, that they already own an annuity – Social Security! You can show them the dictionary definition of an annuity to really drive home the point. All of a sudden annuities don’t look so bad!

Social Security retirement income will, in most cases, not be enough. And that, of course, is where annuities will eventually come into play. A few clients may be lucky enough to have acquired some pension income along the way. That’s great. But even then, most clients will have to figure out how to “monetize” their retirement savings—that is, turn their assets into income.

Clients have spent a working lifetime turning income into assets (i.e., savings), and that’s all they know: how to save. But upon retirement, clients have to reverse that process and turn assets into a lifetime of income. This turnabout is likely to be utterly alien to them, and that is where you come in.

Here’s How You Can Sell More Annuities With Social Security

The “flooring” approach to building a successful retirement income strategy has become quite popular over the last few years. Under this approach, a “floor” of income is built up, to a level defined by the client – which is enough to cover “essentials,” essentials plus some cushion, or an amount above that.

The floor is typically composed of three layers:

1. Social Security,
2. Pensions, and
3. Annuities

Social Security is the “base layer” of the floor, so that’s where the analysis should start.

Pensions are then layered on top of Social Security. Finally, annuities are added to “plug the gap” to the desired income level. This approach will make sense to clients when they come to understand that all three layers are merely different flavors of annuities.

Once the retirement income floor is in place, a complementary income strategy should be devised and implemented for remaining retirement investments or assets. Such strategies include the “bucket” approach and the 3% or 4% “withdrawal” approach.

What About Objections?

Common objections heard from prospects include “I already have an advisor,” or “I’m all set.”

We know from experience, however, that most are not “all set,” and that in many cases the advisor is merely an asset accumulator (perhaps a very good one) who has no idea how to put a retirement income plan together.

So the bottom line is that most prospects have never had a Social Security conversation. You need to have that conversation with them because it will lead to comprehensive retirement planning.

Questions To Ask

To start the conversation or overcome objections, you might use questions like these:

“Has your advisor spoken to you about when you should claim Social Security, at age 62, 66/67 or 70?”

“Has your advisor reviewed your Social Security estimated benefits statement with you?”

“Has your advisor spoken to you about the decisions you will need to make, some of which are irreversible, regarding when to claim Social Security, how to package your retirement health insurance together with Medicare, Medigap, or when you should turn your pension on?”

Now What?

Once you’ve managed to engage a client or prospect by discussing Social Security, what’s next? The answer: you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.

The first step is for the client or prospect to obtain Social Security benefit estimates from ssa.gov. Then it’s time to “crunch the numbers.” How should you do that?

“I’ll just use a Social Security calculator.”

There are several online calculators you could use. These have the advantage of being free. But as the old saw goes, you get what you pay for: numbers go in, and numbers come out. That’s it. Ask yourself this: does the calculator you use help you prospect with Social Security? Probably not. Does the calculator you use help you sell annuities?
Probably not.

And if you use a stand-alone calculator, you may have to run multiple scenarios to find the best strategy for the client, then take that set of numbers and input them into your planning software. That’s not efficient.

“I’ll use my planning software.”

Perhaps you, or your company, license planning software where Social Security income is taken into consideration. Ask yourself this: does this software help you prospect with Social Security? The answer is, by definition, no, because you wouldn’t be using your software to prospect: it’s way too early. So forget about that.

So, if calculators are too simplistic, and planning software is too comprehensive or inappropriate for prospecting, what can you do?

This Is Where Social Security Pro Comes In

Social Security Pro was developed to fill a prospecting need: to fill the gap between one-dimensional calculators and full-blown planning software. Social Security Pro merges the “art’ of selling with the “science” of selling.

It’s not just a calculator. Nor is it comprehensive planning software.

Social Security Pro is a prospecting tool—an engagement tool. Use it to engage prospects in a conversation about something they already have and don’t have to be sold—Social Security.

From there, you can quickly move on to more comprehensive planning, which necessarily results in the sale of appropriate products and services. If you’re ready to leverage Social Security into a business building powerhouse, take a look at Social Security Pro now.

If you’d like a complete annuity selling solution, prospecting to closing, then try Rio.

Or, schedule a one on one demo today. Get a first hand look at what a good system can do for your business.

Posted June 14, 2019 filed under Articles.

Great hardware, a much improved Windows 10, and Microsoft AI lured me away from my beloved MacBook Pro.

My trusty MacBook Pro has been getting extremely slow lately. I’ve tried all the tricks of the trade to fix the situation, but I still see that spinning pinwheel too often for too long.

Not wanting to invest in a new MacBook Pro so close to the release of the next model. I decided to try a Chromebook to see if it would do for web browsing and my cloud development. I decided to go with Google’s Pixelbook. It’s an attractive device with an acceptable tactile feel and a crisp screen.

The Pixelbook easily handled 95% of my daily computing needs. But the 5% it didn’t manage were essential parts of my workflow. I’m not going into the issues I had; you can easily find discussions about Chrome OS online. Google will resolve many of my problems when Linux is available without third-party apps. Not wanting to wait for that, I decided to return the Pixelbook.

Still wanting something to get work done while waiting for the next MacBook releases, I decided to give Microsoft’s Surface Pro another look. Several years ago, I gave the first Surface a try. Within a day it went back to the Microsoft Store for a refund. I don’t know which I hated more; the device itself or the abysmal version of Windows it ran.

Since Impact is a Microsoft ISV Partner and we use the Office 365 suite of tools, I decided to try the latest Surface Pro again.

I’ve lived in the Apple world so long that getting used to Windows again took a few days. It took another day to find all the apps, tools, and extensions installed so I could have a workflow like my Mac workflow. But to my surprise, once I got it setup and had a few days working on it, I’m beginning to love it.

I soured on Microsoft in the Ballmer era. Microsoft became a company I associated with arrogance and hubris. Their internal teams didn’t work well together, and their products were a mess. Microsoft under Nadella is a very different company. I see it as a Microsoft Partner, and now I’ve experienced it as a consumer.

There are many things I like about the Surface Pro. The screen is crisp and clear; I can ditch the keyboard when I want to walk around with the tablet. The pen has a good feel, and Windows 10 has an excellent tool for marking up anything you see on your screen. Reporting issues or suggestions about our web apps used to be tedious. Now I can circle or highlight an area that needs attention, scribble a note and send to our triage department or directly to the engineer in charge of the application.

Recently Microsoft added something that is a game changer. Microsoft Office apps, Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint now have dictation using Microsoft’s cognitive services. You can compose a word document, email, or build your PowerPoint using dictation. That feature is only available if you currently have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription and enable dictation in the office suite. I’ve created this entire post using Word and the dictation feature. Once I finished dictating, I’m going to tell you the number of errors so that you can get a feel for the accuracy of the dictation. I’ve been very impressed.

One thing I really like is the ability to have the tablet in my hand and walk around as I’m talking.

I think best when I’m walking around. When I’m sitting at a desk with a keyboard and a blank screen, my mind often goes blank as well. The physical process of moving around helps my brain to function more efficiently. Even though my typing speed and speaking speeds are almost the same, thinking and speaking is more comfortable for me than thinking and typing.
I’ve been able to produce this document as fast as I can think what to say. That’s quite amazing.

So far most of the mistakes in the dictation of this post are my speaking mistakes. I sometimes start a thought and change the words in the middle of the sentence. Also pausing to collect my thoughts will insert a period, and start a new sentence. That’s a bit of a problem since I’ll often hesitate in the middle of a sentence to precisely choose the right words. That’s an editing problem though, and editing is easier than writing. I must say this is a great way to go from blank page to the first draft. So far, I’m loving the Surface Pro. I may never go back to Mac again.

Two other things to note, Cortana is much more useful than Siri on the Mac. She can execute actions, and they’re usually the actions you want! Secondly, the Surface Pro and Windows 10 let you use facial recognition to log in. My iPhone X has ruined any other form of device user authentication for me. It’s not perfect on the Surface; different glasses never tripped up my iPhone but cause Surface to fail. I can live with it.

Apple’s going to have to come out with something amazing to get me back.

●●●●●●●

I had to correct 12 dictation errors. I won’t mention the number of grammar errors and if typing, I would have hit the backspace key at least 50 times.

Posted May 14, 2018 filed under Development News.

What impact have Advisors experienced since the transition period started for the DOL Fiduciary Rule? What we know today is that insurance companies and brokerage firms have already implemented changes because of the DOL Fiduciary Rule. These changes affect how an Advisor approaches a client, how an Advisor is compensated, and how an Advisor records the repeatable process.

Overview of the DOL Fiduciary Rule as of Today

In simple terms, Department or Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rule expands fiduciaries to advisors who offer advice and recommendations on retirement plans and IRAs for a fee or other compensation. In some instances, investment clients may be advised to shift their retirement savings from one fund to another, or rollover investments between a 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, or another investment vehicle. An advisor “fiduciary” may have to justify their recommendations by showing the investment strategy is in the best interest of their client especially if the recommendation results in a higher fee or cost structure. The other side of the DOL Fiduciary Rule is the advisor’s compensation. Reasonable compensation is permitted, however a Best of Interest Compensation Exemption (BICE) is established to help the advisor avoid litigation down the road as it pertains to the recommendations to their client. This will result in the client and advisor signing a Best of Interest Contract (BIC).

On June 9, 2017, the transition period for the new Department of Labor fiduciary rules began. “The reality is as a plan advisor, if you have a conflict related to either proprietary product, forms of compensation, or limitations of access to products that you offer your clients, you need to be affirmatively disclosing those conflicts to your client now,” said Andrew Besheer, a project leader for Broadridge’s DOL Fiduciary Rule Solutions program, during a webinar hosted by the firm (source BenefitsPro). The full implementation of the DOL Fiduciary Rule must be completed by January 1, 2018. The Department of Labor is accepting feedback during the rest of 2017 from Advisors, Broker Dealers, Fund Firms and other participants in the qualified plan recommendation process. This could result in relaxing or tweaking some of the enforcement mechanisms and compensation rules. Fundamentally implementation of the rule as interpreted today is already in progress.

New Approach with Clients

Advisors must be more transparent on product fees and compensation. Will the client have more trust and confidence with his/her Advisor? Being more transparent may strengthen a new relationship between the Advisor and his/her client, however a client who has a long history with their financial advisor already assumes their Advisor is looking out for the client’s best interest and acting as fiduciary.

If you sell proprietary products, you don’t have to mention competitor products even if they have lower fees. Higher fee products like a Variable Annuity for an IRA can still be recommended to a client if you can demonstrate it is in their best interest. If you work for a big wire house for example, you may be required to push smaller accounts out because of costs to comply with the new rule. The client may then gravitate to a robo-advisor. There will be additional paperwork that will involve your client. In the case where you are required to do a Best of Interest Contract, you must explain the BIC to your client and get a signature. As a broker who is now acting as a fiduciary working with a 401(k) plan, you may approach your investment options differently to the plan sponsor (employer) focused on Best Interest not just suitability.

Not everything will change when engaging with clients because there are things not covered in the DOL Fiduciary rule. It’s not considered financial advice if a client calls a financial advisor and requests a specific product or investment. An Advisor can provide education to clients, such as general investment advice based on a person’s age or income. Taxable transactional accounts or accounts funded with after-tax dollars are not considered retirement plans, even if the funds are personally earmarked for retirement savings.

Compensation Changes

Advisors will see changes in their compensation with the DOL Fiduciary Rule. Some companies will be moving away from commissions and compensation, and moving toward a flat-fee based model. A flat fee might be a subscription or an upfront payment. An asset under management model, in which the client might be charged one percent each year on all investment assets held with the advisor could be implemented by companies and brokerage firms. As mentioned above, the rule states that all fees and commissions must be reasonable. There isn’t a lot of clarity around the term “reasonable compensation”, however the advisor’s compensation will most likely be changing on qualified plans recommended including annuities using qualified money. Fiduciaries will be required to comply with Impartial Conduct Standard. This includes providing advice which is in the best interests of their clients. Advisors must avoid making any misleading statement. As I have already stated several times above, advisors cannot charge more than reasonable compensation for services. As per a NAIFA Survey in April 2017, “The rule is already having an impact on advisors’ compensation. The survey found that 43 percent of advisors have experienced reductions in the commission compensation arrangements, while an additional 49 percent expect reductions. One of NAIFA’s major concerns about the DOL rule is that it would force financial institutions to switch clients from commission-based to fee-based accounts for those clients to remain financially viable. Approximately 77 percent of advisors said that more than half of their retirement planning clients would see increased costs if they had to switch from commission-based to fee-based accounts. Of those advisors, 41 percent said that more than 80 percent of their clients would see increased costs if forced to switch.” (Source – NAIFA.org). Bottom line compensation or other incentives by firms and leading with a specific product that may pay a higher commission will no longer be permitted or be available to Advisors.

New Automated Processes

Even though Advisors must change the way they approach clients, there are new “automated” tools for financial advisors and insurance agents that have been implemented by insurance companies and brokerage firms to streamline the process. In many cases the advisor starts from their Client Relationship Management System (CRM) and then launching into a product recommendation tool like Impact’s® PlanFacts, https://shop.planfacts.com/, which assesses the client’s financial profile and the answers provided by the client in an automated risk questionnaire (a repeatable, and documented process). This assessment is analyzed in a rules engine containing the rules supplied and approved by the compliance department of an insurance company or broker dealer. The product recommendation is included in the PlanFacts financial planning report presented to the client by the advisor. This goes from beyond suitability to best interest of the client, which results in a product type, like a Variable Annuity for example, to be recommended. Locking down the recommendation and keeping a permanent record along with the BIC document is part of the automated process enforcing the “Best Interest of the Client” as defined in the DOL Fiduciary Rule as well as being prepared to make available the evidentiary process and documentation in the future as needed. Once the product type for the best interest of the client has been established, then specific product comparison and quoting could be the next integrated step in the process. Staying with the example of a Variable Annuity recommended, then a seamless integrated pathway to an automated Annuity Order Entry (AOE) Platform such as Ebix’s AnnuityNet, Insurance Technologies’ FireLight or iPipeline’s Affirm for Annuities for submitting the annuity application as the next step in the process. The AOE includes a compliance workflow at the Broker Dealer. The data and forms are then transferred electronically to the insurance carrier by first passing through the Deposit Trust Clearing Corporation’s (DTCC) hub. DTCC transmits the annuity application and initial premium information from the distributor such as a Broker Dealer to the insurance carrier. The DTCC service provides an efficient, straight-through process for validating, formatting and submitting annuity applications and initial premium payments while incorporating same-day money settlement.

Here we are in the transition period of the new DOL Fiduciary Rule; and financial advisors, brokers and insurance agents are already experiencing a lot of change. Some of the changes for Advisors has been significant in the way they approach clients especially because of increased compliance costs. In many cases, Advisor’s compensation has taken a negative hit while there is more work involved in learning new processes. The final chapter of the DOL Fiduciary Rule has not been written yet, however we will learn about changes as we get closer to January 2018 and then adjust our course accordingly.

Posted October 30, 2017 filed under Announcement.

Obsolete password policies frustrate users. User friendly password policies actually increase security.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published new Digital Identity Guidelines this past June. The new guidelines address my pet peeves about the password policies you’ll find in most enterprises, on websites, and commercial software products.

Number one on my list is infuriating password complexity rules. You know the ones I’m talking about; “passwords must be at least 8 characters long and contain at least one special character (but not ^, #, -, or space), an upper case character and one number evenly divisible by 3”. And I have special love for password entry forms that let me enter a password and only then tell me their restrictions.

The new guidelines1 endorse pass phrases2. Here’s an example, “I’ve been juggling budgets since 1981!” That’s a thirty-eight character password that a user can actually remember and is more secure than a shorter password like Pa$$w0rd1. It also meets most complexity requirements, if you allow spaces!

The next irritant addressed is password expiration. That probably surprises you, right? Password expiration polices are so ingrained that their use is accepted without question. Technology and threats change. Password expiration policies are based on an obsolete threat model, incur support and productivity costs, and do little to mitigate risk. Here’s a short, authoritative article that gives more details; Time for Password Expiration to Die.

Finally, password entry fields should allow users to paste passwords in the field instead of forcing them to type the password in manually. NIST is implicitly endorsing the use of password managers. A trustworthy password manager is the only sensible way for users to use secure, separate passwords for all the services that are a part of their lives.

PCMag.com has a good review of the top password managers. I use 1Password, mainly because it has excellent support for the Apple ecosystem. I recommend LastPass to Windows users. By using a password manager, I only need to remember three pass phrases. The primary one is my domain password, the second is the master password for my password manager, the other is for the cloud service that contains my password vault in case I need to setup a new environment from scratch.

Each of my three pass phrases is over 50 characters long, but they are memorable phrases that I have no trouble recalling. And, since they don’t expire, my muscle memory allows me to type them in rapidly. The password manager will generate and remember long complex passwords for all the other sites and services and I can devote my shrinking hippocampus to better things.

It’s not often you can make life easier for your users and your systems more secure at the same time.

  1. The password section starts on page 13 of this document; https://doi.org/10.6028/NIST.SP.800-63b
  2. A passphrase is a memorized secret consisting of a sequence of words or other text that a claimant uses to authenticate their identity. A passphrase is similar to a password in usage, but is generally longer for added security.

Posted October 18, 2017 filed under Articles.

The life insurance industry is usually lagging and playing catch-up with technology. There are many reasons for the lag such as costs, compliance and adoption. The Life Brokerage Technology Committee (LBTC) has made it a priority to research and educate BGAs on emerging technologies. In the last two years, there have been some growing tech trends like accelerated underwriting, ePolicy Delivery, mobile apps for life insurance sales and marketing just to name a few. Today we will introduce you to two significant new technologies that are game changers!

You will first learn about Chatbots, which offer agents the ability to quote, field underwrite, get marketing information, and apply for insurance using plain conversation on a messaging app or voice assistant. We will then update you on Blockchain. In the last few years, you probably have come across a news story about Blockchain as it relates to Bitcoin, however Blockchain will affect the life insurance industry resulting in a monumental shift in the way sales, licensing, new business, underwriting, agent commissions and claims are processed. Blockchain is an industry disrupter; however, it will positively impact BGAs and agents.

 

What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is an automated, artificial intelligence system/program that responds to speech or text input. It can be used to help you find answers, help you with tasks or organization, and it can even be used for entertainment. A simple example of this interaction is when you ask your phone’s AI about the weather. Rather than looking for the information online or through an app yourself, it will find the details and provide them to you immediately through speech and text. Chatbots are used on messaging apps and voice assistants. Text messaging, Facebook messenger, and Skype are some of the more popular messaging apps. Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana are examples of voice assistants. Other popular ways people use chatbots are for news, creating a grocery list, personal finances, scheduling, and even friendship. Chatbots are used widely for customer support. Amazon Echo (Alexa) for example, is a voice assistant with a chatbot that does tasks you request and answers questions. The artificial intelligence in the chatbot learns how you ask for information and gets smarter the more you use it. Chatbots have personalities, designed so that the conversation experience drives more engagement. The learning curve is easy because there are over 1 billion users of Facebook messenger alone for example covering all age groups. Millennials are only interested in using chat to communicate and for getting their information. This means that more than likely agents are already engaging in chat with a messenger app for personal and business purposes.

 

How Will Agents Use a Chatbot to Sell Life Insurance?

When an agent runs a term insurance quote for example, they may use a mobile app or run it from a BGA’s website. If the agent needed to look up underwriting guidelines like height and weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and tobacco use, or a malady like diabetes, then the agent would look for the information in the carrier’s underwriting guidelines in a PDF or use a field underwriting software program. The same thing applies for looking up information on a life product such as issue ages or conversion options. A chatbot is an agent’s one stop resource to have all the information he/she needs right at their fingertips.

Scenario: Agent opens-up a chatbot using a voice assistant on his/her smartphone. The agent says, “I need a quote for a 45 year old male nonsmoker for $500,000 preferred.” Instantly the annual and monthly premiums for 10, 15 and 20 year term pops up on the screen. The client tells the agent he has high blood pressure. The agent then says to the chatbot, “blood pressure is 120/90.” The voice assistant shows on the screen and verbally says, “For blood pressure 120/90 the risk class is standard plus.” The agent then says to the chatbot, “Change the risk class to standard plus.” A revised quote appears instantly on the screen.  The agent can then apply for the insurance submitting the business through a term ticket like ApplicInt’s ExpressComplete right from the same chatbot.

Impact Technologies Group, Inc., has a series of chatbots for insurance called InsureBotsTM . They are used for life insurance quoting, field underwriting, annuities, long term care, marketing and agent recruiting. There are reinsurers creating underwriting chatbots. Carriers are starting to develop internally their own chatbots for marketing. The P&C insurance world is exploding with chatbots using them as a claims advisor for example. Agents who sell insurance utilizing their website will see affordable solutions for a Web-bot that will quickly and easily educate the client answering common questions, providing media like YouTube videos, and then moving the client to a quote and a pathway to apply for insurance. The consumer experience will be much smoother and engaging using a chatbot, helping the agent generate more business.

 

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is an algorithm and distributed data structure for managing electronic cash without a central administrator among people who know nothing about one another. Originally designed for the crypto-currency Bitcoin, the blockchain architecture was driven by a radical idea of a currency exchange system without any middleman, bank, country, or any other macro environmental factors.

In order to understand blockchain technology, it makes sense to first consider the “Internet.” It enabled a free, fast, and global exchange of information and ideas. The blockchain adds another dimension by making it possible to transfer and exchange value (and assets) without the involvement of intermediaries. Blockchain technology can also be used to store personal and other information in an accessible, but secure, environment.

 

How Does Blockchain Work?

Blockchain, also known as a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), was invented to support the Bitcoin cryptocurrency (Internet money). Bitcoin was motivated by an extreme rejection of government-guaranteed money and bank-controlled payments. The developer of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, envisioned people spending money without friction, intermediaries, regulation or the need to know or trust other parties.

 

How Can Blockchain Impact the Life Insurance Industry?

Imagine a world in the insurance industry where life insurance agents don’t have segregated sales and marketing, product, underwriting, new business submissions, policy servicing, claims management, and commissions systems and departments to deal with on a consistent basis. They can access, track, and transact every facet of a life of a policy (case) from inception to service within block(s) of a chain securely.

The basic principle that blockchain provides is decentralized storage of the data. Currently, at an insurer, this data is stored on a centralized network. In many cases, there are multiple databases/departments that are managing these transactions between the agent/brokers, BGAs, and the carriers. At times, the information is either disjointed or incomplete regarding customers and their transactions. Blockchain solves this problem for the life insurance industry by aggregating all the transactional, static and changed information, as well as all the data. It is processed and stored decentralized, un-editable, unidentifiable and securely.

One of the more disruptive applications of blockchain is the development of “Smart Contracts” models. Smart contracts contain self-executing protocols that work with a blockchain to enforce the performance of a contract across all counterparties. This can help with automating the verification of coverage and streamline claim settlements to improve operational efficiency and hence minimize cost.

Here are some other great benefits of blockchain that will impact agents directly:

  • Fraud Reduction: With blockchain technology, tampered documents or false billings are almost impossible to process since the data is immutable and decentralized. This will also reduce the amount of erroneous claim payments.
  • Policy Purchase and Underwriting Process: Policy issue process can be designed via a blockchain to create a combination of data providers, health exchanges, and insurers. Underwriting process can be expedited by obtaining the required information from health exchanges and data providers to expedite the underwriting and new business process with minimal customer effort.
  • Management of Agent Contracts: Blockchain can be used to instantly verify agent licensing, contracts and setup a notification system to alert agents and issue commission checks when the policy is signed.

The impending future of the life insurance industry could strengthen through an intelligent adoption of blockchain. Large insurers have the predicted possibility to greatly benefit from the many applications in digital currencies, fraud solutions and smart contracts. But the process of implementing blockchain will come with necessary tweaks to the underwriting processes and structures of policies, as well as risk underwriting.  Essentially, Blockchain reduces premiums collected by large insurance companies by allowing for cheaper and more consumer oriented products to be developed. Ideally, cooperation between blockchain startups, carriers, brokers, reinsurers and other segments of the insurance industry would lead to optimal efficiency, but those segments will be subject to disruption and may not follow suit. LIMRA’s recent announcement that is has established an advisory council to explore opportunities in the life insurance and retirement sectors to use blockchain distributed ledger technology is a good sign. It is indicative of our industry seeking the practical and collaborative solutions to use the blockchain technology in the right manner.

 

References for Blockchain:

  1. Financial Times article; Technology: Banks seek the key to blockchain: https://www.ft.com/content/eb1f8256-7b4b-11e5-a1fe-567b37f80b64 – retrieved on August 24th, 2017.
  2. Cognizant; White Paper;  Blockchain: A Potential Game-Changer for Life Insurance: https://www.cognizant.com/whitepapers/blockchain-a-potential-game-changer-for-life-insurance-codex2484.pdf – retrieved on August 26th, 2017.
  3. Team Brella; White Paper: https://teambrella.com/WhitePaper.pdf – retrieved on Aug 20th, 2017.
  4. Online article: https://medium.com/startup-grind/3-reasons-why-the-blockchain-revolution-is-finally-becoming-a-reality-63bdd90c89e2 – retrieved on August 27th, 2017.

Author’s Bio

Ken Leibow
Senior vice president, Impact Technologies Group, Inc., has enjoyed a career spanning more than 29 years, with an extensive background in distribution technology and back office systems. He previously worked for Genworth Financial, Mutual of Omaha and as vice president of operations at Diversified Underwriters Services, Inc. As COO of Integrated Insurance Technologies, Leibow built the largest life insurance data exchange hub in the industry processing over 1,000,000 policies per year and 30 billion dollars of annuities. Innovation in quoting and illustration tools, CRMs, agency management systems, eApp platforms, and ePolicy delivery are some key initiatives implemented by Ken during his career. Leibow can be reached at Impact Technologies Group, Inc., 619 S. Cedar Street, Suite J, Charlotte, NC 28202. Telephone: 704-927-3234. Email: Ken.Leibow@impact-tech.com.

Adnan Raja
is director, Underwriting R&D at John Hancock Life Insurance Company. He has more than 18 years of experience in technology and project management combined with a Masters Degree and project management title designations PMP and SDRM. As vice president of Field Technology Solutions at National Financial Partners (NFP), Raja lead the creation and administration of key business technology systems for a national network of financial advisors. In late 2015, he joined John Hancock as a director of Underwriting Research and Innovation. Raja can be reached via telephone at: 617-572-5183. Email: araja@johnhancock.com. 

Posted October 17, 2017 filed under Articles, In The News.

USA Today recently featured an article, “How will you spend your time in retirement?” that discussed using retirement coaches to help maximize the enjoyment of the free time retirement brings. Ready-2-Retire is one of the great tools available to assist that process.

Many retirees and pre-retirees don’t know how they’ll spend their free time after retirement. Ready-2-Retire kick starts the retirement planning process by helping retirees and pre-retirees envision retirement life and create plans to mitigate the risks retirees face.

Posted March 18, 2017 filed under Uncategorized.

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WinFlex and PlanFacts together, in real time, shows how the proposed life insurance quote solves the survivor shortfalls and provides protection for the client’s family or business. Creating a personal financial story for the client along with the sales illustration helps the agent close more life sales! The PlanFacts presentation provides easy to understand content with colorful graphs designed for the client to understand why they need life insurance and feel comfortable about the purchase of the product being presented by the agent or advisor.

If you are a BGA, IMO, broker dealer or carrier back office, Impact has available consumer fact finders that the agent can send to their client to complete so that the back office sales specialist can run the illustration and import it into a powerful presentation in PlanFacts, which the agent can then present to their client. For those agents and advisors who use WinFlex and PlanFacts at point of sale, you can quickly and easily import the illustrations. PlanFacts tools are optimized for mobile devices, such as an iPad, with a slick interface designed to engage the client at the point of sale.

Cash Flow Decision

In WinFlex 6.5, you can export an illustration and import it into any of Impact’s PlanFacts tools when you are proposing life insurance. If you are proposing a permanent product like Index Universal Life for example, the premium, death benefit, loans, withdrawals and cash value of the illustration can be quickly imported into any of the PlanFacts tools where you are proposing life insurance. The PlanFacts tools that can import WinFlex illustrations are: Retirement Road Map, Cash Flow Decisions, Qualified Plan Concepts, and Business Succession Planning.

WinFlex 6.5 Illustration Export and Import into PlanFacts—Easy to Setup and Use

Winflex Impact sample

Have your WinFlex administrator or Ebix support turn on the Impact export feature in WinFlex 6.5. You can also contact Impact Product Support at 704-688-4000 or email to support@impact-tech.com.

  1. After you calculate the life illustration in WinFlex 6.5, you will see an Impact button next to the illustration PDF on the results Summary screen. See theWinFlex screen above.
  2. Click the Impact button and save the link file on your computer or network.
  3. When you are in PlanFacts tools proposing life insurance, such as Cash Flow Decisions, there will be an option to import the link file. Select Load Illustration from Link File in PlanFacts and then the Import file button to browse to the WinFlex file you saved and select the illustration file. See below.

CFD Import illustration 2

Posted February 9, 2017 filed under Uncategorized.