When insurance firms launched social media initiatives, the results were rewarding.
By Linda Koco Profile">Linda Koco
CHICAGO – Female advisors are showing “amazing productivity,” according to a retirement industry executive. In fact, their productivity is “even better than the male advisors.”
The comment came in response to a discussion here about how companies are attempting to address the aging of insurance and financial advisors and their expected retirement within the next 10 years—a trend widely expected to impact the industry’s ability to meet the growing need for retirement planning advice and service.
Tom P. Burns, chief distribution officer at Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, said his company 'made a choice to develop the ranks of female advisors. He was speaking at a senior executives' panel yesterday at the annual Retirement Industry Conference. The annual conference is co-sponsored by LIMRA-LOMA Secure Retirement Institute and Society of Actuaries.
Symposium for female advisors
As part of its program, Allianz brings its top female advisors to an annual symposium, said Burns.
The females not only demonstrate high productivity, he said. In addition, “we have found they are more open to sharing best practices as to how they do their business versus the male (advisors).”
Co-panelist James D. McCool noted that the financial services industry has largely been viewed as being dominated by “white Anglo males.”
“That’s got to change,” said the executive vice president-client solutions for Charles Schwab.
He pointed out that the economic buying power of women is “quite significant.” Yet the financial services industry has been slow to bring women forward.
That may be changing though. McCool said his company sponsors some colleges around the country and in the process has been watching the networking unfold among the students who will soon be joining the workforce.
The “upcoming crop” of young people shows a lot of diversity, he said. In fact, more women are already getting into the business.
Dispel the myths
It’s up to the industry leaders take steps to “start dispelling the perceptions and myths about what this industry is thought to be in the minds of this new generation,” he said.
About the college sponsorship program, McCool noted that his firm began participating in an effort to bring more exposure and visibility to the financial services industry on the campuses.
One intriguing thing he said he has noticed is how business-bound students respond once the financial services executives start talking about what’s going on in the industry. “Their eyes start lighting up,” he said.
Burns said the aging of today’s advisors “really is a concern.” Studies are finding the average age for advisors in the last 50s and early 60s, he said.
To help address this, Burns said that Allianz has hired a business succession firm that helps determine valuations for practices. The firm also helps find potential buyers for specific practices, so the businesses can continue on.
In addition, Allianz has been concentrating on bringing in younger advisors. That will bring down the average and help address the succession issues too, he said.
Robert A. Kerzner, president and chief executive officer at LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, Inc., and moderator of the panel, noted that LIMRA has found that a lot of the Millenials want to work in jobs that involve working in teams.
“We do that, but we’re not communicating that,” he said. “We need to do more with this.”
Earlier, Kerzner had pointed out that recent LIMRA data shows that one-third of financial advisors who are active in the business today be retired in 10 years.
“Some think it’s a crisis of sorts,” he said. That’s why he asked the executives to comment on what they see.
McCool noted that, among the registered investment advisor (RIA) firms with which Schwab works, there has been a lot of consolidation going on. So some RIA principals are moving on, and those in younger generation are getting a chance to become part of the ownership.
As for getting the retirement industry message out to another audience—individuals who need to start saving for retirement and to consider using some of the industry’s products and services for that purpose—the panelists were of one accord: The industry needs to simplify its products and/or how the products are presented, and also to provide some assistance along the way.
“We need to provide a simple message to the consumer and provide some tools they can use,” Burns said.
Even when people do save, “they have no idea on how to monetize” their savings for retirement income, noted Joseph F. Ready, executive vice president and director at Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust. “Some think they will be able to take out 10 percent a year.”
McCool said he sits in on call center conversations sometimes to listen to what the consumers are saying. Many people are “bewildered” at distribution time, he said.
People need help generating a paycheck and income that will last through retirement, was Ready’s conclusion.
And the industry needs to deliver a “clear concise message and to make it simple,” added Burns.
Linda Koco Profile">Linda Koco, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Linda may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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