CHICAGO -- Advisors are wandering the valley of uncertainty between the fiduciary issue, Department of Labor and beyond, and the difficulty of developing new business.
Punishing regulatory pressure is at a pause with the Republican party controlling Congress and the White House. Still, Democrats are not giving in without a fight on the fearsome fiduciary rule.
And maintaining a reasonable customer base is tough enough these days, let alone growing it. Surveys consistently show strong customer satisfaction with life insurance and annuity products, but reaching new customers is proving elusive.
The Insured Retirement Institute is hoping to generate a few creative marketing ideas to move those trend lines into positive territory.
Here is a breakdown of what to expect from this year’s IRI marketing conference:
Hot Topic: Retirement. You were expecting something else?
The marketing conference comes on the heels of the release of IRI’s 2017 Retirement Security Blueprint late last month.
Like that document, the conference agenda focuses less on annuities than in the past, and more on a versatile array of retirement strategies.
“The principle of protecting and expanding access for American retirement savers is the foundation of our 2017 agenda,” IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford said. “Our Blueprint identifies policy proposals that expand access to workplace retirement plans, increase lifetime income options to help Americans ensure their savings will not be outlived, protect access to professional financial advice, improve access to the education American savers need to make better-informed decisions regarding their finances, and preserve the current tax treatment and structures for Americans’ retirement plans.”
Elephant in the Room: The fiduciary rule again will be a huge topic of conversation overshadowing the conference. As one of the final large industry gatherings before the DOL rule's April 10 applicability date, there is sure to be a lot of side conversations as everyone wonders what everyone else is doing to prepare.
The Labor Department gave the industry a chance to catch its breath with a March 10 bulletin that basically delays any enforcement of the fiduciary rule for now. Barring unforeseen complications, the DOL plans to publish a 60-day rule delay soon.
That will set a new June 9 applicability date. But it could also lead to another delay, or a softening of the rule mandates. The fiduciary rule sets a best interest standard of care, and creates a class-action liability, for anyone working with retirement dollars.
IRI plans a panel discussion Monday afternoon on the DOL rule that is sure to be well attended. The panelists include Scott Stolz, senior vice president with the Raymond James Insurance Group. Stolz is a regular fiduciary rule panelist and always has great insights.
We will bring you all the important information from that panel Monday afternoon.
Featured Speaker: Over the years, IRI has attracted an eclectic range of speakers for this event, highlighted in 2015 by NFL Hall of Famer and Nationwide pitchman Peyton Manning.
This year’s main speaker is Marshall Goldsmith, a leadership coach and author/editor of 31 books. Goldsmith, 67, is unique in the motivational speaking world, where even the top talents often work solo.
Goldsmith leads a team of speakers in some of the most hands-on motivational management techniques in the business. In November 2009, he was recognized as one of the 15 most influential business thinkers in the world in the bi-annual study sponsored by The (London) Times and Forbes.
His most recent book is "Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts -- Becoming the Person You Want to Be."
Phrase to Learn: “Customer Evangelists.” Author and marketing expert Jackie Huba helped coin the phrase to signify the 1 percent of customers who are supremely valuable to businesses.
These are the customers whose loyalty and belief in your products is so strong, they become valued brand ambassadors. Some companies have leveraged these “one percenters” to build successful word-of-mouth and social media campaigns, Huba said.
She will deliver a conference closing talk on how the financial services industry can use these tactics to cultivate interest in retirement products.
Monday Teaser: Our coverage tomorrow features an interview with Kenneth Kies, managing director of the Federal Policy Group, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm.
Kies will explain why he is 70 percent sure that a comprehensive tax reform bill will pass Congress by August and will be signed by President Donald J. Trump.
Significant tax reform hasn’t been accomplished since the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a President Reagan-led effort to simplify the tax code, broaden the tax base and eliminate tax shelters.
Now that's what we call a teaser.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at email@example.com.
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