Virtual Selling Might Be Here To Stay
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About half of wholesalers say communication with advisors is just as effective virtually as it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is just one takeaway from a survey LIMRA did with about 400 wholesalers from about 25 different companies, said Laura Murach, research director, distribution research for LIMRA. She is leading a session today titled, Next Normal: Virtual Selling and Wholesaling in a Post-Pandemic World at the 2021 Distribution Conference for Financial Services.
"If you think about the wholesaling model, it's really all about relationships," Murach said. "It's those interactions that they had, and in the past it was face to face. External wholesalers spent a lot of time traveling on the road to go meet with advisors."
Being forced to adapt to a new model with little preparation might prove to be a positive for the industry over the long haul, Murach added. For many, the revelation that they can be just as effective working from their home office while getting to spend much more quality time with family is a life-changing transition, she said.
Others might enjoy being on the road a lot and find they work best meeting face to face, she added.
"I think that there are a lot of silver linings actually be found," Murach said. "Some of it depends on the age of the external wholesaler."
Thirty-two percent of respondents said they will definitely travel less in the future, while 58% said they won't travel until the vaccine is widespread and the pandemic is "behind us," Murach said.
The wholesaling business might be a little easier to navigate virtually since many wholesalers and advisors have established relationships, Murach noted. Advisors trying to sell and do business are likely having a harder time and might be more eager for a return to traditional methods.
"Recruiting and establishing new relationships is extremely difficult," Murach said.
As millions of Americans get vaccinated weekly, the end of the pandemic restrictions comes closer. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he expects mask wearing to continue into 2022, but more in-person meetings and gatherings are possible later this year.
How the industry responds remains to be seen, Murach said.
"I think it's only going to take one carrier to say, 'No, we're going back on the road. And that's the way we're going to do it,'" she said. "And do the rest of them have to follow that? I don't know."
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 protected]. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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