Kerzner: This Technology Can Rock Our World
By Linda Koco
NEW YORK CITY – Innovations such as iPads, tablet computers and smart phones “can rock our world,” says life insurance executive Robert A. Kerzner.
That applies to advisors and their clients as well as insurance companies, says president and CEO of LIMRA, LOMA, and their parent organization, LL Global.
Kerzner intends to discuss some ideas for using the new technologies to grow the insurance business during his presentation at the opening general session of LIMRA’s annual meeting this morning. During a pre-convention interview, he provided InsuranceNewsNet with an advance glimpse into points relevant to advisors.
Going forward, it is imperative that the life insurance industry focus its attention on growth, and that it use the latest technologies to help them do that, Kerzner maintains.
Right now, there is so much “negative disruption” going on that it threatens to take the industry’s attention away from growth, he says, pointing to regulation, legislation, the low-interest rate environment and “a myriad of other challenges.”
Why isn’t the industry spending more time applying technologies such as iPads, tablet computers and smart phones to foster growth? Kerzner asks.
Those are major technological changes that can change industry business models the way that fax, email, appended e-documents and other technologies changed models over a decade ago, he continues.
This has implications for how the industry distributes its products and how agents interface with clients in the future, Kerzner stresses. For example, by applying the new technologies, agents might be able to double or even triple the number of prospects they see in a week. “It might also impact how agents find prospects, and how prospects can find them,” he says.
This could materially change productivity, the LIMRA executive maintains.
There is also the potential that the new technologies will open up new forms of distribution. In that sense, this is a frontier, Kerzner says.
Are we going to harness this?
“The question is, in the next 10 to 15 years, are we going to harness this technology?” The answer requires looking at how insurance companies support their advisors, and how advisors support development of the technologies, he says.
For insurance companies, the new technologies can help them find more advisors, especially advisors in Generations X and Y. That’s important because the industry needs to hire more advisors from those generations, he says. “We can’t do that the way we do things now.”
Carriers might look for Gen X and Y advisors in different ways and different places, he says. “For instance, they could try using virtual job fairs. They might offer training in different ways, too — via instant online learning, for instance, instead of the traditional classroom.
“Some might use smart phone connections for last-minute coaching. They might also offer access to a specialist via Skype or the iPhone or iPad that the advisor places on the client’s coffee table.”
In fact, advisors could make sales calls in face-to-face meetings via the Skype and iPad, he says. Or they could have face time with the client on their smart phones. That alone could change the number of people advisors can work with in one day, compared to having clients come into the office, he says.
Virtual face time
Virtual face time is not a common method of reaching clients today, Kerzner allows. “But two years from now, it will be more common, and that has the ability to change our business.”
Already, 40 percent to 50 percent of new cell phones are smart phones with built-in cameras, he points out. “Think about it.”
Kerzner also suggests that companies might explore partnering with companies that offer hard data on people. The arrangements could turn into joint ventures that uncover new ways to find prospects for life and insurance and investment products, based on consumer profiles that these firms would provide.
As for social media, he says that companies could use this technology to create portals that drive prospects from all over the country to the company and to advisors as well. At the annual meeting, he says LIMRA plans to demo a hypothetical portal that combines three popular websites — yelp.com, match.com, and amazon.com — in a way that would help people find the providers they want.
“Generations X and Y want that,” he says.
These are new kinds of opportunities, and some of them may be easier to implement in the captive agency channel than the independent agency channel, Kerzner allows. But he says firms in the independent agency channel could adapt them too. For instance, he says, many broker/dealers could implement them, as well as some independent marketing organizations and some insurance brokerages.
Today, few companies have harnessed available technology that can help turn someone who is surfing their website into a sale. But companies need to be looking into this, Kerzner says. “They need to find out how to convert web surfers into sales—pun intended.”
To make that a reality, “companies and agents need to open their minds to what is possible.”