Everyone is talking about “a new normal” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But what does it mean for the financial services industry? A panel of four industry association leaders provided their thoughts of what the next year or so could mean for their members, and here are some of the highlights.
- A greater acceptance of remote work as advisors and carriers become more comfortable and secure with working outside a traditional office environment.
- Financial products such as life insurance and retirement savings products caught in the federal government’s crosshairs as Congress looks for ways to fund massive COVID-19 relief packages.
- More Americans interested in buying life insurance, and the industry finding ways to make it easier for them to do so.
- Consumers encouraged to focus on keeping their money longer and saving more money now. Legislation that gives savers an opportunity to make up for market losses experienced over the past two months.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents opportunities for the financial services industry to prove its value proposition to American consumers, but also will change the way the industry does business in the future.
Those were among the takeaways from an online town hall meeting featuring the executives of four industry trade associations. Giving their views on how COVID-19 has affected their members and consumers were Kevin Mayeux, CEO of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors; Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers; Wayne Chopus, president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute, and Ken Bentsen, president and CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.
Chopus said IRI created a recovery plan for retirement savers affected by the pandemic. "Americans are being reminded that the markets don't always go up and this is why you buy protection products," he said. The plan included looking at what members will need over the next 30, 60 and 90 days; making sure everyone in the industry is aware that IRI members are remaining in business, and increasing the amount of communication with its members.
Bentsen said SIFMA’s top goal throughout the pandemic has been to keep the markets open and functioning. He said the industry was in a strong position going into the first quarter, and predicted his organization’s members will see a pent-up demand by consumers as the nation emerges from the crisis.
Neely of ACLI said that the life insurance industry’s value proposition “has always been there. But the guarantees we offer and the support we offer to families is unprecedented in these times. This gives us the opportunity to reaffirm what we do and why it’s so essential and special.”
The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity for the industry to open a dialogue on increasing financial security, Mayeux said. He added that NAIFA is raising awareness of financial literacy among consumers as well as promoting the insurance and financial services industry as a career.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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