The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey and found that, as a country, we are saving a combined 60 million hours of per day of commuting time by working from home. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed how Americans are spending their time, including where and how we work. Recent statistics show that about 15% of full-time employees are working from home full time while about 30% are working in hybrid situations.
So, what do these statistics mean to agents and financial advisors? More time. More time to meet with clients. More time to prospect. More time to keep up with training and understanding the many new products arriving on the scene.
In a recent conversation with InsuranceNewsNet, industry icon Harry Hoopis pointed to this silver lining of having more time to meet with clients as one of the most important changes for the business in recent years. Harry — with an amazing career at Northwestern Mutual hiring and managing a large and successful workforce — believes maximizing meetings with clients is one of the essential components of success for agents and financial advisors.
This is not the first time we’ve heard this. And we’re hearing it more and more often. Many advisors and agents have begun to realize that:
1. Many Americans — including older Americans — use video conferencing software frequently and have become more comfortable doing so.
2. The amount of time spent not driving to meet clients can be directly translated into additional meetings.
3. Some of those additional hours of found time are also useful for increasing prospecting and training.
Many advisors have begun to shift their schedules online to maximize their appointments. More available hours also translate into providing more time slots for clients, making it easier for a client to fit a meeting into their tight schedule. Combining a more flexible schedule with superefficient online scheduling apps like Calendly allows clients to easily and quickly find and sign up for an open meeting slot without phone calls or emails or using advisor or staff time.
This ensures that the advisor’s meeting schedule is maximized by removing scheduling bottlenecks and inefficient use of time, increasing their prospects of success.
Resetting the narrative
As we approach the new year, there have been increasing calls for the insurance industry to “reset the narrative.” This is something we’ve heard from industry observers and analysts through the course of the year.
For example, Karl Hersch, Deloitte’s U.S. insurance leader, described the industry as being at a post-pandemic inflection point that marked a time for change — and resetting the narrative. Specifically, he pointed to increasing investments in technology, building industry talent and focusing on culture.
Hersch reminded us of what the industry does for “all the other industries out there.” Without the insurance industry, he said, there’s no rebuilding of broken buildings, there are no cruise ships floating on the ocean, and there are no human beings driving cars. None of that is possible without insurance supporting those industries.
This provides a powerful way to look at the industry in a new or refreshed light. And maybe it provides a powerful framework for attracting new talent.
The need to attract new talent — the best talent — is widely seen as a major goal for the industry. That talent is needed to provide the innovation required for the industry’s future success, especially after workforces have been buffeted by the great resignation and the great retirement.
Insurers are working to reinvent the workplace in order to attract new talent. Part of that objective is focusing on the workplace culture, especially when it comes to increasing diversity and creating a remote/hybrid work environment that has become the norm for about half the working population following the pandemic.
Technological innovation also is key to improving the consumer experience, helping provide products and services with the speed and efficiency that we’ve become accustomed to in our dealings with most industries.
Committing to address the talent gap, enable technological advancement, and enhance workplace culture and diversity are the goals the industry must prioritize. Resetting the narrative to spotlight the great importance of the industry and the opportunities that lay ahead as these goals are achieved will help ensure future success.