Looking Ahead To 2021: Focusing On Innovation After Last Year’s Uncertainty.
Last year was, by all measures, unprecedented. As the COVID-19 pandemic caused (and continues to cause) massive health and economic crises, almost every business was forced to revisit their old way of doing business. When you add in persistent low interest rates and ongoing market volatility, those of us in the insurance and financial services industries faced additional challenges.
And while we can’t ignore the many hardships resulting from these challenges, we can appreciate the opportunities and positive changes that came from this time. Organizations, including Allianz Life, were forced to think quickly and outside of any box previously imagined. We had to do this not only to make sure our employees were able to stay productive while working safely from home, but also to ensure that our systems, technology and processes were able to keep up in a virtual world so business could continue and our financial professionals had the resources they needed.
Many in the industry say the same—the uncertainty of 2020 forced us to innovate more quickly than we ever thought before. Now, we’re more efficient thanks to technology, we’re finding new distribution opportunities to grow and meet client needs, and we’re continuing to evolve products to make sure they stand up in today’s challenging markets.
With this solid new foundation in place, it only makes sense that 2021 will be a year of continued innovation. So what does 2021 hold? Here is what we are planning for in the year ahead.
Continued success with our life insurance business
Specific to our life business, the pandemic sped up the expansion of our accelerated underwriting program. This now includes higher death benefits and additional rate classes with less underwriter engagement to help speed the process.
We also needed to look for alternative options to physical exams because going to the doctor for an exam in the middle of a health pandemic was out of the question for many people. Now carriers have adopted other, less invasive ways of getting the data they need to issue life insurance policies.
Our eApplication process was also a big driver of efficiency and success in the virtual world. Here, financial professionals are able to complete the application process completely online—including client e-signatures. Once the application is submitted, contract e-delivery allows them to receive documents online, helping clients receive their contracts more efficiently and, for financial professionals, to close the sale quicker.
Allianz Life is also planning to expand our product offerings and distribution reach in the coming year. AG 49 A required us to revamp how our fixed index universal life (FIUL) insurance policies are illustrated to make it easier for the consumer to understand as they explore their options. We took this opportunity to expand on some of the features on our Allianz Life Pro+ AdvantageSM Fixed Index Universal Life Insurance Policy, including our volatility-controlled indexes, new bonus opportunities and index lock feature.
Underlying many of these successes is the technology that enabled us to speed our processes. Looking ahead to 2021, we’ll continue to explore new ways to make purchasing our products more efficient and streamlined for both the financial professional and the clients they serve.
Driving innovation across all product lines
Last year, our subsidiary Allianz Investment Management LLC (AIM LLC) reached a significant milestone with the addition of a new product line with the launch of the AllianzIM Buffered Outcome Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), (which are managed by AIM LLC and distributed by Foreside Fund Services, LLC). AIM LLC’s new product line complements Allianz Life’s growing portfolio of insured solutions, and broadens the reach of our overarching risk management capabilities
Beyond enhancements to our FIUL line, we are continuing to innovate on our fixed index annuity (FIA) and index variable annuity (IVA) products. Especially in difficult market conditions and declining interest rates like we have seen over the past few years, we need to continually look for ways to make sure our products continue to deliver value to our contract owners and policyholders.
While we don’t know what the markets will do in 2021, we know that we can be prepared for a variety of scenarios with IVA enhancements and innovative features like our auto lock feature, varying levels of protection options, and income benefits designed to stand up to the most difficult environments. It’s certainly a competitive space out there right now, but we believe our products stand out not only from a potential benefit standpoint, but that our rate renewals have a strong, steady performance history. We feel this also adds to our overall stability.
Expanding distribution opportunities
In order to diversify our business and reach new customers, we’re continuing to explore new distribution channels. We recently announced the expansion of our advisory channel services with the formal launch of Allianz Advisory Solutions, an expanded suite of products and services built specifically for Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) to help enhance their risk management capabilities.
We know this is an important marketplace, and that independent advisors are increasingly looking to annuities as valuable options to help manage risk within a client portfolio. This process starts with insurers meeting the advisor where they live and fitting into their existing business model, and continues with demonstrating the value of integrating insurance solutions into the larger investment strategy.
We see this as part of a larger trend that will continue into next year. We have all seen the explosion or technology platforms over the past few years that not only enable easier integration of insurance products into a holistic financial plan, but are able to really show the value or what they can offer clients in a more tangible way.
In 2021, we’ll continue to expand our products, services and technology offerings to support this important new channel for us.
Last year challenged all of us in ways we never thought possible. But we can look back and be proud of the progress and innovation we have accomplished along the way. The common thread that made so much of this possible is the commitment to helping clients prepare for retirement that we share with our financial professionals and strategic partners. We were also able to embrace new technologies, systems, and general ways of doing business that relied so much on our digital capabilities. Not only did this help us ensure our business was able to continue uninterrupted, but it also helped move us into a new era in how we do business.
At the same time, our underlying strength and stability are another part of what make innovation and driving change possible during uncertain times like these. While many in the industry were simply trying to keep business going, we were able to do the same while also maintaining a focus on growth.
And while we have been able to navigate the uncertainty that 2020 delivered, we can look to the year ahead with confidence, knowing that we have the technology, innovative mindset, and risk management solutions to help clients and financial professionals meet whatever 2021 brings head on. [ET]
Allianz Investment Management LLC is a registered investment adviser and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.
The Buffered Outcome ETFs investment strategies are different from more typical investment products, and the Funds may be unsuitable for some investors. It is important that investors understand the investment strategy before making an investment. For more information regarding whether an investment in the Funds is right for you, please see the prospectus including “Investor Considerations”.
Investment involves risk including possible loss of principal.
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. For a prospectus with this and other information about the Fund, please call 877.429.3837 or visit www.allianzim.com and review the prospectus. Investors should read the prospectus carefully before investing.
Annuity distributions are subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59½, a 10 percent federal additional tax.
Life insurance and annuity guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America. Variable annuity guarantees do not apply to the performance of the variable subaccounts, which will fluctuate with market conditions.
Life insurance and annuities are issued by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America and distributed by its affiliate, Allianz Life Financial Services, LLC, member FINRA, 5701 Golden Hills Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55416-1297. 800.542.5427 www.allianzlife.com.