If Nothing Feels The Same, It’s Because It’s Not

One of the highlights of the NAIFA IMPACT WEEK: LTC was the session with Hybrid Life + LTCI business leaders. The discussion included which technology apps or programs create an impactful “virtual kitchen table” feel for the client. For the advisor/agent, who places his business through a technology savvy broker or general agency, the surge of forward-moving technology, accelerated by the pandemic, is a “Win Win!” The moderator and speakers all got an early start in building proprietary in-house software as well as deploying off the shelf applications resulting in better client fulfillment processes and better agent support.

They each share insights on how specific technology, apps, and processes can enhance your business model, make it more profitable, expand your client base, render it more client centric, and introduce new efficiencies to both new and seasoned advisor/agent practices.

Moderator: Ryan Pinney, president, Pinney Insurance.

Panelists: Steve Cain, sales and business development leader, LTCI Partners; Marc Glickman, FSA, CLTC, founder and CEO, BuddyIns; and, Max Schmitz, vice president of Marketing and Sales, DI & LTC Insurance Services.

To listen to the full presentation, and find the contact information for the moderator and panelists, free access is available at lecp.naifa.org under the Events tab.

Ryan Pinney opened the session by noting that the future will hold a lot of “unpacking of technology.”

Steve Cain shared that his firm uses the CRM Hubspot on the front-end to capture targeted leads from potential clients who attend the firm’s webinars and presentations. Steve’s advice, “Have a sense of humor when reaching out to new clients; ‘No, we are not stalking you! But we saw that you downloaded this form.’” Steve’s firm also uses SmartOffice on the back-end to ensure efficient processing. LTCI Partners is continually investing in technology. By investing hard and soft dollars in their organization, they assure their firm’s ability to evolve which ultimately benefits the advisors/agents that LTCI Partners supports.

Ryan Pinney agrees. Most advisors/agents do not specialize in back office processes. He admits to having a “scattered mindset.” (Don’t we all wish we could have such a brilliant scattered mind!) The “technology stack” you create, he says, is your “secret sauce.”
Marc Glickman noted that “What’s in your technology stack” should include execution and implementation tools. Marc’s objective is to educate and activate the audience. He employs Active Campaign to nurture, analyze, and attract clients. His firm, BuddyIns, wants the time the client spends to be productive so the client wants to reach out. Marc presents monthly webinars using an open platform model offering education from various specialists on a variety of topics.

Max Schmitz’s home grown technology was born out of frustration. He kept it simple and affordable. Max built an e-app before the carriers were ready to accept them. Why? Because he wanted to address the frustration both advisors/agents and clients felt when facing pages and pages of paperwork. Not only did his e-app create a more efficient process with less errors and missed signatures, but it created a more user friendly feel. Max wanted to take the burden of volume of paperwork off the table, so at Max’s firm, DI & LTC Insurance Services, he created a process that was “less scary.” His aim is to focus on an advisor or agent’s target market and think about how to make buying and selling less complicated and time consuming.

LTCI Partners specializes in supporting the “occasional producer” (financial advisors and benefits brokers). Today, we all have an “Amazon” delivery mentality. Technology is the answer to creating a less painful process aligning with today’s consumer’s comfort level and expectation of the ease of doing business.

Ryan asked the panel to address: “How are you helping advisors/agents benefit from sales tools and fulfillment processes?”

At BuddyIns, Marc suggests using a simple tool that leads to greater productivity and is not expensive. Calendly is today’s virtual scheduling assistant.

The myth, Max added, that only very technology savvy advisors/agents can survive the increasing creation and dependency on technology is “Not true. There is no barrier to entry.” He encourages agents/advisors working with his firm to maintain their style and use technology to build camaraderie. A drop ticket allows his firm to not only screen and scrub the app but to also see if there may be a better fit or carrier for that consumer.

Tom Riekse, who leads LTCI Partners’ marketing and technology efforts, like Max, has led the building of programs and applications in response to evolving support needs. The message is “Let us do the detail work. You do the thing you do best—sales.” They use a HIPAA compliant “Turbo Tax” style underwriting application to screen clients and, depending on the case, a fillable Docusign PDF or carrier’s e-app. It’s whatever works best for the advisor/agent who brings in the case. Another significant ask that Steve feels would benefit all brokers and general agencies would be a consumer friendly illustration that allows agents to compare multiple solutions from multiple carriers. It would be a step in the right direction by educating consumers about various options. Moreover, creating a consistent comparison that aids in selecting the best fit for a client’s individual situation, and which the advisor/agent can retain along with his discussion notes, will help him/her to feel more confident that the “clients best interest” requirement has been met and documented. Price need not be the deciding factor—clearly illustrating and documenting suggested options would help brokers, advisors, and clients.

Given the opportunity for a redo, Ryan asked, “Would each of you pursue integrating technology in your firm given the investment and learning curve?”

“In a heartbeat,” Steve responded. “For example, it has helped with the placement rate by as much as 20 percent.”

For his part, Marc feels employing technology aids has made the industry move toward a more “Amazon” type experience. You can have multiple people on a single call and multiple people paid on a single case. It also allows for mass education as opposed to one-on-one.

Then Ryan asked, “What is the one tool that would benefit someone new to the business?”

Marc called out Zoom webinars to build a new advisor/agent’s client base.

Max spoke about the importance of approaching the topic as a conversation, keeping products and processes in the background. Like NAIFA, where the focus is on helping expand the middle America marketplace, Max suggests that technology, as a tool, helps us to reach that wider audience. Technology can make business more profitable for the agent so he can afford to reach out for lower premium cases. “Do the math!”

Ryan pointed out that using virtual technology, such as Zoom, allows him to drop off of one meeting and seamlessly move onto the next. It returns real, productive time to Ryan that was previously eaten away by driving to and from meetings.

Generally, all the speakers agree that virtual meetings will not disappear as we get a better handle on vaccines to tame the pandemic. Previously, we all experienced “missed” productivity caused by schedules, travel time, clumsy processes and no-shows. Now, by embracing technology tools and services, we can experience the “gains.” Each of these brokers are able to support individual client calls and group advisor/agent calls thus eliminating the expenses attached to covering that same ground before technology became mainstream. Based on who they support, each firm has selected technology driven processes, programs, or created them to increase sales and process business in a less cumbersome manner. All four are moving in the direction of attracting younger advisors/agents by creating an environment attractive to them and their target market.

As Steve reminds us, for the occasional producer, LTCI is a second language. But now technology allows specialists to “join the conversations and do the translating.”

At the end of the day, the extended and long term care industry still needs a mainstream campaign to educate and to re-educate. Some, if not most, carriers have started to speed up the adoption of technology improvements and show interest in becoming more innovative. What else can we do with creative technology developments, time saving applications, and innovations to grow the industry? We will invite this moderator and panel back for NAIFA IMPACT WEEK: LTC next November 2-4, 2021, and see what has changed.

Carroll S. Golden, CLU, ChFC, LTCP, CASL, FLMI, CLTC, is the executive director of the NAIFA Limited and Extended Care Planning Center (LECP). She has an extensive background in business development, solutions selling, risk management and insurance distribution.

Golden has authored two books, her newest, How Not To Pull Your Family Apart, is designed for consumers to follow a multi-generational family as they use a three-step guide to gain a basic understanding of manageable extended or long term care planning options to discuss with a professional.