By: Matt Meyer
Matt Meyer, co-founder at The BluePrint Insurance services is a contributor for Nasdaq.com. The below article can also be viewed at Nasdaq.com. Please click here.
As we have discussed in prior articles, the financial advice landscape has changed, and with that change, more clients want a comprehensive client experience—an experience centered on total financial life planning.
The days of having an insurance agent, investment adviser, and other financial professionals providing fragmented advice are over.
Due to this movement, we have seen a major uptick in Registered Investments Advisory firms (RIAs) and fee-only financial advisors looking to add risk management products to their client offering.
We regularly hear that many insurance partners sound the same which makes it seem impossible to differentiate them. So, this begs the question, “how do you identify a good partner? Consider their language, their fiduciary mindset and their comprehensive offerings.
Do they speak YOUR language?
Let’s be real. Most insurance groups speak a different language than comprehensive financial advisors and RIAs. This may be a reason it has taken so long for advisors to come around to the idea of incorporating risk management solutions into their client offering.
If you are looking for a good partner, start with these questions:
1. Would you put them in front of a client? A good insurance partner can speak your language which is especially important if you ever put them in front of your clients.
2. Can they simplify the insurance world to a level you and your clients can understand? Like financial products, insurance products can be complex. A great insurance partner can take the complex information and simplify it to a level everyone can understand.
3. Does the way they do business align with how you do business? For example, old school insurance groups “pitch” products while many advisors take a consultative approach. They should be able to effectively work within your current client service process.
If the answer is no to any of the questions, the provider is probably not an ideal fit.
Do they have a fiduciary mindset?
This is where the rubber meets the road! In general, comprehensive financial advisors, fee-only financial advisors and RIAs act as true fiduciaries. It is necessary for a good insurance partner to have the same mindset.
You shouldn’t have to second guess if your insurance partner is “selling” you on products that pay them more.
Sometimes this concept can be complicated when insurance providers offer a breadth of product offerings. If an insurance partner can offer you products from several different carriers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are acting in you and your clients’ best interest.
So how do you know?
Pay attention to their language and what they recommend. If you give them different client scenarios to work on and everyone gets the same product recommendation, it may require some follow up questions, such as:
- Why did you recommend this solution for the client?
- Do you get paid more override, a bonus, or an incentive for selling this product?
- What was the second-best option for this client?
There is no way to know if insurance providers are acting in your clients’ best interest, but these questions should help you understand who you are working with and the risk management products they offer.
This approach will also help your questions improve over time, so you can sniff out who talks vs. walks the walk.
Are they comprehensive?
This is my favorite question! Why? Because I believe advisors (and business owners) desire and deserve a similar comprehensive experience that advisors’ clients want.
Often in the insurance space, firms market themselves as having access and knowledge of all types of solutions (ex. life, annuity, long-term care) but when you look under the hood they only want to focus on one (ex. annuities.).
We think the best insurance partners have a genuine goal of providing advisors comprehensive risk management advice.
The bottom line is having a partner that speaks your language, has the same fiduciary mindset, and delivers the same comprehensive experience you desire is attainable, and you shouldn’t accept anything less!
—Matt Meyer, Director of Life Insurance Planning and Distribution at Lockton Affinity and Co-Founder of The Blueprint Insurance Services.