Bank-based advisor productivity remained relatively flat in February at an average $15,200 in transactions, up from $15,121 in January, according to the Bank Insurance and Securities Association’s Monthly Sales Productivity Benchmark, which is based on Kehrer-LIMRA data.
The numbers with fees for February are $24,953, compared to $27,540 in January. Hypothetically, February’s average production should be a lot lower. January is one of the months in which quarterly money management fees are collected, which generally causes a spike once per quarter. The following month’s figures are always down from that—they include 12b1 fees, but no asset management fees.
What’s interesting here is that there isn’t much difference between January and February production. “January’s increase was much less than it normally is, so the decrease in February is much less than it normally would be,” said Scott Stathis, chief operating officer of Kehrer-LIMRA. “When you look at that month after, the drop is usually 25% to 30%. This time it was only 9%, not because February was so strong, but because January was so weak.”
Year-over-year, February wasn’t that bad—advisor production increased 26% from where they were last year. But month-to-month performance clearly indicates that rep production has a long way to go until it can be considered back on track. “The $15,200 figure is normally in the twenties,” Stathis said. “We haven’t been out of the teens for the past year, which is pretty weak and not where we should be.”
However, Stathis said that he thinks advisors won’t have long to wait until they start experiencing an uptick in their performance.
“The market is starting to cooperate, so variable annuities will get more attention, and the spread between fixed annuities and CDs is rising. We could be in an upward slope for the rest of the year.”
Advisors at Kehrer-LIMRA study groups are correspondingly more positive in their outlook, he said. “Sales productivity is due to an overall stagnant quiver of products.”
Meanwhile, platform reps, who are bankers licensed to sell simple investment and insurance products, had a pretty good February, with production up 36% to $799 in February, up from $587 in January, selling 50% more fixed annuities and 102% more life insurance, Stathis said. “It isn’t hard for them to sell 102% more life insurance because they normally sell so little of it,” he says, “but a 50% increase in fixed annuity sales is significant.”
Stathis said that he suspects widening spreads have made short-term annuities more attractive than CDs, explaining the bump in sales.