Financial advisors who work in the insurance channel may not make most of their revenue from fees for handling clients assets under management, but a majority of them think that is where the most growth in their business is likely come from going forward.
And they’re willing to invest in technology, at least modestly, to help that happen.
That’s the finding of a new survey of insurance industry-based and other financial advisors just completed by Aite Group, an independent research and advisory firm focused on business, technology and regulatory issues and their impact on the financial services industry.
The study, which questioned 438 financial advisors, 38 of them life insurance company-based, found that on average, this latter sub-group of advisors tended to have more clients than advisors in other channels, and fewer clients who would be classified as high-net-worth individuals (meaning assets exceeding $1 million).
Because they tend to have more clients with fewer assets, writes study author Clark Troy, insurance-affiliated financial advisors show “considerable interest in technologies that can help them serve their clients better, including self]directed platforms for investors and straight]through processing (STP) for both life insurance and annuity sales.”
Troy, a research director at Aite Group, said this desire for more technology in the insurance channel “creates a market for solutions that can provide robust and scalable solutions at modest price points.”
The study shows that insurance firm-affiliated advisors are not particularly big producers, with 22% earning less than $100,000 a year from fees on managing clients’ assets, and with 65% earning less than $300,000 from AUM fees. Yet despite the fact that they were deriving more of their income from insurance-related business, the survey found that 59% of these insurance-affiliated advisors write “financial planner,” not “insurance agent” on their shingles.
Many reported in the survey that they sell investment products primarily “to keep from losing clients to competitors.”
The survey found that those who might want to market technology products to this group of advisors need to plan on taking a concerted marketing approach. This group tends to be conservative, and that includes a conservative approach to change, said Troy, so insurers seeking to introduce changes and technology “must be prepared to invest heavily in roll]out initiatives to ensure significant uptake from advisors, or see their investments in expensive technologies wither from disuse.”
Insurance-based advisors tend to be stable, though.
The survey found that 94% of them reported being satisfied, satisfied or “somewhat satisfied” with their broker dealer’s service. 59% of them were over 40 years old and 53% had had over 10 years’ experience as financial advisors.