BOSTON -- Financial advisors are in huge demand among insurance companies that create the broad array of insured retirement income products. But if product creators want to succeed with that group, they need to get a few ground rules clear, a panel of financial advisors said during the Insured Retirement Institute’s annual conference on Tuesday.

The IRI presented the panel of advisors, “Exclusive Research on Advisor Trends Within the Insured Retirement Industry,” but did not disclose their full names or company affiliations. For attendees who listened closely, however, the panel offered several tips on how to win and keep their loyalty.

Simplicity Rules

The industry should consider making applications for variable annuity and other retirement income products simpler and more uniform, said one advisor. It would make it easier to get the contract through compliance and state commissioner departments, and encourage more advisors to consider the products.

Provide Ongoing Product Support

One advisor said a company did a particularly good job laying out all costs associated with an annuity’s program, like a menu. Other firms, however, do not provide that kind of support, and the help becomes even more elusive after a product has changed.

Create Software to Manage Changes

Annuity and other investment product companies compete on program features, said one analyst, who referred to so-called alphabet riders that change constantly. If a provider has a program that can take in investment requirements and filter out the ones that apply to advisors’ clients, it could contribute to growth in annuity sales.

Who ordered this?

When pitching the benefits, annuity wholesalers and creators should explain, as much as possible, what type of client the product would serve best. It would save advisors time and help them do a better job.

Be Honest About Shortcomings

Be open about the commitments the clients will have to make when the purchase products, said one advisor. He added that he gets his hands dirty every day doing legwork for clients.

Attentive Service Matters

It helps when wholesalers match product knowledge with attentive service. One advisor said she does not often get the chance to participate in webinars. During one sponsored by a mutual fund company, the fund’s wholesaler offered to listen to the call, take notes and catch her up on what she missed later.

Get on the UMA

If insurance and asset management companies want to get their products in front certain registered representatives, get the product onto the firm’s UMA. In those situations, said one advisor, the firm has already screened products using their internal research and has decided which ones suit their clients best.

Update Product Statuses

Product changes are inevitable and understandable. In some cases, however, firms need to give advisors more than say, three days’ notice before pulling the plug on certain products. This is especially true when the lead time on certain annuities can be as long as one month.



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