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RIA platform taps insurance firm amid nascent fee-only product growth

A growing breakaway RIA consultant tapped an insurance firm to guide its network on how best to adapt the expanding shelf of fee-only products into their practices.

Tru Independence is teaming up with The Blueprint Insurance Services to provide what the firms are calling a “tru-BluePrint” to help the 17 and counting RIAs on the consulting firm’s platform introduce non-commission annuities, life insurance and long-term care offerings to clients in a simple manner.

Fee-only annuity sales Q2 2018

Matt Meyer, co-founder of The Blueprint and tru Managing Partner Doug Nichols met through a mutual client, Nichols says. Both firms share a commitment to helping advisors deliver “a comprehensive client experience that goes beyond selling insurance,” he wrote in an email.

The marketing organization is nearly doubling its RIA clients to almost three dozen under the strategic partnership, making it one of the early players as fee-only insurance expands in its infancy stages. For its part, tru is tapping into the still-expanding breakaway RIA segment, having added eight new teams this year.

Fee-only insurance shows promise and room for further gains. Sales of fee-based variable annuities, for example, soared by 49% year-over-year to $850 million in the second quarter, according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. However, that makes up just 3% of the overall VA market, the data shows.

“We listened to our advisor teams [about] what gaps in services they were concerned would be exposed in the independent space,” Nichols says. “We also see the world of investing and financial advice evolving where clients want a comprehensive experience.”

The ongoing shift away from commissionable products is driving major changes in the space.
August 17

The Blueprint’s approach begins with a meeting between Meyer’s team and the RIA to get a sense of the practice’s business model and clientele, he says. Then the firm provides everything from coaching on the conversations with clients to back-office support on the various products for RIAs.

“We think that our ability to communicate in their language and not in the insurance language is a complete differentiator,” Meyer says.

In addition to The Blueprint guiding the conversation and offering RIAs their support infrastructure, the partnership will also create educational sessions and co-branded marketing materials, Nichols says. Advisors can reach out to their The Blueprint relationship managers directly or work through tru’s team.

“A lot of our focus is, how do we make this process more efficient with these advisors and RIAs that have typically not distributed insurance products?” says Meyer. “Tru Independence is a firm that’s going to continue to grow, and the RIAs that they’re bringing on certainly indicate that. But the hard work starts now.”

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