Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Technology: Get On Board or Get Left Behind

By Nick Bates, Vice President of Annuity Sales

When cellphones first began getting popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, I was one of the many that said, “Why would I ever need a cellphone?” I thought it was a fad and would only last a short time before people came around to my way of thinking. Well, I quickly recognized that if I did not join the movement I would get left behind. I reluctantly broke down and purchased my first cellphone and have never looked back.

When I talk to a lot of the financial professionals (FPs) we work with about new technology in our industry, I sometimes feel as if they have the same mindset I had about cellphones. I hear this quote often: “I do business the old-fashioned way”. That way of thinking is becoming more and more out of touch in today’s financial industry. In this article I will touch upon how technology can make all of our lives easier as financial professionals.
 
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
 
At its simplest, a CRM system allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them. With a CRM tool, you can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities in one central location, ideally in the cloud so the information is accessible by you and your staff, in real time regardless of location.

Financial Modeling Software

Financial modeling software comes in a variety of different packages. Some are very technical and have multiple reports and scenarios. Other programs are more simplistic and user-friendly. These programs used to be only for more established FPs as they were costly and required a very computer-savvy user. Now there are many more options for software programs. They are less expensive than their predecessors and can be more user-friendly. Also, some of these programs are much easier for customers to understand and could help you explain more complicated financial information and strategies in a more straightforward way.

Using Technology in Client Meetings

Many FPs are realizing that they can use technology in their office or at a meeting to better explain the financial concepts and products they are offering. There are many companies that provide very useful client-approved videos, calculators, and marketing pieces, among other things. These tools can be used during a meeting with a client to better explain the details of certain products. Most are client-facing point-of-sale pieces that could be the difference in making the sale. Many of these pieces are also available on portable devices such as a tablet as well. These tools are helping FPs make an out-of-office meeting with a client feel more and more like an in-office meeting.

e-Applications

The financial industry is starting to become more of a paperless industry. Slowly but surely some carriers are starting to transition to online applications, usually called e-apps. These online applications provide many benefits to the FP, such as faster processing times, drastically reduced Not-In-Good-Order submissions, and fewer licensing and training deficiencies, to name just a few. Right now these e-apps are offered as a way to simplify and expedite doing business with a carrier. However, in the future they may become a requirement for doing business with certain carriers as we transition to a more paperless industry.
 
These are just a few ways the financial industry is using technology to do business. As clients become more and more comfortable doing business in this online world, technology is only going to play a larger role in our industry. If you are not using technology in your practice, be assured that your competition is. Consider that you could be starting to fall farther and farther behind the curve. If you do not think so, just think how different your life would be without that cellphone – most likely a smartphone by now – in your pocket.

Nick Bates | Vice President of Annuity Sales
Ann Arbor Annuity Exchange
Ph: 800.321.3924 x121 | Dir: 734.786.6121
nbates@annuity-exchange.com

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Prior to engaging any third party vendors for marketing or technology services, Producers should follow the approval requirements of the carriers they represent and their broker/dealer and registered investment adviser, if applicable.

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Designed for Financial Professionals.

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