What The 2020 COLA Boost Means for Advisors

Big news this week from the Social Security Administration. The SSA on Thursday revealed they would enact a 1.6% COLA (Cost-Of-Living Adjustment) increase for 2020. The newest increase is significantly lower than the previous two years (2% in 2018 and 2.8% in 2019). Last year’s boost gave beneficiaries and an average of $40 more a month on their checks. Next year, those 69 million Americans who receive Social Security payouts will see an additional $23 on their monthly benefits. The average payout will be roughly $1,460 per month.

Additional details from the SSA’s announcement include:

  • The taxable maximum will increase to $137,799
  • The earnings limit for workers younger than full retirement age will increase to $18,240
  • The earnings limit for those turning 66 in 2020 will increase to $48,600
  • No earnings limit for those who are full retirement age or older for the entire years

After two years of higher increases, the 2020 drop-off could be a reason for beneficiaries to be concerned. Because the SSA bases COLA increases on the consumer-price index urban workers (CPI-W), rather than that of seniors (CPI-E), a 1.6% boost is considered by some too insufficient in the face of real-world inflation and rising medical expenses.  In a statement issued shortly after Thursday’s announcement, Webster Phillips with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare says COLAs are “out of sync” the living expenses retirees face.

“Retirees have been living on very tight cost-of-living adjustments for a number of years now, which forces them to make hard decisions about their monthly budgets,” said Phillips.

Social Security recipients also need to be aware of how rising Medicare premiums will impact their monthly benefits. While those figures won’t be released until December, the most recent Medicare Trustees’ Report estimates that Part B premiums will rise by nearly $10 a month. For some retirees living on a limited income, this could lessen the buying power of their COLA boost.

An estimated 1 in 4 seniors will rely on Social Security benefits as a primary source of retirement income. With rising living and medical costs offsetting the benefits they receive, it’s vital that agents and advisors work to connect with retirees and offer better solutions.

So, how can you effectively reach the retiree/Baby Boomer market?

Even for seniors, social media can be a valuable marketing tool, with Facebook having the largest audience in that demographic. Some studies show that close to 50% of people aged 65 and up actively use Facebook. Reach these consumers by sharing relevant articles and/or blog posts on your business page. For more qualified results, use Facebook’s age and location targeting options for sponsored posts and ads.

Drip email campaigns can also be effective. However, because most Boomers value a personal touch over online connections, direct mail might get a better response. In fact, any marketing tactic that involves personal interactions will likely go a long way toward establishing credibility and building relationships with retirees and those nearing retirement. Seminars and workshops are a great way to make those connections.

What questions do you have about how to better engage with pre-retirees and retirees who could benefit from some education on Social Security? Get in touch and find out how we can help.

Five Ways to Improve Your Seminar Performance

Seminar marketing is an effective prospecting and conversion tool for advisors. Getting in front of a roomful of engaged consumers can help boost brand awareness, establish credibility, and present an opportunity to secure multiple appointments at once. That is, of course, if you can deliver a quality presentation.

There are several factors that go into a successful seminar. Everything from venue selection to the time and day of the seminar will impact the final results. Logistics and mechanics aside, focusing on the subtleties of your delivery can significantly increase your chances of success.  Here are some things to consider:

Meet and Greet

Before the first attendee enters the room, you should be standing at the door ready to greet them. If you introduce yourself to guests on an individual basis, rather than waiting until you begin the presentation, they will be more likely to tune in once you do get up there. A simple handshake and “Hi, I’m _________,” will set a casual and comfortable tone for the rest of the evening. People tend to pay more attention to someone they’re familiar with than they would a complete stranger. When greeting guests, be sure to ask their name and thank them for coming. You want to keep the introduction brief to prevent a bottleneck at the door.

Be Engaged

You can’t expect an audience to stay engaged with a speaker who isn’t engaged with them. If you spend most of your time glancing at notes, looking at the PowerPoint behind you, or looking over the crowd’s head, they’re going to lose interest. Try to maintain eye contact with different attendees as often as possible. Not only will this make you seem confident but will also help you read the room during your performance.

Be Active

When people want to see a statue, they’ll go to a park or museum. Not a financial seminar. An unanimated speaker will lose the room within a few minutes of introducing themselves. Once you’ve lost them, they’re gone. Make use of the space you have and move around the room while you speak. Hand gestures, facial expressions, and other forms of non-verbal communication will help give you a more commanding and animated presence. Just don’t over do it. Remember, there is a fine line between energetic and hyperactive.

Avoid Scripts

Writing out and memorizing a script word for word is a recipe for disaster. While it might sound like a solid plan on paper, scripts can be constraining in the heat of the moment. A simple, yet unexpected question or unresponsive crowd can be difficult to handle if your presentation lacks flexibility. You also risk major embarrassment if you get lost or completely forget a line. This can leave you nervously stumbling through your notecards or, even worse, leave out important information.

Instead of scripting, use bullet points to outline the overall structure of your presentation. While you’ll want to stick with this structure, take a more conversational and adaptive approach when speaking to your crowd. If it helps, practice different ‘improvised’ iterations in the days leading up to the seminar. Remember, they came to hear you speak, not read.

End on a Good Note

A positive parting impression is crucial for converting the seminar guest into a new client. The final words of your presentation should be a positive call-to-action that leaves them wanting to hear more. Of course, to hear more, they’ll have to make an appointment. After the presentation, take time to mingle with the crowd. Try to thank everyone before they exit and offer a few days and times that you can meet for an appointment. As exhausted as you might be at the end of the night, this post-seminar ritual can be the most important part of the event.

 

#MillennialRetirementPlans

Many of you probably assume that retirement is the furthest thing from the minds of the mid-20s to early 30s crowd. However, a deep dive into a trending Twitter hashtag reveals this generation is thinking about retirement after all. A quick Twitter search of #MillennialRetirementPlans brings up a mixed bag of posts that sheds light on the generation’s perspectives on life after retirement. Some are funny, some are absurd, and a few are even poignant and devoid of sarcasm. However, all of them give the impression that a large portion of the youngest members of today’s workforce have no idea how they’re going to build a nest egg.

Unsurprisingly, student loan debt is a factor many believe will be a roadblock to retirement. Compounding those concerns is the possibility of that debt being passed on to children and spouses, rather than leaving them an actual inheritance.


But at least a few are holding onto hope that they’ll pay off that debt in time to start saving.


While others have lost hope altogether.


Some are pointing a finger at older generations.


Some are relying on them.


Or their own children.


Pessimism aside, at least they’re talking about retirement.


The question is, are you joining the conversation?

If advisors can take anything away from #MillennialRetirementPlans, it’s that the need for education about retirement is at an all-time high. Thanks to the still trending hashtag, advisors can easily connect with the Millennial market to offer that education. As you might have noticed from the tone of these tweets, this is not exactly a consumer base who would feel comfortable spending money on the services of a financial advisor. However, a little coaxing might eventually convince them otherwise.

Leverage this opportunity by attaching the #MillennialRetirementPlans hashtag to posts that offer free whitepapers or e-books, podcasts, or brief videos that cover the advantages of budgeting early for retirement. These are all popular forms of media within this target market and will likely draw more attention than a simple link to an article. A more direct method of engagement would be to personally respond to some of these tweets. Twitter’s search engine features an option that only shows results from users near your location. This is a great way to target potential prospects.
When crafting your content and social media posts, address the tangible aspects of a savings strategy. Many of these consumers genuinely don’t believe that their budget will allow them to set anything aside for later in life. Throwing a sheet of infographics and hypothetical situations won’t help ease those concerns. Instead, take a commonsense approach by getting to know their situation and offering solutions that are within their reach.

With any luck, you’ll turn an outlook as bleak as this:


Into this:

Life Insurance Marketing Tips: Top 3 Social Platforms For College Grads

In many ways, Life Insurance Awareness Month couldn’t come at a better time. With diplomas in hand, thousands of recent college graduates are entering, or have already entered, the workforce. This transitional period leaves consumers the largest and soon-to-be wealthiest demographics – Millennials– who could benefit from a life insurance policy. Obviously, this is an opportunity agents and advisors should not overlook.

For many young consumers, shifting from college to the real world will bring about a series of “firsts” in life. Their first career, first home, first (and hopefully only) marriage, or even their first-born child. Each of these are reasons for their first life insurance policy. This is a standard talking point for most qualified Millennial prospects in your marketing funnel. But first, you need to capture their attention. Consider the following tips to boost Millennial engagement.

Facebook

While younger consumers are spending less time on Facebook, they have far from abandoned the platform. Recent data from Pew Internet Research shows that 84% of consumers aged 25 – 29 years old (the typical age range for recent grads and young families), and 79% of 30-somethings are regular Facebook users. Your Facebook ad/post should center around a visually enticing image that includes concise, yet compelling content. Be sure to include your call-to-action and link in the caption. If you have the resources, use a short video in place of the image. According to Hubspot, the use of video as a digital marketing tool is skyrocketing. In 2017, 63% of marketers were using videos. Today, that number has jumped to 87%, with 83% saying video results in good ROI.

Instagram

The younger, more visually focused cousin to Facebook, Instagram is extremely popular with younger consumers. The platform now allows you to set up a business account, sponsor posts, and easily craft top-notch image-based posts (a necessity for Instagram users). Instagram also gives you several options when creating your ad/post. These include video, carousel/dynamic ads, and stories; all of which can be great ways to engage consumers. Another cool feature about Instagram is the ability to reach users without an account of your own. Facebook’s ad manager now comes with the option to deliver a sponsored post to a customized audience of Instagram users, giving you the ability to kill two birds with one stone.

LinkedIn

It’s a safe bet that recent college grads and professionals who are still in the early stages of their career are going to spend some time on LinkedIn. However, marketing on LinkedIn is quite a bit different than Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn marketers should focus on posting in-depth and actionable content. This includes sharing relevant news articles, original blog posts, and long-form content. While you’ll pay more, LinkedIn’s ad targeting system is much more robust than Facebook and allows you to create an audience of highly qualified and professional prospects.

For a look at how to best leverage your social media marketing, read “Using Social Media During Life Insurance Awareness Month

Don’t forget to claim your copy of our complimentary 2019 Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit.

 

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Request our complimentary 2019 LIAM Sales Kit today.

 

Using Social Media During Life Insurance Awareness Month

Awareness campaigns and social media go hand in hand. No matter the topic, these initiatives would struggle to get off the ground without social media driving the conversation. And as many of you have already noticed, this month’s conversation revolves around life insurance. While the primary intent of Life Insurance Awareness Month is consumer education, this annual initiative is a chance for advisors to boost their brand and reach new prospects.

Taking advantage of the social media momentum behind Life Insurance Awareness Month doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your existing strategy, but it does call for a little fine-tuning. Consider the following tips when outlining your September social media plans.

Post With Purpose

Launched in 2004 by non-profit organization Life Happens, Life Insurance Awareness Month is an example of purpose-driven marketing. This is a campaign that strives to make a more personal, emotional connection with the public by addressing a specific need or cause. Consistency is a crucial part of these campaigns, which is why advisors who leverage social media during LIAM need to make sure their message fits the overall narrative about life insurance awareness. There are a few trending hashtags that can help bring you into the LIAM conversation (and boost your organic reach in the process):

  •            #LIAM19
  •            #LifeInsuranceAwarenessMonth
  •            #LifeInsurance
  •            #TakeThePledge

The most effective hashtags are both relevant to the topic and already in use. While there are other hashtags we’ve seen advisors use for LIAM-related posts, not all are exclusive to your services. Also, keep in mind that using too many hashtags in one post can actually limit post engagement. Avoid using more than two or three at a time.

  •           #AreYouCovered
  •           #Insurance
  •           #Life
  •           #Coverage
  •           #IncomeProtection

Target Strategically

The overwhelming majority of consumers, regardless of their age, now consider social media (or other online resources) to be a valuable source of information when searching for financial services. In fact, a recent LIMRA study showed that Baby Boomers are now more likely to use the internet for information and recommendations than Millennials and Gen-Xers (who are both more likely to consult friends and family for advice). This is why it’s crucial for advisors to not only maintain a strong social media presence and an up-to-date website. Additionally, they need to post content that will resonate with your specific target audience. Building custom audiences based on consumer details is a great way to get the right message to the right target.

Let’s say you want to share a message that promotes the “family protection” aspect of life insurance. Because this will likely hit closer to home for younger to middle-aged consumers with children than it would someone close to retirement age, use age and demographic-based metrics to hone in on parents aged 30 – 50 years old. Most social networks provide a wide range of targeting options. The key is to determine who will respond better to each specific post and target accordingly.

Timing Is Everything

The majority of social media users visit one or more platforms on a daily basis. However, few of them spend the entire day scrolling through their feed. Scheduling your posts during peak engagement times can significantly increase your organic reach. While your results may vary, peak posting times, according to several studies, are as follows:

Facebook:

  • 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday
  • 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday & Sunday

Twitter:

  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday (with peak engagement on or around 3 p.m.)

LinkedIn:

  • Early to mid-morning, early afternoon & early evening Monday – Friday

Keep in mind that social media marketing is an art, not a science. Use these tips as a starting point when crafting your LIAM social media strategy and adjust as needed. And remember that, when jumping on board with a widespread campaign like LIAM, you’re becoming part of a bigger conversation. It’s up to you to make the most of it.

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September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Request our complimentary 2019 LIAM Sales Kit today.

 

2017 CSOs: How These Numbers Will Impact the Entire Insurance Industry

As we approach 2020, an important deadline nears. No, it’s not the presidential election. It’s the complete transition to the 2017 CSOs.

Commissioners Standard Ordinary Mortality Tables (CSOs) are actuarial tables developed by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the American Academy of Actuaries on behalf of NAIC. These calculations have been used to develop underwriting guidelines and reserve targets for insurance companies for almost 80 years now. While client-focused advisors may not delve too deep into the actuarial aspects of our industry, CSOs can have a significant impact on products, pricing, and procedures. Which for the smart advisor, means sales opportunities.

First a little background. CSOs were originally implemented in 1941. The first CSOs were based on the experience of sixteen life insurance companies in the United States and Canada, drawing on policy information from years 1931 to 1940. Since this, there have been four major iterations of CSOs, in years 1958, 1980, 2001, and 2017. Like the first CSOs, subsequent versions were based on industry experience from a set period of time preceding their development. The idea is to provide a base standard for carriers while accounting for changes over the decades. With each CSO, more carriers participated, more data was provided, and more analysis prepared.

Why you should care about 2017 figures in 2019

Each CSO has a three-year transitional period, at the end of which all carriers are required to implement the new tables in reserve values and underwriting. The deadline for full implementation of the 2017 tables is January 1, 2020. While every company will have their own specific underwriting process, the CSOs are used as a common base.

The adjustment of reserve values impacts how carriers price their products. Additionally, features such as guaranteed cash values and other non-forfeiture benefits see a relationship to reserves (which again, has a key relationship with the most current CSOs).

Amongst insurance carriers, you will find a variation of who has already adopted the new CSOs and who is waiting until the deadline. The main difference between the 2017 tables and the 2001 version—the most recent—are the mortality rates. As life expectancies have generally improved in the sixteen years between the versions, new mortality rates will generally be lower. Consider that since 2001, tables have been calculated to age attained of 120 years. This has led to some surprising developments, like 35- and 40-year term life insurance policies available with a few carriers.

With the 2017 tables, there is also the creation of a new reserves calculation method called the Principle-Based Reserve formula (PBR). This formula seeks parity on reserves requirements; under current methods carriers can carry an excess of reserves on one group of products while maintaining inadequate reserves on another.

In general, the new CSOs will likely result in lower premiums on term life and GUL policies. For cash value products target premiums will likely stay static, while cash value growth accounts may see diminished accumulation.

Sales Opportunities

With cheaper insurance on the market, a client who was previously priced out of a product may be better positioned after the CSO adoption. Or there may be alternatives to their current coverage which not only incurs lower premiums but possibly additional features. As we near the CSO implementation deadline, policy reviews will become an even more valuable prospecting and sales technique.

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September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Request our complimentary 2019 LIAM Sales Kit today.

 

Why Advisors Need to Start Discussing Cybersecurity

Educating clients is among the top priorities for an advisor. This typically involves information on the products most suitable for their situation, long-term savings strategies, or how to set up a balanced household budget. Thanks to a swelling wave of online criminal activity, advisors can add one more item to their list of talking points: cybersecurity.

According to PrivacyRights.org, the last five years have seen roughly 9,000 reported breaches, which compromised more than 11 trillion records. Servers for everything from the popular online video game Fortnite to Capital One have fallen prey to hackers. The attacks have exposed a wealth of personally identifiable information, including in some cases Social Security and credit card numbers. The need for data security awareness is more important than ever. As a trusted advisor, it’s up to you be someone clients can turn to for answers.

Stay Informed

Oversight agencies are taking the increase in data breaches very seriously, especially as it pertains to the financial industry. Advisors need to stay up to date with any new moves made by the SEC and FINRA regarding the safety of client data. For example, the SEC has made fraud prevention/cybersecurity a top exam priority and will frequently post new risk alerts related to safeguarding client records and personal information.

Be Upfront

Transparency has long been a crucial part of the client-advisor relationship. With the constant threat of cybercrime and data leaks looming overhead, an upfront approach is now more important than ever. This is a lesson software firm Redtail Technology, which develops CRM solutions for advisors, learned the hard way. In March, Redtail discovered a glitch that dumped a file with clients’ personal information online for anyone to download. The company waited more than two months before giving notice to those whose info might have leaked. The time between discovery and disclosure was longer than regulations for all 50 states allow. The leak was caused by an internal error, and not related to an outside hacker, but Redtail’s hesitation could lead to legal issues for the company.

Obviously, advisors with clients affected by the leak were likely unable to sound any alarms until they were notified themselves. However, the Redtail incident highlights the need for advisors to develop their own set of safety protocols and internal policies regarding data protection and how to handle the fallout from a breach.

Protect Yourself

Beyond keeping your business practices regarding personal data in compliance, it’s important to make every effort to safeguard your own information. For one, taking steps to protect yourself is an exercise in common sense and a necessity. As many victims of fraud could attest to, identity and information theft can leave a huge mess to clean up and take months, if not longer, to recover from.

Another benefit of walking yourself through the protection process is the experience yourself. When talking to clients about the why and how of data protection, you’ll be able to speak from a “when the rubber hits the road” perspective. Instead of rambling through a scripted “How To Protect Your Data” spiel, you will be more relatable and credible by sharing your personal experience with the matter.

Extend an Invitation to Educate

Advisors looking for the next consumer engagement opportunity can find one in data protection awareness. As concern over cybersecurity grows, clients and prospects are becoming more receptive to learning how to protect themselves. Call your existing clients and schedule a time to sit down and determine how well they are protected, and what holes need to be filled.

The issue of safeguarding one’s data can also be a good prospecting strategy. With cybersecurity and data breaches in the news on almost a daily basis, it’s become nearly impossible to not think about. This means prospects in your drip list are more likely to open and read an email on the topic. And as a trending topic, SEO and social media campaigns have a higher potential for engagement.

Data protection might not be within the traditional wheelhouse of an advisor, but changing times demand a changing approach. As someone in the finance industry, many consumers probably already consider you a trusted source of advice and assistance. Taking the time to help people safeguard their personal information can lead to a long-term advisor-client relationship rooted in trust and credibility.

Exploring and Overcoming Your Own Bias

We all know that many consumers walk into an appointment with some form of behavioral finance bias. Common forms of these biases include Snake-Bite Effect, Loss Aversion, and Confirmation Bias. No matter how you define them, they can all be tough obstacles to overcome. Seasoned advisors have learned over the years how to both recognize a biased client when they see one, and how to set their mind at ease. That said, some of you might not recognize the obstacles you’re creating for yourself.
Advisors can be just as biased as consumers when it comes to financial products and planning. According to a recent survey by SEI, more than 25% of advisors admitted to being overconfident in their own skills. Another 21% stated that “regret avoidance” has affected the decisions they make when mapping out client’s plan. Are you among those who might be standing in their own way? Spend some time reflecting on any biases you might be bringing to the table.

Overconfidence
As the SEI survey revealed, advisors who are a little too sure of themselves are also those causing the biggest problems for themselves. While confidence is an invaluable asset, overconfidence can often be interpreted as arrogance. This can lead to hastily made recommendations that don’t fully account for the client’s unique situation. After all, it worked for the last person, why wouldn’t it work for the next? As great as that sounds, we all know it isn’t true. For the client, an overconfident advisor can come across as driven more by making the sale than meeting their needs. This is a great way to help your competition land the client you’ve been working so hard to convert. If this sounds like a familiar situation, take your foot off the gas pedal. Using an approach that combines active listening, probing skills and a soft touch will help overcome overconfidence.

Under-Confidence
This one is obviously at the opposite end of the spectrum. Referred to in the survey as regret avoidance, and similar to the snake-bite effect that many clients carry, an under-confident advisor will often second-guess themselves into losing the client. This often stems from a string of recommendations that don’t pan out as well as they should have. It’s natural to keep swinging for the fences, but easy to forget that even Babe Ruth struck out on occasion. When stuck in a rut, consider ways to break out of your own box. Dedicate time to reading industry-related articles, product updates, and marketing tips for a dose of inspiration. Colleagues who are willing to share their insight can also help refresh your mindset and get you back on track. An even better source can be found at the FMO you partner with (or should be partnering with). Most importantly, keep in mind that you’ve had success in the past and will have success again. Everyone gets stuck in a rut from time to time. The key to getting yourself is to remain confident in your own abilities.

Generational Bias
This can be a difficult bias to recognize and even harder to overcome for some advisors. Seasoned advisors might have years of experience in creating long-term strategies for young families. The flipside of that experience is that you’re getting older, but those new families and prospects you’ve become so used to working with stay the same age. Over time, you might notice a growing disconnect between you and those prospects. Each new generation enters the “real world” with its own set of values, needs, and situations. These might be vastly different from those you adhere to, making it easy to get out of step with your target market. Some of you might prefer to age with your target market, which is all well and good. However, Millennials now make up the largest portion of the American workforce and will inherit the largest transfer of wealth ever. Is this really a ship you want to abandon? Probably not. An open mind and a little research can go a long way toward bridging the generational gap that divides you and a new crop of long-term clients.

Have you unintentionally been carrying any of the biases listed above? Or maybe you’re dealing with one we haven’t explored here. If so, what sort of bias-born obstacle are you dealing with and how are you trying to overcome it? We’d love to hear your story. And might even be able to offer some advice. Drop us a line and we’ll talk about it.

How FaceApp and Life Insurance Intersect

What started as a celebrity-fueled trend is quickly becoming another focal point in the ongoing conversation about privacy in the digital era. Even those living under a rock are struggling to escape the FaceApp craze. The mobile photo-editing app that uses AI-driven biometric tech to render realistic transformations of faces has been downloaded by more than 100 million people on the Google Store alone and ranks #1 with Apple users. A few days after we all started using the app to post digitally-aged selfies, the privacy concerns emerged.

The integration of biometric tech into our mobile devices (among other facets of our daily lives) is nothing “new,” at least in technological terms. The facial recognition software that powers FaceApp is also used to unlock our mobile devices, aid law enforcement, and is being tested by the service and retail industry for enhanced consumer experience. We can include the insurance industry into the growing list of those getting in on the action.

As covered in a previous edition of Marketing Corner, insuretech company Lapetus Solutions in 2017 rolled out a software platform that makes use of facial recognition and biometrics for several insurance-related purposes. The platform is designed to not only boost security and prevent fraud, but can reportedly determine the longevity, health, and overall risk of a policy applicant. By scanning the image of an applicant’s face, the software creates a profile based on biological, physical, genetic, and behavioral information. This data is intended to give insurance carriers a comprehensive assessment of the applicant’s life expectancy and mortality risk. For the consumer, this can streamline the application process by foregoing a trip to the doctor, and instead use a selfie and questionnaire. As recently as two years ago, the platform was in the “coming soon” stage. Today, it’s here.

Legal & General was the first carrier to implement the software into their Term Life application process. The company’s “SelfieQuote” service was launched in order to estimate age, gender, and BMI in order to provide a quick and easy life insurance quote. The carrier’s website states that the self-quoting experiment is in beta testing phase. However, the actual selfie submission portal is not currently online.

That said, the selfie quote is becoming a reality for insurers. The simplicity and affordability are undoubtedly a selling point for younger consumers, who tend to jump headfirst into emerging tech, and favor apps over websites. However, the privacy concerns surrounding facial recognition software could be another life insurance objection for agents to overcome, especially when dealing with baby boomers and at least a portion of Gen-Xers. Millennials, stereotypically known for taking and posting selfies for just about any occasion, are much more likely to snap another for a life insurance quote.

It’s important for agents and advisors to think about the pros and cons of selfie-quoting technology. The chances are high that we’re only a few years away at most from this becoming commonplace, so it might benefit you to get a little insight before that happens. Next time you’re sitting with a client, find a way to work the topic into your conversation. Getting a sense of how your target market feels about the technology will help you prepare for the day it joins your current list of products and services.

Should You Manage Your Own Website?

A website is among the most valuable marketing tools an agent or advisor has at their disposal. As the “digital face” of your brand, this is typically where consumers will come to form their first impression of your business and the value you can provide. Because most people will only spend a couple of minutes browsing your pages before moving on, it’s vital that your site looks professional, is easy to navigate, and gives a clear overview of everything you offer. Anything less will likely be a bigger asset to your competition than to you.

There are three key ingredients that go into creating a well-designed website – time, effort, and money. The process usually starts when you take out the credit card to purchase a domain name and hosting services. Then come the hours you can spend and work that goes into crafting content, such as service overviews, your professional credentials, and general information about your business. Once that’s all covered, it’s time to put it all together and click publish. Simple enough, right? It is if you moonlight as a web designer, but most advisors are more focused on finances than they are coding and layout.

Sure, there are plenty of services available that provide cheap and easy ways to “get your website online in minutes.” As great as this sounds, these are often generic alternatives offering limited functionality and design options. The end result is usually a bland website that does little to set your site apart from others using these services. Today’s consumers value experience when visiting a website. First impressions are often based on the “wow factor” of your site. The actual content featured on your pages is secondary to the overall look and feel of the site.

Although drag-and-drop builders and templates have improved over the last couple of years, there are still a few things to consider before locking yourself into a long-term plan with one of these services. You want prospects to believe that you stand apart from other advisors, right? This starts with a website that promotes brand identity. In other words, if you don’t look any different than the competition, consumers won’t think you’re any different. Because many templates are built with specific businesses and industries in mind, chances are good that the advisor down the street is using the same one you just bought. And, because of service agreements, your site’s hosting, its content, and even its domain may be scuttled if you decide to go somewhere else. In short, even though you paid for your site and put effort into it, you do not truly own it. Many FMOs that provide marketing function this way as well.

Going back to the time factor, how many hours can you put each week toward your site? You have business to write, clients to meet with, prospects to engage, and a laundry list of administrative duties to keep up with. Most independent agents and advisors can’t afford to put things on hold to focus on maintenance and posting fresh content. And what happens if your site goes down? Can you stop everything in the middle of the day for a lengthy phone call with tech support?

Many independents have come to rely upon the services of a professional web developer. While this comes with added expenses, hiring a team to manage your online presence is often a worthwhile investment. This will not only provide you with a site that is customized to your brand and services, it will help keep things up-to-date and running smoothly. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about spending time building temporary landing pages when promoting a specific product or seminar.

For those working in the financial industry, it’s important to have a team that understands your business and services. Many web design firms cast a broad net and develop sites for a variety of different businesses. They might not have the insight needed to craft content tailor-made for your target market. For many, partnering with a quality FMO is the best solution, but again, this can come with locking an agent into service level agreements. This is why Legacy Financial Partners strives to provide top-tier digital and web services. Our creative team is able to create customized and fluent websites, that not only look and feel professional but include content made to engage prospects. And you own it. Beyond your website, our digital services include SEO, microsite design, social media, email campaigns, and more. Learn more about how we can help amplify your digital presence here.