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by Troy Korsgaden and Greg Smith on Apr 26, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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It Pays to Be a Trusted Advisor

Thanks to new technologies, the insurance industry is a daunting new world, but some things will not change: There will always be claims, service issues and milestones in a client’s life. The Trusted Advisor will be there to help them navigate through the digital age.

It Pays to Be a Trusted Advisor By Troy Korsgaden and Greg Smith

 

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Even in these high-tech times, nearly everybody who purchases an online policy still reaches out to a Trusted Advisor.

 

At the risk of dating ourselves, we recently thought about the changes we’ve seen in the insurance industry over the last ten, twenty or even thirty years. In the early ’80s when we first started, this was a different industry. Not only were there fewer products to offer, consumer patterns were also different. We often hear this era described as the "heydays" of insurance, and in some ways, it was.

 

People were purchasing more, which meant they had more to protect. Consumer optimism steadily grew throughout the ’90s. But at the turn of the century, there was an obvious shift in the marketplace, and by the crash of 2008, the consumer mindset had forever changed. People didn’t just change their purchasing styles—they also became increasingly skeptical about their purchases.

 

But thanks to rapidly changing technology in the marketplace, consumer confidence isn’t just returning—it is also becoming more independent. Now almost any transaction can be conducted through the screen of a smartphone. Despite these rapid changes and the consumer’s ability to adapt, our industry has been slow to keep pace with other competitive industries. This shouldn’t concern the local Trusted Advisor, however; instead, it can be viewed as the unlimited opportunity for growth with our clients.

 

The Need For Trusted Advisors

When we were first trained in insurance sales, we learned how to quote and present every line of insurance, though it didn’t take long for us to realize that a single-line transaction to the client wasn’t the best way to do business.

 

People don’t just want to be on the end of a business transaction. When it comes to insurance, costumers want to know their options, but they also want a professional who can help them decide the best way to protect their family or business—and that requires somebody they can trust.

 

Conversely, we don’t just want to sell the "hottest" product of the month. We want to be Trusted Advisors and to protect our clients with the coverage that best protects their personal and professional needs. If you want to survive and thrive in this industry, you must have a complete view and understanding of the households and businesses you serve, which will earn you the trust required to add more products and services that meet the need of each of your clients.


We provide our clients with financial resilience and represent the first defense against a later loss.

We wholeheartedly believe that the multiline field has never been more advantageous. It’s staggering to think about the number of clients that we reach every day. If we don’t see them face-to-face, we talk to them by phone, text, video chat and even via social media.

 

When we take a comprehensive view of the households and businesses that we interact with every day, we immediately realize how many more products and services can be added. It is necessary to the growth and vitality of an agency to capitalize on each of these interactions. Moving forward, these are the clients we should offer complete family and business protection, as well as life insurance.

 

Catering To the Online Consumer

So, what about the emerging group of people who prefer to do everything online? The industry buzz predicts that online purchasing will replace the need for insurance agencies and advisors, but we’ve been around long enough to know this: Don’t buy into the hype. In the late ’90s and early 2000s, the buzz was that banks and financialservice companies were going to replace insurance agencies and advisors with their toll-free numbers and online and ATM services. Guess what? They didn’t. And neither will new technology replace the Trusted Advisor.

 

Recently at a cocktail party, an older gentleman approached me and asked, "You’re in insurance, right?" He wanted to know if his life insurance policy, which he purchased through a toll-free number, was the right one for him. This was an educated man who did his research; yet, he still sought the second opinion of a professional. Even in this digital age—when consumers are younger and more tech-savvy than ever—we find that nearly everybody who purchases an online policy also reaches out to a Trusted Advisor. Nobody wants to be wrong.

 

The Trusted Advisor's Job

Armed with this knowledge, we must remember that we provide our clients with financial resilience, and represent the first defense against a later loss. But this also means we will be judged on our ability to think, imagine, predict and provide the right protection for unfortunate events that might occur. But the truth remains: Most clients cannot do this without a Trusted Advisor.

 

This is where our job as Trusted Advisors takes center stage. We need to preempt the purchasing transaction by communicating directly with our clients to understand their individual needs. Whether your agency or firm serves a thousand households or four thousand, as Trusted Advisors, we must let our clients know that we stand by them, embrace their unique purchasing style and ultimately defer to their needs. We will guide them through the entire decision-making process, and more importantly, when they need us the most.

 

Thanks to new technologies, the insurance industry is a daunting new world, but some things will not change: There will always be claims, service issues and milestones in a client’s life. The Trusted Advisor will be there to help them navigate through the digital age.

 

Troy Korsgaden began his career as an agent in 1983. He is currently a Carrier Consultant in North America and internationally. Greg Smith started his career with Farm Bureau in 1983 as an agent. He is currently the Senior Sales Director, Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan.

 

This article appeared in Advisor Today

 

Topics: Sales