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Technology : the opportunities to innovate don’t lack for advisers, say insurers and MGA

by

Alain Castonguay

January 30, 2018 07:00

Michel Kirouac, James McMahon, Peter Vincent, and Stéphane Rochon | Photo : Réjean Meloche

Many financial advisors see technology as a threat to their livelihood. They should not, said of insurers and general agents during a panel held at the Conference of the insurance and the investment.

Simplification of the compliance requirements of compliance. Automation of tasks. Scanning of the proposals. Presence on the Internet and on social networks. Growth opportunities do not fail for financial advisors who want to take advantage of the innovations to come, underlined the participants of this panel.

Michel Kirouac, vice-president and general manager of the Group-Cloutier, gives the example of the system ofAPEXA as use of the technology that can simplify the life for a consultant. He pointed out that APEXA looks like the model of the national Database registration (NRD) securities, where the information regarding the adviser is included, as well as its licence number, insurance liability, etc

«The principle is not bad. Is that enough for the needs of the compliance, to check if his work has been well done ? I don’t think, » he says. Just as James McMahon, president of the Quebec region in Group financial Horizons, he finds that the pricing requested by APEXA insurers and general agents need to be » refined «.

For his part, Pierre Vincent, executive vice-president, individual insurance in iA financial Group, estimated that the vast majority of advisors do a great job with their customers. Those who have a long career have been able to adequately serve their clients, he insists.

The arrival of the robots-advisers is inevitable, acknowledges James McMahon. It is important to entrust the work for the convenience products that are sold most commonly by advisors. He cited the example of the platform HuGO.

«It was two years ago, it didn’t exist. Today, most insurers offer a mobile app. It allows the adviser to supplement the application with the customer, » he says.

The benefits of digitization

Scanning speeds up the processing of proposals and reduces the need for input data at the intermediary, the wholesaler and the manufacturer. «The technology makes things easier. It is necessary to automate our processes. But it will not change the substantive work of the advisor, » says Mr. McMahon. The advisor is a contractor and he has to invest to provide a means of staying connected with the customers and suppliers, » he adds.

The advisor must equip itself to do its work, manage its records, to market his name on the different platforms and social networks, etc, «smart technologies, regardless of whether they come from the insurers or other service provider, it doesn’t matter,» says Stéphane Rochon, president and ceo ofHumania Assurance. Even his dentist has digitized the x-rays taken over the past 21 years, » he says. In comparison, it is inconceivable that some advisers do not use a system of management of relations with clients (CRM) and wander around, still with a big stack of documents.

«Technology issues for the advisor, it touches me. This is why we have created HuGo. This is why we need the common vision of the insurer, the MGA, and broker, ultimately. The insurer must make an independent broker in terms of technology. It is urgent. «To make this technological shift is no longer an option, he insists.

The representatives of the network as a captive have the support of the insurers. Is it that the independent consultant can expect support of his general agent to increase its presence on the Internet and on social networks ? «This is one of our roles. We are doing it. We offer several options to the counselor, » notes James McMahon.

«The adviser should be aware of this. It is not required to be good in all of these activities. They are told : “there are six ways to distribute the product, if you are not good for three of them, to be at least excellent for the other three.” It is important to be aware of it, » said Michel Kirouac.

A job that is more demanding

The job of a councillor is becoming more demanding. In iA, stresses Pierre Vincent has created a team of 25 people specialized in the analysis of data, to assist the advisors to be present at the appropriate time to serve the needs of customers. «The advisor who has 2,000 customers, how many times the contact there each year ? «, he asks.

The computing division of the insurer already has 600 employees. It recruits all the time, because the needs are growing. The insurer must provide the tools to help its advisor to better serve the customer. «We want to remove the paper so that the advisor can focus on the needs of the customer,» says Mr Vincent.

Michel Kirouac confirms that the general agent has the same responsibility, and should offer the appropriate solutions to the needs of the advisor and his client. «It is necessary to support the sales force,» he said.

Recent studies show that the automation of the tasks will disappear a large part of the business. The financial advisor is among the most threatened. «We must adapt, otherwise it will not pass through. The best solution for this, it is the board. The advisors are good at it. They take care of the council. As general agents, we take care of the papers and techno, » says James McMahon.

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