Life agents: This isn't 1776

By Corey Dahl

LifeHealthPro


I spent part of last week attending the LIMRA/LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services in Boston, and when I wasn’t listening to sessions, I was out exploring the city — and setting a few goals.

Like, for one, let's bring back fanny packs. My shoulder is still sore from hiking the entire Freedom Trail with my camera-heavy purse. Secondly, I’d like Colorado to fix its no-ocean problem. So, please get on that, Governor Hickenlooper.

But most importantly, I want to take our entire industry for a field trip to downtown Boston. The area is such an amazing blend of new and old, the kind of place where you can walk down a street full of office-filled skyscrapers and end up at a meeting house formerly frequented by Founding Fathers. Outside of Boston, it’s not often you find suited businessmen, soda-slurping tourists and a handful of colonial re-enactors happily mingling. (Or, I mean, it's not for me, anyway. If that's an everyday occurrence for you, well, congrats. Your life is way cooler than mine.)

It seems Boston, at least from this outsider’s perspective, has found a way to honor and preserve its past without embalming its future. And that’s a goal all life insurance agents should be striving for these days.

Because, let’s face it, if the life insurance industry were a town, it wouldn’t be historic-meets-modern Boston. It would be one of those living history towns, where the community’s 20 residents still wear bonnets, churn butter and say things like “thou” and “tomfoolery.” Life Insurance Ville would be a popular stop for bored traveling families in need of a good stretch and a good laugh before hopping back on the highway — on their way to Boston.

That’s not to say agents have to change completely. No one wants to raze the Old North Church to make room for an Apple store, and no one wants life insurance agents to lose sight of this industry’s key foundational principles. Relationships, communication, outreach — they’re all just as, if not more so, important than ever. It’s just the manner in which you do everything — snail mailing, knocking on doors, dialing phone numbers — that needs an update.

Today’s consumers, whether they’re in the market for DVDs or life insurance, are online and, more than likely, on social media. Insurance agents need to be there, too, doing the same things they always have — meeting and informing people. “If you’re good at building relationships, at the end of the day, that’s all you’re doing,” said Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics” and a presenter at the conference. “You’re just using these tools to continue to do that.”

If you’ve been on the fence about adopting social media, consider this: a LinkedIn study presented at the conference found that 91% of high net-worth investors are using social media. More than half of them said they’d like to connect with their advisor on one or more of those networks, yet only 4 percent were actually doing so.

And if that doesn’t sell you, consider this: that mass of diverse people I encountered while walking downtown Boston? It was rare to find any of them — yes, even the colonial re-enactors — not constantly checking Facebook or text messages on their smartphones.

Of course, it’s not easy to modernize. I’m sure there are tons of challenges to building skyscrapers in downtown Boston, and there are many hurdles — especially when it comes to compliance — for agents and advisors using social media. But many of the presenters at the conference assured us clearer guidelines are imminent, and, in the meantime, there seems to be no shortage of third-party providers, like Hearsay Social and Socialware, available to help.

“If there are certain hurdles, it can be frustrating,” Qualman told the conference crowd. “But I always say, if you’re not getting pushback, you’re not pioneering.”

Our Founding Fathers could probably agree with that.

Originally published on LifeHealthPro.com