Ensuring all clients get the proper wealth planning products is no small effort. It takes a team of professionals who have their clients’ best interests in mind. One key player is the wholesaler.
Wholesalers help provide advisors with the resources they need to fulfill clients’ needs, and can be an essential asset. With that in mind, LIMRA recently conducted a survey examining the wholesalers’ role in getting the proper products to advisors and, ultimately, the client. The financial services research company surveyed 900 financial professionals representing independent insurance, independent broker-dealer, wirehouses/mega-bank and regional bank/broker-dealer distribution to learn more about the relationship between wholesalers and financial professionals.
Prevalence of wholesalers
According to LIMRA’s findings, the use of wholesalers by financial professionals is pervasive. At least 97% of wirehouses, regional banks and independent broker-dealers engage with wholesalers who represent either product manufacturers or intermediaries like broker-dealers.
As one advisor told LIMRA, wholesalers are an important piece of the puzzle.
“I think that they are an essential part of actually helping us build our business, because if I didn’t have them bringing new and different ideas to our practice, I might continue to have sold [just] bonds and made a little bit doing that,” the advisor explained to LIMRA. “They have expanded our business a lot more by adding life insurance and long term care and those sorts of things that I might have overlooked, or not gotten around to as quickly.”
The importance of wholesalers is reflected in the numbers. When financial professionals were asked a variety of questions, they indicated that these partners brought important qualities to the table. For example, 64% of professionals indicated that annuity wholesalers are equipped with the skills and knowledge required for expanding their retirement income planning services. Fifty-four percent pointed to the support of wholesalers as a critical element for their success.
Financial professionals: Changing the look of sales
As the LIMRA study found, the days of wining and dining clients are over. As such, it’s important for financial professionals to take a step back and reevaluate their sales techniques. They are now dealing with clients who have access to much of the same information as the professionals themselves.
“As that information advantage has withered, so has the power it once conferred,” said Daniel Pink, author of best-selling book To Sell Is Human. “As a result, the ability to move people now depends on power’s inverse: understanding another person’s perspective.”
With that in mind, LIMRA rolled out the new ABCs of selling, departing from the “Always Be Closing” slogan of days past:
- A – Attunement: The ability to bring one’s actions into harmony with other people and within your current context.
Instead of approaching clients with a “must-sell” mentality, primarily financial professionals of all kinds should keep the fact that they are there to provide a service at the forefront of their mind. Both financial professionals and wholesalers should harmonize their selling styles to present a united front for clients.
- B – Buoyancy: The ability to confront an “ocean of rejection.”
Though much about sales techniques have changed, it is still selling products at its core. And that means rejection is simply a part of it. Successful financial professionals have the ability to bounce back from rejection and move on to the next.
- C – Clarity: The capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems (i.e. opportunities) they didn’t realize they had.
Not only are financial professionals tasked with advising their clients on the best products for their situation, but they also need to make sure those clients understand what they are providing them and why it’s important.