tech trends

Technology & Social Media: Are Advisors Really Plugged In?

Overall Landscape Is Bleak in Life Insurance Advisor Smartphone and Tablet Resources Arena

New research from Corporate Insight’s Life Insurance Monitor. Reprinted with permission. Visit here.

November 2, 2016 — Today, users expect to be able to perform every task, transaction and function on a mobile device that they can on a traditional desktop computer.

For life insurance financial professionals, this means the ability to generate life insurance quote or needs analysis, run an illustration and access pertinent sales and marketing materials on their smartphone phone or tablet.

Life Insurance Monitor last addressed this topic in June 2014. While a few firms now feature revamped advisor sites with responsive design, distressingly little has changed since then in terms of advisor-focused smartphone and tablet resources.

Apple’s launch of the iPhone 7 in September represents nearly a decade of advancement and breakthroughs in smartphone and tablet technological offerings since the first iPhone was released in June 2007. Unfortunately, Life Insurance Monitor firms are not tapping into this innovative environment.

Although the use of responsive design is clearly on the rise, by and large, Life Insurance Monitor firms are not equipping their advisors with sufficient smartphone and tablet resources. Of the nine firms in our advisor site coverage set, only two—John Hancock and Pacific Life—offer apps that provide access to relevant resources. MassMutual does provide an app for advisors, but it is only focused on keeping them up to date on firm news like product releases, sales campaigns and conferences.

Surprisingly, no firms in our coverage group have any apps available for Android devices, a clear deficiency given that 53% of all smartphone devices are Android. Firms need to drive their business into the 21st century by equipping their advisors with smartphone and tablet resources that will allow them better generate new business, even when they are working remotely. The relative dearth of these offerings was disappointing.

Responsive Design Eliminates Need for Apps and Can Ease Security Concerns

The use of responsive web design ensures that users can view the same content across their desktop, smartphone and tablet devices, allowing advisors to access their sales and new business resources easily regardless of what device they are using. Life Insurance Monitor sees firms trending toward responsive design rather than releasing new apps: Although no new apps were released since our July 2014 report, responsive design was most recently introduced on MetLife’s MetLifePro advisor site in February 2016, and Principal added the feature in 2015. This trend toward responsive design is reflective of patterns in other industries tracked by Corporate Insight. In fact, Google recommends responsive design for all smartphone website implementations.

Not only does responsive design streamline browsing across multiple devices, it can also eliminate the need for a separate app.

Not only does responsive design streamline browsing across multiple devices, it can also eliminate the need for a separate app. Apps are superfluous if advisors can access sales materials and new business tools like illustrations in a fluid design.

The biggest concern for firms providing information exclusively for financial professionals is security. Security and login issues may be harder to navigate on an unfamiliar app than they are on the same site that advisors are used to doing business on. For example, John Hancock combats security concerns by requiring advisors to login every time they load an app, which can prove frustrating given the tendency of tablet users to have multiple apps open at once. All of the firms analyzed in this report require producers to enter their online account username and password or verify that they are a licensed professional to access the smartphone or tablet sales resources.

Existing Advisor-Focused Smartphone and Tablet Resources Are Poorly Promoted

Firms that devote the time, money and assets to develop smartphone- and tablet-focused resources need to take the next step and ensure that the capability is well-promoted and easily accessible. If advisors are unaware of an available app, they do not stand to benefit from its features. Therefore, firms with apps for advisors should actively promote them through banners, links and images on their desktop advisor site. Further, when firms launch new or updated smartphone offerings, they should aggressively market the new resources and encourage advisors to download them.

The majority of Life Insurance Monitor firms do a poor job of promoting their smartphone and tablet resources for advisors. Firms with apps seem to presume advisors can easily locate the app through a search in the App Store. This is a dangerous assumption since advisors might not think to visit the app store on the off chance their firm has an app not promoted on the advisor site. Firms can eliminate uncertainty by clearly promoting any apps they offer on the advisor site homepage. Among firms in our coverage group, Prudential does the best job of promoting its smartphone and tablet resources for advisors by linking its Smartphone Toolkit in the Grow Your Business section on the advisor homepage.

Firms Provide Smartphone and Tablet Resources across Different Platforms

While firms should ideally provide advisors with multiple ways to access pertinent product, sales and marketing materials remotely, they vary in whether they offer these resources through an app, a fully responsive advisor site or a smartphone/tablet friendly site. Nearly half—44%—of firms feature a smartphone-friendly advisor site while 33% boast a fully responsive advisor portal. Only 22% provide apps for advisors. John Hancock and Pacific Life go the extra mile and provide advisors with both a smartphone-friendly advisor site and advisor apps. John Hancock is the only firm in our coverage groups to feature multiple apps, offering three.

Read the entire report here.