Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

24 most creative people in insurance

Insurance is an industry that depends upon data to accurately assess and manage risk. It is inherently a cautious business — and slow to change, many would add. But it is also a business designed to problem-solve, to engineer, to market and sell customized solutions to a consumer base that needs its products more than ever. At a moment of enormous opportunity, this industry is poised to deliver the innovative products the public is demanding. While they’re at it, thought leaders are embracing new technologies and distribution models that make buying insurance not only necessary, but also easy.   

In the midst of what is arguably the most creative era insurance has seen, we present 24 innovators who are leading the charge in product development, underwriting, marketing strategy, research, and sales distribution. 

NOLAN BAKER NOLAN BAKER
Co-Founder, Retirement Guys Network

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
NB:
My parents, who were business owners themselves, taught me at an early age that I could either be the man or work for the man. When I turned 18, I knew that my dream was to build my own business just like my parents. So just one month after my 18th birthday, I got my insurance license. I’ve been in the business over 20 years now.

This valuable lesson from my parents laid the foundation that has given me the strength and guidance to be a successful business owner. Together with my partner, Mark Clair, we’ve established the Retirement Guys complete retirement resource center where we service over 400 clients. Our office provides a comprehensive retirement planning process and insurance plays a key role. This retirement planning process has three steps: (1) Investment Planning, (2) Asset Preservation and (3) Estate Legacy Planning.  As you can imagine, each of these steps involves a great deal of insurance strategy and planning. 

LHP: Describe what you do. 
NB:
I am the Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer of the Retirement Guys Network.  Our mission is to educate all Americans on how to be efficiently independent during retirement time. I, along with Mark Clair, an Estate Planning Attorney, run a comprehensive retirement resource center for families close to, or in, retirement time primarily focused in Northwest Ohio.  Our team consists of over 30 individuals here at the Retirement Resource Center to serve our clients. We also speak on national platforms to fellow financial professionals about up-to-date financial strategies.  We aim for offering a comfortable, education-focused experience when our clients come to visit our 24,000-square-foot complex. We offer four to six client appreciation and educational events each year. 

Our team created and designed The Retirement Guys "Road Map for Success" for our clients to follow.  The "Road Map" helps our clients discover if they are missing any pieces in their retirement planning process.  Words alone can be confusing sometimes, so I find it necessary to think outside of the box and provide this easy to follow educational brochure for our clients. The Retirement Guys Road Map to Success provides an opportunity for them to see the three steps and then figure out on their own what they are missing.  It's not just me verbally telling them what they need to do, but they can see it on the map and then decide on their own as to which path they prefer to take.  

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
NB:
I'm a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. It's one title that I am extremely proud of. In January 2014, we held an event called Protecting What Matters with The Retirement Guys, which featured four speakers. Two of those speakers were Joseph Bowser, Staff Assistant to the Secretary of the U.S. Army and 14-year veteran, and Chad Williams, U.S. Navy Seal and author of the book “Seal of God.” It was an honor to have these two gentlemen share their stories of courage and valor with our clients. We had 280 clients attend the event and it's been one of my proudest moments to date. 

I am also very proud that our company runs an active community commitment campaign where we've partnered with our clients to send over 2,000 pounds of chips, cookies, candy bars and much more to an adopted troop located overseas. We partner with the non-profit organization Adopt-a-Platoon. We’ve been running this campaign now for the past two years and look forward to continuing for many more years to come.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
NB:
Creativity is essential in any business. Whether it's hosting a fun client appreciation event or a large educational workshop, we are always looking for fresh, new ideas to implement. With the rapidly expanding technology age of today, it's crucial to be creative and make learning about the different insurance and financial options fun and informative. 

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
NB: It's always changing. As a Marine I was taught to adapt. I welcome the constant change. It suits my personality well. I enjoy learning about all the new insurance options that may help my clients. The industry really does stay up-to-date and makes the changes necessary to keep up with client needs and wants. I am constantly learning and improving on my industry knowledge. It allows me to use my creative outlet as a columnist, a radio show host and a public show speaker, keeping my clients up-to speed with their options.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
NB:
It’s my opinion that a lot of the common sense principles will still apply. For instance, I feel strongly that diversification will still play a vital role in providing a solid retirement plan. It’s a great idea to protect what matters through insurance and investment planning. I feel someone who plans will most likely have better results than a retiree who does not and leaves the future to chance.   

The industry is growing and evolving right in accordance other industries. I'm looking forward to the challenge of learning about all the changes and then, in turn, sharing it with our family of clients. I believe that the industry will become more regulated with new rules and will force advisors to become better at what they do or choose a different career path. I also believe that the industry will continue to create new and exciting products that will further benefit the public. Luckily, I got into the business at a young age so I'm embracing the change, even welcoming it. I'm thrilled to see how the industry will allow us to provide a more advanced, improved Retirement Guys Road Map for our clients to follow.

MARGIE BARRIEMARGIE BARRIE
National Vice President, 3in4 Need More Association

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
MB:
I started in this industry in 1990. I was a divorced mother of two boys and had recently re-married. My new husband had just started an insurance agency specializing in long-term care insurance.

As a result of my divorce agreement, I was responsible for paying for a significant portion of my sons’ college education. My older son selected an expensive private college, and I had the money put aside for that. When my younger son started looking at Ivy League colleges, I knew I was in trouble. At that time I was president of a small advertising, marketing and public relations agency. Although I was doing pretty well financially, I wasn’t making that kind of money to pay expensive college tuition bills. So I started looking around for a better way to make more money.

I realized — as a result of testing — that sales made sense. And if you combine the health industry, which is always important, with the growing baby boomer population, selling long-term care insurance made sense. Plus, I was helping my new husband with the marketing for his new agency in my spare time. He suggested that I join him — actually come work for him — but that is another story. I realized the unique opportunity that long-term care protection offered and made the decision to move to the LTC industry.

LHP: Describe what you do.
MB:
I have four major focuses:

  1. I recently returned to personal production, and am now doing long-term care planning with LTC Financial Partners.
  2. I am fortunate to be able to use my journalism background in the long-term care area. For 14 years, I have written the monthly column “LTCI Insider” – first for Senior Market Advisor magazine and now for LifeHealthPro. That means every month my column reaches between 40,000 and 80,000 agents.
  3. I have published two books: “50 Ways to Boost Your LTCI Sales” and my new book, “Selling LTCI Today: 46 Ways to Find Clients and Close More Sales.” And, I have started working on my third book.
  4. Other industry activities include serving as the National Vice President of the 3in4 Need More Campaign and National Marketing Coordinator and Master Trainer for the LTCP Designation.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
MB:
I can think of three:

  1. The success of my column “LTCI Insider.” Whenever Senior Market Advisor did a readership survey, my column was always among the top four. It really is a labor of love — I have never gotten paid for writing it … and have never missed a deadline.
  2. Publishing the two books.
  3. Being named as one of the top 10 power people in the industry by Senior Market Advisor.

LHP: Insurance is not recognized as a creative industry. How would you define creativity as it relates to the work you do?
MB:
I presently fulfill my need to be creative by doing the following:

  1. Writing the monthly columns
  2. Public speaking – providing training, speaking at conferences and doing worksite seminars. I’m constantly trying new creative approaches to illustrate how important this protection is.  
  3. Developing marketing plans and strategies to increase my referral business

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
MB:
The emergence of more choices and options for consumers excites me. The growth of hybrid products provides another very important approach to this protection. Also, the number of people who now “get it.” By that I mean the prospects I’m working with and the people I’m speaking to who start nodding their heads when I’m talking about the difficulty of being a caregiver. I too am personally experiencing the caregiving situation. My 93-year-old mother lives 1,000 miles away and has been receiving home health care.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next 10 years?
MB:
That is a very interesting question. At the recent ILTCI conference, much concern was expressed about the viability of this industry. However, if you just look at these simple facts, you will be very positive about the viability and growth of our industry.

  1. The number of baby boomers is significant. 
  2. We are aging.
  3. Many of our parents are still alive, meaning that many of us are experiencing firsthand the caregiving challenge. Nothing makes a person more of a believer in this product than experiencing and observing caregiving up close.

And I must mention the evolution from LTC insurance to LTC planning. We as agents must realize that this broader approach is essential. And I say this from two vantage points: (1) so we can’t be outsold by another agent and — most important — (2) so we can recommend what is best for our clients.

JONATHAN EDELHEIT JONATHAN EDELHEIT
CEO, Medical Tourism Association

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry? 
JE: My family has been in the insurance industry for over forty years, so, following law school, it seemed natural to work for my father’s third-party administration firm where I could utilize my legal skills in contracting and step into a new field at the same time. Our firm was a regional company and although I knew very little about the insurance industry, it was not long before I was driven to innovate. I started creating new and cutting-edge fully-insured and self-funded medical plans. I worked hard, spending the first six months working 12 hours a day calling all over the country to build a strong distribution network for our organization. 

We launched some of the first limited medical plans and corporate wellness plans in the industry and I was the first person to implement medical tourism into self-funded plans. With almost every endeavor through the years, the industry was met with tremendous skepticism, typically not ready to move forward or, not convinced it was the right time. Within a few years, all the skeptics had turned into believers and those innovative benefits and plans we implemented would thereafter become standard in the industry. Our TPA became a top national player, featured in many major publications, including Time Magazine, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Although I have moved in new directions, I’m proud to see my father and brother still running with some of the programs I helped to jumpstart in the industry. 

LHP: Describe what you do. 
JE:
Besides running several large national and global trade associations, I focus on education, training, certification and market penetration for corporate wellness, healthcare reform and medical tourism. I really help try to drive the industry forward, sometimes pulling it forward kicking and screaming. We focus our efforts entirely on professional education and thought leadership in ways these respective industries have never seen; we are always pushing the envelope. 

Hosting about 100 webcasts this year, and publishing about 20 research reports puts us in the unique position to have access to amazing industry leaders and drive the direction of these industries. We have focused a lot of our time on developing channels of education through B2B social media, which is the future of the insurance industry, and now run over 40 niche groups on LinkedIn, reaching over 300,000 members. All the education we do is from case studies of what employers are doing that really works. It’s all about collaborating and bringing people together to share ideas.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
JE: Two achievements I am very proud of, are 1) Creating the first Healthcare Reform Certification and Training in the country and getting the administration to participate in our healthcare reform education, and 2) being the one person who was able to educate the insurance industry on medical tourism and get big carriers and employers to implement and change everyone’s awareness of it, from zero awareness in 2003, to where every single person in the industry is aware of it, and watching it slowly become a standard in employers’ benefit programs and as a part of insurance companies’ programs.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
JE: Totally stepping outside the box and focusing on innovative new benefits and services that I firmly believe in two to three years will be the trend and future of the industry, and that creativity is judged at the time as being “crazy” or too “forward-thinking.” The problem with the insurance industry is people get stuck in the “now.” Agents are trying to survive, employers are just trying to keep costs down, and carriers and insurers are years behind the game.  It’s all about what is totally different and what can be a game changer in lowering costs, increasing outcomes, or which could have a great impact for employers or their employees.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
JE:
Healthcare reform has turned the industry upside down and it has forced innovation in an industry that was stagnating with no innovation. Now everything is about innovation and lowering costs, thinking outside the box, and getting employees engaged. I think most employers and agents don’t even know what’s coming. A lot of people in the industry are focused on the main issues in front of them — copays, deductibles, costs — but this is all going to change. A lot of agents are going to get left behind. Today it’s about being an absolute leader and being on the cutting edge of healthcare reform and knowing what’s coming with employee engagement, corporate wellness and technology. There are so many innovative ideas and programs out there that provide improved care to employees and that lower costs, but no one is even offering them.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
JE:
The next ten years are going to be exciting times, at least for those that embrace cutting edge innovation. mHealth is going to sweep the employer market in the next few years. We are currently helping some big mHealth players do test pilots of their mobile health solutions in employers, to show the costs savings, lower utilization of medical care, and reduction of expensive hospital visits through remote monitoring of at-risk employees. Corporate wellness programs are going to get much more sophisticated, and fitness and nutrition is going to be a big focus of employers going forward, as many look towards the basics of getting employees healthy. In the next two to three years, almost every employer will have a domestic medical tourism program in place, and a good percentage will be sending employees overseas for care. Over the next ten years, technology will also play a role that has not been seen before, as sophisticated new programs are created to enroll employees in benefits and keep them engaged through the year, whether it is their core benefits or voluntary benefits. If agents want to stay in the game, they need to start getting engaged in these new benefits and technologies now.

MARVIN FELDMAN MARVIN FELDMAN
President & CEO, Life Happens

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
MF:
I was born into the industry. I’m second generation, and we have a third generation now as well. While at Ohio State University, I interviewed with IBM, Xerox and other large industries because I wanted to know what other opportunities were out there. But I realized that for the freedom and flexibility that I wanted and the income I thought I was capable of earning, the life insurance industry was where I needed to be. So I graduated on March 16, 1967, I got married to Vicki on March 18 and started work with New York Life on March 27.

LHP: Describe what you do.
MF:
I thoroughly love motivating, teaching and educating agents and advisors about how to do the right thing for their clients — how to help them solve their clients’ problems. That means knowing how to ask proper questions — sometimes disturbing questions — so they can find the right solution with products. And I also think it’s important that they learn that if you do well for your client, you’ll also do well for yourself.

My work at Life Happens is an extension of this as well. I look to provide motivation and inspiration to those in the industry and to be a spokesperson for the consumer media so they understand how well our products work to help people as they increasingly take personal financial responsibility in their own lives.

I also think a lot of people don’t understand what we do as an industry. We create more money for more people than any other industry has at any other point in time. There’s a ripple effect in the economy when a life insurance death claim is paid — the money will circulate in the economy six times. Say an agent has written $100 million in life insurance premium over his or her career; that means $600 million will flow through their community over time. That’s a huge amount of money and good that we create within our communities.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
MF:
On a personal note, I have two beautiful daughters who are extremely successful and four wonderful grandchildren. I taught my daughters the value of money and how to work very hard. I’m extremely proud of my family.

On a work note, I’m proud of a number of things, but two stand out. The first was being asked to serve as the president of the Million Dollar Round Table. The second is winning the John Newton Russell Award. I remember sitting in the audience when my father, Ben Feldman, received it, wondering if I might earn the right to have the same recognition some day. To have that actually happen was truly a great experience.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
MF:
One of the things we have to do as insurance professionals is be aware of clients’ concerns. Sometimes they don’t know they have a problem, or they don’t know there’s a cost efficient solution to their problem. So we have to have the ability to ask disturbing questions, listen well, create a solution that fits their situation and gives them peace of mind. I’ve seen a lot of successful people in this industry who have created superb solutions for clients where people thought none existed. I think that’s amazing creativity.

With Life Happens, we’ve always been leading the industry when it comes to creating the emotional appeal that gets people to purchase life insurance. As agents, as companies, we have to motivate people based on emotion, not numbers or statistics. People rationalize their buying decision with statistics, but if there is no emotional buy-in first, nothing is going to happen. Our Real Life Stories are a prime example of that creativity.

Another area where Life Happens leads the industry creatively is in social media. Millennials and Gen Xers, in many cases, don’t want to be called on the phone or sent an email; they want to get their information through social media. At Life Happens, we’re on the cutting edge with our social media outreach — just check out what we’re doing on Facebook and Twitter, as an example. And the best part is that we’re creating this for agents and companies to use so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
MF:
I have some concerns, which may also be an opportunity. There aren’t enough agents and advisors to take care of the demand that’s out there. The population is increasing and the number of agents is decreasing. That’s a great opportunity for those coming into the industry: an ever-increasing market with fewer people calling on them. In essence, more prospects that need our planning skills and the products we offer.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
MF:
While I think there will always be a place for traditional whole life, there may be a hybrid product that comes on the market in the next five or 10 years that’s going to catch fire, but I don’t know what that is today.

I also think the opportunities for growth are excellent, but are going to require creativity by companies and agents dealing with clients and prospects. We have to listen to what consumers are demanding and respond to those demands. If we don’t listen, react and respond, we’re going to have a problem.

BRIAN GREENBERGBRIAN GREENBERG
President & Owner, TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
BG:
I got started with MetLife Insurance, and I liked it right away because it was entrepreneurial, it had unlimited income potential, and it provided the opportunity to help people. 

LHP: Describe what you do.
BG: I run an online insurance agency and I sell strictly life insurance in all 50 US states, all via my websites. For me, making the transition from traditional sales to selling online was an obvious one: I saw such a big opportunity there. Also, the customers that were buying in this way were by far my favorite customers. They were people that believed in the purchase, that didn’t need to be sold. That’s my belief, that life insurance should be bought and not sold. These were people that were in an immediate position to buy life insurance because of the stage of life they were in, whether they had just had a child or had a death in the family or had gone through some other life change. I wanted to make my business about serving those people.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
BG:
Becoming a member of the MDRT is one of the achievements I’m most proud of. When I started in this industry, it was a goal I set for myself. It took me awhile and I’m very proud to be a member. It’s very meaningful to me. It’s recognition that you are one of the best in your industry and it also lets my customers know that I have very strong ethics.

LHP: How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
BG:
Creativity is inherent to my process of selling insurance. I believe in making products available where people can buy without any sort of sales pressure. To do that I’ve built my website very purposefully — everything from my design to the software I use to my own quoting system that I built from scratch. I’ve spent a long time on this, and I love doing it to create an easier process for the consumer to see all the options out there, and to compare individual policies and insurers to find the best fit for their needs.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
BG:
For me, it’s the move to technology. The industry is changing so it’s exciting to see what companies are going to do to make purchasing insurance easier and quicker. Overwhelmingly, the people I contact are most interested in the no medical exam policies, as well as the policies that can be issued immediately or in days. They’re willing to pay more in premium for the convenience.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years? 
BG:
I foresee the industry moving away from paper application to a paperless system. I also see them taking advantage of online medical records and using these to shorten the underwriting time tremendously, as well as the use of digital applications and digital signatures. I already see the industry moving in this direction, and I know people like it. When people apply for insurance they want to get it done as quickly as possible. They want something done in days, at most weeks. In fact, I think this move toward technology is something that can help solve the massive underinsurance problem that exists in America today. The easier the process, the more people will take advantage of life insurance. I believe it’s the difficult process that keeps many people from getting life insurance that their family can really use.

MARK HANNA MARK HANNA
Chairman & CEO, Hanna Global Solutions

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
MH:
I was 19 years old, in college, working in a men’s clothing store as an assistant manager and a gentleman from Northwestern Mutual was referred to me. He sold me a small $25 premium policy, on the idea that at some point in time — down the road, when I had a family — I would need a life insurance policy.

A year or so later, my mother, who was in the industry (she was the Executive Director of the Orange County, Calif. branch of NAIFA) asked if I would be interested in a career in the life industry when I got out of college. I was an advertising major, and I thought, ‘I’ve bought a life insurance policy; I don’t see why I couldn’t sell one.’ I interviewed at several places, but most weren’t set up to work with someone as young as I was. Only two companies had a possibility for someone still in college; one said I was not cut out for the industry and the other, Pacific Life, offered me a contract as a college agent in their Newport Beach, Calif. office. I was in their office at the same time as Guy Baker, the MDRT president from a few years’ back. Guy was a mentor of mine, as were some of the other producers in the office. I started at the ripe old age of 21, working part-time as a college agent. I graduated in August 1979 and then I started full time. This industry is the only thing I’ve really known since I was 21 years old.

LHP: Describe what you do.
MH:
I had what I consider to be a pretty typical solo practice from 1979 up until 1996 or ‘97, a general life-based practice. I had my securities license; I helped people with their individual life insurance needs; I worked with small businesses on company benefit plans as well as buy-sell and key person insurance needs, and I did a little bit of estate planning.

What happened to change things for me was that in 1992 I was referred to a technology company that was getting started in the Silicon Valley. This was in the very early stages of the dot com bubble; the company was headquartered in India and they were sending over software engineers to the US to fuel the technology boom. They were growing so rapidly that they were not able to keep up with all of the demands on them from an infrastructure standpoint, and we realized that we needed to build what was essentially an HR outsourcing infrastructure. We still work now with that company, which has gone from 50 employees to over 5,000 employees, and because of this relationship we were referred to a number of other high-caliber companies who were opening up offices in the US. What we have now is a really robust employee benefits practice. Each office we oversee is staffed by subject matter experts that really know the market well. We have 50 employees in California and an office in India that has about 60 employees.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
MH:
In 2007, I was Top of the Table Chair for MDRT, and then this last year I was elected to the Executive Committee of MDRT. Professionally, MDRT involvement represents some of my greatest achievements. I’ll be President of the MDRT roundtable in 2016-2017.

The best aspect of the roundtable is not recognition of achievement but the ability to connect with people who are getting the job done all around the world. More than just idea sharing, it’s the benchmarking and the competition and the camaraderie that you feel when you’re part of a bigger group where you’re seeing how each person is building a practice that is unique to them and that is successful.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
MH:
I don’t that that’s a true statement at its core; the truth is insurance is just a tool, like a hammer and chisel are tools, and in the hands of the right person they are used to create a work of art. The way you deliver your solution, the way you massage it and manipulate it to work in a particular situation is the embodiment of creativity. The way you resolve a problem just exactly the right way for the right client is inherently and deeply creative.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
MH:
We’re in a real period of transition right now. We went through a long period that ended around the middle ‘80s where most insurance companies had career agents in the field that was their main form of distribution. A few companies are still in that model, but for the most part, much of the industry has moved into a product manufacturing model. The problem is that the industry isn’t creating enough new professionally trained advisors to deliver the product in the quantities that are needed. A lot of people are retiring and stepping away from the business, so the traditional distribution channel is shrinking in the US. Going forward, I see companies reinvesting in the career sales force, and of course, experimenting with all kinds of different distribution options —mass distribution through Web technologies and distributing their product in new and creative ways. So we’re starting to see a return at the very early stages to an expansion of the recruiting and developing of new professional agents.

And also, I think this is very exciting: We’re an industry where you can work the way you want to work. Everyone has the flexibility to craft a practice that is tailored to his or her market and that works the way they want to sell.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years? 
MH:
I believe there will be increasing pressure on the product development teams to create products that are more consumer-friendly. As insurance companies create products that are more consumer-friendly, agents will need to attach a value to the product that is really clear. Additionally, we might see some of the pressure that we’re seeing in other parts of the world like the UK, New Zealand and Australia where sales by commission for insurance products is heavily regulated.

Also, I believe that the consumer demand for insurance is increasing because more and more people are aware of risk, more and more are recognizing that the stock market doesn’t always go up, and that they will continue getting older and that the normal human experience results in illness and death. Most of this risk can be mitigated or even completely offset by the appropriate planning, but the truth is that the demand is getting bigger and I don’t think the capacity exists anymore to meet that demand. There is simply not enough bandwidth to get to it all, and so there is a great opportunity in the US and around the world for high levels of success in this industry.

CAMERON JACOXCAMERON JACOX
Founder and Managing Partner, InforcePro

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
CJ: My first job was in an insurance brokerage before college. I continued working in the space through college and developed the idea for InforcePro.

LHP: Describe what you do.
CJ: I am responsible for the overall strategic direction and growth of the company with a focus on building our sales and marketing channels. InforcePro is the software platform that knows life insurance. From accessing and completing inforce data feeds to using machine learning to read and audit inforce illustrations without human interaction, it is the ultimate inforce management tool. It permits agents and agencies to draw on a database of contract provisions, rate tables, illustrations, quotes, and logic to manage life insurance books of business. While my work itself has evolved from wearing most hats to wearing fewer, it is still centered around generating new ideas to create more value for our subscribers, building channels and partnerships, and all things related to corporate and investor relations. And even as my role continues to change, we're focused on strengthening our position as the leaders in all things inforce.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
CJ: I am thrilled at our completion of the AuditNow tool. This allows an agent to audit any inforce life policy on the spot from his iPad. He doesn't need to become agent of record to help a client review a policy, he just needs some basic information from their statement. From analysis to quotes, charts and even suggestions for improvement, this thing does it all in about 19 seconds. This changes the game for some of our larger carrier partners who need to give new recruits a tool to prospect, since most folks who will buy insurance already have it.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
CJ: Our industry is old and creativity is required at the deepest level because of the business challenges that come with that age. To push things forward, we must creatively get the most out of the legacy systems used by companies; we must work with existing processes to achieve our goals; we must dig like archeologists to find out how to get disparate pieces of data such as old contract or rate tables; then we must market creatively but with keen knowledge of our market in order to explain the benefits of embracing the change that we're offering. 

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
CJ: Technology. With the Guidewire IPO, private equity and other interest in our space has flourished. The insurance market broadly is therefore attracting, and able to fund, creative start-ups. Start-ups change the way things are done in ways that no one can predict. That's exciting. I'm also excited about the potential of inforce data to help with every macro level problem that the industry faces, from agent succession to declining productivity and recruitment. 

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
CJ: Well the only elements that I can predict are around distribution and inforce data. Distribution will continue on the trajectory set out for it during the creation of the General Agency channel with GAs increasingly consolidating and generating more market power. Through that consolidation process we may also see more carrier involvement. Inforce data will be increasingly liberated. InforcePRO is certainly at the forefront of managing consistent inforce data feeds and enabling greater access to inforce illustrations with fewer tedious manual processes. All of this means the market will respond better to, and show more care for, policyholders, while agents will have more insight into their businesses. The word 'orphan' policyholder will cease to exist.

SARAH J. KAELBERERSARAH J. KAELBERER
Vice President, Business & Estate Advisers, Inc.

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
SJK: Insurance was not a deliberate choice — it was part of what we do, a very important part.  A team is not only as good as its offense; it is often said it is only as good as its defense! That is what insurance is for someone’s financial picture, the defense.  

I started in the operations side putting together the processes to run an exceptionally efficient office. Once I knew the office could run, we tested the limits by moving me into sales. So far so good!

LHP: Describe what you do.
SJK: We serve two markets. We serve business owners by handling their retirement plans, executive benefits and business succession, and we serve individuals through one of our planning processes. It will either be a comprehensive financial planning process or a retirement income distribution process. Naturally, in both markets, insurance is a key component.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
SJK: I really don’t like to spend a lot of time looking backwards … it is usually not nearly as productive or exciting. But if I must, I would say I am especially proud of the processes we have built that have grown our business. I don’t consider this a past accomplishment though as it must continue to evolve and adapt as the clients and industry evolve.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
SJK: Oh, I love it when people think that! I think the people that say that do not truly understand the power of this tool! Insurance is for more than protecting your loved ones or your business. That is a good start, but there is so much more! It can be a legacy tool like no other! To steal a little from Tom Hegna, if properly designed, insurance can create an annuity death benefit payout on a grandchild’s birthday giving them a birthday present each year after grandma and grandpa are gone. You can create a cash accumulation policy for education funding for kids or grandkids, and if you die before they start college — well, it’s self-completing. You can use whole life as a “conservative” allocation in a low interest rate environment when rates are expected to rise. You can multiply your dollars for a charity hoping for future endowment dollars. It can support your long term care needs if you have the right riders. I look at this like painting: There may be only three primary colors, but if I know how to mix them, I can make a whole rainbow.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
SJK: The ever-changing nature [of the business]. It is never the same — different companies, different products, different uses. And when we start with the client objectives and then look at the various tools and ways to use the tools, it is never the same. Each day is a new challenge!

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
SJK: Unfortunately, I think regulations and taxes will make these programs less attractive as time goes on. The complexity may have young people more reluctant to join the business, which is unfortunate. Insurance may get lost in the sizzle of money management, which we have seen before. Which will be sad as that will bring us more to a reversion of insurance simply for the protection aspect. I am hopeful groups like AALU, NAIFA and MDRT continue to assist in keeping our industry creative, nimble and strong.

KARAN KANODIA KARAN KANODIA
Lead Operations Analyst & Co-founder, InforcePro

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry? 
KK: I have always been in the finance industry. I initially started out on the investment side analyzing securities and managing money. However, my real interest has been in technology. As I learned about the sluggishness in innovation in insurance tech, I decided to take up this challenge head on.  

LHP: Describe what you do. 
KK: I spearhead the InforcePro product development cycle. That includes managing a team of very talented software developers and business analysts. In addition to that, Cameron Jacox and I drive the overall strategy, finance and investor relations for InforcePro. 

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of. 
KK: Raising our most recent investment round from a fund led by John Hancock's Financial Network former CEO. Buy-in from an experienced industry veteran such as him has opened many doors for us and positioned us better to accelerate change in the insurance industry. 

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do? 
KK: I see us focused on solving the 'data' problem for this industry. Personally, most of my time is spent on working with our technology team to develop intelligent systems that can read and analyze data from various sources. I see that as immensely creative, as the data sources almost always are not electronically structured, so our technology has to be truly intelligent in order to do its job effectively. 

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today? 
KK: Liberation of data! For decades, carriers have treated data as their prerogative. That liberation has already happened in other financial services sectors, such as banking. I see that change coming in insurance, as well. This will result in an outburst of all kinds of technology companies who will add significant value to all stakeholders of the insurance industry.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years? 
KK: I think the next four to five years will be about liberation and standardization of data. InforcePro is accelerating this. Once that's done, I see an era of rapid innovation engulfing the industry, mainly due to the plethora of opportunities that will suddenly open up. Think about the investment industry. There is massive tech with both the security creators and the security consumers. On the insurance side, almost all advanced tech is with the insurance product creators. The next decade will be about the product consumers and distributors. 

ROBERT A. KERZNERROBERT A. KERZNER, CLU, ChFC
President & CEO; LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, Inc.

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
RAK: Actually, when I finished college I said I would do anything but sell life insurance. But I had an offer from The Hartford, which had a different business model to sell life insurance. We called on established P&C agents who had great relationships with business owners and affluent clients. I was able to have access to great clients and talk about estate and business planning solutions at a very young age. I rose through the ranks of field and corporate management, culminating as EVP and head of the individual life division of Hartford Life.

LHP: Describe what you do.
RAK: Today I lead the largest research and education industry trade association in the world. Part of my job is to meet with leaders in our member companies, sharing industry trends and insights and helping them leverage our research to develop strategies to achieve their business goals. I am also reaching out to legislators, regulators and other policymakers to present them with the facts our research has uncovered to help them make informed decisions, based on facts. Because we conduct unbiased research, we have found these groups respect the research we do and value the information we offer. In the same way, we offer our research to the media to help inform and educate consumers about the financial risks they face and the steps they should take to attain financial security throughout their life.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
RAK: In 2008, we were able to merge two established, highly-regarded organizations (LIMRA and LOMA) and transform into an association, which our members say is innovative, relevant and invaluable to them. We revamped our research program to focus on the topics, issues and trends that matter most in today’s market. We moved LOMA’s educational program from textbooks to a robust eLearning platform, which our members say is a more convenient and cost-effective way to train their staff.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
RAK: Creativity is seeing a world that doesn’t currently exist and identifying what it will take to get there. LIMRA and LOMA help drive industry creativity by providing the knowledge we have learned through our research and applying it to disciplines in ops, field and marketing. Our goal is that company leaders leverage our research and education and apply it to their strategies for the future.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
RAK: I am more excited than I have been in years. Following the economic crisis, there was little innovation happening in the industry but over the past nine to 12 months I have witnessed a significant shift in companies’ focus; they are looking at how they can innovate, improve and grow. We are seeing companies develop tools to help producers materially improve productivity. There are companies designing insurance products that will be more attractive to producers who have not typically focused on selling life products — things like simplified issue products, hybrid products, etc. We are seeing creative initiatives to attract Millennials to begin a career in our industry. And companies are exploring new distribution channels to complement traditional distribution to reach more Americans, which our research shows is more needed than ever.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
RAK: The industry will substantially change and grow over the next 10 years. There will be fewer players and those that are still in the market will focused in targeted spaces and aggressively compete in those markets. Interest in accumulation and de-accumulation products will increase as the retirement market continues to become more important to our industry. Developing new sources of distribution will be critical and we will see broader, innovative approaches to reach consumers. The life business will be heavily influenced by simplified issue products and more prominent use of big data, predictive analytics and easier to access medical records to streamline the business, lower costs and increase efficiencies.

MINDY LAMONT MINDY LAMONT
Founder & CEO, The Insurist

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
ML:
I got in to the industry by accident and stayed on purpose. I was moving to San Diego and was pointed towards a job with a major carrier. And then I got the job. And then I realized I had no clue what I was doing. So I spent the first two weeks scared of my own shadow thinking someone was going to figure out I had no clue what I was doing. And then I spent the next five years making changes and getting promoted. Eventually I got smart and started working with clients.

LHP: Describe what you do.
ML:
So yeah. What I do. Being an independent agent means you have to keep yourself motivated and accountable to your goals. This is the most important part of what I do because none of the rest of it will happen well without it. In a large organization you are constantly being hip checked by everyone around you. Without that, you only have the mirror to look at yourself.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
ML:
Ummm. Having the guts to launch a new company that didn't follow the industry mold. I spent close to a year developing my branding before I did anything and was told by every industry constituent I showed it to I was crazy. Then I went out to the external world and they all got it. Good thing they're my audience. I guess the real achievement was not listening to all the people who told me I was crazy. Because a lot of really big people told me I was crazy (laughing). We've soft launched the next extension of The Insurist this week with thehealthinsurist.com. Very, very beta at the moment, but this is just the first of many digital developments we're currently working on. The things we're doing differently are the achievements I'm most proud of.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
ML:
One of my first managers in the industry eventually left because it wasn't "creative" enough. Wrong! We don't need paint brushes and canvases to be creative. The most successful people in this world are so because they are creative in their field. Engineers are arguably some of the most creative people out there....but we don't use that word to describe them. Perhaps creativity is in the eye of the beholder? Or it's a precursor to big results. However you want to define it, to me, it's the thing that makes it all fun.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
ML:
The opportunity. We've got a monster opportunity here. An aging industry with a gap in recruiting. New technologies in use and on the horizon that will benefit everyone from the client to corporate headquarters (we should all be applauding companies like iPipeline for the ways they've sped up our sales and underwriting cycles). New markets growing up that won't stand for "the way it's always been done." And product CREATIVITY to pull it all together. See what I did there?

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
ML:
I honestly believe we're going to see more change in the insurance industry in the next 10 years than any other 10-year span before. And basically, for all the reasons I've stated that excites me. For those that understand all the forces at work that create the opportunity we're looking at there is, again, a monster opportunity.

JENNIFER MANN JENNIFER MANN
Vice President, Lenox Advisors, Inc.

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
JM:
It was actually an accident. Prior to this, I did environmental consulting. I was getting my MBA part time and when the company I was working for went under, I threw my resume together and put it in the directory at school. Someone must have searched for the word "insurance," and even though it was completely unrelated to what I was doing at the time, they saw that and called me in for an interview. When they brought me in, they showed more of a financial planning model and that really caught my interest. I was kind of tired of helping companies and wanted to help people and decided to make the switch.

LHP: Describe what you do.
JM:
We're a wealth advisory firm and do overall planning. We do fee-based planning, asset management, investments, corporate benefits, executive carve outs. I personally do a lot of work with the LGBT community. I grew up in Oak Park, which is one of the highest gay/lesbian populations in the country, so it's something I've been surrounded with my whole life. And my first six years of living in the city, I lived in Boystown, which is an area of Chicago with a lot of gay residents. And so naturally, a lot of my friends were in that market. So when I switched over to doing planning, I realized that there's a lot of extra planning that needs to be done for gay couples because , especially at that time, they didn’t have some of the rights that straight couples had. And even though that has started to change, especially on the insurance side, a lot of the carriers are starting to treat civil unions as marriages and there are more rights there, everybody really needs to be planning so it's still important.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
JM:
The "why I love my job" story for me is I had a client down in LA and I worked with he and his partner. My client started working for a show called "America's Next Top Model" and I didn't meet with them again for a couple of years. When I met them again, his income had skyrocketed and I was like, ‘Hey, what are you doing with all this money?’ And he was like, ‘I don't know; I just spend it.’ So I made him go on his laptop, and we set up a separate savings account with an auto-draw feature right there on the spot.  We figured out how much he could do and how much he should be doing. That was in January. In April, his best friend called to tell me that he was having brain surgery. He made it through the surgery, and when I was there again in June, he wanted to meet, which I was a little surprised about. He looked at me and said, ‘If you hadn't put me on that savings plan, I wouldn't have been able to get the best brain surgeon. I might not be standing here right now.’ That's the kind of stuff that really inspires you and makes you feel like your work is worthwhile.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
JM:
Planning is part science, part art. The fact is, even if you're using a model, you need to get to know your clients and understand how they work. Especially when you work with any couple, once there's more than one personality there, you have to figure out what's the best way for them to plan. A lot of it is not only coming up with a plan, but coming up with a plan that's going to work with your clients’ personalities. Because it's all great in theory, but if it's not something they're going to implement or stick with, it's not really going to matter how great your plan is.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
JM:
I really think it's a very noble profession. I think it's not necessarily thought of very highly by some people outside the industry until they've been impacted by it. Whether they've been impacted by a family member needing insurance and not having it or by a family member needing it and having it and that made the difference, it's one of those things where people don't get it until they get it. I see what we do as protecting families and we make a huge difference.

We all think of "Groundhog Day" and the annoying insurance salesperson, but when you talk to anyone whose family was saved because they had the right coverage in place, it really shows you the importance of what we do.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
JM: I think probably the area where there will be the most change is the long-term care insurance segment. There's so much that has happened and because it's such a new product compared to some of the others, I don't think the insurance carriers have gotten a handle on that yet.

I think the carriers underestimated the amount of people that would retain their coverage and underestimated the amount of claims they would have, so pricing was not done well. I think it's going to become a harder and harder sell because there's no price guarantees in long-term care the way there is with life insurance and disability. I've been seeing it cost more to get less and since there's no guaranteed price, there's going to have to be changes.

STEVEN MCCARTY STEVEN MCCARTY
Co-Founder & Chairman, National Ethics Association

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
SM:
After a close relative died broke in a nursing home, I became a believer in the value of Long Term Care insurance, which was then in its infancy. But it took a friend in the business to help me see that this could be a satisfying (and creative) career path. I was fairly young, but I got my license, joined a local agency, and was blessed with a mentor who matched up with my already established values — to REALLY know the needs of the customer and ALWAYS do the right thing for them, NO EXCEPTIONS.  But I also discovered how fulfilling it was to be successful in an arena where it seemed that hard selling and half-truths were the norm. This sparked an idea in my business partner and I — to co-create a company that would foster our values, and give like-minded agents a leg up in the marketplace.

LHP: Describe what you do.
SM:
Most fundamentally, I see myself (and my colleagues) as being the ethical advisor’s champion. We help our members unlock the value of their best practices through contemporary online reputation marketing and branding. We also help our members attain the industry recognition they deserve, while providing member benefits that help them save money. Personally, I work closely with our team, making sure our strategy is on point while staying focused on delivering an optimal customer experience. I also am heavily involved in creative product development, helping carriers design insurance offerings for advisors committed to industry best practices.

LHP:Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
SM:
Back in 2001, I co-created a verification service/membership for Insurance professionals, much like the Better Business Bureau, which evolved and improved over time. Today, the National Ethics Association (ethics.net) has tens of thousands of members who embrace the idea that with ultimate transparency comes trust, and with trust comes success. Therefore, the industry and consumers view the vast majority of our members as the cream of the crop, which is something to be very proud of. 

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
SM:
I would define our creativity as “innovation that recognizes the value of others (our cherished members) and champions on their behalf.” We do this by creating unique benefits that really offer tangible value for them. 

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
SM:
The shift toward good business practices — which means delivering quality, competency, and transparency at every stage of the client’s experience. Fueled by online technology, this is especially crucial during the initial “courtship” between consumers and prospective advisors. If advisors are transparent enough and consumers make use of today’s due diligence tools, all parties will be well served.  I feel this has really raised the bar in our industry and has fueled an ethics movement.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
SM:
I think the industry will increasingly realize that ethical business practices are the foundation of every company’s success. In decades past, carriers suffered extreme reputation damage by concentrating on sales at any cost. Tomorrow, I think they’ll realize that best practices are the ultimate competitive differentiator. Plus, they’ll get even more skilled at finding ways to unlock the value of ethical practices at every level of their business. I expect this to improve sales effectiveness, business persistency, and certainly company profitability. I also think advisors will truly begin to leverage the power of social media to build their brands and attract new customers. But in order to survive long term, they’ll have to become hyper-vigilant about doing business ethically and compliantly, as one mistake can quickly spell curtains when transparency is 100%. Finally, consumers will enter a golden age of insurance purchasing, with new and more powerful shopping tools and options readily at hand. All in all, I look forward to insurers, advisors, and consumers forging even stronger relationships founded on transparency and trust. I can’t think of a better win-win-win for all concerned.

JASON MCCLELLANJASON MCCLELLAN
President & CEO, Insurance Advisors Direct Agency, LLC

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
JM:
I was just out of high school, planning to go to college, looking for a career that would be flexible. My dad had gotten into insurance a number of years before, so I knew about the business. I had seen him grow and I thought there were some nice opportunities and once I was able to convince him that I could give it a shot, once he gave me the green light, I went out, got my license and started. Once I got into it, I realized that beyond it being a short-term or flexible career, as I'd originally thought, I actually really liked it. I liked the products; I liked working with the people. And I saw some real potential for the future so I put everything into it. I never ended up going to school and stuck with insurance and have really grown up in the industry over the last 17 years.

LHP: Describe what you do.
JM:
My job today has really become more focused on developing relationships with the carriers, the advisors, the salespeople in the field, and creating selling systems to help them grow their business with our products and carriers. I do a lot of marketing — getting information about those products and carriers into the agents’ hands so they know that's what we do and what our products are.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
JM:
Early on in the business, just earning the trust and gaining the recognition from both my dad and other executives within the insurance industry until they saw me as someone who could get out there and work with agents.

Later in my career, I left my corporate position at a large company and ventured off on my own. Looking back, I’m proud that I had the courage to walk out on a comfortable position with a big budget and a nice salary and start over from scratch after 15 years of working in the industry. Deciding to do it for myself and build my own company. Looking back now, three years later, on a time when I had no agents, no business and no revenue, I guess we've come a long way.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
JM:
The role I play is mostly sales and marketing. That you can get pretty creative with. You can take a pretty boring product, focus on a few key benefits and you can really make those live. From a marketing perspective, when we're trying to introduce new products and companies to agents we work with, we've got to differentiate ourselves. We've got to stand out from the crowd of other FMOs in the marketplace. And so we get to put our creative hats on and go, “OK, how do we make our new product or service live? How do we make it better than the next guy? What kind of service is the next guy not offering that agents are demanding, and how can we do it? How can we do it better; how can we do it right?”

Within this industry, within our own little niche, we try to get more creative every day than we were the day before. Maybe in some cases it’s not the most exciting industry, but I think you can make it that and that's what we strive to do. I think as we continue to look at new and alternative ways to promote, to recruit, to train, utilizing social media, Web, video, that's really where we see the future of this industry. I think that in itself is exciting.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
JM:
I think we, as a nation,  have gotten into some bad habits, and I believe the industry is working hard to help people understand how they can better themselves and their health by eating better and exercising more. The industry is working hard to bring more attention to that.

There's also a lot of room for growth and excitement within the industry in the boomer and senior markets. That part of the industry is exploding. More companies, more products than I've ever seen before in my 17 years. Every day I turn around and there's a new company, a new product. Something new and interesting. All of that keeps our business exciting, keeps us on our toes.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
JM:
Technology is definitely a key component of all industries now and I believe carriers are going to have to learn to balance this delicately to better service both their agents and clients, but without taking the human component away completely. I think agents are going to become much more sophisticated with marketing themselves online through social media. We see a lot more sales being done direct to the consumer by telephone and the Internet. I do see that's something that all of us within the industry at all levels have to embrace, but I think there has to be a delicate balance so that we don't completely remove the human factor. Allowing technology to play its role but not take over is going to probably be the biggest challenge going forward.

AMY MCILWAINAMY MCILWAIN
President, Financial Social Media

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
AM: I was first introduced to the insurance industry when I worked at Senior Market Advisor magazine. During this time I helped insurance companies reach advisors through integrated advertising campaigns and gained insight into the challenges advisors face. 

LHP: Describe what you do.
AM:
At Financial Social Media I work with financial advisors, insurance agents and financial service companies to create and implement digital marketing strategies that increase revenue, decrease marketing expenses and improve customer service. By utilizing social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and others we have developed proven, compliant systems that deliver results.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
AM:
In 2012 I published my first book, The Social Advisor: Social Media Secrets of the Financial Industry, which has sold over 10,000 copies and been featured as a bestseller in the Amazon business category. The positive feedback I've received from agents and advisors has been incredible. It's rewarding to know that I've helped so many people take their first steps in learning how to utilize social media for their business. 

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
AM: Marketing and creativity go and in hand. At Financial Social Media we specialize in content marketing — and effective content marketing is an art. It grabs and holds people’s attention and gives your business a distinctive brand, loyal fans and increased sales. You don’t need a big budget to succeed, which is why good content marketing is the single best way to beat bigger competitors online.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today? 
AM:
We are barely seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to opportunities in insurance marketing. Technology is fundamentally changing the way we communicate, and with social media you become the media. Not getting on TV? Start your own TV show and launch a YouTube channel. Can't afford a radio show? Start your own radio show and distribute for free on iTunes. The world is literally at your fingertips and content is the currency. 

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
AM:
Advances in communication and information technology are changing both the face and the pace of business. The rise of social networks that store the information people share are generating immense quantities of data, allowing businesses to send exactly the right message to exactly the right person at exactly the right time. A company's ability to navigate this data and fine tune their messaging will be critical to their success over the next 10 years. 

BILL MOORE BILL MOORE
Vice President of Underwriting and Medical Services, Munich Re America

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
BM: While teaching biology in Minnesota, a couple of my college classmates moved to San Diego, Calif., and enticed me to trade the cold of the Upper Midwest for the beaches of Southern California. One of them was working as a reinsurance underwriter, and he referred me for a position with his company.  I was hired as a replacement analyst, which consisted of completing replacement forms for the agents. This was at the time universal life plans were being introduced to the market with projected interest rates of 16 percent, replacing many existing policies. A few months later, an underwriting position became available in the reinsurance department, and, after much persistence and persuasion, I convinced the Chief Underwriter to hire me. My biology background assisted greatly in overcoming the requirement of prior direct carrier underwriting experience. Many have commented that I started my career in reverse (having started in reinsurance instead of direct and working in a desirable retirement spot). Not unlike many of my underwriting colleagues, my start in the industry was more happenstance than by design. Nonetheless, it is a very rewarding and challenging career.

LHP: Describe what you do.
BM: I am responsible for Underwriting and Medical Services for Munich Re. This position has primary responsibility for supporting the acquisition of profitable automatic treaty business through providing underwriting and medical services in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Additionally, this position establishes and implements policies, procedures and practices to provide superior risk selection and management and other value-added services to clients and prospects. The assurance that underwriting evaluation and analysis of client quote requests is incorporated effectively in the automatic pricing of our clients is a key element, as well. The role is responsible for underwriting individual life and disability risks and consults with other lines of business. Assurance of proper rule sets for automated underwriting is a critical component of responsibility.  

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
BM:
Having joined Munich Re in 2008, I was fortunate enough to be in on the ground floor of their growth initiative. To deliver on growth commitments from an Underwriting and Medical Services perspective, many changes were made in the way we delivered service to our clients. An underwriting system was developed and implemented, an underwriting workflow and imaging system installed, a Risk Management Unit was created, a concierge underwriting team was formed and consistency of process and philosophy was achieved between two locations (Chicago and Atlanta). In a little over a year, our productivity nearly doubled and our turnaround time was nearly cut in half. In 2010, we created EDGE, our underwriting manual, and made it available to our clients. I am especially pleased with the results, as I believe it to be one of the easiest to use manuals in the industry. It reflects the high degree of technical expertise we have. I am so proud of the entire team in delivering the new EDGE to our clients.      

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
BM:
Insurance and reinsurance is certainly on the “aged” end of the product lifecycle, and, in many ways, this makes it very challenging to find creative and innovative approaches to doing business. In our business, utilizing past experience to predict future mortality or morbidity is extremely important in achieving the desired financial results. It causes significant challenges to overcome when introducing new techniques or methods that are far less proven. The business environment today also makes it difficult to instill creativity as more oversight and regulation come into being. For me, one definition of being creative is finding ways of simplifying the way we do business and how we provide services to clients. Another is to find new methods that bring efficiency and convenience to consumers in obtaining insurance coverage, while meeting profit objectives such as the use of data in defining risk instead of obtaining a blood sample.   

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
BM: The most exciting thing for me currently is what I refer to as the new underwriting paradigm. For decades, underwriters have used pretty much the same evidence and process to evaluate individual risks in providing coverage to consumers. The explosive progress in technology and data storage has enabled the evaluation and analysis of huge amounts of very diverse data that could result in improving the quality and speed of underwriting decisions. This has opened new and exciting opportunities to explore risk selection in a manner never before thought possible. The challenge of finding where the value exists and translating that to new risk selection programs has re-energized me. There is a cultural shift occurring with this transition that also presents new management challenges, which I welcome with open arms. I hope to prove that you can teach this old dog some new tricks.   

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
BM:
Access to insurance coverage will be much more readily available and delivered to a much larger consumer group than ever experienced in our past. With the aging of the agent population, new distribution forms will emerge. Coupled with new techniques for selecting risk, the industry will provide more services to those in need. Just think of a consumer wearing Google glass, and, by merely looking at an object, an insurance policy is sent electronically to a destination of their choice within seconds. 


sSHERYL J. MOORE
President & CEO, Moore Market Intelligence

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
SJM:
I had unexpectedly become a single mother of three babies (all in diapers); I lived in Des Moines and thought to myself, “What can I do for work in this city where, if my employer disappears, I can walk across the street the very next day and resume work?” Since Iowa is the second-largest insurance capital in the U.S., I naturally chose that industry as the place to start my career after being a homemaker. 

LHP: Describe what you do.
SJM:
My grandma would tell you that I am the president of a life insurance company. However, I really run a life insurance market research firm and an indexed insurance consulting firm. My elevator speech goes something like this: ‘I think life insurance and annuities are awesome. However, the insurance industry seems kind of stuffy from the outside. So I created a couple of companies that help people see that life insurance can be fun, all while educating them about these invaluable products.’

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
SJM:
I am proud to be a small business owner who has turned a profit every year for nearly a decade, while also providing salaried employment with full benefits to a highly competent staff.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
SJM:
I would define creativity in this context: finding a way to sugar-coat factual insurance and annuity information so that the person I am educating not only swallows the information, but also asks for more.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
SJM:
There are so many opportunities in the life insurance and annuity industry, and it is a market that is ripe for people like me who want to make a lasting change. Our industry has many problems to solve: lack of women in this profession, a dying distribution, public ignorance of our products, and regulatory challenges. The opportunities to improve lives are immense in this industry.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
SJM:
I believe that we will continue to see distribution and products evolve, and regulatory uncertainty will be ever-present. Social media will improve the level of education that Joe Public has about life insurance and annuities. However, the changes that I would really like to see will not take place in the decade: many more young people in this industry, women representing a large percentage of insurance professionals, people with tattoos and piercings choosing a career in insurance, college graduates saying, “I want to be an insurance agent!” We need to change the face of insurance from that of a 65-year-old white man to that of the face next door. Maybe then we can see a greater percentage of our population adequately provided for with life insurance and annuities.

KELLY MOSERKELLY MOSER
Social Media Strategist, Disability Insurance Services

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
KM:
Like most, my career in insurance was a happy accident. I majored in journalism and creative writing and fully intended on becoming the next big thing in print media. But, as many find out after college, jobs are scarce. I took the first full-time job I could find, which led me to become a personal lines insurance agent, moonlighting at a local paper on the side. I moved to DIS in 2012, where I joined the underwriting team and took over the company newsletter. It wasn’t too long before my background working with brokers and consumers, tied with my experience working for various San Diego publications, made me a unique candidate for DIS’s newly created position as Social Media Strategist.

LHP: Describe what you do.
KM:
As the Social Media Strategist, my job is to stay up-to-date on the best SMO practices while engaging brokers through various social media platforms. And, though it can be a challenge, I try to not only educate but also entertain brokers through our company blog. Insurance can be fun if we let our hair down once in a while.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
KM:
In general, I’m proud that I’ve been able to use my creativity and passion for writing within an industry that most outsiders would deem as dry and structured. When a seasoned agent, with decades more experience than I have, reaches out to tell me they enjoyed and/or learned something new from what I’ve produced, that’s when I feel especially proud of what I’ve accomplished.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
KM:
It’s no secret that insurance content, particularly in regard to product knowledge and educational tools, can be boring. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Just as big insurance companies are catching the attention of consumers with humorous commercials, I strive to do the same through social media and online content. Providing helpful sales advice and up-to-date product knowledge to my brokers is important, but that doesn’t mean I have to offer it through an unengaging webinar. If I can take a sales topic and make it humorous by relating it to a current event or something in pop culture, I’m going to do that. Basically, I follow the golden rule. If I’d rather click on content or follow companies on social media that will engage me on a personal level, then that’s what I’m going to provide my brokers. I don’t want to read a boring white paper. I want to read an article about how selling insurance is a lot like rooting for the Padres — sometimes it’s enjoyable, sometimes it makes you crazy, and sometimes, only other Padres fans can understand what you’re going through. 

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
KM:
It’s motivating to see veteran industry professionals encourage my generation to succeed and find their footing in the marketplace. I read articles daily on how the Millennial generation is nothing more than a group of whippersnappers, yet my superiors and those I’ve spoken with inside the industry are nothing short of encouraging and helpful in regard to Millennial advancement and education. It’s especially exciting to be part of a marketing team that values and respects a younger voice. 

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
KM:
The online presence of insurance professionals and insurance companies will most definitely increase. From policies being delivered online to customer service on social media, everything in the industry is being made more efficient and up-to-date with our ever-changing technological world. They are exciting changes and we should embrace them.

RYAN PINNEYRYAN PINNEY
VP of Sales & Marketing, Pinney Insurance

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
RP:
My road into the industry is a little weird, because I’m a second-generation insurance guy. My father started about 30 years ago, and I joined him about ten years ago. Up to that point, I had always said ‘I’ll never do insurance.’ At the time we had just started in direct marketing to consumers over the Internet. I found that very intriguing and appealing from a marketing and technology perspective, and that’s when I decided to join the industry. Now that I’m here, I love it. I don’t ever plan to do anything else. 

LHP: Describe what you do.
RP:
I head up our sales and marketing teams. We have two distribution models in our organization: direct marketing to consumers via Web, email, social media, and also a traditional brokerage agency where we market to individual agents. I run both of those teams, and the intersection of both is that today, as we continue to grow and change and look toward the future, all of that is geared around technology and selling online and doing a better job of converting clients or agents to customers with the help of these online tools.

I think it’s interesting because initially we were really out in front, not only for the industry, but as a whole. We started doing direct marketing in 2002, when the Internet was still really new. The dot com bust had just finished, so to have an Internet-based business was still unique at that point. Today, it’s totally changed. Consumers are very comfortable shopping online; eBay and Amazon and even things like iTunes have changed what consumers want and expect from a shopping experience. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time. And, our industry has really done a poor job of adapting in this way, so we had to focus on developing our own technology so that we could sell the way consumers wanted to buy. We had to go out and create our own platforms for things like an e-signature and e-application because in most instances these things did not exist the way we needed them at the time we needed them.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
RP:
As we’ve built all of these tools and resources for our own use with consumers, we’ve taken the approach that the industry needs to grow and change as well. So we’ve designed several products that agents can use with their clients — things like e-applications and e-signatures, etc. — so that they can sell the way consumers want to buy. We’ve designed these products to help agents be more efficient, and as an agent myself that’s the thing that I hang my hat on. We help agents be more efficient and help them reach the middle market, an area that is greatly underserved and where these tools are incredibly useful.

LHP: How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
RP:
The biggest part of creativity is kind of a cliché: It’s thinking outside the box. In our industry this translates to thinking about how to take valuable tools that exist outside our industry and bringing them into our industry to serve clients better. When you walk around our offices, you’ll see that everyone has a sticker somewhere around their desk that reads ‘Find a way to say yes.’ That’s our mantra. As we interact with consumers or agents or carriers we’re always challenging ourselves to find a way to say yes. We challenge ourselves to be creative and find solutions in order to provide a valuable service across all of our distribution channels.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
RP:
I see huge, huge opportunity in our industry today to capitalize on a couple things in particular. One is the use of big data, which is really a way to capitalize on both existing clientele and on every lead or prospect that you have. Big data lets you use things like social media, buying habits, demographics, and information on how a typical customer moves through the sales process to inform how you market and sell. Those tools are the biggest thing that will impact us. At the same time, they’re the biggest risk, because we’re starting to see major retailers outside of our industry that want to come in and use those data points to sell insurance products. You’ve seen this already with Walmart selling life insurance and now Costco selling not only life insurance but also home and auto insurance. As an industry, we need to take advantage of these tools, but no one’s figured it out entirely yet; no one’s cornered the market. So for that reason there is huge opportunity in our industry today.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years? 
RP:
First, I think you’ll see the rise of the direct marketer, which is something we’re seeing more and more: independent agents and firms turning to the Internet as a distribution source for their products.

Second, I think we’ll see the death of the traditional BGA. Carriers are trying to find a way to go around BGAs in the first place, and as that process continues, the distribution models will change. The BGAs that will survive will be the ones that have already adopted technology and adapted.

Third, I think we’re going to face outside competition from one or more major organizations, whether it is a retail organization like Walmart or Costco or an online marketer like Facebook. It will happen. And reading this may make it easy for an agent to get discouraged, but truly I thinkthere’s a huge opportunity for people to grow and think outside the box, to take advantage of other resources outside the industry. One of the things we’ve tried to do is really take advantage of those tools and grow. So I don’t think it looks bleak; I think it looks bright, but you are going to have to pursue change. You need to decide one of a couple things: Do you want to build your own technology, do you want to partner with someone who has the technology you need, do you want go buy it from someone … but at the end of the day, you have to have these things. The problem for some will be compliance, but there’s ways to work with compliance, and we’ve been able to figure this out. If you look at the marketplace from that perspective, there’s all this opportunity. There’s never been a time when there are this many underinsured Americans, when you can sell thousands of insurance policies each year as a one-man operation. And this will continue. It’s an innovator’s marketplace today. If you’re an innovator, there’s nothing that can slow you down and stop you from being successful in today’s marketplace.

AARON PROIETTIAARON PROIETTI 
Chief Innovation Officer of the Life and Protective Division, Transamerica

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
AP:
My background is in applied mathematics. Not knowing exactly what to do with an applied math degree, I worked in product development and risk underwriting at a credit card company for nearly nine years. I left to join a life insurance start-up company, as I wanted to see if my prior experience was transferable. I started by trying to leverage my math and risk underwriting background, but I failed my first and only actuary exam. (Turns out you really do need to study for those.) So, I decided to bring innovation and marketing research concepts into the world of life insurance. It turns out these were not very common disciplines in insurance at the time, but there was plenty of demand for it.

LHP: Describe what you do.
AP:
I head up insights and innovation for the Life & Protection Division of Transamerica. My team connects employees to new choices to help them make better business decisions. We design programs to align leaders with what it means to be innovative. We spark creativity, eliminate barriers and encourage risk-taking. We help the business learn from failure so we can take smarter risks. We invite employees to establish connections with each other so they (and the organization) can benefit from collective intelligence. We deliver cutting-edge analytics and customer insight that matters to them.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
AP:
Over the course of 2013, we enlisted over 200 employees to participate directly in the effort to create a culture of innovation. We hosted “Culture of Innovation Cafés” at all of our major geographical sites across North America, which enabled us to connect with over 3,000 employees. And, by soliciting survey feedback from our employees, we know we have made meaningful progress toward creating that environment.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
AP:
Creativity = ignorance + frustration. Sparks of creativity come first from a choice not to play by the rules — both written and unwritten — which have led us to where we are today. Second, one must be willing and able to transform frustration — about the slow pace of change and how other industries are exploding in all directions (digitally, socially, globally) — into new thinking. The most creative person here is the one who can forget which sandbox he or she is playing in. If you’re complacent or stuck in the status quo, you won’t have the perspective or desire to create truly innovative solutions.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
AP:
I think this industry is on the cusp of a big disruption, and has been on that edge for the past decade or so. The longer it lies dormant, the more disruptive it’s going to be when it happens. When my kids are adults, I doubt they’ll seek an advisor to buy insurance policies that then get mailed to them. They’ll hit three buttons on their wrist device and be done with it. Anything less would be unacceptable to them. Yet, look at the way we still think and act as an industry. Many of our practices seem archaic to me. Everyone wants to change, but it’s hard, expensive and risky. I want to be there in the trenches with the team that chooses to attack the legacy insurance traditions head-on to create a new world.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
AP:
The lines will become more blurred between life and health offerings, as long as the state insurance departments are adaptive to emergent consumer needs. After all, the life insurer has a vested interest in keeping you alive longer; there is no industry in a better position to promote wellness and longevity!

Finally, many industry watchers seem to think one or two existing players will figure out how to make the customer experience better, and then the rest will follow. I think it’s more likely that someone from outside the insurance arena will barge in with a completely different, technically savvy way to protect against risk, and that this will be the major disruption. Our industry is ripe for it, given the immense under-penetration of the middle market, so I’m not sure we have time to evolve.

ARTHEA (CHARLIE) REED ARTHEA (CHARLIE) REED
Financial Representative, Northwestern Mutual

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
CR:
I started late. I had actually been working as a professor and Dean of Education at University of North Carolina at Asheville for almost 20 years. And then I joined my husband in his practice. At that point, he was a Managing Director for Northwestern Mutual. I joined the business primarily because I had become so passionate about LTCI. I had seen my mother care for my father for eight years, and I saw what happens to a family when the assets are almost totally spent down. At that point when I joined the business, Northwestern Mutual was supposed to be getting an LTCI product, but it wasn’t ready yet, it was delayed. So I started my own company, Long-Term Care Insurance Connection, and began selling other LTC products while I waited for Northwestern Mutual’s product to be ready. During that time, I wound up sort of by accident in the corporate marketplace and that became the marketplace that I stayed in, although I continued to do business with individuals as well.

I now have a successor that has purchased my business, Barbara DeBerry. I did about a two-year search for the perfect person, around the country. I wanted someone who was with Northwestern Mutual so that they would know how to sell the products I sell and could continue to serve my existing clients. So I looked for the perfect Northwestern Mutual person. I had seven candidates and I interviewed three of the seven in the office. My spouse and I picked Barbara and it’s been great.

LHP: Describe what you do.
CR:
In our practice, we do individual planning and we are often working with people that have worked with us or with someone else on retirement planning. Our typical individual clients are in their 50s and 60s. We do a lot of work with individuals, but our primary emphasis is in the corporate marketplace. We do a lot of executive carve out plans where companies are providing LTCI for their high-level executives. But the business that touches my heart the most is a large ministry who purchased LTCI for all their employees who are 50 or older and have been with the company for 10 years or more. They said to me, ‘We can never pay them what they’re worth because we’re a ministry and we’re accepting donations. They’re not making what they would make in a different market. But what we can do is provide them with benefits that will truly make a difference in their lives.’ So we are continuously enrolling new people to this corporate plan as they turn 50 or hit the 10-year mark, and it is incredibly rewarding to see. We have people in missions fields all over the world who own LTCI coverage as a result.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
CR:
I am especially proud of the way we do our business and the way we work with our corporate and individual clients. We are always part of the planning process and only make recommendations based on what is truly best for them. Consequently, we do not always get the business, because some clients are looking for the cheapest plan or would be better served by products or services we don’t provide. I’m as proud of the ones that have walked away as the ones we have worked with.

We also make changes over time. Our clients stay with us for life, and as people’s needs change we make changes. For example, we are working with a client now on a hybrid product solution. As the opportunity has come along to use life insurance as a hybrid plan, this makes a lot of sense for certain clients. In this case, the client already has some corporate life insurance, so it really makes sense for them to use life insurance in that way and be able to convert an existing asset to an LTCI benefit.

LHP: How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
CR:
There are traditional ways that people do insurance and they’re wonderful, but what we have done is taken what I believe is the best of what we do in terms of the planning process and finding what is the very best fit for each client’s individual needs, and we have taken that and applied it 100 percent to LTCI. We are very holistic in the way we serve our clients, which requires a great deal of creativity.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
CR:
The industry today is obviously evolving tremendously. One of the things is that the industry is looking more and more toward insurance-based solutions for the population that is retiring and will be retiring in the next 10–15 years. This is part of the reason that hybrid products have come along, because that allows people to leverage the money that they’re spending on those products. And there’s the opportunity for even younger people to put LTCI riders on products like life insurance and annuities, so that as their life changes, their life insurance can become an LTCI benefit. Those creative solutions to the changing demographics are really exciting to me. It never happens fast enough; I always want it to happen faster! And a lot of these changes are driven by the field. We go out and see those needs; we have a client that really needs to do this, but there’s no existing product solution. And we go back and tell the carriers, ‘My client needs X,’ and they develop something to fit.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years? 
CR:
I think that the trends above will continue. As the demographics change, the industry has to change. People are getting older, there are younger people supporting older people, so the industry has got to make changes to account for this. The other thing that I really see happening is bringing more women into the industry. In fact, I’m in the process of writing a book based on interviews with 50 women who have seen success in the industry. We’re seeing more women entering the industry and rising to higher levels because they really know how to serve these changing demographics. Maybe women aren’t the ones driving the sales of 401(k) plans, but we do drive the planning piece of it, which is becoming more and more critical. So I think we are the perfect fit to meet the needs of these clients who are retiring today. I think women will really continue to excel in this industry.

Joe Simonds JOE SIMONDS
Digital Marketing Maverick, Advisor Internet Marketing

LHP:  Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
JS: I was fresh out of school from Georgia Tech and I received a call from a headhunter who convinced me how great it would be talking to insurance agents on the phone all day. Little did I know I would end up staying in this industry for good, going from insurance carrier recruiter to national annuity wholesaler, to owner of an FMO, to a Digital Marketing Maverick for Financial Professionals. 

LHP: Describe what you do.
JS: Today, I help financial professionals go digital by teaching them how to be found online through organic marketing tactics (free search traffic for the layperson). My title really is Digital Marketing Maverick, and I produce boatloads of content, how-to packages, and videos that teach and enable financial professionals to build an online practice, promote an online brand and enhance (not replace) all of their current marketing strategies. I still blog on two of the websites that I founded called Annuity Think Tank and Annuity123.com, to educate consumers, as well.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
JS: I am actually quite proud of my first two “outrageous” videos that I released, as they were some of the first videos to go against the trend of our sometimes-boring industry. The first one was called “Hair Club for Financial Planners,” and the second one was an animated video called “The Truth about Fixed Indexed Annuities.” Combined they have over 63,000 views (which is viral for our industry), and we still get compliments and inquiries about licensing those videos today. 

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
JS: I think it is kind of sad that we aren’t a creative industry. For some reason, the industry as a whole has become scared of regulators and trying too hard not to offend anyone. I am all about regulation and oversight for our industry, but nowhere in any rules or bylaws does it say that you can’t be creative and have some fun. A huge part of my job today is about being creative, having a fun story to tell that is sharable, and helping agents and advisors become more creative with their own marketing and message — because simply “fitting in” when you are selling products that are essentially commodities can lead to extinction.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
JS: I am excited that we are entering what I call the “perfect storm” in regards to retirement income. As an industry we have upwards of 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day for the next 10+ years; we have the first generation to retire mostly without pensions, and we have a stock market that resembles a casino more than a place to invest wisely. All that being said, I believe the opportunities to help the boomer generation and to see transformations in their life are unlimited. It is a good time to specialize in retirement income.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
JS:
Oh boy. You had to get me up on a soapbox here by asking that question. All I will say is that I have written extensively about insurance and annuity agents going extinct if they don’t adapt with technology. It’s not just about how consumers are getting their information today, but also how they buy things (online). My best comparison is the forgotten travel agent who ruled the travel world for many decades until he finally either adapted to the power and efficiency of the Internet or went by the wayside. Today, the largest travel agencies in the world are all digital, like Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz. The same thing will happen in the insurance industry over time. But the exciting news is that there will be an enormous amount of new opportunity, new jobs and more efficient ways to get our incredible offerings into the hands of our clients. 

NEIL SPRACKLINGNEIL SPRACKLING
Managing Director, Swiss Re

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
NS: I basically fell accidentally into insurance. I applied for a reinsurance role requiring European language skills (which I had), accepted the position thinking it would be a good way to earn my first real money for say six months, then take off traveling around the world. After six months I realized I enjoyed the role and the business. My employer at the time (M&G Re) laid out an interesting career path, especially for a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 20-year-old like me, so I duly accepted and the rest, as they say, is history. I have always worked on the life side of the insurance industry, save a three-year stint when I straddled both Life and P&C, and I have developed an increasing passion for, and commitment to, the value that life and health insurance brings to society.

LHP: Describe what you do.
NS: In my current position as President, I lead the Life & Health business for Swiss Re in the United States. The US is the largest L&H market in the world, and Swiss Re's largest life market, so I feel privileged to lead such a talented and diverse team to continue the profitable growth of our US business. My role is very wide-ranging and involves strategy development, talent engagement, culture development, industry thought leadership, and optimizing the financial and operational performance of the business.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
NS: It's hard to pick one single thing. What gives me most satisfaction and pride is seeing our people succeed and make a difference in our industry and in society more widely. In terms of my ultimate goal of seeing more and more people covered by the great products we offer, my standout achievement in recent years is the development and execution of a pioneering partnership between Swiss Re and a market-leading health insurer to cross and upsell life insurance to its customer base.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
NS: I'd agree that insurance is not generally seen as creative. That said, we will need to apply our collective creative skills if we are to crack the infamous nut of the world's protection gaps (the level of under-insurance). We need genuine creativity and innovation to work out how we can much more effectively cover the millions of people, both in the US and globally, who are grossly underinsured. It's not about product innovation, but more about creating new approaches to consumer engagement (how do we pull consumers toward our products rather than push our products toward them) and increased commitment to, and integration with, new forms of distribution, digital and physical. The real creativity will be working out how we can more effectively give something back to consumers in exchange for all the information they share with us, over and above our primary role of providing them with a life insurance policy at the end of the application process.

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
NS: The immense opportunity that we have in front of us. While we have done a decent job of insuring the more affluent segments of the population, we have done a miserable job of insuring the masses, arguably the ones who need our products the most. If we can tangibly increase the level of life insurance ownership in the US and elsewhere, we will have achieved something of which we can all be very proud.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
NS:
I genuinely believe that as an industry, we are at the classic tipping point. Generational and demographic shifts mean that attitudes are changing and we must adapt our previous "one size fits all" approach to accommodate as much of this changing behavior as possible. This means we will see technology playing an even more important role than ever, the use of data will enable us to tailor and target our products more effectively and thereby allow us to embrace new ways to assess risk. We will also see consumers engaging with life insurers in whichever way they wish, be this face to face, on the phone or using digital media. After almost 30 years in the industry, I have never known such an exciting time ahead of us.

ANDREW UNKEFERANDREW UNKEFER
President & CEO, Unkefer & Associates

LHP: Why insurance? How did you get your start in the industry?
AU:
In 1988, I began working for an insurance company in the supply department responsible for managing and shipping supplies to agents and marketing firms nationally. I later moved into IT and helped the company monitor loss ratios on blocks of business. Try as I might, I could never quite get out of the industry.

LHP: Describe what you do.
AU:
I work daily to serve three primary customers: independent agents and their clients, larger agencies and their clients, and other marketing firms and their agents. I work with my team to develop a unique set of proprietary resources, tools, products and training events which allow those who affiliate with us to profitably scale up their sales-leveraging technology and other existing resources available through our platform. What I really do, though, is help people. My personal goal is to serve others with excellence, identifying what they need to succeed and then applying myself to meet those needs. One of my favorite roles is finding companies who are facing big challenges and helping them connect with the ideas, concepts, strategies, techniques and people who can deliver success.

LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
AU:
My team and I were recognized by the National Association for Fixed Annuities for the role we played in defending fixed indexed annuities as a fixed insurance product and not a security. During this challenging time, we rallied agents and other marketing firms around a website we created that provided audio updates and the ability to communicate directly to Capitol Hill. This site received over 60,000 visits per month and helped to mobilize thousands of people. We regularly visited representatives in Washington, DC, and the result was success in passing legislation that defined fixed indexed annuities as a fixed insurance product — assuring the guarantees we value in our planning would not be in question and protecting thousands of jobs in our industry.

LHP: Insurance is not widely recognized as a creative industry. How would you define “creativity” as it relates to the work you do?
AU:
Our entire distribution is built on serving independent agents and marketing firms. Helping each identify winning business models is an endlessly creative endeavor. Imagining new products that can solve problems for millions of Americans takes ingenuity and creative thought. Understanding actuarial demands for sound products and blending this with the art of concept-based financial planning, along with the discipline of quality sales practices, requires daily creative expression.  

LHP: What excites you most about the industry today?
AU:
The financial services segment of the insurance industry is well positioned to help people accomplish their long-term financial goals without exposure to unnecessary risk. We can also help people limit the erosive impact of taxation. By pooling lives and financial discipline, we can be there when the increasing costs of health care and long-term care needs arise. Perhaps the most important: We provide the only solution for guaranteed lifetime income. The greatest numbers of people in American history are marching into a lengthy retirement. Agents and marketing firms equipped with the right platform, knowledge and tools can really make an impact.

LHP: How do you anticipate the industry will evolve in the next ten years?
AU:
Government pressure to collect new taxes and modify existing entitlement programs will be much more intense than it is today. As taxes rise and benefits get reduced, it will open up new planning opportunities and product solutions that no one has yet considered. Developing and growing businesses will cost more. New Web-based selling platforms will allow insurers to on-board new policyholders at a lower cost as they rely on these systems and their agents to input key client data for direct submission and processing. The industry will continue to see an influx of capital from new sources to fund the growth. This will lead to larger mergers and acquisitions. We will also see huge sales growth over the next 10 years through banks, broker-dealers and investment advisory firms.

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Top Sales and Marketing Ideas - 2014

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2014 100 Best Sales & Marketing Ideas

There are a million ways to sell an insurance product, and any one of them may work depending on your target market, your product lineup and your own unique skill set.

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