Robert A. Kerzner, CLU, ChFC, president and CEO of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, opened the 98th LIMRA Annual Conference in New York earlier this week by examining changes in consumers’ demographics – and expectations – and exploring the impact on the financial services industry.
Throughout his remarks during the opening session at the event, Kerzner encouraged executives to adopt new approaches to better engage with consumers to help them make better financial decisions about protecting their families with life insurance and saving systematically for retirement.
“Consumers and their household circumstances are not as homogenous as they once were and – not surprisingly – their needs, expectations and desires on how they want to shop and buy our products have changed as well,” said Kerzner. “Companies need to look at how other industries have adapted and adopted new technology, social media, data analytics and gamification, to attract and connect with consumers.”
Kerzner highlighted key market segments – in particular women and Millennials – that are playing more prominent roles in the purchasing decisions of financial products, showing how differently these consumers gather information to make financial decisions.
“These consumers look to third-party outlets, like Angie’s List, Yelp and Amazon, for reviews and recommendations for products and services,” Kerzner noted. “How can we leverage these sites to promote the good our industry does?”
• Related: Former IBM Chairman and CEO Louis Gerstner tells LIMRA annual meeting audience the emergence of e-marketplaces should be a particular focus for the industry. “The consumer will be doing almost everything through e-marketplaces in the future — payments, banking, investments — and maybe also life insurance purchases. Standing between you and these e-marketplaces is only the regulatory environment,” Gerstner said. Read more from Gerstner here.
Kerzner noted we are competing for the hearts and minds of consumers who don’t necessarily understand or trust our industry. He provided examples of how companies have used gamification to teach consumers the importance of saving and staying out of debt. “It is imperative that we start teaching consumers about the ramifications of their financial decisions in an interesting and engaging manner.”
Citing examples like Zip Car and Modcloth, Kerzner also showed how startups are upending the business model in their various industries, finding success by identifying a need through consumer feedback and coming up with a non-traditional solution.
“Are we developing products that will meet consumers’ needs or are we building products that fit our business model?” questioned Kerzner. “We need to listen better to what consumers are really worried about, like remaining mentally sharp, maintaining their social network and who will take care of them when they get sick. Our focus on retirement has been too myopic. We are focusing too much on consumers’ money and too little on what keeps them up at night.”
The conference theme, "The Leadership Challenge: Connecting in a Distracted World,” focuses on how industry leaders leverage the latest technology to address the changing dynamics of the market and meet the evolving expectations of consumers.
More than 500 senior leaders from life insurance and financial services companies worldwide attended the meeting.
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