As Boomer Retirement Waves Surge, Insurance Solutions and Wealth Management Increasingly Intersect
Insurance and financial advice are frequently like on-again, off-again besties.
When insurance has been a popular product among retail investors, wealth management firms have embraced it.
But in recent years, as the wealth management industry has moved to more fee-based advisory client relationships, many wealth managers have been either de-emphasizing the use of insurance solutions in their practices, or simply referring that business to dedicated insurance professionals. But according to WSR’s latest survey of registered readers who are financial advisors, the industry could be on the cusp of a surge of renewed interest in insurance solutions. The result could be a greater level of convergence between wealth management and insurance.
Consider the following:
- 64% of our survey respondents said they are “much more interested” in exploring insurance solutions as part of their clients’ broader financial plans than in prior years.
- 67% of the survey respondents said that the pandemic-driven economic and social disruptions are driving many of their Boomer clients towards early retirement from their jobs – Both voluntarily, and involuntarily.
- 59.5% of the respondents signaled moderate to extreme concerns about Boomer clients outliving their money if they fully exit the workforce earlier than planned.
Jamie Mackay, Vice President of Business Development at Atlanta-based Strategic Financial Alliance (SFA), an independent broker-dealer and RIA, said, “Equity markets at all-time highs and historically low interest rates present a dilemma for advisors looking to create income streams for retiree clients.”
“Insurance products can provide underlying guarantees for those clients who are wanting longevity protection as a part of their retirement income strategy and are willing to pay for the added protection.”
But Mackay and multiple other wealth management executives agree that many financial advisors lack the expertise on their own to offer variable annuities and other complex, insurance-based solutions that can potentially best address rising Boomer client needs.
Combining IBDs, RIAs and Insurance Platforms
According to Meg Hanington, Co-Founder of Beacon Strategies, a business coaching consultancy for independent financial advisors, independent wealth management firms will increasingly be on the lookout for opportunities to acquire or launch their own insurance platforms as the unique income and asset protection needs of Boomer clients entering retirement continue to spiral upwards.
“Consumers are seeking more insurance solutions and financial advisors must expand to meet those needs. Wealth management firms must continually evolve their resources to partner with financial advisors so they can most effectively meet the needs of their clients.”
One firm that could be ahead of the curve in this regard is ProEquities, the independent broker-dealer and RIA that is owned by Protective Life.
Earlier in June, the firm announced that it will become part of Concourse Financial Group, a new organization that brings ProEquities together with its parent company’s insurance brokerage general agency as well as a separate Protective Life division focused on life insurance distribution.
Doyle Williams, who will serve as the CEO of Concourse, said in a press release, “The shared strategic vision and service culture of the businesses that comprise Concourse underscore our ongoing commitment to deliver an extremely high-touch service experience for our financial and insurance professionals.”
Knowledge is Power
Another firm that is taking steps to anticipate and better support a Boomer client demographic’s insurance needs is Chicago-based LaSalle St.
An independent wealth management firm with a broker-dealer, RIA and insurance services platform, LaSalle St. recently rolled out a Medicare platform within its insurance services division to further differentiate its solutions.
According to Mark Contey, Chief Business Development Officer of LaSalle St., the key to success at the intersection of insurance and financial advice is intellectual capital that helps financial advisors win more client wallet share.
“Having subject matter expert resources at the home office is critical to having a successful insurance offering. The insurance landscape if very vast and our advisors work with our dedicated resources every day in finding the best solutions for their clients. It’s important for firms to provide educational resources for advisors who want to add an insurance discipline to their individual practices.”
What If Your Firm Doesn’t Have Its Own Insurance Platform?
For wealth management firms and financial advisors without an in-house insurance platform, there are still plenty of opportunities to succeed.
SFA’s Jamie Mackay recommends financial advisors “partner with experts versus building your own infrastructure,” including field marketing organizations (FMOs), so long as certain key criteria are met.
“First, the field marketing organization has to have access to a diverse array of companies and products to solve many different client situations. Second, they need to have a deep bench of specialists, including legal experts able to assist, when necessary, with complex case design. Lastly, they have to provide localized ‘boots on the ground’ to give assistance and ongoing education to advisors, not only to help them service existing clients but to acquire new client relationships.”
Meg Hanington of Beacon Partners agrees.
“Financial advisors don’t need to become an insurance expert. With so many nuances related to each product type and a broad range of carriers, you would need to be focused on insurance all day every day. Instead, partnering with a brokerage general agency or field marketing organization will alleviate the challenge of staying up to date on ever-changing insurance product lines.”
In Hanington’s view, there are three things financial advisors should do to responsibly incorporate life insurance and variable annuity solutions into their businesses:
- First, take a fiduciary approach. “You must do what is in the best interest of the individual client, not a one-size fits all approach.”
- Next, offer a broad spectrum of carriers and types of coverage to ensure the advisor is developing a highly customized solution for each client.
- Third, review the insurance coverage annually to ensure it meets the client’s needs.
“Financial planning is no longer just about retirement or investment accounts. It is about a client’s entire financial picture, which includes life insurance.”
Michael Madden is a Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report. He can be reached via email at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com