Insurance Innovator CEO Discusses Technology As A Driver Of Annuities Evolution And Integration Of Annuities Into Wealth Management
As WSR recently covered, insurance and wealth management are converging in a trend likely to gain momentum as it progresses. Technological advancements, client expectations and product innovations are driving the convergence of these complementary industries.
Annuities hold a key place among the insurance products rising to prominence as a solution for holistic wealth planning. As perennial income producers, annuities fit well in the pantheon of wealth management products, especially for clients nearing or in retirement.
As a technology innovator in the insurance space, FIDx provides insurance solutions including an outsourced insurance desk, digital planning tools and its flagship insurance exchange platform, which combines insurance carriers, wealth management platforms, financial professionals and digital processing tools.
The firm’s platform experienced a 1,274% increase in assets on its platform in the three year period from 2020 to 2022. In 2022, its platform assets increased by 281%.
We spoke with CEO and Co-Founder Rich Romano, who has 30 years of experience in financial services, including brokerage, insurance, enterprise consulting and information technology, and co-founded FIDx in 2017.
WSR: How are current technology advancements in the annuities space not meeting industry needs for the transaction of annuities by advisors?
Romano: Many new technologies fail to address the key challenges facing financial advisors and their clients and many solutions built in-house can lack fiduciary scope. Advisors often ask, “Am I providing the best solution to my client?” Without a lens on the broader universe of solutions available, they can’t.
The key is being able to access a broader range of insurance products than they might have previously had access to, which can help to increase client satisfaction and retention. Connecting advisors with insurance carriers that they may not have been able to work with previously can enable this.
Some technologies out there focus too much on administrative processes and overlook the complexity and lack of transparency that often make annuities difficult to understand and sell. Others add excess features and options, making the decision-making process even more overwhelming.
To truly drive the annuity industry forward, technology must be developed with a focus on simplifying the experience, increasing the efficiency of the insurance sales process and making these products as easy to integrate as mutual funds or ETFs, which will enable advisors to spend more time on client-facing activities and less time on paperwork.
WSR: How can technology advancements better serve clients in the transaction of an annuity by their advisor?
Romano: Financial advisors often find it challenging to navigate the insurance industry and understand the complexities of insurance products for their clients. Technology simplifies this process by bringing a more user-friendly experience that allows them to access multiple insurance carriers and products in one place. This saves time and allows them to focus on providing advice and guidance to their clients.
It can also expand the range of options available to advisors to present to their clients, as they are no longer restricted to the systems or paperwork they are familiar with.
New technologies can provide a more holistic approach to retirement income planning, increasing the adoption of annuities as a solution for clients. Advancements in automation and digital applications can streamline the application and underwriting process, allowing them to provide faster access to annuities for clients.
WSR: How can technology advancements be better integrated into wealth management for annuities?
Romano: New technology for the industry can provide advisors with more accurate and timely information regarding their clients’ annuity holdings. This includes digital dashboards and reporting tools that give them a comprehensive view of their clients’ total investments. Additionally, these modern tools can help assess the risk and return characteristics of annuities more accurately, which can help financial professionals to better integrate the product into their clients’ overall investment strategy.
Technological developments, such as our insurance exchange, help advisors better assess the risk and return characteristics of annuities and the impact they have on a plan. Advisors need access to predictive analytics that can model the performance of various annuity products and forecast future returns. This helps them better understand how annuities fit into their clients’ overall investment portfolios and identify the most appropriate annuity products for each client’s unique situation.
James Miller, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com.