Unlocking the Power of DIY Illustrations

A man and a woman setting across a desk from each other and looking at some documents.

Life insurance and annuity illustrations are not always easy. Life illustrations in particular have always been complex. Advisors often rely on assistance from case designers at their IMO, BGA or the carrier’s helpdesk to complete an illustration.

Annuity illustrations today are often head-scratchers, too. Annuities have evolved in complexity over the years. Some modern policies include guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits, guaranteed minimum death benefits based on contract value or return of premiums and, if qualified, required minimum distributions.

Annuities are becoming more widely accepted as part of a traditional financial plan. That means more advisors are selling annuities—a good thing. But many advisors may not be as experienced with the ins and outs of today’s more complex annuity products.

All this adds up to advisors relying on case designers or insurance company help desks to help prepare illustrations more than ever before. From an efficiency standpoint, it is the opposite direction we as an industry should be going.

Too Many Speedbumps

When many—or most—of your life and annuity illustrations are going through a case designer, your effectiveness suffers.

One obvious downside is lost time. You have to take the time to call the case designer and wait for them to run the illustration. This can lengthen the sales process.

Then, what if the client makes a change during the first meeting that requires re-illustrations? You need to start the process all over again! You have to call the case designer, run a new illustration, schedule a new follow-up meeting and all of this can stretch the process out for days or even weeks.

It may also lose you the sale. The longer the sales process goes on, the more likely a client will change their mind about buying a policy. And even worse: they will have a negative sales experience to remember you by.

The Benefits of Taking Control

Some digital insurance platforms are empowering advisors to create their own illustrations. This pays dividends for everyone involved.

You as the advisor make more money while also giving your client the best product for their needs. You will enjoy a shorter sales cycle because you can close the deal more quickly and with fewer meetings. Something unexpected comes up that requires a change to the illustration? Handle it yourself on the spot, ensuring the application is not delayed to a future meeting.

Plus, running your own illustrations allows you to close a higher percentage of sales. Your chances of closing the sale go down the longer a client waits. A shorter sales cycle and greater flexibility improves the client experience. It leaves little room for things to go wrong.

There is one final benefit you should not overlook. You can more easily ensure your clients get the ideal product for their needs.

Consider your first meeting with a client. You’ve gathered the information ahead of time. You’ve worked with a case designer to create the illustration. As the client talks, you realize a different life policy could be an even better fit for their goals. Now you have to choose between possibly closing the deal today and delaying the process to get an illustration for the other product.

Your job is a lot less frustrating when you can create your own illustrations on the spot. Because that decision is not even in play.

Advisors are not the only ones who benefit from advisors creating their own illustrations. It allows case designers to field fewer calls. They can focus their efforts on more complex cases.

Empowered by Technology

Some of today’s illustration solutions are designed to make advisor-created illustrations the rule rather than the exception.

These tools use simplified wizard-based workflows to streamline the process. Wizards walk the advisor through the illustration step by step. Rules inside the system act like guard rails. They prevent the user from making errors that would produce illustrations with critical errors .

With some of these solutions, the defaults for the product are set by the carrier. This ensures the product is presented with the riders that most often provide the best value for the customer. Clients can rest assured they are receiving the best possible configuration of the product. Advisors avoid the complexity of configuring every detail of the product. And carriers can package their life and annuity products in the way that makes them the most competitive.

Another factor to look for is a platform that does both illustration and e-application. This allows you to go directly from illustration to e-application, which offers many benefits. You can more easily close the sale. If your solution includes features like e-signature to keep the process fully digital, you can often submit to the carrier the same day.

Plus, in a single platform you do not have to rekey information gathered for the illustration. The data flows from the illustration into the e-application. This results in a streamlined e-application process with more in-good-order sales.

By having illustration and e-application in a single platform, you can flow back and forth between the two activities as needed. Data is shared between the two. It can be as easy as going to a previous page on the application.

As a carrier or distribution firm, it is important to realize what this does for your advisors. A single solution that handles both illustration and e-application makes it more likely the advisor will create their own illustrations. Advisors always know how to use their e-application software. But fewer are comfortable with their illustration tool if it is a different system. When the illustration and e-application solutions are inside the same platform, they have the same interface. This makes it easy for advisors to learn to create illustrations.

Advisors are also more likely to run illustrations in front of clients if they are not required to jump from system to system. A process like that takes longer and introduces more ways the illustration can go wrong.

Small Steps and Giant Leaps

Running your own illustrations may seem like you are simply removing one step in the process. In reality, it leads to cascading benefits throughout the sales process. It saves you time, allows you to close more sales and ensures you find the best possible products for your clients.

Life insurance and annuities traditionally have lengthy and complex sales processes. Provide clients a streamlined, positive experience and stand out by handling illustrations yourself.

If you do not have technology solutions to support this, reach out to your BGA or IMO. Distribution firms want to empower their advisors. They need to know what tools advisors need to improve efficiency. Your BGA or IMO is as invested in streamlining illustrations as you are.

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