After running into some snags, APEXA, the much talked-about contract and compliance platform, has been given a new start date of the first half of May.
“We’re going to be connecting the industry,” Tonya Blackmore, CEO of APEXA, told the Canadian Life Insurance EDI Standards (CLIEDIS) annual seminar in April.
Advisor screening, contracting and compliance tool
APEXA, owned by insurance consulting company LOGiQ3 began as an idea in 2013 and started to take root a year later. Its aim is to provide a single advisor screening, contracting and compliance tool for the insurance industry, helping advisors, carriers and distributors. Giving both advice and committing financial and other resources to the project are five insurance companies – Canada Life, Empire Life, Industrial Alliance, Manulife and Sun Life Financial, as well as four managing general agencies (MGAs) – HUB Financial, Financial Horizons, IDC Worldsource and PPI Solutions.
APEXA was originally slated to begin early last year, but stakeholders wanted to make the system more appealing to advisors. The next launch date was set for the middle of 2016, but that too went by the wayside when APEXA announced it needed more time to fine-tune the system, including addressing issues stemming from the complicated internal systems of the large insurers.
Tested by advisors
A walk-through by advisors last November to ensure the program was intuitive to advisors was extended and led to some more user testing. Now Blackmore said the project is expected to launch in the first two weeks of May.
Its release will see about 85,000 financial advisors and their corporations signing up on the system, which will allow them to more easily manage their contracts, licences and errors and omissions insurance, as well as their continuing education credits in one location that is shared with their insurance companies and MGAs. For example, all three parties will be alerted if an advisor’s licence is close to or beyond expiry.
Blackmore said other carriers and MGAs will be onboarding through to 2018.
Explosion of feeds
Meanwhile, there has been “an explosion” of feeds over the last few years in the Canadian insurance industry, said Tana Sabatino, the implementation services specialist at CLIEDIS.
Insurance applications are getting processed faster now thanks to those feeds, said industry members, noting that previously, the forms were tediously inputted by hand. It also means commissions move more quickly to advisors, said Alan Knight, department leader at Edward Jones.
New opportunities will arise
Like everything with technology, jobs – like inputting data – may eventually go by the wayside and new opportunities will arise, said Heather Clarke, vice president, IG Insurance Services Inc. at Winnipeg-based Investors Group.
Clarke said insurers now need analysts, instead of case administrators, to look at the feeds and determine what material they can use. Clarke said IG is building databases that they can send out to their advisors “and that’s going to result in sales.”
Fee disclosure regulations
A number of regulations currently affecting the mutual fund industry may soon spill into the insurance industry, which may add to the feed load.
CRM2, which provides more disclosure on fees and greater transparency to clients on their mutual fund investments, may well move into the insurance realm with segregated funds.
Consumer protection position paper
The Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) is putting together a position paper on consumer protection issues, including the sale of segregated funds and the potential of a disclosure document that will better inform investors on the performance and fees of their segregated funds. That paper is expected out in June.
The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association is keeping its eye on the situation and has said the industry should work together, said Erica Hiemstra, assistant vice president, distribution, CLHIA.