With the launch of a new data mining service, HUB Financial hopes to bring a wealth of buried sales opportunities to the surface for its advisors.
John Lutrin, Hub’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, says that the system called HUBForce is unique in the market and he believes it is “a revolutionary step forward for the industry.”
Launched in early April, the automated system extracts sales opportunities from an advisor’s own inforce block of business using data feeds provided by carriers. When the advisor logs into the HUB website, he or she will receive a personalized greeting that includes notifications about these opportunities. The advisor will also be alerted to the opportunity via email. Simple examples of what the system will provide would be an alert that a term policy is coming up for renewal or conversion, or that a seg fund is reaching maturity.
Generally, an insurance carrier would provide such information on a piecemeal, as-needed basis. For example, if a policy is coming up for renewal, a notice would be sent out. Typically, the advisor would receive the renewal notice and call their MGA to discuss options, etc.
With HUBForce, such opportunities will be channelled from different carriers through HUB and flow to the advisor in a process that includes the follow up support of a marketing specialist who will offer support and discuss alternatives and options related to the sales lead. Mr. Lutrin expects this system will make it easier for advisors to stay on top of both the sales opportunities and servicing needs generated from their existing block.
Silver platter delivery
HUB says the concept behind this system is to deliver the sales opportunities on a silver platter to advisors. The opportunity alerts provided by HUBForce would contain many details, such as client and policy information. Prepopulated application forms would also be available with the alert, says Mr. Lutrin.
“The whole theory behind this is really to take all the legwork out of the equation for the broker...”
Mr. Lutrin says that HUB built this system because one of the biggest challenges for advisors is prospecting for new clients, yet many advisors are sitting on big blocks of inforce existing business that are generating many opportunities. By helping advisors better manage their inforce blocks through HUBForce, the need for prospecting new clients would be less pressing and the advisor would be able to service their existing clients more efficiently, says Mr. Lutrin.
He adds that this system will bring HUB’s service to advisors up to a new level in proactive marketing. Previously, many MGAs like HUB offered advisors valuable tools, calculators, templates and needs analysis tools, etc. But what is different about this initiative is that it extracts “real opportunities that exist that many times would have otherwise gone unseen or totally overlooked.”
Four carriers are participating initially: Manulife Financial, Canada Life, RBC Life and Transamerica Life Canada. Mr. Lutrin explains that Hub represents 15 carriers but at this stage only these four companies were able to meet all the criteria necessary to provide the inforce data feeds.
“We are thrilled because these are four of our biggest carriers, at least biggest in terms of the size of the inforce block we have with them,
particularly Manulife…” he said.
HUB is in discussions with other carriers with the hope that eventually all of them will come on board.
This service will be phased in gradually among HUB’s advisor force. In early April it was launched to 30 advisors and is scheduled to be expanded out to 100 by June and 300 by year end. The aim is that by the end of 2013 all 3000 (HUB) advisors will have access.
Using this system, HUB will carry out various “campaigns”. In the first phase, HUBForce will extract opportunities related to term insurance renewals. A seg fund renewal campaign is also a potential initiative, in which advisors would be advised which seg funds are coming up to their maturity dates.
Another potential use of the system is identifying cross-selling opportunities, for example, a client may have a life only portfolio but no living benefits coverage or vice versa. “Those are exactly the kinds of opportunities we can leverage from this program,” says Mr. Lutrin.
He anticipates that HUBForce will generate a great deal of new business for HUB. To handle this, the MGA expects to be adding to its marketing team resources. This is one of the reasons why the program is being phased in gradually. “We want to pace that appropriately and monitor the uptick in volume of activity and business.”
As this program unfolds, Mr. Lutrin says HUB will be closely monitoring uptake levels among its advisors. The hope is that in the range of 80 to 90 per cent of opportunities delivered will be acted on by advisors. But if not, he sees this as a whole new potential opportunity.
For example, if the uptake is lower – perhaps in the 50 to 60 per cent range – this would reveal that many sales opportunities are being left on the table unattended.
This could give rise to the development of a program that might be called HUBAssist wherein an advisor who is neglecting sales opportunities would be approached by HUB with an offer to send someone else to service the client as part of a commission sharing arrangement. “So on the premise of 50% of something being better than 100% of nothing, we will go to your clients for you – obviously with your agreement and approval and blessing – and execute on these opportunities on your behalf if you’re wanting to do that.”
Mr. Lutrin says that presently nobody knows how many sales opportunities are not being acted upon in the industry. Gaining such insight as a result of the monitoring done via HUBForce, will be valuable for the MGA and even the industry generally, he says.
This system will also reveal cases where an aging advisor might be sitting on their block of business without providing service to clients. As it stands, the industry doesn’t force these advisors out of their comfort zone. “They could simply be…continuing to earn their renewal income without really servicing their clients…This (HUBForce) makes it evident. This actually puts in the face of the broker that these are not only opportunities, but these are occasions where clients need service, guidance and support.”
For Hub this is also a compliance issue. “The industry is moving toward a more regulated area where the MGA is definitely going to have a more onerous role in terms of supervision and compliance…and I think systems like this will absolutely be able to not only help the broker, but monitor the broker in terms of their active support…”
The new system has already undergone pilot testing. The pilot project included a mixed bag of advisors ranging from those who work in the high net worth market and have their own sophisticated systems and administrative assistants, to the Mom and Pop advisor who mainly sells term insurance has no support staff or database of their own.
The feedback was “loud and clear” that the advisors who benefitted most from the system were those working in the lower end of the market who sell a lot of term insurance and who have no infrastructure, Mr. Lutrin explains.