Relationships, not necessarily product or price, are key to helping insurers differentiate themselves from their competitors and build a growing roster of loyal clients, an insurance conference was told on Wednesday.

Catherine Bishop, vice president, sales optimization, at RBC Insurance told the Connected Insurance Canada 2019 conference held in Toronto this week that multi-line service providers that offer both property and casualty insurance as well as life and health insurance and want to keep their clients need to provide "something" special to clients other than just product.

"I think that's what insurance companies are trying to figure out now," said Bishop. "We all have similar products – what is it that differentiates us? This becomes a core strategy."

Bishop said RBC stands out from other insurers primarily because of its trustworthy brand as well as the fact that it offers advice on the investment side.

She said she would like insurers to be able to provide some kind of reward to clients to thank them for their loyalty, but that's not allowed in today's world.

So until that happens, Bishop said RBC salespeople are being armed not just with product knowledge but also with ways they can build their relationship capabilities to keep clients coming back to the company.

"While we're building for the future we need the relationship builders now. Everything I do in my mandate today is helping to get to that utopia where we know so much about our clients that they're part of the family."