Believe it or not, people have accused me of being excessively optimistic. And to be honest, it blew me away. Criticism for having faith in the future? In a world of pessimism, any amount of positive thinking could be considered excessive.
Granted, there is a lot I could be pessimistic about. Employment growth continues to be challenged. Interest rates are pressured. Health care costs continue to increase significantly. And, to top all off, we’re all trying to make a living in an industry that’s considered a mature market. So, then, why my optimism?
I just see things differently. As 2014 unfolds, I envision an economy that continues to improve, with business owners willing to invest in their businesses, fueling a more robust scenario for job and wage growth. That translates into a growth opportunity for insurance sales, especially given the untapped employee benefits market. I say “untapped” because too many Americans still hold too little life insurance, most have little or no disability coverage, and high-deductible health plans are creating a need for gap insurance, like critical illness and accident insurance.
Being optimistic, in my mind, helps us embrace change and see the value in capitalizing on ways to reach our customers differently than we do today. Here are a few changes working their way into our industry:
- New distribution channels, such as private exchanges, are offering attractive alternatives for both your clients and their employees in the future.
- Consumers are evolving and demanding an improved buying experience, one that understands who they are, anticipates their need and then offers a solution in a way that resonates with them on a personal level.
- Social media, which has heavily influenced consumer buying behaviors in the retail world, is making its way into the insurance sales cycle, as well.
- Big data — large amounts of unstructured data about your clients’ habits, preferences and relationships — is beginning to serve in a predictive way to fundamentally change how products are designed, brought to the market and sold.
These are all evolving concepts, and deserve more explanation. Watch for more of my blogs that will cover some of these topics and more this year. But, for now, I hope they tip your thinking about some of the things I see on the horizon that will shape your world as advisors. They are not to be feared — quite the opposite, in fact. I encourage you to embrace them and figure out how to leverage them in your roles. This is the future — one that I’m personally optimistic about. I hope you share my sense of enthusiasm.
Are you beginning to feel the impact of these emerging forces above? If so, how?