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Future Forward for LIMRA Members?

Digital technology, shifting demographics, tightening economics and changing regulations. These were the common themes for last week’s annual LIMRA conference. Since this was LIMRA’s 100 th Anniversary, what is typically a 500 person event was a record 1,000+ as carriers and distributors starved for direction and solutions to today’s challenges took it all in.

LIMRA CEO Bob Kerzner kicked it off highlighting the “Age of Dichotomy” citing the massive influences of both the Boomer and Millennial generations. While boomers continue to control the majority of investable assets, the influence of the millennial generation is impacting how they like to buy financial products and services.

Millennials who spend an average of 47 days out of the year on their mobile phone are all about convenience and value. And social media is no longer the primary way to reach them. Everything has moved to the mobile phone and messaging. Only 20% of emails are ever read whereas 98% of texts are read within minutes. Kerzner also called the coming DoL rule a “seminal moment” for the industry. He stated that the DoL is the first domino of what will be a chain reaction of events that will reshape the business forever.

Every workshop was about either the implications of the digital era or the DoL. The closing speakers reinforced exactly these two themes. A chart was shown for several industries about technology adoption. Not surprisingly, the insurance industry was the furthest behind. More than 85% of industry firms had not even begun or were just in the early stages of planning a digital strategy.

So, the conference theme “Future Forward; Accelerate-Innovate- Transform” could not have been more appropriate and the audience any more needing of the message. Change is only increasing at a quicker pace and doing business as usual is no longer an option. The margin for error is razor thin and innovation is no longer a mission statement buzz word, but a requisite to survive and thrive going forward.

We’ve heard these themes thrown around for years yet the industry seems to be content to “keep on keep’in on” without “rocking the boat”. But at this meeting you got the sense that there is real fear of remaining with the status quo. Time will tell, but there is a feel that plans are being put in place to truly begin innovating and changing what has been a stodgy and slow to change industry.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”

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