Prudential creates bespoke service to help independent advisors address clients’ broader retirement needs.
While independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) are the fastest-growing advisor segment, insurance companies have historically struggled to adequately provide them with access to retirement solutions such as annuities.
This has stemmed from challenges ranging from licensing issues, regulation around product suitability, fees and tech compatibility. As a result, RIAs have shied away from offering annuities to their clients. To address these issues, the insurance industry has needed to become humbler, and stop and listen to RIA needs before trying to solve for them, according to Kathy Leckey, vice president and head of Strategic Distribution, Individual Solutions Group, at Prudential.
Given that RIAs represent the fastest-growing advisor segment in the financial services industry, helping them address a broader range of their clients’ retirement needs is key to ensuring financial well-being for more people.
“We were concerned that many consumers would be left unprepared for and unprotected in retirement because we didn’t have the right service models and products for this type of advisor base,” Leckey said. “In the past, we made it cumbersome for RIAs to work with us, because of our products’ features, our fee structure or other factors.”
Now, insurance companies are beginning to address these concerns to make it easier for RIAs to better serve customers. Prudential took a holistic approach, building new solutions from the ground up designed both to account for the way RIAs work and to meet consumers’ needs in today’s market, Leckey said.
“To truly connect, annuity providers need to speak the RIA’s language,” Leckey said. For example, she notes that Prudential Annuities recently launched a channel specifically for RIAs that provides educational resources, portfolio analysis tools, and a licensed team to assist RIAs in providing solutions that help support their business and clients. This new RIA Concierge Team, a group of dedicated RIA specialists, works closely with RIAs to address their specific needs throughout the entire process in a streamlined and fully digitalized process. And as part of the educational outreach process, Prudential also launched an RIA-dedicated online storefront, PruRIA.com.
“This is a dedicated in-house resource made up of specialists with extensive RIA experience to address their specific needs,” Leckey said.
Digitization is critical to a program’s success, especially during an era of social distancing. But even before the pandemic, the traditional “door knocking” approach to reach RIAs simply no longer worked.
“Our RIA outreach is exclusively virtual and relationship based,” Leckey said. “Our experiences and industry data show RIAs don’t want to feel pressured into selling a particular product. So, we took a new approach to our relationships with them.”
So, what does this look like in the real world? Leckey points to Prudential’s MyRock℠ Advisor annuity as an example of Prudential’s new approach. The product is designed specifically for RIAs, enabling them to help their clients generate lifetime income with tax efficiencies.
“We come with an understanding that the RIA is the wealth management expert, and we want them to continue to do their job for their clients,” Leckey said.
When it comes to serving RIAs, Leckey advises starting with simple questions like, which platforms are RIAs using? She and her team were struck by the answer. There actually was little integration between insurance company platforms and RIA platforms. Once they realized that, they could solve the problem, which meant owning the entire process.
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