Creating a panoramic view - using data to drive success 

The insurance distribution landscape is rapidly evolving in response to technological, regulatory and market change. Traditional agency roles, processes and strategies are being redefined and the new digital value proposition enabling distributors to provide greater value for all partners will be driven by data. 
At the highest level, as distributors redefine their value proposition for a digital environment, the key question becomes how do we add the most value for our partners? The most critical value proposition that distributors offer to advisors, is to help them grow their business—providing them with the tools and systems to help them manage their practices. Here are several ways for data to support business success.   

A 360-degree view
A distributor’s unique position in the insurance ecosystem makes it essential for them to have a panoramic view of data from all sources. Providing a comprehensive view of prospect and client data helps advisors streamline their process and proactively manage the service aspect of their client interactions. Leveraged properly, the data provides updates on applications in underwriting, allowing advisors to manage client expectations. It gives a view into existing client holdings to uncover cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, and it enhances compliance actions such as client review meetings.  

Enhanced sales and service capabilities 
Much of the client data that advisors and distributors need to effectively handle service requests has been bottle-necked at the carrier level. It’s difficult to service clients if we don't know what products they hold; and distributors can’t support or manage sales if they don't know which policies have been sold.  And, without automated access to accurate commission data, commission reconciliation for payment will always be slow, and the process made more difficult.

How does data help solve those challenges? 
Distributors are data-intensive businesses, but bottlenecks in critical operations can be created when data doesn’t flow freely, either between stakeholders or internally. In some cases, the 360-degree view that a digital value proposition requires is just not available.  

Consolidated data makes your operations more effective and efficient, but requires an important change for distributors 
Accessing and centralizing critical data is important, but it begs the question, what are you doing with the data? Unfortunately, for some distributors, the true potential of their data isn’t being harnessed because they have continued to operate in the same ways they always have. They still manually review most cases. Core business processes have changed little over the years. The reality is, an organization’s processes inevitably develop due to the systems they have. Workarounds are created to make processes fit the system.  

New systems provide the opportunity to re-think the approach to operations in order to optimize the business.   Distributors should ask how they can eliminate old processes like data entry or manual review, and shift resources to higher value work —like analysis or client outreach. 

What should agencies be looking to do in the future? 
No matter how a distributor defines their value proposition, its potential can only be fully realized if it is supported by insurance management systems that centralize data through carrier feeds. To access consolidated 360-degree views of a clients’ data, streamline all aspects of the policy lifecycle and enable enhanced communication and support for advisors, distributors need to fuel the future with rich sources of data from all stakeholders in the industry. 

Ray Adamson, Vice President, Insurance Solutions, Equisoft has held senior leadership roles in the financial services industry for over 25 years. Throughout his career he’s built a reputation for helping carriers and distributors take their business to the next level.