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Embracing and Applying New Digital Tech Emerges as Top Theme at 2015 LIMRA Distribution Conference

At the LIMRA Distribution Conference for Financial Services last week, technology took center stage and book-ended the 2-½ day conference.  Kicking off the conference, James W. Kerley, Chief Membership Officer of LIMRA and LOMA, focused heavily on technology and challenged distribution leaders to embrace social media and digital technology to enable producers to excel in today’s digital world. Jim echoed thoughts he shared at the 2014 conference: sales is changing, and it’s changing faster than ever before. “To be a leader in the digital age,” Jim said, “you must be a digital savvy leader.”


Jim set two key takeaways for the conference attendees:

  1. The need for growth.
  2. The requirement to not only “Think Differently” but to “Act Differently”


The Future of Client Acquisition
The first outside speaker was Greg Bailey, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Athene USA, who covered The Future of Client Acquisition. It seems notable to have a marketing leader on the main stage at a distribution-focused conference, something I imagine that would have been much less likely a decade or more ago when customers where less influenced by digital channels throughout the buying process.


According to Greg, the future growth of this industry relies on a new and innovative approach to distribution. Greg shared, “4 opportunities to shape the future of customer acquisition and realize your potential”: 1. Mobile Technology, 2. Social Technology, 3. Big Data, and 4. Wearable Technology.
Here’s his recap via Twitter:


Finding, Keeping and Managing Clients: How Technology is Changing the Business of Sales


Another technology-focused session was the closing panel moderated by Knut Olson, SVP of Mission Advancement for Thrivent Financial. Knut is so passionate about technology-enabled distribution teams that he said he believes good distribution leaders should act essentially as CTOs.  For this reason, it makes sense that he brought together Michael Lock, President & COO, Hearsay Social with Jaymie Brill who leads Financial Services, for LinkedIn Sales Solutions and Simon Mulcahy who leads Financial Services for Salesforce.  In leading the discussion, Knut shared his the “dream” of a completely integrated content strategy, to empower distribution at Thrivent Financial.


Much of the discussion on the panel was around how technologies like Hearsay Social, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Salesforce will continue to evolve, and work together for a seamless customer experience.


Evidence that Distribution Leaders are Embracing Change
This was the third LIMRA Distribution conference that I have attended, and it has been amazing to witness the changing conversation.  Just a few years ago, there was still a focus on “proving ROI” for social and digital initiatives in distribution for financial services.  The focus on technology and evolution at the 2015 conference shows how the industry and its sales leaders recognize that the time to change is now. And, embracing and applying technology is critical for advisors and agents to reach today’s and tomorrow’s customer.
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