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Best Practices For Advisor Portals

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In this article we explore how insurance companies can develop and execute an effective Advisor portal that can enhance sales effectiveness, improve customer servicing and make your advisors truly mobile.  

What is an Advisor Portal?

An advisor portal is a system, usually accessed via a browser, which allows insurance advisors (agents or Bancassurance advisors) to access information and perform transactions related to 2 main areas:

  1.  Their own relationship with the insurance company (such as remuneration, training and performance records)
  2. Their relationship with their  existing customers (policy record and status information on items such as pipeline policies, policies with premium outstanding)

Advisor Portals in Context

Ideally your organisation should have an agreed strategy and roadmap before embarking on the development of advisor portals. The business model pictured below, developed by The Digital Advisor is an example of such a framework.

Digital Advisor Business Model for the insurance Industry

Have a plan – this is the Digital Advisor Business Model

 

Have a plan – for example The Digital Advisor Business Model

It is of course possible to jump on and develop a standalone advisor portal and this approach will generate benefits although the likelihood is that a couple of years down the road the lack of a joined up roadmap will mean that the business gets frustrated with the lack of integration with other sales tools.

 

 

Advisor Portal Functionality

The table below highlights the core functionality that would be expected in a fully built up advisor portal.

Functional Area Business Requirement
Reporting
  • Portal becomes the only source for Sales MIS
  • On browser reporting
  • Reports designed around sales management process (weekly 1-1 reviews, monthly meetings etc.)
  • Easy selection criteria
  • Drill down through  sales hierarchy
  • Graphical representation
Benchmarking
  • Auto generation of key benchmarks (case size, policies per month, persistency etc.)
  • Comparisons against plan and against peers
Policy Records
  • Drill down to view customer records
Remuneration
  • Monthly commission statements
Training
  • Online training calendar
  • Summary of key training events
  • Training booking system
  • Access (via link) to online training centre)
Pipeline Management
  • New business performance statistics
  • Pipeline business and status
  • Requirements module (including letters for customers, details of outstanding requirements and communication channel to underwriters)
Premium Management
  • Persistency ratio analysis
  • Lapses policy management
  • Outstanding premium management
  • Orphan policy allocation processes
Performance Reviews
  • Online performance reviews
Recruitment
  • New advisor application
  • New advisor assessment processes
  • Recruitment analysis – recruitment scores versus outcomes
Resource Centre
  • Access to forms and other documents in a structured directory – effectively a sales management library

The advisor portal will have a management module that allows support and operations staff to access relevant modules and functionality.

Advisor portals are a key element for Digital insurance and the Digital Advisor business  model

Example of an Advisor Portal – minimalistic design

The eagle-eyed reader has probably spotted that lead/contact management is not included in the specification for the Digital Advisor Portal. This is a deliberate and considered omission as whilst the contact module maybe accessed via the advisor portal we believe it has some special characteristics (including links to advisor smartphone address books and connectivity to third party applications) that warrants separate attention (see related articles section at the end of this article). We have also excluded sales processes (need analysis, quote and digital proposal) as these are best considered as part of a Table development initiative.

What benefits can you expect? Making the business case

Advisor portals are very close to being an essential infrastructure investment. The areas of benefit can be classified in 4 areas:

  1. Information access: Providing the right information, in the right structure, to everyone in the sales organisation provides the platform for distribution to make the decisions to enhance performance and provide better service to their customers
  2. Enforcing distribution best practice: The alignment of portal functionality to sales management processes and practices makes it easier to enforce and monitor management best practices and impose the company’s method of operation on its sales force. Portals provide transparency and hold the right people, at the appropriate level, accountable for their performance
  3. Automating the routine: There are significant benefits including removal of manual MIS, commission statements, reduced calls to head office for basic information, more rapid management of pipeline, easier performance appraisals, and faster recruitment of new advisors and easier scheduling of training.
  4. Overcoming legacy systems: The advisor portal can pull in data from multiple back end policy systems. Once established insurers find it is more cost effective to build some transactional features within the advisor portal rather than modifying  multiple back end systems. Examples would include commission / earning modules and new business workflow

As most companies typically have thousands of advisors the benefits add up quickly.

Implementation Best Practice

Implementation strategy and execution will determine the success or failure. We briefly highlight some 10 best practices that will help to ensure success:

Focus is essential for digital insurance initiatives

Narrow down launch functionality

 

  1. Narrow focus for launch version – pilot mentality to create something with impact
  2. Match technology with sales force management processes
  3. Invest in training on the tool and the management approach it represents
  4. Use a designer for the interface
  5. Don’t make it mobile – browser is good enough
  6. Designed for reporting – including data cubes for speed and performance
  7. Modern platforms for technical design – not Citrix
  8. Integration – accept this will be required in the longer term but avoid for launch versions so that timelines don’t explode
  9. Channel priorities – typically agency first as subsets of functionality needs for other channels
  10. Develop a portal centre of excellence with long term ownership and development responsibilities

We are planning a more in depth article to cover implementation approaches for portals as many insurers have struggled to gain the benefits and acceptance of existing investments in portals. Many are also sitting on portal “nightmares” so we will also have a look at how to recover and effect a turnaround.

Share this article – and learn more

Please feel free to share this article with your colleagues. And don’t forget to Sign Up to our email newsletter to be the first to see future articles that are posted on The Digital Insurer. In future articles The Digital Insurer will explore how to set the best roadmap for your organisation and what the challenges you may face as you start to deploy the Digital Advisor model.

If you have comments and suggestions on this article or for future articles please contact us directly or just leave a comment below.

Related articles on Advisor portals:

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About The Digital Insurer

The Digital Insurer is a blog/article forum and accompanying email newsletter maintained for the benefit of insurance professionals interested in improving on existing business models, or creating new business models that take advantage of technology developments. More about The Digital Insurer

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