Consumers are engaging online and through social media platforms as a way to evaluate financial products and financial professionals, according to a study by LIMRA and Life Happens.
Findings from the study highlights the fact that social media is a critical marketing tool for agents and advisers to be successful today.
Consumers often ask social media contacts for recommendations on a variety of products and services, and financial services is no exception. Social media sites have become a common source for reviews and recommendations, as consumers seek peer-approved products and professionals.
The study found more than a third of Americans (34%) —and more than half of Millennials—are likely to ask for recommendations for an insurance agent or financial adviser on social media.
In addition to using social media as a way to source recommendations, consumers are also using these platforms to evaluate an insurance or financial professional they would like to work with.
More than half of Millennials (54%) and 44% of Gen Xers are likely to check an agent’s or adviser’s social media presence on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Even 26% of boomers are likely to do so. These are clear signals that a social media presence is quickly becoming a ‘must-have’, just like a website or email address.
Consumers use social media platforms to get a complete picture of an adviser to determine if they are a good source of information and a good fit personally.
“This year’s study reinforces the increasingly important role that social media has on an adviser’s marketing efforts,” said Marvin Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, president and CEO of Life Happens. “Advisers and agents must ensure their profiles are regularly updated and provide consumers with quality content and information.”
Beyond social media
Beyond leveraging social media, 87% of consumers indicate that during the purchase process they would research life insurance online, regardless of how they purchase their policy. In their research, consumers visit the websites of life insurance companies and seek educational information online.
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Almost half of respondents that had sought life insurance information or attempted to purchase life insurance online indicate they also used insurance comparison/quoting sites as part of the research process. Sixty-seven percent of Millennials use comparison/quoting websites as part of the life insurance purchase process, compared with 45% of Gen X and 28% of Boomers.
As consumers are increasingly interested in using professionals’ websites to educate themselves, it is critical for advisers and agents to keep these sites refreshed and current. Two-thirds of consumers would not do business with an advisor who has an out-of-date site.
Getting the balance right - majority still want personal contact
While online resources are increasingly important to consumers, the majority still want personal contact with a professional when buying life insurance. Millennials are most likely to want to meet with a financial professional before purchasing life insurance (73%), compared with Gen X (64%) and Boomers (69%).
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“This year’s study paints a clear picture of what consumers expect from the life insurance industry today,” said James Scanlon, director, LIMRA Market Research. “Financial professionals need to provide consumers with a more seamless experience, blending online resources, social platforms, with in-person consultation.”
Consumers want to take advantage of both personal networks and professional help, online research and in-person guidance. Agents and advisers must present an “always on” persona as consumers utilise a multi-channel approach to purchasing insurance.
The annual Insurance Barometer Study tracks consumer understanding and preferences when it comes to life insurance ownership, and uncovers common purchase barriers and misconceptions. In addition to focusing on life insurance, long-term care and disability insurance, the study also reveals how average consumers feel about their financial situation and outlook.
In January 2018, not-for-profit research industry trade association LIMRA and non-profit educational organisation Life Happens engaged an online panel to survey adult consumers who are financial decision makers in their households. Responses were received from 2,082 individuals. The data were weighted by age, gender, education, race, region, and income to be representative of the general population. A propensity score adjustment was added to correct for biases inherent in Internet panels. The margin of error in this study is 3 percentage points.
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