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Katherine Dease, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, IRI

Katherine Dease
Chief Technology & Innovation Officer

An Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) led initiative is underway with a vision to make annuities easy to transact and manage for financial professionals who want to meet consumers’ protected lifetime income and accumulation needs. The sales and maintenance process should be easy and work in the tools that financial professionals use to manage portfolios and construct financial plans for their clients.

Short-Term Goals
The IRI effort will make a down payment on this long-term initiative with several short-term goals to immediately address significant friction points that add complexity and time to financial professionals’ ability to transact and manage annuities.

Planning Tool Compatibility – Insurers and distributors agree that financial professionals should be able to use their current financial planning tools to model annuities for customers’ lifetime income needs as easily as other financial products.

Solution: A standardized process to incorporate annuities into those tools.

Transparent Activity Status – A leading frustration for financial professionals is real-time access to the status of a client’s annuity application when it has been submitted to an insurer. Too often, an application enters a black hole in which a financial professional cannot access the application status to share that information with a consumer.

Solution: A modern standard to allow financial professionals to check status in real time to determine if there are errors that need their attention and to provide consumers with updates on the expected policy delivery.

One of the first experiences that create friction for the financial professional is knowing if they have met the training requirements to transact lifetime income solutions. Too often, financial professionals are left in limbo, wondering when they can start meeting customer needs due to a lack of an effective real-time update of their training status creating an incorrect “can sell” status.

Solution: Onboarding pain points must be addressed through a standard, real-time communication method to bring qualified financial professionals more effectively into the annuity market to meet clients’ demand for lifetime income solutions.

An Eye on the Long Term
As the industry moves to address these short-term goals, we are not taking our eyes off the prize. We will continue to work on longer-term issues including the development of annuity “rules of engagement” and standard product definitions that support more efficient and effective transactions across carriers and distribution partners.

The Clock is Ticking
Over the next six months, we hope to establish guidelines and best practices to address our short-term goals. IRI will then drive adoption and monitor industry progress. Widespread implementation should result in significant improvement in the annuity transaction process that will encourage financial professionals to confidently offer this valuable solution to consumers.

But that’s just the beginning. We’ll continue to lead this collaborative industry initiative and plow through additional friction points to improve the process where more financial professionals can offer clients the lifetime income solutions they need for the secure and dignified retirement they deserve.

 

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