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Sandy Stokley, Senior Vice President, Operations Athene

Sandy Stokley
Senior Vice President, Operations
Athene

You’ve made critical decisions for your company, but few have the potential to create as big an impact as committing to the IRI Digital First for Annuities model. This initiative aims to grow the annuity market and resolve significant pain points for all users.

Athene is an enthusiastic supporter of IRI’s initiative, and we are implementing digital solutions to move our company and the industry forward to transform the annuity experience for financial professionals and consumers.

A key priority of Digital First is the Carrier-to-Carrier Paperless Replacement Process (C2C), promoting a digital-first approach to managing replacement business. Although three Pilot Carriers are investing, industry-wide alignment is necessary to realize the full value. It’s not enough to just do attachments and money settlement – let’s create a true digital process!

Having developed standards and advocated their adoption for over 20 years, I understand the stakes. Here’s how your commitment benefits everyone.

Benefits Outweigh Any Initial “Pain”
The most common complaint from carriers is the time-consuming nature of transfer business, often taking two to four weeks. C2C aims to standardize processing to 48-72 hours by reducing manual processing, call volumes, and not-in-good-order (NIGO) business. Automation allows better service for customers and reduces calls to contact centers regarding transfer status.

The time saved can be reallocated to higher-value tasks, improving the overall customer experience. In today’s digital age, customers expect financial transactions to be completed easily and quickly, akin to getting a loan or selling a home via phone.

Financial Investment Pays for Itself
Beyond time and resource savings, standardizing processes is a financially sound investment that pays off over time. The real cost comes from remaining outdated. After 20 years of stalling, it won’t get cheaper, faster, or easier. Industry collaboration benefits everyone, and we reduce delays associated with paper processes by creating consistent standards.

Future Implications Demand Action Now
Complacency is no longer an option. Improving the transfer experience benefits our customers, financial professionals, and distribution partners. Automation and innovation are essential for growth. While the focus is on C2C, the implications are widespread. Collaboration can expand the annuity market and ensure our industry’s long-term viability. For example, in 2016, Athene had less than five percent of new business submitted electronically. By 2023, nearly 90 percent was submitted electronically, automated with straight-through processing. This level of efficiency would have been unattainable without our investment in automation.

Our customers, financial professionals, and distribution partners deserve a best-in-class experience. We must choose to act now and move our industry forward.

The Call to Action is Clear
If your company isn’t yet aligned with the industry, it’s time to commit. As you set your 2025 budget, advocate for the full paperless replacements project. If you’re eager for progress, reach out to others and promote alignment.

Progress is calling. Creating frictionless solutions and addressing pain points can spur growth, making annuities more accessible and user-friendly.

Contact: Dan Zielinski

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