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Webinar Highlights: Tech and how it elevates your human advisory skills

By August 29, 2023No Comments

Thank you to everyone who attended this webinar that happened on 29 Aug ‘23! 

As always, fret not if you weren’t able to attend. This article will bring you highlights of what was shared at the webinar!

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Key highlights

With the theme of the webinar being ’Tech and how it elevates your human advisory skills’, we broke the webinar down into the following key segments:

  • Human advisory and its value
  • Blending tech with human advisory 
  • Tech and how it frees you up to hone your advisory skills
  • Leveraging Insurtech: Surer case studies

Human advisory and its value

The webinar started with a case study, referencing a research paper.

Case study: the need for the human advisor

It was shared that one of the key values of an intermediary is in the advice that they can give. 

Following are some of the key points quoted from the research paper ‘Advancing the Art of Advisory’:

  • As wealth management becomes increasingly digital, investors have expressed concerns over the lack of a personal touch with their financial advisors.
  • While digital adoption is reducing cost-to-serve, it has also led to less effective customisation that comes with reduced human interaction.
  • As the world transitions out of the pandemic, we are likely to observe an increasing trend of investor-advisor interactions…

This was backed by the fact that 57% of millennial investors feel that technology reduces the personal touch and face-to-face interactions in their wealth relationships – considerably higher than the overall global age group of 39%.

It was then shared that the human touch remains indispensable with the following points used to expand on this thought:

  • Surprisingly, a larger proportion of Millennials (67%) prefer to maintain the human touch when it comes to advisory services despite being digital natives
  • …appetite for purely digital-led relationships has been declining rapidly at the higher end of the wealth pyramid…

This was backed by the fact that 72% of investors prefer to retain the ‘human touch’ in their wealth planning journey.

The speaker concluded that advisors are a trusted source of advice sharing 66% of retail investors consider their primary financial advisor as the most trusted source of advice, compared to other sources.

What intermediaries bring to the table

With the above as a backdrop to the segment, the speaker moved into sharing the following points on what intermediaries actually bring to the table that is so valuable.

  • As advisors to the policyholder: Intermediaries provide customers with the necessary information required to make educated purchases/ informed decisions. Intermediaries are there to explain what their clients need, and the options available to them.
  • Helping to save time spent on searching and researching: Intermediaries act as the person with the knowledge to get the client started. Without a wholesome knowledge of the insurance industry, it is hard to even get going to do research OR trust the research you have done; essentially, clients don’t know what they don’t know.
  • Bringing certainty to uncertainty: Clients may know what risks they want to cover but do not have a wide overview of the right insurer. Insurers may have all the information in the market but are ultimately in a tough position to fully understand the prospective client. However, intermediaries know the marketplace, where to get answers to questions, and what information is required on both sides.

The New Age Intermediary

Speaker then mentioned that this begs the question… what makes a ‘new age intermediary’? 

It was then shared that the new age intermediary 

  • Does not see business to be purely transactional
    • Intermediaries’ business model is not built purely on a transactional level with their clients.
    • It is a model steeped in intangibles… relationship, market knowledge, understanding of the products and services that is available vis-a-vis the client.
    • Technology has the power to complement, enable and support many of the core processes that underpin the intermediaries’ work.
  • Uses tech to enhance relationships
    • Tech improves the efficiency of placement – to get a proposal out faster, and get as many quotes simultaneously.
    • It will not replace the relationships rather frees up more time to help you better understand the client
    • Imagine a world where the quoting process is streamlined and the intermediaries can provide value-added services like requesting for personalised or customised coverage without fear of the complications

The segment concluded with the speaker sharing that there is a core difference between being an advisor versus just an order taker.

There are 4 types or stages of relationship a client

  • Stage 1: the order taker
  • Stage 2: the vendor
  • Stage 3: the value-add salesperson
  • Stage 4: the trusted advisor

At stage 4:

  • The client views you as an extension to his or her business
  • The client trusts your advice is all they need
  • They will have so much confidence in your advice that they are likely to go with your recommendations without further consulting anyone else.
  • Clients lean on the intermediary for expert advice; someone who has our best interest at heart. Intermediaries should not be bogged down by repetitive administrative matters.

Essentially, the intermediary is the critical link between insurers and the end policyholder. You offer advice and key information in connection with the negotiation or sale of insurance. Intermediaries are players in the ecosystem with broad knowledge of BOTH the product and the marketplace.

Blending the best of both worlds – tech and human advisory

Moving into the next segment, the speaker sought to share on the topic of What tech cannot do

What tech CANNOT do

Using the above article as a case study, the speaker shared that while there has been buzz around AI and its undeniable ability, it was mentioned that digital tools can only help customers kick-start research. However, intermediaries are still required to provide good context both on a personal level and at the geographic level.

He quoted the following two paragraphs from the article to broaden on the above point:

  • “On the other hand, some of the more specific suggestions made by the financial advisors, who have a more localised context as well as information on specific products I could use, guided me to a more targeted research”
  • “I believe machines cannot see what humans cannot envision…”
  • “Human advisors are still needed to provide assurance and last mile issues…”

The speaker moved on and shared that this was especially so in Commercial Insurance where in Europe 75% of complex insurance ‘researched online, purchased offline’ while In the US Intermediaries accounted for 70.8% of commercial premiums.

Diving deeper into this, the speaker shared about key stats in a research where:

  • Majority (71%) of clients WANT to hear from a salesperson
  • 82% of clients say they will take a meeting
  • 67% of clients say tailored solutions will get them even more interested
  • >90% of clients feel a sales meeting is more valuable if you help them better understand their needs

Some perspectives of why this could be the case were shared as well and it was mooted that this could be part of our nature in relation to fear and optimism bias.

Optimism Bias:

  • Our brain is built to be optimistic as a default. We will first believe that that we are less likely to suffer from misfortune and more likely to attain success.
  • What has it to do with insurance?
  • One of the reasons why the industry always say ‘insurance requires selling’. It is a built-in resistance to purchasing / or being motivated to purchase Insurance.


  • The brain is trained to to be more afraid of what we can understand, rather than one that seems foreign or abstract
  • What has it to do with insurance?
  • So, how we fear or how we have learnt to ‘prioritise’ fear can explain some of the resistance some Insurance. How I die seems to take higher priority over dying itself.

What can tech help with in your business

So, what can tech actually do to help intermediaries in their business? Why is tech important?

The first reason was on how TQ is as important as IQ and EQ

TQ = Technology Quotient

  • The ability to adapt to technological changes 
  • The ability to develop and employ strategies to take advantage of technology in work and life

An intermediary with high TQ:

  • organises work to take full advantage of available technology  
  • reaps a payback from taking technology risks  
  • takes advantage of the opportunities technology presents

It was shared that this is not a matter of genes but that of attitude. It is training oneself to be receptive to adapt and flourish to advancement. Tech helps intermediaries do more by working less, drives business faster with automation and ultimately, empowers intermediaries to spend more time on more important matters like providing advice to the customer.

This led to the next point – that tech frees intermediaries from mundane repetitive administrative actions and allows them more time to be an advisor not an order taker; to be able to take a ‘client-first’ mindset. To always start with having the client’s problem in mind first and not from a position of ‘how can I close the deal’.

It was added that when this is done right, the client will appreciate the extra effort placed in assisting them and that is really the stage intermediaries want to be on with your clients; being an advisor!

Why the new age intermediary cannot be replaced

The new age intermediary cannot be replaced and the following thoughts were shared.

1) From the insurer’s perspective, there is added value to supercharging the efficiency of the sales force not replacing them

  • Insurers will deploy technology to empower intermediaries much more, leading to an even better experience and performance. 
  • Much like how Insurers are looking to automate processes in their back office, a world where the intermediaries can automate processes that take up so much of their time they are unable to prospect or service their clients (the purchasers of insurer’s products) is not that far away.
  • By combining technology with human intermediaries, insurers can deliver better conversations and higher customer satisfaction

2) Insurtechs are increasingly looking to work with and for intermediaries and not disrupt just for the sake of it

  • Insurtech should focus on creating solutions to problems the aim should not be to disrupt for the sake of it… 
  • ‘Delivering the proposition better’ or success, for this matter, is ultimately brewed with the same basic ingredients – there’s a risk to be underwritten, someone needs to underwrite this risk, a fee is paid for this underwriting – and the end product is similar; a coverage plan or policy!
  • HOWEVER, what can differ is the efficiency with which this success is ‘brewed’ and how the end product is distributed.

3) Ultimately, the value that intermediaries bring to the table is abundantly clear and it makes sense that tech is used to enhance such

  • Your business model is not built purely on a transactional level with their clients. 
  • And this is not something that can ever be replaced.
  • However, the opportunity for the intermediary is to enhance their business by leveraging technology; not fearing it.

In conclusion to the segment of the webinar, it was shared that technology has the power to complement, enable and support many of the core processes that underpin your work. Intermediaries save precious time that they can then use to focus on the core aspects of the business – serving and advising the client. The new age intermediaries who supercharge themselves with technology will not be replaced.

Tech and how it frees you up to hone your advisory skills

Having shared about the core value that intermediaries bring to the table and how this blends with the available technology, the third segment of the webinar was focused on the ‘how’ of tech vis-a-vis helping intermediaries.

Case study: Honing the craft of advisory

Referring to the same research paper (Advancing the Art of Advisory) shared in the first segment of the webinar, the speaker shared that investors may not always believe that their financial advisor has their best interest at heart. Trust is a valuable trait in this instance.

Based on the research paper, there were 3 vital tenets that would strengthen trust

  • Being at the centre of major life events
  • Harnessing the power of knowledge
  • Steering investors across their investment journey

In addition to trust, it was also shared that knowledge of the advisor was key

  • Investors with advanced financial knowledge value wealth advice and holistic planning more than those with less financial know-how and are more willing to pay for advice
  • the need for advisors to know more than their investors. Such knowledge is necessary for advisors to deliver exceptional guidance

It was shared that it is important that intermediaries remain at the centre of their client’s life events as well

  • During major life events, investors pay more attention and do their most critical financial planning
  • look beyond transactional needs and seek to add value at different stages of an investor’s life will stand to gain their trust.
  • Financial advisors need to be cognizant of investors’ anticipated major life events and engage them promptly

Last but not least, the research paper called out that the ideal intermediary watches out for their investors, avoids risky decisions, and acts as a defence against misguided investments. More than half of investors see advisors or advisory teams as their primary relationship instead of their firms.

Uncovering the needs of your clients

With the above, the speaker then dived into how an intermediary can uncover the needs of their clients. 

It was shared that it is important to first understand the decision making process, which can be broadly classified into the following stages:

  • Stage 1: Identify the decision to be made
  • Stage 2: Gather relevant information
  • Stage 3: Identify the alternatives
  • Stage 4: Weigh the facts
  • Stage 5: Choose among alternatives
  • Stage 6: Take action
  • Stage 7: Review your decision & its consequences

The speaker then went deeper to share about stages 1, 2 and 5.

  • Stage 1: This is the stage where the client is prompted to think about insurance needs. At this stage, the client has consciously or subconsciously come up with a problem statement of which he needs to make a decision to solve. This is where you help the client uncover the needs in relation to the problem statement.
  • Stage 2: This stage is where the client does a little bit of self assessment and education. The client will likely look to do so on two levels. One is on the internal level where they ask themselves a series of questions – things like ‘what would give me a peace of mind?’, ‘what are bare essentials and what are good-to-haves?’ The other is external. This is where they find external sources to educate themselves. In asking the right questions, you are effectively influencing the internal thought process 
  • Stage 5: Intermediaries should not take this stage as a done deal. This is the stage where you present the power of your knowledge from the questions you have asked… Tangibly, this would be the kinds of quotes that you are able to get and how closely they fulfil the needs and why.

When it comes to asking the right questions as per stage 2 and 5, the speaker shared 3 examples of ‘magic questions’ that could help intermediaries uncover needs of their clients better:

  • Magic question 1: How willing are you to change?
      • This is the most powerful question – asking the client their propensity to change
      • Example: for a client who already has an existing policy… If the answer you get is a ‘oh actually, it’s best but at a lower price lah’; now you understand it is more a budget issue than a new set of requirements. If the answer you get is a ‘Yes. I don’t think my existing policy can cover the 2 other new restaurants I intend to open…’; here you understand that the client’s needs are driven by business expansion.
      • This question helps intermediaries determine the client’s willingness to challenge the status quo. You can now shift the conversation in the direction to emphasise on the client’s potential to change, rather than potential to buy.
  • Magic question 2: What prompted you to start exploring?
    • This question goes deeper than ‘what are your needs?’.
    • ‘What are your needs?’ requires the client to  list what he thinks is good / suited. However, this might not actually be the best answer to get. What if the client has a lack of understanding of what the possibilities are?
    • By asking the client what prompted them to start exploring, you are essentially asking the client to explain the ‘why’ not the ‘how’ or ‘what’ – that is your job!
    • From this point, you can then ask more specific questions to fully understand what kind of policies will best work for the client AND NOT what the client think it best – you are the PRO!
  • Magic questions 3 – 6: Targeted follow-up questions
    • Once you have ‘opened the door’, you can now jump into the nitty gritty or the details of what the client needs…
      • When you say ‘cover’ what do you imagine this to be?
      • Can you share the specifics of your business?
      • Do you have an example of what you have in mind?
      • What are some policies that you have come across that definitely did not suit you?

The right questions help you uncover needs – this is mapped back to how a typical person makes a decision as well. The key point to takeaway is that it is your job to help your clients understand what he needs. Do not assume the client already has something in mind that is correct.

Tech frees you up to have a ‘client-first’ mindset

The speaker then went into looking at reports and articles to further validate the idea that the industry values intermediaries with a ‘client-first’ mindset – where there is good value to support intermediaries with tech.

Article referenced: 2022 insurance industry outlook

  • Key insights: Insurers are increasingly dependent on emerging technologies and data sources to drive efficiency, enhance cybersecurity, and expand capabilities across the organization. However, most should also focus on improving the customer experience by both streamlining processes with automation as well as providing customized service where needed and preferred.
  • Takeaway: Insurers need to find ways to balance tech adoption with maintaining the human touch

Article referenced: How Agents and Insurtechs Can Work Together

  • Key insights: This is where agents’ insights can steer the insurtech in the right direction. Agents are on the frontlines using the products. They know how a new solution fits into their workflows. Does it save them time? Do they need to develop workarounds because it doesn’t meet their needs? Is the tool adding any real value? If it doesn’t, are there changes that would make it more useful?
  • Takeaway: The views of intermediaries are crucial for insurtech to work

Article referenced: 5 reflections on the insurance industry in 2021

  • Key insights: Human connection matters more than ever as customer trust falls. We saw in our Insurance Consumer Study 2021 that the right Human + Machine mix restores consumer trust and better engages them. Though approaches will vary, the Human + Machine combinations will continue to be essential for incumbents and insurtechs alike.
  • Takeaway: There needs to be a right mix of human + machine combination

Article referenced: Embracing the Human Side of the Bionic Insurer

  • Key insights: …bionic business models that marry humans and technology more closely than ever before, they tend to focus on the delivery and technology aspects. Too often they overlook the human changes, which are the hardest part…A bionic company needs a robust balance of technology and human enablers.
  • Takeaway: The needs to be a robust balance of tech and human enablers

Finally an example that was provided in how tech can be leveraged would be in the space of bespoke products vs packaged products

  • Packaged products are essentially, by design, policies built to cover a generalised representation of the risk rather than the specifics of the policyholder’s business.
  • Benefits of packaged products
    • ‘One size fit all, one system solves all’
    • Helps with scaling and ease of sales
  • Downside of packaged products:
    • Not everything within this package is required by the client
    • Some are forced to take up coverage that they obviously do not need, for the purpose of obtaining one that they do.
  • Imagine a world where the effort to get your clients exactly what they need vs pushing them packages is the same.
  • Customisation can be mentioned in the same breath as scalability and ease of distribution. Technology is here to help unlock this shift; to enable disbursement of bespoke policies.

Leveraging Insurtech: Surer case studies

A feedback that the team had gotten was that we should include the showcase of tangible features / functions that intermediaries can leverage; to be able to draw parallels between what has been shared and what can be used.

The speaker did exactly that by sharing some of Surer’s features that help an intermediary digitally transform.

Personal Website Builder

  • The speaker shared about this Surer feature and mentioned this to be something that will be released in early March ‘23
  • Essentially, this feature allows any intermediary, regardless of tech savviness to be able to build and launch their personal website in minutes via Sure
  • The website will allow intermediaries to showcase the products they sell (and clients to submit their own information for such products), their specialisation, their achievements and various ways to collect leads

Product Customisation and creating your own ‘package’ template

  • The speaker shared how several products on Surer are fully customisable
  • Using the FWD Surer Maid Insurance product as an example, the speaker shared how this product was co-created between Surer and FWD where intermediaries can fully customise the different lines of cover that goes into this Maid policy
  • On top of that, the speaker shared how intermediaries can create their own ‘packages’ and save them as templates once customisation of the product is done

Instant Quote

  • It was shared that Surer has an ‘Instant Quote Marketplace’ built specifically for intermediaries
  • As the name suggests, this is where all products with instant quote functionalities are listed
  • Using Zurich’s Marine Cargo product as an example, Intermediaries can get quotes in seconds and share these quotes digitally via Surer with their clients

Binding and issuing policies

  • For selected lines of products, intermediaries are empowered to manage the full cycle of a deal including binding and issuing policies
  • Once again using Zurich’s Marine Cargo product as an example, the speaker showcased how a recent integration between Surer and Zurich allowed for issuing of policies to happen

CRM features

  • The speaker then went on to share a couple of CRM related features including 
    • Digital Personal Assistant: Never miss a beat when it comes to outstanding tasks, recent activities and sales tracking
    • Deal Tracker: Digitise your entire workflow, from proposal creation to client accepting a quote
    • Policies Watch: Track premium collection status, policy renewal reminder and “one-click” policy renewal process.

The parallels of tech helping to drive leads, qualification and speed in deal closing were drawn in relation to the above features was shared to be as follow:

  • Personal Website Builder <> Leads
  • Instant Quote <> Qualification
  • Product Customisation and creating your own ‘package’ template <> Closing
  • Binding and issuing policies <> Closing
  • CRM features <> efficiency in managing business

Once again, here’s taking the opportunity to thank all our users who made time for this and we hope to see you again in our next Webinar!

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