2021 Distribution Conference for Financial Services Agenda

All times listed are Eastern Daylight Time.

2021 Distribution Conference Breakout Sessions

Monday, February 22, 2021

3:00 pm - 3:45 pm: VALUE-ADDED SESSIONS

1. Next Wave of Customer Engagement

ROSS COHEN, Digital Experience and Analytics Executive, New York Life; KRISTYN COOK, Senior Vice President, Agency and Marketing, State Farm; AMIT NANAVATI, Vice President, Digital Products, Northwestern Mutual; MEREDITH RYAN-REID, Head of Financial Wellness and Engagement, MetLife; Moderator: AVRIL CASTAGNETTA, Managing Director, EY

Almost a year into the COVID-19 crisis, any notion of a rapid return to the old ways of doing things has disappeared. The second wave is happening and weighs on the minds of senior business executives, political leaders and everyday consumers.  COVID19 is changing the way advisors and customers interact.  It is also changing what they need.  Advisors continue to need help with digital selling, specifically how to use social media to help become viewed as a trusted advisor, increase the number of leads, shorten the sales cycle and build client loyalty.  Customer needs are evolving from "set it and forget it" products to ongoing help with financial wellness.  Our discussion will demystify the tools and tactics to be successful in supporting both agents and customers today and beyond.

2. LIMRA Member Benefits: Did You Know…?

JAMIE STELLA, LLIF, LUTCF, Member Relations Director, LIMRA

LIMRA members rely on their membership for one key reason- they can make evidenced-based, bottom-line decisions with greater confidence. How to acquire and develop the best talent in ever-changing distribution landscape? How to develop a strategy encompassing alternate distribution channels without channel conflict and enhance customer experience? In this session, learn how to maximize and leverage the benefits of your LIMRA membership. We’ll cover key research relevant to distribution and marketing, and highlight products and services that will help with channel growth. Even in a remote environment, LIMRA provides you with the opportunity to network with other distribution leaders, form new relationships, and strengthen existing ones.

3:45 pm - 4:00 pm - BREAK

4:00 pm - 4:45 pm - WOMEN LEADERS RECEPTION

(For LIMRA members only.) If anyone is creative, resourceful and driven to success, it is women in these financial services. Join us for an interactive Women Leaders’ Reception. Reunite with colleagues and make new acquaintances while sharing the silver linings that have been gained and will be a springboard or an even brighter future.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

11:00 am - 11:15 am - WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS

Sean F. O’Donnell, LLIF - Senior Vice President, Member Relations and Head of Workplace Benefits, LIMRA and LOMA

11:15 am - 12:15 pm - GENERAL SESSION

Leading Change During an Inflection Point

Global forces and technology are driving the need for change in our organizations…and the need for change only becomes greater and faster with each new technology, macro trend, or event. We see it in how we work each day, how we communicate with each other, and in so many other ways. But how do we change our organizations to take advantage of these forces without losing our people — the very ingredient we need to be successful in these times? Al will bring to life the formula for successful change. Using science, great stories and examples from his three decades in corporate life, plus his twenty-year journey studying change, Al shares a formula for successful change that will endure today and prepare any organization for change demands that can’t yet be foreseen.

Al Comeaux - Former VP of Travelocity;
Change Champion at GE and American Airlines

12:15 pm - 12:40 pm - BREAK

12:40 pm - 1:25 pm: BREAKOUT SESSIONS

3. Economic Landscape – Emerging from a Novel Year and Ready for Growth

KIMBERLY CUMMINS, Territory Executive, Farmers Insurance; MICHAEL FASCIOTTI, Senior Director, Field Real Estate, Northwestern Mutual,  ANTHONY FONTANO, CLU, Chief Operating Officer, Prudential Advisors, Prudential; ModeratorRICHARD GASKELL, CLU, FICF, Vice President, Agent Compliance, Knights of Columbus

So many aspects could be addressed in a discussion of economics for distribution! In this session we shall focus on:

  • In this environment of continued low interest rates, exacerbated by the pandemic, where do you strategically decide to tighten the belt and where do you invest in order to have profitable growth?
  • Real Estate — what changes, if any, are being planned? Will footprints shrink? Will there be a move to shared spaces? What will lease agreements look like going forward?
  • The impact on a local agency — how have the economics affected and shaped how local agencies will do business and engage with prospects and clients?

4. Wholesaling Without Boundaries: The 5 Ts

CHRISTOPHER OWENS, FLMI, Second Vice President, Retail Life & Annuity Sales, Securian Financial; LISA M. TODD, Head of Life/Disability Insurance Distribution, MassMutual Strategic Distributors, MassMutual; ModeratorNATHAN DRISKILL, Vice President Channel Leader and National Sales Manager, AIG Life & Retirement

From challenge emerges opportunity. The pandemic has accelerated new technologies and capabilities for financial professionals and the wholesalers who serve them. The ability to meet with customers both in person and virtually will create more efficient and effective sales and service relationships. Hear how companies are evaluating new wholesaling models in preparation for the post-pandemic future: tools, training, talent, territories and traction.

5. How to Partner Your Way to Market Agility – Insurtechs, Alliances, and Frenemies to Pave the Way to Growth

RON ALEXANDER, President and Head of Innovation, Covr Technologies; JJ CARROLL, Vice President, Product Development and Innovation, AAA Life; RICHARD DE SOUSA, Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, SCOR Global Life; Moderator: LIA EASLER, Assistant Vice President, Emerging Distribution Life Insurance, Nationwide Financial

Meeting market potential today is often achieved through a range of partnerships, many of them beyond your usual go-to approach or list of prospects.  Partnerships help enable speed-to-market, innovation, and market agility to grow your business and meet customer needs.

1:25 pm - 1:35 pm - BREAK

1:35 pm - 2:20 pm: BREAKOUT SESSIONS

6. Shift Happens: Adapting to the ‘Next’ Normal

DAN FLYNN, VP, Learning & Business Consulting, Prudential Advisors; GREG WINSPER, CLU, VP, Field Training & Leadership Development, National Life Group; ModeratorPAM BLALOCK, SVP, Affiliated Channel, National Life Group

The pandemic has been a test for all distribution leaders on overcoming adversity, maintaining business operations, and staying close to the field in a socially distant world.  Now as we think about a post-COVID future, we need to find a balance between what worked before and what needs to happen in the ‘next’ normal.  This session’s panelists will share their major lessons learned from the front lines in 2020 and explore what’s next in 2021 and beyond: 

  • Personalized advice from a distance: Adapting the field force to virtual sales
  • Long-distance relationships: Effectively connecting and engaging with the field
  • Shut down. Reopen. Shut down.: How to work with our field leaders on seamless business continuity
  • Preserving the sense of community: Reimagining recognition and club conferences



7. Digital Transformation of Agents

LAUREN BOTTGER, Multiple Line Agent, American National; ADAM DESIMONE, Agent Development Manager, MetLife; JASON JONES, Regional Associate Manager, Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan; Moderator: JOHN B. SULLIVAN, Member Relations Director, LIMRA/LOMA

The insurance industry continues to press-on through the pandemic and a significant factor has been a transformation to the sales process using new ways to prospect, communicate with and service customers. Having expertise with tools like SalesForce, Zoom, and FaceBook is a game changer in our current environment and might even transform the way we conduct business permanently. This breakout will feature three multi-line companies who will share their own examples of how they transformed their sales process incorporating digital tools and how it has contributed to their success.

8. LifeCompass: What Opportunities Product Data Reveals

MATTHEW CANTERBURY, FLMI, LLIF, Senior Vice President, Sales, Columbus Life; JOHN DELPOZZO, CLU, Vice President, National Sales, Ohio National; KAREN TERRY, FLMI, Senior Research Director, Insurance Research, LIMRA

Who is buying what, where and how? In today’s fast-paced environment, information is essential to compete. LIMRA’s LifeCompass can help point your company in the right direction for your sales, marketing and product development strategies. Uncover potential opportunities within your territories by overlaying your company’s sales data with publically available demographic data and LIMRA’s proprietary county-level sales estimates. Track your company’s sales relative to all platform participants in key demographic markets defined by gender, state, and five-year age groups. Join us for an introduction to LIMRA’s policy level competitive dashboards and hear from leaders how they are using the information to help drive their sales, marketing efforts and more.

2:20 pm - 2:45 pm - BREAK


9a. Customer Experience Transformed

Moderator: TODD SILVERHART, Ph.D., Corporate Vice President and Director, Research Quality and Performance, LIMRA

For years, the goal of improving customer experience by removing friction from the life insurance sales process proved stubbornly elusive. Despite an increasing array of digital tools, life insurance is still sold primarily face-to-face, along with an abundance of manual processes. In this moment of sweeping change, the life insurance industry finds itself with a surprising opportunity for delivery of a better customer experience. In this session, learn about industry trends and discuss this important and evolving topic with your peers.

9b. Emerging Technologies

Moderator: KARTIK SAKTHIVEL, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, LIMRA/LOMA

We are in the 4th Industrial Revolution – technology is progressing at breakneck and unprecedented rates. Massive disruptive forces and societal transformations abound. Mixed in this brew is an anvil of legacy systems. Join your peers to discuss the current and emerging technologies that will have the most impact on our industry in the next three to five years -- either as a disruptive force or as a business value driver.

9c. Next Normal: Virtual Selling and Wholesaling In a Post-Pandemic World

Moderator: LAURA MURACH, ACS, ALMI, LLIF, Research Director, Distribution Research, LIMRA

Virtual selling and wholesaling, once considered an anomaly, has been the reality for the past 12 months. Will it be the next normal? Continue the conversation from the “Wholesaling without Borders” breakout session by joining peers as they discuss the successes and challenges of virtual selling including strategies for engaging new clients or producers in a virtual medium. 


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

11:00 am - 11:15 am - OPENING REMARKS

11:15 am - 12:15 pm - GENERAL SESSION

Executive Perspective: Changing Distribution Strategies

TIM GEREND, Executive Vice President & Chief Distribution Officer, Northwestern Mutual 
JENNIFER TORNEDEN, Senior Vice President, Distribution & Strategic Growth, Legal and General (LGA) 
SCOTT WOODMAN, CFP, CLU, Vice-President, Distribution, Sun Life Financial Distributors 
Moderator: JOHN CARROLL, Corporate Vice President, Member Relations & Sales, LIMRA, LOMA & LL Global, Inc.

2020 was a year of crises no one will ever forget. What impact will COVID, the economic collapse it triggered, and a growing focus on diversity, equity and inclusion have on the insurance industry? To answer this, we gathered industry leaders to discuss the year and its effect on distribution. How have the crises accelerated changes already in progress? What challenges are we facing? What opportunities lay ahead in the coming years? Our panel will address these questions and more. We’ll hear different viewpoints and all will share their thoughts on the changes to distribution that will drive our industry’s ability to meet client needs in the future.

12:15 pm - 12:40 pm - BREAK

12:40 pm - 1:25 pm: BREAKOUT SESSIONS

10. Firms & Financial Professionals – What a Pandemic Taught Us

SETH DELFINER, Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual; CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS, CFP, AIF, Managing Partner, VAM Partners; ModeratorsSARAH SCHNEIDER, Vice President, Distribution Services, Northwestern Mutual; KATIE URBANIAK, Leadership Development, Individual Solutions, Securian Financial

The pandemic has forced us to think differently and creatively. In this session, we will share some of the best ideas of driving firm & financial professional productivity while working in a remote environment, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

During this session, you will take away 1-2 best practices from each of these focus areas, including:

  • Recruiting & Prospecting
  • Selection Process & Factfinding
  • Training & Onboarding New Clients
  • Creating Engagement

11. Moving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Forward and Together

ESTELLE BLOCKOMS, Life Distribution Director, American Family; RASHEED MERRITT, Assistant Vice President, State Farm; MARVIN VAUGHN, Manager, Agency Recruiting and Development, COUNTRY Financial; Moderator: LIZ CASWELL, Associate Director, Markets Research, LIMRA/LOMA 

Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across our industry are at the forefront with increased focus in the fight against social injustices. Leading companies have a structure in place that covers both corporate and distribution initiatives, including recruiting new agents, mentorship and field leadership programs. This workshop will feature a panel discussion of three companies who will share what diversity, equity and inclusion mean to their organizations, how they are structured internally to take action, and the recruiting and other field programs they are having success with.

12. Digital Ingestion Through Digital Delivery

LUKE COSME, Senior Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Mutual Trust Life; BOBBY JOHNSON, Vice President, Sales & Distribution, Midland National Life; AMY RIDER, FALU, FLMI, Vice President, Strategic Risk and Mortality Management, Sammons Financial Group

The global pandemic caused companies to quickly pivot and swiftly adopt technology such as accelerated underwriting, e-apps, e-delivery, e-claims as well as both relaxing and tightening some underwriting requirements. What have we learned? What areas of technology have been the biggest drivers of growth and production? And the multi-million dollar question — if you had to do it over again pre-COVID, where would you spend your money?

1:25 pm - 1:35 pm - BREAK

1:35 pm - 2:20 pm: BREAKOUT SESSIONS

13. Solving Problems Through Collaboration, Empowerment, and Just Plain Thinking Differently

GLENN HOFMANN, Chief Analytics Officer, New York Life; PRASHANTH MADABUSHI, CVP and Lead Data Scientist, Center for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, New York Life; NICHOLAS VECCHIONE, Head of Sales Reporting and Analysis, New York Life; CATHY MARSH, Operations Projects Officer, Ohio National; Moderator: JAMES R. HUGHES, Vice President, Compensation, Prudential

When is the last time you thought differently? Two companies prove change is possible! One has taken a bottom-up, collaborative, and data-based approach to setting sales targets, enabling more precision in strategy and goal-setting. Another found a way around the IT bottleneck, using innovative “robotics” software to improve the efficiency of back-office functions, empowering their employees to pursue their own ideas, and providing a roadmap for other departments to follow their lead. Join this session to learn insights from both approaches. 

14. It’s 2040: How Did We Get Here?

JASON LEA, President and CEO, Brokers Service Marketing Group; TORI VAN DUSEN-ROOS, Co-Owner and COO, Diversified Brokerage Services; ModeratorJOHN KNOWLES, Senior Director, MGA Relationship Management, Lincoln Financial

It’s 2040, twenty years after the Pandemic. Our second-generation Brokerage leaders discuss how their businesses survived and thrived beyond that year of disruption.

  • What did your business look like in January 2021?
  • What steps did you take to adapt during the Pandemic disruptions (2020-21?)
  • What business changes evolved over time?
  • Who is your customer now, and what products and services do they want from you?
  • How does your producer working relationship differ from pre-Pandemic times?
  • What were the most effective ways carriers partnered with you?

15. Reaching Customers Where They Are…@ Home!

MICHAEL DALE, Executive Director, USAA Life; MATT MYERS, Head of Customer Acquisition, Haven Life; LAURA ZIMMERMAN, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Fidelity Life and Financial; Moderator: GLENN ROTHENBERG, Strategic Growth Executive, Formerly with Farmers Life

Direct-to-consumer is evolving from a niche or specialized channel into a key means of distribution, reflecting and adapting to consumer preference, new and improved tools, and accelerated by Covid.  We will explore how all channels can learn from and leverage insights from D2C to meet today’s Omni-consumer needs and market opportunities.

2:20 pm - 2:45 pm - BREAK

2:45 pm - 3:45 pm - GENERAL SESSION

Cultivating a Positive Mindset in Times of Change

After Neil Pasricha’s wife left him and his best friend suddenly took his own life, he crash-landed in an empty downtown bachelor apartment. Just twelve months later, he was working directly for the CEO at Walmart, running the International Academy of Digital Arts and Science’s “Best Blog in the world”, and had just published his New York Times bestseller, The Book of Awesome. The lesson was clear: resilience, change, and growth can come from times of challenge. In this high-energy virtual keynote, Neil will respond to the drain of the pandemic and the unprecedented change and challenge we all faced this past year. He will share simple, research-backed tools to help cultivate a positive mindset, build resilience, and ultimately lift performance. You will leave with clear daily practices you can use to achieve your biggest goals.

Neil Pasricha - Author of Five #1 International Best Sellers Including The Happiness Equation

3:45 pm - ADJOURN