In a recent LIMRA study, 85 percent of advisors said today’s wholesalers must do more than supply products — they need to offer more value-added services and support.
Products have become more complex and the modern client roster can represent several generations, all with different demands. The best wholesalers play an important role in supporting an advisor’s practice by providing knowledge of their products, helping to navigate diverse client needs, and provide solutions to meet these needs.
Much of the desired services and support are in areas that will help financial professionals plan and fund their clients’ retirements. Specifically, advisors would like to see wholesalers provide assistance with income and expense planning for retirement, cited by 66 percent of advisors. Just over half said Social Security claiming strategies would be another valuable service wholesalers could provide.
LIMRA retail sales surveys have shown that mutual funds, life insurance and annuities have strong sales through intermediaries — 79 percent of annuity sales are through third-party channels, for example. As such, wholesalers play an important role in the distribution of financial products through these channels. Increased interest and more availability of retirement products would seem to create a big opportunity for wholesalers. Competition remains fierce however, as advisors are now more selective and write business with fewer companies than in the past.
Part of the study involved interviews with advisors who made it clear that the old approach of wholesalers who just push product and disregard client needs will not work today. Advisors used terms like "creativity," "new and different ideas," and “cutting-edge products” when discussing what the best wholesalers offer.
If a wholesaler knows an advisor's practice, they will be better positioned to offer the right services and suggest important solutions that the advisor might have overlooked. By adding that type of value a wholesaler has a better chance of establishing a long-term relationship with an advisor.