Insurance agencies put more emphasis on financial planning

The majority of respondents to Investment Director The 2022 Insurance Advisor Report Card said they offered financial plans to clients – 77% of 210 advisors. This year’s percentage, tied with 2019, is a 10-year high.

PPI Management Inc. (PPI) was the top-rated firm for insurance planning, receiving a performance rating of 9.7, up from 9.3 a year ago. This Managing General Agent (MGA) was trailed by IDC Worldsource Insurance Network Inc. (IDC WIN) and RBC Life Insurance Co. (RBCI), both of which received 9.2 this year versus 9.3 and 8.9, respectively, in 2021.

“We rely on [PPI] strongly and they deliver,” said a PPI adviser in British Columbia. Other PPI advisors said they appreciate the MGA providing them with educational resources to help with insurance planning, as well as its “highly knowledgeable” staff.

Sentiment at IDC WIN and RBCI was also positive, with advisors praising the tools and experts available.

“The whole procedure we have in place is excellent. We have lots of discovery tools for advisors to ask questions [and] get to know the client a little better,” said an RBCI advisor in British Columbia.

An IDC WIN adviser in Ontario said the MGA encourages “active planning” that allows clients to see all angles, including considering tax implications with the help of specialists.

IDC WIN and PPI also topped other financial planning categories. (See below for list)

For example, IDC WIN significantly outperformed other agencies for “support in developing a financial plan for clients,” at 9.5, up from 8.4 in 2021. Meanwhile, PPI scored 9 .7 for “support for tax planning,” which was two points higher than the category average of 7.7 (not enough advisors rated the category last year to determine a rating).

An IDC WIN advisor in Ontario said the MGA is “helpful and knowledgeable” when it comes to financial plans.

A PPI counselor in Ontario, meanwhile, praised the “case counseling, technology[nology] and tax support,” adding that “underwriting support is good.”

Phil Marsillo, president of IDC WIN, said the agency employs accountants, a bank manager and wealth specialists who can consult with clients’ diverse needs.

PPI supports advisors in needs analysis and has a team of High Net Worth Focused People (HNW) “which includes accountants, lawyers, actuaries, underwriters and advanced illustration specialists”, said Jim Virtue, President and CEO of PPI. (The PPI was rated 9.3 for high net worth support, the highest of any agency in 2022.)

The lowest rated agencies for insurance planning were Canada Life Assurance Co. (which includes advisors from Freedom 55 Financial and the company’s Wealth and Insurance Solutions Enterprise network) and Sun Life Financial Distributors (Canada) Inc. (SLFD) . Canada Life scored 8.1 in the category, down from 8.5 in 2021, while SLFD scored 8.5, down from 9.0.

Both agencies also scored relatively low in the other four planning-related categories: Canada Life’s ratings were all below the category averages. The SLFD was ranked lowest of all agencies for its support to HNW (at 6.5, down from 8.1 a year ago), although its other planning departments were on par with the performance averages.

Canada Life advisors offered mixed reviews, with one of the agency’s advisors in Atlantic Canada saying it has “really grown in this world”. Others at Canada Life have asked for better technology and more support staff who can help with overall planning.

“I don’t think, for wealthy clients, [head office] takes as much care of them as he should,” said a Canada Life advisor in British Columbia.

At SLFD, an adviser from Atlantic Canada noted, “We have entire departments that specialize in high net worth clients” as well as support for estate and financial planning.

Still, an SLFD advisor in Ontario said, “I think we can do better. I don’t think we really have a documented strategy for dealing with high net worth clients.

Leaders from both agencies recognized the value of in-depth advice for clients.

Rowena Chan, president of SLFD, noted that the agency plans to continue investing in its dedicated advanced case planning team, which includes legal and tax experts.

Additionally, Chan said, “We have just completed the first round of training for all counselors. [on] our new planning software; we partnered with Conquest Planning [Inc.].”

Along the same lines, part of Canada Life’s launch of the Solutions for Advisors platform in the spring of 2021 was the creation of a national team of financial planning consultants and the introduction of a planning tool by goals (also through Conquest), said Rob DeMott, senior vice president, Advisor Solutions, Canada Life.

Canada Life held its first-ever financial planning forum last May, which was attended by hundreds of advisors, DeMott added. “Now more than ever,” he said, “customers need advice, with the constant barrage of information coming their way. It’s hugely important.

The five categories of financial planning

  • Products and support for wealthy clients
  • Support in developing a financial plan for the client
  • Support for wills and estate planning
  • Tax planning support
  • Assistance with insurance planning