Valmark continues its rich history of innovation in the life insurance industry by expanding its toolkit for independent insurance and financial professionals. Its newest offering, the Life Insurance Fulfillment Tool (LIFT), is focused on making the process of buying life insurance simpler for both clients and advisors.
The global health pandemic and economic crisis have impacted most major industries, turning on its head the traditional purchasing processes of many businesses. At the center of this disruption is the life insurance industry, one that is notorious for its laborious requirements of paper applications, wet signatures, overnight packages, and physical examinations. The current environment only makes an already difficult process, historically focused on physical interaction, even more challenging, especially for larger policies.
Valmark has capitalized on this challenging environment by creating a tool that makes the life insurance buying process simpler and faster for clients, and more efficient for financial professionals. By combining the accelerated programs currently offered by insurance companies and its existing Private Underwriting Risk Evaluation (PURE) process with a new HIPPA-compliant application process called LIFT, Valmark is taking the life insurance process to where the rest of society is – remote!
“We have been refining our new business process for years,” said Larry J. Rybka, Chairman & CEO of Valmark Financial Group. “Recently, we put in place some of the final pieces of technology and workflow, some of which were developed by our investment business, to allow our insurance teams to work with our member firms to gather both medical records and client signatures electronically. While most of the industry has been moving this direction with smaller policies, Valmark’s LIFT is unique in that it’s specifically designed for streamlining the high-net-worth market, which often features cases with large face amounts and complex underwriting requirements involving multiple insurance companies.”
Valmark is no stranger to the high-end life insurance market. Founded in 1963 as a life insurance agency, Valmark has evolved over the last 57 years into a family of financial services companies, including a broker-dealer and registered investment advisor, in order to offer a wide variety of services to independent financial professionals, including both fee-based and commission-based solutions. However, it has always maintained its roots. “Innovation when it comes to life insurance is part of our DNA,” said Rybka. “It is the core of who Valmark is as a firm. The fact that we can bring innovation, scale, and technology to a business my father started almost 60 years ago is very rewarding. It is also very important to our member firms and their clients.”
Valmark believes it is uniquely qualified to help insurance professionals navigate the new frontier of processing high-end life insurance remotely. It is about more than just technology. “I think the fact that we are a broker-dealer really gives us an edge in the current environment in two ways,” said Rybka. “First, we recognize that the continued press on bond yields and trouble with commercial mortgages is causing much more disruption to general account products than variable products. Carriers are pulling products, limiting premium, and reducing guarantees on their fixed products. Separate account variable products are not nearly as impacted, allowing larger sales to proceed, and giving Valmark firms an extra edge. Secondly, FINRA required us to have in place a full business continuity plan long before this crisis, and it also instituted strict standards for deployment and testing of secure, encrypted, electronic communication end to end. Both of these things put us in a favorable position to move forward in this environment.”
LIFT is just another in a long line of innovative tools Valmark offers its member firms to better serve their end clients. “Although we are a financial services company, we often talk internally about also being a technology company,” said Caleb Callahan, CFP, President of Valmark Financial Group. “An environment like this is where Valmark can really shine in serving financial professionals and their end clients.”
Valmark’s technology team was recently selected by the Greater Cleveland Partnership, through its annual “Tech Week” event, as a “Tech Team of the Year” finalist, a testament to the innovative and robust technology solutions Valmark is capable of producing and implementing.
LIFT also enhances an already robust lineup of optional services Valmark offers its member firms who want to outsource key back-office functions. “I’ve long said that it makes little sense for financial professionals with large variable revenue streams to have high fixed expenses,” said Callahan. “In my mind, it’s a suboptimal business model.” Valmark advocates for member firms to match their variable revenues with their variable expenses by outsourcing services, where appropriate, to Valmark who can both manage and scale these services. “Especially in today’s economic climate, it is important to look for ways to not only serve clients better remotely, but to do it on a variable expense basis,” said Callahan.
Valmark believes this is only the beginning for innovation in the life insurance buying process. “The business is ripe for further innovation, and Valmark is committed to making it happen alongside our member firms,” said Callahan. “While our overall business faces many challenges in light of the economic environment, and, admittedly, the full impact of LIFT is far from known, early results from the new toolkit are encouraging. In March, we saw our highest level of new insurance applications in the past 24 months. Amidst a challenging business environment, we see this as a bright spot.”