Amidst all of the buzz regarding the progress of NAVA's Straight Through Processing initiative, advisor education is a topic that has come up quite frequently over the first two days of the 2008 Nava Marketing Conference. Indeed, a panel of distributors commented that one of the most important things annuity providers can do is to provide product education to their advisors. Given the importance of advisor education, it is surprising, then, how few firms use their advisor websites in this capacity.We reviewed the advisor websites belonging to 11 of the larger firms we track in Annuity Monitor and noticed that online advisor education offerings are inconsistent across the industry and in many cases lacking. Of the 11 firms we looked at, only three firms - ING, Pacific Life and Transamerica - offered a comprehensive selection of online educational resources. Compliance guidelines, IMSA principles guides, CE PowerPoints, regulatory updates and Do Not Call requirements/FAQs were among the more popular educational content featured on the advisor sites.
Among the remaining seven firms, four offer third-party online CE courses via RegEd, Kaplan, SuccessCE.com and PassOnline while three promote offline CE courses but are devoid of online educational content. Firms offering online CE courses force advisors to navigate to the third party websites which is a bit of a hassle. However, it is certainly easier than registering online to attend a course in person.
Overall, ING and Pacific Life were the only firms to offer educational content directly on the advisor site and supplement it with online CE courses. We were impressed by the availability of multiple education mediums and have to give these firms the nod as providing advisors with the best online education options.
As retail financial products become more complex - especially in the annuity space - it is crucial that firms producing the products provide resources to educate the sales force. Otherwise, they may just find a simpler product to sell.As retail financial products become more complex - especially in the annuity space - it is crucial that firms producing the products provide resources to educate the sales force. Otherwise, they may just find a simpler product to sell.