CON­TACT MAN­AGE­MENT

Most ad­vi­sors voiced their dis­plea­sure with their firm’s CMS, but ad­vi­sors with Sun Life and IDC WIN were very sat­is­fied

Investment Executive - - CONTENTS - BY CHARLES BOSSY

Al­though most firms came up short re­gard­ing their CMSes, two firms re­ceived ap­plause from their ad­vi­sors.

al­though many in­surance ad­vi­sors have long felt that their in­surance agen­cies’ con­tact man­age­ment sys­tem (CMS) leaves a lot to be de­sired, that sen­ti­ment was even more pro­nounced in this year’s In­surance Ad­vi­sors’ Re­port Card.

This dis­plea­sure was ev­i­dent in the fact that ad­vi­sors with London, Ont.-based Free­dom 55 Fi­nan­cial, Cal­gary-based PPI So­lu­tions Inc. and Mis­sis­sauga, Ont.-based RBC Life In­surance Co. rated their firms lower by more than half a point in the “ad­e­quacy of your firm’s MGA’s con­tact-man­age­ment sys­tem” cat­e­gory. This led to the over­all per­for­mance rat­ing for the cat­e­gory drop­ping to 7.6 from 8.0 year-over-year. (“MGA” is an acro­nym for “manag­ing gen­eral agency.”)

Not only that, but when com­par­ing the over­all av­er­age per­for­mance rat­ing to the over­all av­er­age im­por­tance rat­ing of 8.9, the re­sult is a “sat­is­fac­tion gap” of 1.3 points — the third-high­est gap in the sur­vey. Such a gap re­veals that firms are fail­ing to meet their ad­vi­sors’ ex­pec­ta­tions.

There are var­i­ous rea­sons for this. Some ad­vi­sors pointed to CMSes that lack func­tion­al­ity and fea­tures; other ad­vi­sors pointed to CMSes that are old or out­dated, mak­ing them cum­ber­some and frus­trat­ing to use.

“I rarely use [the CMS] be­cause I think it could be bet­ter,” says a PPI So­lu­tions ad­vi­sor on the Prairies. “The user in­ter­face is pretty out­dated. It’s very clunky.”

Ad­vi­sors with RBC Life were dis­ap­pointed be­cause their firm is in the midst of mak­ing changes to their CMS that are caus­ing dis­crep­an­cies and af­fect­ing use­abil­ity.

“[RBC Life is] mak­ing some im­prove­ments right now, but you have to flip back and forth among a few dif­fer­ent soft­ware [ap­pli­ca­tions] that we use,” says an RBC Life ad­vi­sor in At­lantic Canada. “[The firm] is in the process of com­bin­ing those; it’s just not fin­ished yet.”

Free­dom 55 ad­vi­sors are clam­our­ing to see an up­date to their CMS. They rated their firm very poorly in the cat­e­gory (4.9) be­cause, they said, their firm has promised to change its CMS for years, but has yet to de­liver.

“We’ve been us­ing the same CMS for more than 20 years,” says a Free­dom 55 ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “The whole thing is al­most use­less. You don’t know if it’s even go­ing to work from one day to the next.”

The firm has promised to make the switch to Sales­force.com Inc.’s name­sake CMS. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Ab­bie MacMil­lan, vice pres­i­dent with Free­dom 55, the de­lay is re­lated to is­sues that the ven­dor has ex­pe­ri­enced re­cently.

“The rea­son that we have been de­layed on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Sales­force is that Sales­force is de­layed in im­ple­ment­ing its Cana­dian data cen­tre,” she says. “We weren’t re­ally com­fort­able hav­ing our client data stored in the U.S., so we put our project on hold be­cause of that.”

Free­dom 55 ad­vi­sors can ex­pect to wait up­ward of 12 months be­fore the Sales­force CMS is in place, MacMil­lan says.

In con­trast, Water­loo, Ont.based Su n Li f e Fi na n c i a l (Canada) Inc. moved to Sales­force ear­lier this year. Al­though Sun Life ad­vi­sors still are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing grow­ing pains in us­ing the new CMS, they were par­tic­u­larly pleased with it. Case i n point: Sun Life was the only firm i n the Re­port Card to see its rat­ing in the cat­e­gory rise by half a point or more, to 8.3 from 7.3 last year.

“Sales­force is great, se­cure and easy to use,” says a Sun Life ad­vi­sor in On­tario.

Adds a col­league in the same prov­ince: “The or­ga­ni­za­tion is re­ally func­tion­ing well. I don’t have to main­tain pa­per files, as ev­ery­thing is on the CMS.”

Ad­vi­sors with Mis­sis­sauga, based IDC World­source In­surance Network Inc. (IDC WIN) also were very pos­i­tive about their MGA’s CMS, as they gave their firm the top rat­ing in the cat­e­gory, at 9.0. IDC WIN ad­vi­sors cited their CMS’ seam­less in­te­gra­tion with in­surance carriers, along with how ac­ces­si­ble and cur­rent the CMS is.

“It’s up to date all the time. We have ex­cel­lent soft­ware,” says an IDC WIN ad­vi­sor in On­tario. “This year, I be­gan sub­scrib­ing with it, and I feel it will be very help­ful in my op­er­a­tion.”

Adds a col­league in the same prov­ince: “I like the fact that the doc­u­ments are all there. I could be at home and I still can see ev­ery­thing, as [all doc­u­ments are] scanned and up to date. [The CMS] helps me out greatly in case I mis­place some­thing or I’m not in my of­fice.”

Ron Madzia, pres­i­dent of IDC WIN, notes that the CMS used at the MGA also are avail­able to other in­surance agen­cies. He be­lieves the rea­son for IDC WIN ad­vi­sors’ sat­is­fac­tion with their CMS isn’t tied so much to the sys­tem it­self, but to the sup­port the MGA of­fers.

“First of all, a sys­tem is a sys­tem. [The data] have to be in­put by in­di­vid­u­als. Sys­tems don’t run them­selves. Ev­ery sys­tem we use is a ven­dor sys­tem; it’s not a pro­pri­etary [prod­uct] — any­one else can use it,” Madzia says. “I don’t think [our ad­vi­sors’ sat­is­fac­tion is] so much [due to] the sys­tem; I think where we’re dif­fer­ent from other MGAs is we spend a lot of time work­ing with our ad­vi­sors in the field and in the of­fice, train­ing them on how to use these sys­tems and fol­low­ing up with them.”

“The user in­ter­face is pretty out­dated. It’s very clunky”

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