Saturday, 25 May 2019

Next Stop, TechTown: Where LIMRA’s New CEO May Go

NEW YORK — If Bob Kerzner helped put LIMRA/LOMA on track after 14 years as CEO, the incoming chief executive is expected to take it and the industry to new territory.

The incoming LIMRA board chairman, Brandon Carter, said Kerzner had stabilized and nurtured the association to be an essential part of the life insurance industry. And now, it will be up to new CEO David Levenson to help make life insurance essential to financial services.

“It is not a question of growing our base of constituents because we have all the companies,” said Carter, who was also on the CEO search committee. “Now the job will be developing an engagement strategy for each of the companies and looking at the trends that bridge across industries.”

Levenson himself symbolizes one of those trends – the growing mix of insurance and finance. Levenson spent the past six years at Edward Jones, where he was a principal responsible for all products distributed through its network of 17,000 advisors in the U.S. and Canada.
Before then, Levenson was president of wealth management at The Hartford Financial Services Group. He was previously CEO of Hartford Life Insurance K.K. in Tokyo.

Levenson will be introduced at the LIMRA annual conference this week as the new CEO of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global. He will officially take over on Jan. 1, when Kerzner retires.

“Bob was and is an incredible CEO for 14 years. He took LIMRA and LOMA and combined them to have incredible training and research,” Carter said.

As LIMRA develops more market data, Levenson will be able to make more use of analytics, Carter said. He would be uniquely suited not to just understand data, but also to bring a life insurance and finance background to bear.

“He’s an actuary by trade,” said Carter, who is president of USAA Life Insurance. “And besides being at The Hartford, his six years at Ed Jones got him closer to the retirement conversation. If you look at LIMRA and LOMA, there are so many conversations about baby boomers reaching retirement age with $43 trillion of investable assets in the market. But our members and customers have not saved enough to retire.”

The next step will be pulling together the insurance and financial perspectives.

“We view these as different industries but they are not really,” Carter said. “These lines are graying and these advice conversations are moving from life insurance to retirement income to diversity of assets. And those are similar if not the same conversations.”

Carter identified three major initiatives that LL Global will be taking on.

  1. Voluntary benefits. “There has been 76 percent of growth in voluntary insurance in the past 10 years,” Carter said. “You’re seeing more traditional companies pivot into voluntary.”
  2. Predictive modeling and data analytics. “Understanding who our customers are,” is how Carter described the benefit. “As an actuary, Dave will be able to take this and make it a utility for the industry and allow us to be more efficient in our spend and effort.”
  3. Fraud detection.

Carter’s company, USAA, is a member company serving military vets for a range of financial and insurance services. That makes it sound like it would be as lumbering as the Veterans Administration, but USAA is pioneering in tech.

For example, the company started a Loss of a Loved One portal.

“It is somewhat odd to think of reporting the loss of a loved one via digital, but the truth is a lot of members worry about having to tell the sad story,” Carter said, adding that the process takes only about 90 seconds, which makes a painful time a little less painful.

“We wave typically thought of putting digital in a box and advisors in a box,” Carter said. “Those lines are starting to blur. To tell you the truth, I don’t think we can be binary.”

Carter acknowledged that life companies have been slow to react to changes – a theme often discussed by Kerzner as CEO. Companies have not kept up with consumers’ expectations.

“Companies are going to find it’s not just about efficiency but it’s where our members want to be,” Carter said.

Besides, where there are unmet expectations there are opportunities.

Carter said the industry needs to help take distribution and advisors beyond the kitchen table: “That whole process is ripe for disruption.”

Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. He was also vice president of communications for an insurance agents’ association. Steve can be reached at [email protected].

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