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When Customers Lie, We Learn

Consumers may not really understand how insurance works

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You are more than a flowchart that can shake hands. (Image: Thinkstock)

5 Traits Of A Nondisruptable Advisor

You have a heart and a soul. You are more than a flowchart that can shake hands.

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Innovation, Community And Timelessness

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” — John Keats

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Innovation ROI: Stop The Lie

Innovation, like parenting, is a scary journey. But also like parenting, it would be a scarier world without it.

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Lessons From Three Undisrupted Brands

Innovation Insights: Disrupters and the disrupted get all the attention these days. But you know who never seems to make big headlines? Brands that have been around for 100+ years.

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Why Is “Digital” A Noun?

It's important to think about your own true core competencies and then match them to unmet needs and emerging trends.

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The Customer Indebtedness Advantage

How many insurance and finance industry leaders are truly harnessing the power of customer care? Many companies say they do this, but few actually do.

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Want Change? Fire Yourself

Firing yourself in an organization that you want to stay a part of is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and for your company.

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6 Questions To Consider When Drafting A ‘To-Don’t’ List

It’s time to put a “to-don’t” list on an equal footing with your “to-do” list, creating the time and mind space necessary for cultivating innovation.

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RIP Sold, Not Bought

If we replace "sold, not bought" with "bought, not sought," we can cultivate demand and deliver better on the experience.

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Middle Class Retirement: Navigating A Path To “Jubilescence”

An individual's jubilescence is unique, both in terms of priorities and needs. One size does not fit all, writes Schepis.

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Why Corporate Innovators Need To Learn To Get Small

Getting small is a critical, yet missing, skillset (and mindset) for the life insurance industry.

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The Real Reason Your Big Ideas Go Nowhere

Big ideas matter. Overcoming short-term bias and becoming skillful at disrupting ourselves are the only things that will keep us from being blindsided.

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The Top Five Ways To Avoid Expert Failure

Gladwell says the disease of the idiot is incompetence. The disease of the expert is overconfidence.

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Does The DOL Threat Require A Plan C?

If attempts to fight and alter the proposed DOL fiduciary rule fail, what can we as an industry do?

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Why The ‘F’ In Fiduciary Matters

The government and the financial services industry may not be as misaligned as we think, writes Maria Ferrante-Schepis.

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Three More Dos And Don’ts For Insurance Innovation (Part 2)

The best approach to funding innovation is to allocate an amount toward a set of ideas and empower a small group to make decisions.

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Three Dos And Don’ts For Insurance Innovation (Part 1)

The competency of innovation is about placing bets in a variety of places, with varying degrees of risk in each.

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Could Insurance Go “Uber?”

As seen on LifeHealthPro The “Stuff On Demand” Economy And What It Might Mean For The Insurance Industry When people think of Uber, they usually think about cars taking

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10% Innovators, 90% Renovators. Which Are You?

Innovation doesn't follow current rules. Innovation makes new rules.

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The Reverse Elevator Speech: A Test Of Authenticity

One of the first things that people in professional sales are taught is that they must perfect their elevator speech, or the short narrative that exactly conveys their value proposition. The reverse elevator speech is key to improving perceptions of our industry and designing customer experiences.

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Here’s One Power Shift That Should Change The Way You Sell

As seen on LifeHealthPro Napster moments reinvent a consumer experience completely, usually by an outsider. Even though Napster was not around to enjoy the moment, by inventing file sharing…

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[Video] Marketing vs. Legal

Does your organization fail to capture innovation white space opportunities because they are playing the “blame game”? We call that “dark space.” Can you relate?

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What Would Uber Do?

Uber is one of my favorite disruptions or “Napster Moments.” This is when someone who has no business being in a business comes in and reinvents the business and puts someone out of business.

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The Echo Of Disruption

The life and health insurance industry can learn from the sound of disruption, hopefully before too much regret sets in.

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Resolution For 2015: Drop More F-Bombs

The best innovators in the world have a different kind of relationship with failure.

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Frustrated By Fear: 82 Industry Leader Opinions

There is something about selling on fear that we may inherently think is wrong, even if we intuitively believe it works.

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Fear In Life Insurance: Right, Wrong Or Innovation Opportunity?

An innovation opportunity lies with whoever explores this and, more important, tries something new.

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Mortality: Unleashing Its Hidden Sex Appeal

As seen on LifeHealthPro Ha! I made you look! Seriously. It’s time for the mortality librarian to take off her glasses, let down her hair, and enjoy some positive attention

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The Death Of A Sailboat: “Down To Earth-ing” Retirement

It’s official. Not everyone assumes that age 65 will mean fishing, gorgeous sunsets, a thick, perfectly tousled head of platinum hair and a spouse who has aged equally well.

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18.7 Million “Stuck Shoppers” Can’t Be Wrong

Using the words shopping and life insurance in the same sentence is the first indication that the “sold, not bought” paradigm is flipping.

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Kill The Policy: 10 Cans Of Inspiration For Insurance Innovation

As seen on LifeHealthPro.com Opinion   If you step outside on a quiet night, clear your mind, and cup your ear with your hand, you may be able to hear the faint

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Babies And Bathwater: Innovating Around The Nature Of Insurance

As seen on LifeHealthPro.com Innovation Insights If people understood the nature of insurance, how would that impact behavior? When I stop and think about where the life insurance industry is spending energy,

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Does The Need For Certainty Kill Innovation?

As the saying goes, there are only two things that are certain: death and taxes. For the last decade, we weren’t quite so…

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Is Your Customer Experience Strategy Crippled By Your Language?

As seen on LifeHealthPro.com If a tree falls in the woods and there is nobody there to hear it, did it really make a sound? If you expend your best

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Insurance Weirdness, Part II: Is The Policyholder Your Client Or Your Raw Material?

This is the second part in the Weirdness series. In our last episode, we examined the question

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What Really Matters To Consumers Today

The insurance industry has a love/hate relationship with fashion. When a new style of product comes out on the market, some companies and advisors adopt it early. Others look down

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Fiduciary Standard: Burden Or Innovation Opportunity?

The conversation about the fiduciary standard, i.e., worrying about the new burden of disclosure, could be missing an important point. We are expending a great deal of energy wondering who

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The Language Of Insurance Is Turning Off Prospects

The language of insurance is turning off prospects. Especially Gen Y prospects and especially when the word “disability” is used. Did you know that, according to a 2010 study of insurance

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[Video] Jar Talk No. 4: Marketing Vs. Legal

Does your organization fail to capture innovation white space opportunities because they are playing the “blame game”? We call that “dark space.” Can you relate? …

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[Video] Jar Talk No. 3: Financial Advisor Vs. The Prosumer

A prosumer is what happens when the new consumer becomes an expert. See how it impacts today’s financial advisor. Let’s help them get their groove back, shall we? Based on

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[Video] Jar Talk No. 2: Back Office Person Vs. The Big Producer

Do independent financial services entrepreneurs do better when they find a yin for their yang? We call him an Idea Monkey, and her a (Ring)leader. See how they do as

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[Video] Jar Talk No. 1: BGA Vs. The Big Producer

Is independent distribution suffering from the impacts of a shrinking and aging producer base and commoditization? Here is a dialogue that may be either ridiculous or somewhat familiar. You decide.

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IT Blame: The Innovation Copout

Ok, cut it out. I know you are doing it. See … wait, you just did it again. You did it yesterday. You did it today. You’ve been doing it

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Does The Need For Certainty Kill Innovation?

As the saying goes, there are only two things that are certain: death and taxes. For the last decade, we weren’t quite so sure about the second one. Read the rest

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[Video] The Reverse Lottery

If insurance were to be invented today, as though it never existed before, what might it look like? Here is the viewpoint of a crazy lady on a bench. …

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Do We Know What Business Owners Want?

This article is the first of a new innovation insights column in Life Insurance Selling Magazine, January 2013. It contemplates whether or not the industry's insights about business owners are on target, and helps advisors consider becoming thought leaders as a strategy for differentiation

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Is Infertility Killing Independent Distribution?

This article appeared in the July 2012 issue of Life Insurance Selling Magazine. It distinguishes between symptoms and problems facing independent distribution, and what is needed to solve them. http://www.lifehealthpro.com/author/maria-ferrante-schepis-formerly-umbach …

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Insurance Weirdness, Part I: Are Your Producers Your Sellers Or Your Suppliers?

Well, leave it to my “out-of-the-jar” colleagues to come up with this idea while in process of inquiry to help our insurance clients reinvent themselves. We are not suggesting this as a solution (yet), but thinking differently about the seller/supplier relationship is an excellent start if the outcome is change. Let’s think about this idea here, and then figure out what we may be able to do with it in the context of innovation.

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Did The Financial Advice World Just Get Napstered?

For many years, financial services firms have either been trying to figure out how to reach the masses efficiently OR avoid them completely, focusing on the affluent and wealthy markets. After all, like Willie Sutton said, “that’s where the money is.”

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Interest Groups Awareness Of The Need For Life Insurance Is Flagging, But The Industry Can Take Steps To Raise Its Profile

Interest Groups Awareness of the need for life insurance is flagging, but the industry can take steps to raise its profile. Source: Best's Review(September 2011 Issue)

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U5-ia*: Free Speech For Financial Services Professionals

But what does this say about the financial services industry’s ability to reinvent itself? And don’t tell me you don’t think it needs it. There would be no such phrase as “financial reform” if the public at large wasn’t in agreement.

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What If Insurance Coverage Worked On Points?

This article is the 2.0 to the last one I wrote called What if the Insurance Industry Worked on Tips? While that idea was inspired by a Friday night with an industry colleague who had designs on reinventing the compensation system for insurance agents, we still had the rest of the weekend to figure out what the next generation of product would potentially look like.

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What If The Insurance Industry Worked On Tips?

If the insurance industry worked on tips, would we be able to price products differently? Would we be able to change pay structures of agents to smooth out the lumpiness of their income? Would we be able to attract a wider group of individuals to the job?

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The Future Of S&P Downgrades: FYI, CYA Or LOL?

I can’t resist this. In the last few days, S&P downgraded the pristine credit rating of two leading mutuals, two fraternals, one stock company and a country. What is next? Will planet Earth

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Life Insurance Language: Is It Creating Irrelevance?

Many have suggested that the solution is to simplify the product or make it easier and less painful to buy. And of course these things would help. However there is an area of “white space,” an opportunity that nobody yet owns, that could potentially help even more. That opportunity is language.

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Distribution Paradigm Shifting—Consumers Are Selling To Themselves? Huh?

Over the last several decades (yes, decades…), the insurance industry has been observing and lamenting over the decline of life insurance ownership in the U.S., and also the shrinking, aging and general economic malaise of the face-to-face distribution channel. Attempts at modernizing these channels have failed; attempts at growing them significantly have failed; and attempts at going direct have not even had much of a chance to fail or succeed.

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Is the Life Insurance Industry Really Losing Relevance?

As the life insurance industry reaches its 50-year record low for life insurance ownership in the U.S. (LIMRA 2010) and companies continue to struggle with how to reach the underserved middle market, one can’t be shocked at why the government is so hell-bent on taxing the cash value. Nobody’s talking about death these days.

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Will Mark Zuckerberg Reinvent The Insurance Industry? A 2011 Prediction

I predict that Time magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year is going to reinvent the insurance industry. Not sure if he knows this yet, but that’s just because he is still young enough to be insured under his parents’ health policy. Perhaps on his birthday in 2011, when he is no longer covered, he will start thinking about it.

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Insurance Insights—The Involvement Factor

A recent study from IBM indicates that the “trust gap” between the industry and the end-consumer is fueling a “business model identity crisis." In other words, the thing that is keeping most of the industry executives awake at night is the fact that they do not know what the best way to deliver their products and services will look like in the future.

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Insurance Industry Innovation—Ideas As A Capital Asset

While innovation and insurance are words not often seen in the same sentence, the tide is changing.

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The Elusive Insurance Cross-sell/Up-sell: Truly Unprofitable Or Just Unsexy?

In most industries, it is a widely known fact that it's easier and more profitable to get a larger share of a current customer’s wallet than to acquire new ones. Your cell phone provider knows it. Your car dealer knows it. Your department store knows it. But your insurance company isn't so sure about it. Up-selling and cross-selling have plagued the industry for years. Many dabble in it, but refuse to give it a high priority in the innovation pipeline.

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Trust As An Innovation—A Communication Lesson From The Florida Insurance Industry

Communication, however, is the act of transferring information from one source to another. If the transfer is not complete, the communication did not take place. The understanding and possibly even retention is the proof that the communication did take place.

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How Innovation May Have Prevented The Flight From Middle Market

A recent Wall Street Journal article published this chart which is very curious. The majority of unbanked households are in what would be labeled racial minority groups. However they are also, according to the US Census Bureau, the fastest growing segments of the population.

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You Talkin’ To Me? How Gen Y Hears “Insurance”

If you are an insurance company marketing executive wondering about how to tackle the Gen Y (or Millennial) market, trying to crack the code can be exhausting. Brace yourself. There's something you need to know.

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Three Bankable Innovation Opportunities Post Financial Regulatory Reform

Too small to fail; is idea agility the new competitive advantage after Financial Regulatory Reform?

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Financial Services Innovation AFTER Reform

As the financial services industry gets ready for reform, many are thinking about what new rules, restrictions and barriers will be in the way of innovation.

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Crayon Beats Calculator—Creativity As The Insurance CEO’s Answer To Growing Complexity

Creativity is the ability to generate innovative ideas and manifest them from thought into reality. The process involves original thinking and then producing. This last word of these two sentences make up the key to the creativity castle. When creativity meets commercialization, you have innovation.

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Through The Lens Of Insurance Agents: A Case For Asking Consumers Directly

There's a cool opportunity right in front of the eyes of the life insurance industry. The trouble is, their glasses are a little dirty.

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ROF Versus ROI: What The Financial Services Industry Can Learn From ESPN

Well first, it may be valuable to want to create “fandom” within your customer base. Perhaps there should be more thought and innovation put around making customers feel respected versus products that will squeeze out a little more return for them, or lowering prices.

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“Get Out Of My Facebook”—An Insurance Industry Innovator’s Guide To Social Media

As I observe and listen to the challenges, approaches and results of social media in the insurance industry, I cannot help but think about the original cast of Saturday Nite Live and their skit called “Landshark”.

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Who Should Fix The Financial Services Industry?

While Obama and this administration are going to fairly extreme measures to intervene in the financial services and health insurance industries, the public may have a different view as to their ability to fix the situation.

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Pimp My Numerator! Three Steps To A Better ROI Calculation

With ever increasing pressure for companies - particularly publicly traded organizations - to demonstrate return on investment (ROI), it has become evident that the measurements are deeply flawed. That’s not to say there's one silver bullet for calculating, but with a strategic approach organizations can maximize the accuracy of their innovation efforts.

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Should Banks Invent A Prenup To Avoid The Need For A Living Will?

When insight, or a deep understanding of the public need aligns with an idea to fill that need and effective communication to let the people know, brilliant innovation is born. Perhaps the contingency plans that are already being done by the banks are insufficient for regulators (an idea breakdown) or perhaps they were poorly communicated (a communication breakdown).

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The Recession Was A Gift—An Optimist’s Guide To Successful Innovation

I left the Front End of Innovation Conference in Boston this week inspired. Bert Jacobs, Founder ofLife Is Good, has made his entire life and a 100+ million dollar business about optimism.

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Six Steps To Suspend Disbelief And Win Budget For Innovation

The value is significant. One of the innovator’s greatest challenges is getting the naysayer to pipe down just long enough to get the idea funded and on its way. "Suspension" could be the answer.

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How Would Grandma Describe It?—Language As An Area For Innovation

In our research, we are finding that words used everyday in the finance and insurance industry are either not understood at all, or associated with something unrelated, particularly with millenials.

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Financial Services Debacle: Mastering Followship

Mr. Paulson may or may not be wondering about the latest financial debacle, but he is most certainly wondering about housing prices and other markets to which he is finely tuned. Because that is what he does. It is his job. And he knows how to turn it into an opportunity. (intentions and motivations aside) He is just forging ahead, wishing the best to the arguers. This is a clear case of follow the leader. Perhaps blindly.

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Reinvention And Reformation—An Innovation Balancing Act

The President says it's not about stifling innovation with reform, rather the opposite. His new proposition encourages companies to build products and services that are not betting on human behavior, but more on the real needs. If all goes well, the incentives for good behavior will be attractive to entrepreneurs and industries worldwide.

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Luck Or Skill? Innovation Process For Smart Organizations

For industries that are not steeped in innovation, the very idea of creating something new conjures up thoughts of mad scientists with wild grey hair, people throwing pencils at the ceiling and/or men in black unitards.

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Product Development In Financial Services: Innovation Or Mutuation?

When it comes to product development in the financial services and insurance world, I believe we need to stop the inbreeding. Or at least slow it down.

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Hedging Your Innovation Risks Through Proper Budget Asset Allocation

In the world of finance, asset allocation is a commonly used technique to determine where to put an individual’s money to get optimum returns.

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What The Insurance Industry And Others Can Learn From Ghostbusters

Disclaimer: do not read this unless you can accept ideas as mental yoga, and not as suggestions, recommendations or opinions.

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What Business Are Insurance Companies REALLY In?

Marketing Myopia occurs when company leaders define their mission too narrowly, resulting in business nearsightedness or shortsightedness.

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Living On Fumes: Who Is Favoring The Privilege Of Debt Over Equity?

Depending on who you ask, you will get different answers about which consumers’ behavior drove the credit crisis.

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Insurance Industry Missing A Key Segment: Single Women

The 2010 census will tell us that a staggering number of households do not have children living in them. And a large number of these households are comprised of single people—many of them women. Does this mean the American family is in decline?

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Life Insurance And Gen Y—Why Bother?

The Life Insurance Industry has been in distress for years over the aging field force problem—and their resulting inability to reach younger consumers.

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Insurance And Financial Companies Struggle To Connect With Millennials

The generational communication gap is becoming an abyss. With the proliferation of social media, texting and other technologies, young people today have all but nearly abandoned the communication technologies and norms that were popular as little as 10 years ago

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Financial Services And Insurance Innovation: No More “Fine Print”

Have you ever seen a marketing message for either a financial or an insurance companythat has more disclosure and disclaimer information than actual content? Did you read all of that legal copy? (It’s pretty much a given you didn’t.)

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Do Insurance Companies Suffer From Boomeritis?

Here’s a crazy question: How would Wayne Gretzky run an insurance company? He would be looking at ways to crack the code in Generation Y (Millenials). And Why? Because if the insurance industry wants to look forward and get ahead, companies need to know

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