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How MassMutual is Disrupting Life Insurance Distribution: And Not Just with Technology

When MassMutual was founded, 170 years ago, America hadn’t fought its civil war, family vehicles were horse drawn and paper mail took weeks to complete its journey. Life insurance was being sold by people, face-to-face.

Fast forward more than a century. A lot has changed in life insurance distribution‒ including the increasing digitalization and automation of the sales process. Portals and direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels are in bloom across the industry.

However, even in the midst of this rush to digital transformation, technology has not replaced the advisor as early doom-sayers predicted. Instead, the core advisor skillset – empathy, relationship-building, education – remains critical to creating great CX and making sales. It just needs to be integrated into the new, digital context.

MassMutual set out to disrupt insurance distribution

In a recent Life Accelerated podcast, Sherriff Balogun, Jr., Head of Platform Transformation at MassMutual, explained how he sees what’s happening,

InsureTech providers are biting off pieces of the value chain to try to solve some problem in a unique way and in a way that that adds some value to larger providers. But then, you also see larger legacy carriers really try to transform from the inside. And that's looked like a lot of commitment, not only in new markets and new distribution channels and trying to reach customers in different ways, but also in leveraging technology and data to really transform the legacy infrastructure that a lot of these carriers are challenged with.

For Sherriff, technology is stripping away layers of complexity in many areas.

Through the transformation of legacy platforms and increased focus on data and analytics, processes like underwriting, policy onboarding and claims are being automated and streamlined. Technical complexity, in the form of multiple, disconnected legacy platforms being used to achieve a desired outcome, are being modernized and integrated. And, at the same time, business processes like policy approval or claims authorization are being simplified and accelerated.

Yet, even as MassMutual is placing big bets on this digital transformation, they also realize the importance of involving all stakeholders in the journey– especially advisors.

Focusing on their financial professional network may seem counter-intuitive at a time when most carriers want to invest in real-time, digital interactions, D2C and the many promises of AI and analytics driven sales processes. But, as customers’ needs become more complex, so too does their need for more robust products and solutions. At some point identifying the right solution to address those complexities becomes more complicated than technology alone can deliver.

What most carriers are finding is that, even with simplified product offerings that enable automated underwriting and approval, the completion rate on D2C inquiries is quite low. In many cases consumers are dropping out of the process because of anxiety, lack of understanding of the product and process or frustration.

Consumers requiring more than just guaranteed approval policies or simple investments need help understanding their own spectrum of needs and the types of products that could meet them. An automated portal just can’t do the job.

These challenges have always been present in insurance sales. They have grown larger as the complexity of the solution increases. That’s why advisors are so important: to educate, motivate, explain, empathize, find the best/easiest solution for their client.

What is MassMutual doing for their advisor network?

I definitely think technology has helped. And, you know, one example for us in particular has been the digital tools and capabilities we've been able to put into the hands of our financial professionals.

Sherriff Balogun, Jr., Head of Platform Transformation, MassMutual

For Sherriff that tech enablement of their financial professional network is especially critical as we all move beyond social distancing and once again enjoy in-person interactions. The digital advisor tools that solved so many COVID-related challenges now serve a new purpose‒enabling financial professionals to provide their services in a more efficient and modern manner no matter how their clients want to interact.

MassMutual doubled down on their financial professional network investments

Even as MassMutual pushes the boundaries of how technology can disrupt life insurance distribution, they continue to keep their focus on the values and roots of their storied organization. They are building solutions based on a marriage between technology and people. They are prioritizing investment in both insurance and wealth management technology solutions so that their advisors are transformed into digital solution providers for all customers, in all markets, with all manner of complex needs.

To find out which 3 Pillars are driving MassMutual’s digital transformation listen to the podcast.

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