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What about the Wholesaler?

May 5, 2020 Jeff Quigley By Jeff Quigley

At the Future of Advice conference in December of 2019, Steve Gresham coined the phrase “Adoption is the new Innovation.” Steve was referring to how the adoption of technology is lacking across the advisor population. Steve’s message was urging advisors and industry leaders to leverage fintech to battle the many factors significantly slowing organic growth. When embraced, technology can help advisors be more efficient, demonstrate value, identify “next best actions” and improve the client experience. So why is it that more Mutual Fund and Insurance/Annuity carriers aren’t pursuing this opportunity to partner with fintech companies to facilitate increased adoption?

Wholesaling is changing

Take a second to think about how wholesaling has changed over the last fifteen years—so many catalysts have caused the commoditization of the financial services industry. Additionally, volatility, uncertainty, and media noise make it that much harder to get and hold an advisor’s attention. But at its core, wholesaling remains unchanged. It is a relationship business. Just dropping some glossy fact sheets, talking about performance or features and how great your rider is, is simply not enough and guarantees failure. I’m going to show my age here and admit that I am a former Variable Annuity wholesaler by quoting Nick Murray, “A value-added wholesaler isn’t great because of his/her product’s features, pricing, or ‘performance.’ They are great despite them. Outstanding wholesalers are great because they’re always creating more business for the financial advisors in their region.” Distributors should equip their sales force with tools to facilitate creating business for their advisors.

How Distributors should use FinTech

Mutual Fund and Annuity companies should play a part in increasing the adoption of technology by providing these tools to their sales teams. A great wholesaler is always looking for ways to improve their process and will embrace a FinTech solution that would enhance their value by helping advisors help their clients. In today’s environment, wholesalers are confined to their home offices, inhibiting their ability to build and enhance relationships in their territory. Imagine this: an advisor joins a virtual meeting for his or her scheduled session with their wholesaler, they exchange pleasantries and boom, a dialogue begins around the super cool UI the advisor sees on their screen. The discussion continues with the realization that technology (provided by the distribution company) can be utilized to improve an outcome by positioning a solution rather than selling a product.

Why these partnerships are the future

Advisors will continue to use products and solutions built by investment management companies and insurance carriers and technology can bridge the gap in many areas. First, using FinTech solutions helps investors understand complex financial strategies, allowing the advisor to better articulate their quantifiable value. Second, technology improves efficiencies by providing next best actions and road maps for implementation. Finally, distributors who provide these resources will build relationships, gain loyalty, and capture market share.

We are currently working with companies that are embracing this opportunity, aggressively looking for ways to build relationships and bring value to the advisor community through partnerships with companies like ours. These companies are hyper-focused on providing resources to their client, the advisor, that help provide valuable advice outside of investment performance and strategy. Jackson National Life Distributors, in response to the rapidly shifting role of the wholesaler, is doing everything they can to enable wholesalers with the right technology and value add programs for advisors. Our unique partnership formed from this initiative, with each of us providing one free month of the LifeYield Advantage Suite to advisors – creating a rare win-win-win scenario in FinTech. I look forward to collaborating with Jackson and more importantly helping wholesalers use technology as the unique differentiator crucial for success in today’s environment.


Jeff is the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales & Relationships at LifeYield. His deep industry experience makes him an important author to watch. He writes about key industry themes, landmark events and game-changing news that's shaping the future of financial advice.