LIMRA says the purpose of its study was to better understand the adviser-wholesaler relationship and the value both internal and external wholesalers bring to an adviser’s practice. According to the LIMRA report, when advisers spoke of working with favorite wholesalers, they often referred to them as support teams, rather than “the sales desk” or “external resources.”
Wholesaler support for financial advisers ranges from providing knowledge of their company’s products to collaborating on client needs-assessments and providing solutions to satisfy those needs. As noted by LIMRA, internal and external wholesaler roles are sometimes perceived as interchangeable, “but advisers in the survey noted their preference for who they believe is the best provider of certain wholesaler services.”
In short, LIMRA found neither internal nor external wholesalers have an edge on service quality perception. In fact, as advisers demand more services from both internal and external wholesalers, company wholesalers who present a team dynamic reaching across both channels can increase efficiency and provide the type of seamless support advisers are seeking.
LIMRA finds companies can choose from several strategies to design a wholesaling support model that works best for their adviser clients. Some may choose a “company dictated responsibilities” model, through which an internal person is paired with an external, and their roles are clearly defined by the company.
“This model tends to be cost-effective for the company but lacks flexibility and does not play to each team’s dynamic,” LIMRA notes.
Next is the “team defined responsibilities” model, through which the wholesaler team decides which duties work best with their personalities. “While it allows flexibility, good communication is essential and the team would need to frequently evaluate how well the model is working,” LIMRA warns.
LIMRA next describes the “hybrid” model: “In this scenario, one person takes on the internal and external role. This model can provide an opportunity for a wholesaler to make a higher salary than an internal wholesaler could, while traveling less than an external wholesaler. In some cases, two hybrids work as a team to insure better access to advisers.”
Finally there is the “team-based wholesaling” model. LIMRA describes this model as one in which multiple internals on the sales desk partner with one external.
“This works best when an external has an expanded territory with several designated sales desk representatives,” LIMRA says. “With several internals, it's easier to manage turnover and maintain responsiveness to adviser needs.”
The report concludes the best model for a given advisory firm depends on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the products they sell and the channels where they sell them. For any model to succeed, the wholesaler team must concentrate its efforts on effective communication and providing seamless support to the adviser client, LIMRA notes.
Nine-hundred financial professionals completed a written survey, and 17 advisers participated in one-on-one interviews to develop the research. For more information, visit www.limra.com.