Thursday, November 12, 2009

(No.63) Insurance people email

Since the inception of at the end of 2008 a number of the columns have involved my comments on aspects of the insurance business, Sun Life in particular -- the company with which I was associated until this year. It should come as no surprise that I have received emails in response from people in or associated with the business. Some are known to me, some are not.

I have reproduced in this column (below) excerpts from selected emails. I have withheld the identity of those whose views I have presented but for the purpose of context I have preceded each with a brief reference to his or her role or industry connection.


1. Right on the money with Sun Life

from a Sun Life agent:

First of all I'd like to say "I miss you" .....

[name deleted] has passed on your [recent] columns [on Sun Life] to me. I found them (like always) right on the money and enlightening that someone really knows what is happening in the Sun Life career sales force world.

It seems as soon as we have a 'pro-advisor' head office staff person they disappear quicker than you can imagine....

2. The industry keeps limping along

from an MGA:

Great piece [No. 49 "Executive ignorance, arrogance & self-interest"] but somehow this industry keeps limping along.

My feeling is that an MGA will figure it out and find a way to commoditize the insurance companies and spin business to the highest bidder. The MGA issue will be to recruit, train and retain agents.

3. Humour in insurance

from a member of the media:

Thanks for another great edition Alastair.

If anyone can bring humour to insurance, you certainly can.

4. Informative screeds

from a former industry executive:

Your screeds are informative but I read them partly as entertainment. You write as you talk and I hear your voice as I read.

I did have to look up the word 'screed' to remind me of the meaning.

I have often pointed out to my technical associates that the big difference between shopping for life insurance and a commodity is: people intend to buy the commodity; they hope to find an advisor to tell them they need no more life insurance.

5. Your biggest fans

from a member of Sun Life's career agency field management:

Here I sit having just read your No.29 ["Lottery tickets from life insurance companies] aloud to [name withheld] who is one of your biggest fans. This is becoming a tradition .... Keep writing.

Of course I agree totally with your comments ......

6. Fighting the good fight

from an industry executive:

Great overview and history lesson [ref. No.59, "Banks & insurance: like Wellington's horse"]. I only hope that this one gets forwarded wide and far in the network of senior life company executives.

Thanks for fighting the good fight on this one.

7. Disturbing reading

from a Sun Life career agent:

Just a note to say your No.29 "Lottery tickets from life insurance companies" and especially your No. 26 "Sun Life Downplaying Canadian operations" were well worth reading; disturbing to say the least.

Thanks for taking the time to blog.

8. A poignant message

from a member of Sun Life's field management:

... I took the time to read your column No. 25 [and] reminisced about the good old Al Rickard days ....

By the way No. 25 was another beautifully crafted message, particularly poignant to those of us who toil away in the CSF [i.e., the Sun Life career sales force].

9. Banks & insurance

from a securities analyst:

I agree completely with you about banks' potential in insurance [ref. No. 47 - "Sun Life & banks selling insurance"].

10. Manulife & irony

from another securities analyst:

[ref. No. 46 -- Manulife, Sun Life & shop-worn insights"] You realize of course that you just spent an entire email discussing Manulife -- ironic isn't it?

11. Witty & correct commentaries

from a member of Sun Life's career agency field management:

[Ref. column No. 56 - " In order to stab someone in the back ..."]

Love it!! Too true!! Many believe if you had not been so frank and truth spoken you would have been the CEO ... but alas you couldn't have slept at night or written such witty and correct non-partisan commentaries.

We actually prefer you the way you are!!!

12. Sun vs Manulife

from an MGA:

[ref. No. 60 - " Pt 3 - Sun Life: comments on its performance"]

Can't disagree with anything you said.

I had a meeting with [name withheld] a reasonable MGA owned and operated by old system managers. ... they said something very interesting and that is that Sun Life is taking over number 2 spot [among MGAs] from Manulife because the advisors would rather not deal with Manulife.

Maybe Sun Life's success has nothing to do with them and more to do with the competition.

[ to be continued in No.64 ]


Alastair Rickard