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Advisors who embrace change will find opportunity

By Donna Glasgow Serge Therrien | July 09 2018 07:00AM

Phil Marsillo

In early April, Phil Marsillo became president of IDC Worldsource Insurance Network (IDC WIN). Marsillo, who previously held the position of Senior Vice-President, Distribution with Canada Life, brings decades of industry experience to his new role of leading one of Canada’s largest managing general agencies.

In an interview with The Insurance and Investment Journal, Marsillo said that providing the support that advisors need to grow their businesses is a key role for MGAs.

While some advisors have the staff and experience needed to develop their own strong businesses, the majority of advisors in Canada are looking for an MGA’s support to understand what needs to be done to ensure their practice is compliant and to advise them on products, follow up, prospecting and technology. “I think there is a lot of value there and our role, our job, is to convince advisors why we bring value to the table,” says Marsillo.

Searching for help

He points to the rapid pace of regulatory change as a particular area where advisors need assistance. “More and more regulations are in place and advisors are searching for help,” he says, adding that they are not alone. “MGAs to some point are searching for help, carriers are searching for help. It’s new to everybody in the industry and it’s changing really fast.”

What is his message for advisors in dealing with this change? “Embrace it. It’s not going to go away.”

He adds that he has been in this industry for 35 years and every year the new people entering the business are told that there’s never been a better time to join. “What does that actually mean? We’ve gone through a lot of change in the last 35 years, and anytime there has been a change there have been individuals who have seen opportunities and embraced it and have done better things for themselves and for their clients. Others are afraid of change and then they go and they hibernate. That doesn’t help anybody.”

Many of the new compliance demands are centred on ‘fair treatment of consumers,’ he observes. “Just the words in themselves say ‘use common sense’. If you’re doing what’s right for the customer, you will be treated well as well. Don’t be scared of compliance. For the majority of people, there’s nothing to worry about. All the regulators are asking is document it. That’s all. There aren’t a lot of bad apples or issues in this industry,” says Marsillo.

He adds that he believes the future of the industry is bright and that the products it offers to consumers are excellent. Life insurance, he points out, provides a way “to generate capital, protect capital and distribute capital – there’s no better product out there.”

Questioned on the potential for fintech disruption, Marsillo underlines that insurance is still a product “that is not bought, it is sold. Not too many people wake up in the morning and say ‘I want to buy insurance.’ So what’s going to be important is how we can get digital to help advisors grow their business. Is the digital channel going to replace the advice channel? My answer would be no.”

One major challenge he sees going forward is the lack of promotion about the value of the industry. “Do we ever speak about the number of people we employ, the amount of death claims we pay on an annual basis, the amount of disability claims we pay on an annual basis, or critical illness insurance benefits we pay?” Marsillo says the best way to promote the insurance industry to the public would be to speak about these things.

“We don’t sell insurance for what the premium’s going to be, we sell insurance for when you need it most. We need to promote that.”

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