How Do You Know If You Have a Compliance Problem?

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This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.

Compliance and producer management are like the proverbial frog boiling in the pot. If you walked in fresh to a new organization, disordered compliance practices, manual processes, and missing producer data would be horrifically apparent, like a waving red flag. But when you’re struggling to keep up with manual onboarding processes in addition to all the other things required to do your job, those errors and data gaps slowly build until they’re overwhelming.

So, before you’re a frog boiling alive in a pot of compliance issues, how can you correctly identify the chief areas of concern in your producer management processes? And do you have any idea how to measure your own success or failure?

Here for your own evaluation, we’ve rounded up the top three categories we use to evaluate the efficacy of an organization’s compliance as well as the criteria we see organizations use to objectively measure outcomes. If you can answer “yes” to all three questions, you might not have a compliance problem. For the majority of people working in insurance, however, you may recognize one or more of these symptoms pointing toward your own little compliance problem (stay tuned for how to actually solve it!).

1. Is your compliance real-time, integrated, and automated?

With data that’s continually up-to-date and integrated across your tech stack, your team can make better decisions at every stage of business.

However, out-of-date information weighs down your infrastructure. Compliance processes that involve delays, siloing, and manual inputs create a lot of drag on internal processes for agencies and carriers. Instead of being able to make well-informed, speedy decisions, every decision is burdened with manual data verification or the risk of skipping necessary compliance steps altogether.

It’s an open industry secret that manual processes, legacy systems, and hours of emails and phone calls are how internal compliance teams currently handle compliance. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Following are before-and-after profiles of businesses that implemented automated compliance solutions. If you find yourself identifying with the “before,” you could be in need of a compliance upgrade:

  • BEFORE: The chief compliance officer routinely took work home on weekends to maintain manual compliance in the state of Texas alone.
  • AFTER: He now keeps the business within business hours, managing producers in all 50 states in less time than it used to take for a single state.
  • BEFORE: With two fulltime compliance officers, this business still lacked clarity about their compliance rate. As a business with an aggressive growth map ahead, the executive team lived in dread of a state compliance review.
  • AFTER: They reduced both compliance officers’ workloads by 25 percent, freeing them up to leverage their knowledge elsewhere for the company. The best part? With visibility into their own data, they moved from serious uncertainty about their compliance to having 100 percent confidence that every sale is properly executed by someone with the appropriate license and appointment.
  • BEFORE: One compliance officer said a single new-hire class of agents would require him to block off two weeks for manual processing and data input.
  • AFTER: The entire process of onboarding a new class of agents is two hours.

Do you recognize yourself in the before, or in the after? Do you have access to your compliance and producer data at the point of decision-making, or does it require digging? Consider, what do those manual hours of digging to find the right information cost you every week? Every year? As one AgentSync customer said, “We don’t bill for our own time, but the truth of it is that the company was spending way more money on me trying to muddle through compliance than on AgentSync where it’s now automatic and effortless.”

2. Do you offer a world-class agent experience?

As retaining talent becomes mission-critical, businesses that empower their agents with data and self-service tools put themselves in an advantageous position. It’s no surprise that agents value their speed-to-revenue.

For businesses that fail to grasp the essentials of agent experience, they’ll spend thousands or even millions of dollars on recruitment programs to attract experienced, reputable downstream partners. But they’ll never see the ROI from that spend thanks to constant churn, as agents fall off during the onboarding period or soon after.

According to data from a report AgentSync co-sponsored with research firm Aite-Novarica, having digital options and speedy service are key in recruiting the next generation of producers.

The study reported 97 percent of young agents saw speed and time-to-quote as highly important to placing business. Yet, 54 percent of agents reported their appointed carriers didn’t offer an online or mobile onboarding option.

Your compliance might be a roadblock in attracting and retaining solid agents if the following examples feel familiar:

  • BEFORE: One business struggled with an average onboarding experience that took weeks, sometimes even months. Although the compliance and operations teams knew from experience that this was in line with industry norms, the whole organization was dissatisfied.
  • AFTER: With solutions that prioritize a world-class agent experience, the start-to-finish onboarding process became a matter of days, sometimes even hours!
  • BEFORE: A compliance officer struggled with hours of manual work to onboard a single new producer.
  • AFTER: Once the business implemented modern solutions, the same result is now a few clicks away.
  • BEFORE: With a previous solution, a single agent’s name or address change meant an operations team member hunting through numerous external state websites.
  • AFTER: Agents are empowered with agent portals and can control their own information. Two-way data syncs enable agents to update and correct their information directly instead of trapping information in emails and voicemails and necessitating hours of manual middleman labor.

The ultimate result of this emphasis on agent experience is that companies with automated compliance solutions retain good agents. By retaining superior agents, they spend less on recruitment efforts, and instead can thrive on referrals from already-excited existing partners. As one AgentSync customer said, “Having data immediately at my fingertips helps me shine, impressing my colleagues and our recruits alike.”

3. Data intelligence to optimize distribution

We want to be able to justify our business decisions with data and business intelligence, but, often, our choices are made by instinct and gut reaction.

If your compliance and producer management data is tied up in spreadsheets and sticky notes, then you might have the data to make intelligent decisions, but dirty data isn’t usable data. Instead, you’re operating in the dark, potentially wasting thousands of dollars in fees for unnecessary appointments or licenses, not to mention the risk of fines for opaque compliance practices.

While the number of businesses that want to make smart, data-driven decisions is, we would guess, near 100 percent, even carriers that have built their businesses off long-term actuarial data are at a loss when it comes to their own business data. According to one study, 75 percent of financial and insurance services execs “are challenged by the fractured nature and vast amount of data available.”

That statistic isn’t a complete surprise if you’ve worked at a business plagued by siloed, manual data that lives on spreadsheets, personal drives, emails, and sticky notes. In fact, one industry blogger asserts “a staggering 88 percent of corporate data is sitting idle.”

But what if you could access and analyze your data?

  • BEFORE: One compliance officer used to spend weekends manually compiling reports about where his business spent money on licensing fees.
  • AFTER: With transparent and accessible data reports in a comprehensive compliance solution, it takes him two minutes to generate a report that helps him optimize the fees for his business. His business is operating leaner than ever, and he’s got his weekends back.
  • BEFORE: One compliance officer described her firm’s approach to compliance as “constantly reactive” because the team had no choice but to submit license applications to a state and wait to see if they had missed key information.
  • AFTER: This business has de-risked its distribution pipeline, was able to transfer a DRLP seamlessly across 50 states in less than two weeks, and is now taking a predictive, strategic approach to growth. With missing data a thing of the past, they can selectively apply for licenses only in necessary areas and divert business to licensed providers in specific sales areas without a flurry of phone calls.

With alerts set to flag only applications that need attention, compliance teams using automated compliance systems flush with data no longer need to touch every application. In-good-order business drives itself, leaving only not-in-good-order paperwork and red-flagged business for hands-on attention, and allowing the business to drill down into the data that matters.

Keeping on keeping on is slowly draining your business

If you’re treading (boiling) water with the inefficiencies of manual compliance and producer management, we get it. Sometimes you’re barely keeping your head above the surface and survival feels like an accomplishment.

But barely making it isn’t what success looks like. Teams that can’t take vacation without everything grinding to a halt aren’t teams that can give their best. Teams that are making decisions based off what’s on fire right now aren’t teams that are planning for longevity.

So, think of what percent of your efforts this week went to waste. Was it a normal week? Take that number times 52, and that’s what your inefficient compliance is costing you this year and every year that you stay in the ever-hotter pot of hellish manual compliance.

Stop keeping on keeping on. It’s time for compliance that rocks, agents who are enthusiastic about joining you, and business data that gives you an edge. It’s time for AgentSync.

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