In this episode of #TheAmberStittShow, Ameritas and a few of its partners and I discussed the latest Service & Tech updates for 2022 and 2023.
The head of the Service & Tech Subcommittee Peter Winovich and Brian Walsh as co-chairs, along with Lined Mason talk about the changes, how we worked with Ameritas on innovations, and what is to come this year.
In addition, we discuss all the groups that are available to the field, through the Ameritas study group and resource systems.
We define what a Field Advisory Cabinet does as well as define what the subcommittees do to support the FAC.
This list will acknowledge what I know of today:
-Ameritas Growth Leaders
-Ameritas Women Elevated
-Young Bison Resource Group
-Diversity & Inclusion Resource Group
-LGBTQ+ Resource Group
-Black Americans Resource Group
-Americans with Disabilities Resource Group
Whether you partner with Ameritas solely or as a broker, being in a study group can truly change your life!
Are you on a Task Force Yet? If you want to join a subcommittee and/or help to grow one, please let us know and we can point you in the right direction!
Thank you for listening and Let's Take Action Today!
Introduction with Music 00:11
Hello, and welcome to The Amber Stitt Show. I am your host, Amber Stitt, and I am obsessed with helping people get their financial and personal lives in order. Every week, my guests and I explore the fundamentals and practices that will help you stay on top of your game in business, but also at home. I believe we all have different pathways we have to take to reach our peak performance so that we can live up to our peak potential. And this podcast is dedicated to helping you get there. I'm excited to share the insights and habits that my guests and I have cultivated throughout our lives, so we can help you on your journey toward a happy, successful and fulfilling life. Let's jump right into today's show.
Amber Stitt 00:59
Hello and welcome to The Amber Stitt Show. I am your host, Amber Stitt. Today's episode is a unique one, as we are discussing how Ameritas has innovated this year. I am so fortunate to host and moderate today's service and tech year-end wrap-up meeting. And thank you Lined for letting me host this event. And thank you, Brian and Peter, for also being here today.
We're glad to be here. Amber, thanks for having us.
Thank you, Amber excited to be here.
Amber Stitt 01:25
All right. So today, Lined, we're going to kick this off by talking about what does the Service and Tech committee do under the field advisory council? So I'm going to have you talk about what is the purpose of the Service and Tech team, and then we might dive into some pillars that you guys have as part of the Service and Tech committee.
Perfect. Thank you, Amber. So yes, Service and Tech is a subcommittee of our field advisory cabinet, and we discuss anything service related anything from a processing standpoint to adding technology, we collaborate with the field to try to understand where are the needs and wants. And how do we make it happen? Right. I've been part of this subcommittee now for about 10 years as the home office representative. And I have seen this group evolve, I'm really happy to be where it is today. Because we are really taking this feedback and building out our technology and not just taking the feedback, we're making our Field Partners part of the solution, like they're part of our pilot program, we brainstorm with them and brainstorming sessions and prioritize what work needs to be done. So it's, um, it's a really great committee to be part of.
Amber Stitt 02:40
Yeah, and I was recently I think it was last September, at my first meeting, and it was great to see how the different departments are working together. And so, Brian, I know that this is a subcommittee under the Field Advisory Council, can you speak a little bit to the subcommittees or the FAC itself? So everyone has an idea of what it is to be a part of these committees?
Sure. The Field Advisory Cabinet of Ameritas is a group of probably somewhere between 9 and 11 people depending on the year from different backgrounds and different types of firms so that we can bring our ideas to emeritus directly and their senior management. And we work on everything from product innovation, to making sure we're giving our clients the best products available, we hear about all the financials of the company. So it helps us from a producer standpoint, to understand exactly how the insurance company works, how it's capitalized, and how financially strong it is. And obviously, Ameritas has been one of the financially strong companies in the country. And it's a very open dialogue, where we really try and collaborate and come up with the best ideas and hopefully, bring the really top-end product to the producers to provide for our mutual clients. And also gives us a voice on things like service and technology or retirement plans where every section has a subcommittee where we're able to really focus and hone in on things to be better processes and better products to our producers and client.
Amber Stitt 04:13
That’s great. And I know that you guys have had a lot of 2022 initiatives, Lined and I think it funnels into some three pillars, essentially, that you guys follow. And if you could explain those a little bit to everybody, I think that would be helpful.
Absolutely. So the first pillar is transaction processing. So it is really just improving our service level agreements, right, like taking out all the manual steps that need to be taken, that slows down the process that also adds complexity or because it's manual increases errors, right? So getting better at that. The other thing is transparency. A lot of times we in our field have to spend time calling or sending emails and following up on things because there isn't a portal or an easy way to see where things are in the process, right? So let's, let's create that transparency. So there is no guesswork, right? It's just being able to log in and being able to see where things are in the movement. And then, of course, is the experience, we utilize our user experience team to get feedback from not only internal folks and our field but also consumers from all over. And we take that feedback, and we build that into our processes and our technology. So those are our three pillars, that which we try to focus on when we're trying to prioritize what things we want to work on. Because obviously, there is a large, large list of initiatives. So we want to make sure that the things we pick are the things that are going to bring the most value.
Amber Stitt 05:50
So really, certainly a trickle-down effect, where we can make the user experience better, and have more efficient teams, just everything is going to work more cohesive. So I really appreciate you guys are always working on that for the agencies and the advisors out there. So let's dive into some of the initiatives that we've accomplished this year. And I'm going to start with you, Brian talking about underwriting and some of the automation that you guys have made it happen by meeting and testing certain things.
So, you know, that probably goes back over the last 24 months or so. But it's been an evolution of getting it better. And you know, starting with an application, which Peter will talk about in a minute. And having the information electronically sent in instead of the old paper app now we're, we're able to underwrite through automation. So the application will now go through an automated process. An underwriting decision will be made by artificial intelligence added, it really has dropped you can probably get that done in some cases, as quick as five, or seven days, depending on the case. So you know, typical underwriting could take four to six weeks. automated underwriting obviously shortens that time up tremendously. And what that does is not only frees the producer up to help more people, but it also gives a client a decision very quickly. So as a client goes through underwriting or they have some anxiety because they're waiting to hear somebody judge them on their health and lifestyle and everything else. So the shorter you can make those fans, that just makes it much better client experience for the end user,
Amber Stitt 07:31
I know that I like communicating with my clients within three to five days, just giving them some steps. So when I have approval available, it's always nice to say, hey, after a week, here you go. So that's always fun as part of the process.
So to piggyback off of Brian and his comments in regards to automated underwriting, I would say that a lot of work has happened to build the foundation of that automated underwriting to this point, but the real exciting, automated pieces coming in 2023. So a lot of work has happened to this point. And we're just going to get better. So excited about that coming.
Amber Stitt 08:07
Thanks, Lined. That's good to hear. That's fun. So, Peter, I know that part of the automation, we need to talk about the e-applications e-apply. So I know that you were instrumental in that you want to talk a little bit about that today.
Yes, and just building off of the great success that Brian has had, over the past two years with E-apply. And also Lined, it's important that we had established this. Well, before the pandemic, there was certainly a lot of kicking and screaming. For people trying to move away from traditional paper AP paper app was very easy to do. It was. So we were very fortunate that we had started this initiative several years back, it is amazing to see traditional firms that have switched from paper to E apply for their life, DI, and also annuity business, how much faster they're able to play. And it's been a really good start in the right direction. I think there's a lot more to come from there, and also being able to play faster.
Amber Stitt 09:06
Well, I don't work with all product lines. So it sounds like this is being rolled out across everything. Right?
Yes. And as with any technology, there are always kinks that still need to be worked through. And we're we've made a lot of progress in 2022. And there's going to be even more in 2023.
Amber Stitt 09:23
Yeah, so Lined, let's talk about the mobile app for the advisors. Let's have you talk about that a little bit. Right.
Thank you. I'm glad to talk about it. Yes, because I'm very, very excited about it. You know, again, this is about transparency, right? It's one of the pillars that we talked about. So the ability of our field partners to be able to just by looking at their phone and swiping you know, being able to see that were their cases in the process, right? A lot of our field partners are not sitting in front of a computer, eight hours a day, right they're on the move so being able to pick up their phone and communicate Hearing and seeing what's happening with their cases, instead of being so dependent on their staff, right to communicate that stuff to them. This, I would say 90% of it has been driven by our field, right, again, is that collaboration, we started in January with meeting with some key folks that had raised their hands to be part of this initiative, where they told us what they needed as part of this mobile app, then they helped us prioritize it. And then we gave them a sneak preview of the app before I went live in August to everybody else, so they could live and breathe it and come back with any suggestions that they wanted to be enhanced before we went live to everybody. And that was very helpful. And then we went live at the end of August, and we have over 700 downloads at this point in time, which is phenomenal. And the feedback we're getting for the field is all positive. And we're still meeting every other week with our pilot advisors to go through, okay, what are the next things we're going to work on? And so we focused on the business. And now we're currently having a lot of dialogue around what does surface alerts look like, for example, you know, you're sitting at the airport, and all of a sudden, you get a notification that tells you, hey, somebody's contract is about to lapse. So being able to jump on top of that. Right, then there is on the top of the list of our advisors. So that's probably one of the next initiatives that we're going to work on. So very excited.
Amber Stitt 11:38
Well, congrats on all those statistics. And I know that when we're on the go if we're part of these committees, and part a part of thought leadership and different, we're at different conferences together, and we're hoping to go we need access to those alerts and being able to be there for our clients when we have some of that downtime at the airport. So, you know, it's perfect, perfect timing,
The only thing I would add, I believe one of the best things we did as a committee is to start a subcommittee of Service and Tech called the Office Professionals subcommittee, and they have been instrumental in helping develop a lot of these initiatives, due to the fact that they are using it 80% of their day. Most producers aren't using the producer workbench and the mobile app and everything else as much as their office staff is where the mobile app is really great is it allows the producer to stay in touch without having to be at their desktop, a producer workbench. And the office professionals committee has done a tremendous job bringing back the information they need to do their job more effectively, which makes the producer's job more efficient. I just want to shout out to all the participants on that committee, there are 20, some of them now, who have just been instrumental in getting us feedback to make us better.
Amber Stitt 11:58
Sounds like there are no gaps in the process. All departments, all teams are working together for a smooth transaction. And so that's, that's awesome. So Lined and I have had some time together talking about some inclusivity within the teams and previous pathways of performance episodes, we dove into really what emeritus is doing to innovate there as well. And I think it's been at least 12 months that you guys have rolled out a number of resource groups. And so I want to talk about that a little bit. But first, maybe Brian and Peter, we could speak to the Ameritas growth leaders, and then Lined, we could talk about all as well before we dive into the other resource groups. So I'd like to share a little bit about what else is out there for people to participate in. So Brian does want to talk or Peter talked about murtis growth leaders.
Yes, the Ameritas Growth Leaders Initiative is a group of advisors across the country from different firms that are up-and-coming advisors in the industry, and almost considered like a super study group that allows the sharing of resources and expertise and allows somebody that might be potentially earlier in their career is willing to take the next steps gives them the opportunity to connect with potential people that have been in the field much longer from there. And it's been a great initiative and homerun from that end. I personally have learned a lot going through that program. And I know my being able to give back as well has given me a lot of opportunities to even teach me things that I might not have known.
Amber Stitt 14:41
Yeah, as a member myself. What I do love about it is you're getting ideas from different people that might not be directly in your practice. They might be doing something else. And so you're hearing what other people are doing and it can really help brainstorm and bring new ideas to your practice and business. So I've appreciated it myself.
And I'm sure not a part of a GL, I encourage you to, to reach out and seek membership because it's very rewarding. And you get a lot out of it.
Amber Stitt 15:10
Any one of us can help point them in the right direction, right? Yes, absolutely. Okay, so Lined, let's go kick it over to ah, which was rolled out in quarter three of this year, right?
Yes. So Ameritas Women Elevated is for our female advisors. And like you said, we just kicked it off here. Recently, we had our first in-person meeting, it was two days, and it was amazing. It was, it was great to see all these women collaborating together, and just how Peter described for Ameritas's growth leaders, it was the same thing for the women, right, it was brainstorming, it was, you know, sharing ideas working together, you know, building relationships. And I will tell you, even as myself, you know, a home office employee, not an advisor, I left that meeting anodized. And back with ideas, too. And the other thing, which was a huge bonus was that we were able to get three new members for service attack out of that meeting, right, they wanted to be part of the stage of the process. And you Amber being one of them, right, so, you know, great, really good.
Amber Stitt 16:22
Yeah. So the energy that came from that was nonstop, and just the ideas flowing, and then just the encouragement, if people are newer, or maybe just are looking to enhance there's, there's so much there that people can collaborate and participate in. So let's close with today, the other resource groups that you guys have developed. And it's been, I mean, a little over a year, and you guys have done so much. So let's speak to that a little bit and give that some airtime.
Thank you, Amber. So we have a couple. So even though our field advisory cabinet, one of the subcommittees now is a diversity and inclusion subcommittee, you know, they're just in the infancy. But already, I could see some great things coming out of it. For example, the audit committee came out of that meeting internally, we have the LGBTQ plus group, we have of young bison, which is young professionals coming into, you know, the industry internally to try to learn, you know, what do they want to be when they grew up here if at Ameritas, we also just started a women's group internally, we got the okay to start that I will be helping out with that in our Cincinnati location. And we also have people with disabilities, a resource group. So it's, um, you know, we're heading in the right direction, right? Still, a lot of work to do. But you know, our momentum is high, and we'll keep improving, for sure. We also have our black Americans, Babs resource group, they've been doing great, a lot of community work, what they call fireside chats where they have speakers come in a really engaged group. So that's been going really well.
Amber Stitt 18:04
Yeah, there's been a lot going on. And I think the whole point for the pathways of peak performance audience when you've listened to the previous episode with Lined, I think the point here is that there are a number of things that we've accomplished throughout Ameritas. But Lined, you've also talked about inclusivity, being the glue behind a lot of these committees and things that are happening. You've mentioned before that, you know, don't wait for the agency that you're participating with, or affiliated with to do something you can start today on your own, putting in the work today. So Lined, let's talk a little bit about that, just to kind of wrap this up. Because really, today's year-end wrap-up is to hopefully motivate people to really plug into quarters one and two, roll out some new ideas, and really just have some takeaways from listening today to today's episode. So let's close with some just thoughts on how you feel that this can push us into 2023.
Yeah, so I think you just nailed it when you threw in the word inclusion, right? Because to me, this is all about inclusion. It's about listening, right? And getting the right people to help you through this, this journey. Right? So step one is to listen to the feedback, but also ask for the feedback a lot of times, you know that that is not going to be good. And that's okay, right? Because that's the kind of feedback you want if you want to be able to enhance that experience. Right? Not everything is perfect. And I think you know, the other thing is also raising your hand, right being part of that change. There's a lot of work that needs to be done, right? I'm not going to sugarcoat it, you know where you are on a journey, and who better to ask for help than the individuals that are using our products, the individuals that are using our systems, the individuals that are calling us, right, those are the people we want to get feedback from because they Hearing the ones that ultimately should be driving where we make enhancements. So don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for feedback, right and listen to key things.
Amber Stitt 20:09
I love that any other takeaways, Brian and Peter that you want to share?
Yeah, I think we’re really set up for a tremendous 2023, we're really excited about where we're going. And really looking at enhancing self-service, really focusing on underwriting, automate, automation, and E apply, and really having transparent service status. Those are going to be big initiatives for us into 2023. And want to want to make sure that Ameritas continues to be a great partner in our business.
And I also want to throw in one other comment, Amber, so you know, I'm a home office, but I cannot do this alone, right, I am very grateful that I have field help write my co-chairs, Brian and Peter, are just an amazing group of gentlemen to work with. They support me, and they also tell me when you know, looking at things differently, or approaching things differently, right, I really do appreciate their honesty and their support. And you know, how they're vocal about things. And I know, this is Brian's last year in service in tech. So Brian, thank you for all your years. And thank you for being such a great partner. I appreciate it.
Thank you that this would be being done without your leadership. So you've been the leader of all this. And on behalf of our field partners, thank you for everything you're doing. Thank you.
Amber Stitt 21:41
That's a perfect way to wrap up the year-end meeting.
The only other thing I think I would add is Amber's I think we do need to recognize that senior management at Ameritas has seen this as a big issue. And they've put the financial and human resources behind it to make a lot of things happen. And we're very appreciative that we were able to work together collaboratively to get that done.
Amber Stitt 22:05
Brian, that's a good point. Lined, you had said to me previously when we met that it was management has to sign off on this, and the executives have to say yes before any of these things can occur. And it sounds like they are all about pushing things into motion, giving it some time, where it's needed. But testing and trying things. And I have felt that in the last 10 years, myself working with Ameritas as a partner. So again, I really appreciate you guys spending time with me. But I want any of the listeners here today to know that you can utilize some of these tips and techniques and roll those into your practices. You don't have to be an insurance company. You don't necessarily have to be in financial services. It's really collaboration and working hard and listening to feedback and really putting your best foot forward. So thanks for being here, everybody. It's been fun hanging out with you today.
Thank you, Amber.
Thank you so much, Amber.
Closing Outro 23:00
Thank you for joining us on today's episode of The Amber Stitt Show. For more information about podcasts, books, articles, and more, please visit me at amberstitt.com. Until next week, enjoy your journey at home and at work. Thank you for listening!