This is the fourth in the MDRT Agency Principal Series, recorded at NAILBA 34 for agency principals and advisors. In this series, industry leaders share their perspectives on the state of the industry, with tips and takeaways to help you thrive in the changing landscape.


  • Moderator: James Douglas Pittman, CLU, CFP, MDRT Second Vice President
  • Brian Winikoff – President and CEO, Crump Life Insurance Services
  • Ben Nevejans – President, LifePro Financial Services Inc.
  • Victoria “Tori” Van Dusen-Roos – Principal and Head of Operations, Diversified Brokerage Services Inc.
  • Ryan Pinney – Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Pinney Insurance Services
  • Gonzalo Garcia – Partner, AgencyONE LLC

Click the embedded podcast below to listen – or browse our show notes below.

Advisor Training & Continuing Education

Here are a few take-away points panelists brought up:

  • We’ve done a significant amount of work on education and training. We do a unique webinar every day, about 30 - 35 minutes. Some of them are video, some of them are PowerPoint with a voice-over. It’s education on solutions. Rarely do we touch on a product except where it’s appropriate to meet a solution. That’s become a huge part of what we do and why advisors are attracted to us. More than that, it’s a great way of institutional advertising – it’s marketing. We open up our training to advisors whether they’re appointed with us or not. We think that’s what the industry needs. Advisors don’t always have access to these kinds of professional development.
  • This kind of training and education is critical for associates and clients. We develop our training programs in a similar way – we work from the bottom up on what’s going to be most impactful. We offer foundational training. For a financial advisor, that’s basic selling skills, closing, blocking and tackling, things that will make them more productive when prospecting. We also offer solution-based training. We offer it in several diff ways – online, in WebEx, and in group sessions. In the group sessions, you get the added value of in-person training. It’s also a great networking opportunity for advisors to share ideas.
  • We participate in membership committees for MDRT, ALU, and so forth. WE have to encourage people to join these organizations and become engaged. I’m on the membership committees for several of these organizations and am pretty active – it’s critical. They have to get involved in environments that give them the opportunity for networking and continuing education.
  • There are more opportunities for training than there is a desire for people to get trained. The personal challenge is sifting through, on an individual level, and deciding what skills you want to develop. One needs to have a plan, one needs to have an agenda. One shouldn’t try to do everything all at once. It should be a building approach. Carriers certainly have declined their agency forces, but there’s still tremendous training available out there. This includes product-agnostic training opportunities. There’s more opportunity out there than demand.
  • These days, you really do have to be a jack of all trades. We provide seminars where brokers come in, and we grant them access to the wonderful professionals we work with from the carriers. Technology changes so fast, and now everyone wants things quick and short and on the go. You have to be prepared to offer podcasts or YouTube videos to get the point across. We stick with conceptual training for life insurance sales and stay away from product training.


Here are a few take-away points panelists brought up:

  • Technology is a positive and a negative. In some ways it’s a negative because it’s starting to take away that crucial face-to-face interaction. It’s definitely a challenge to stay up on the latest and greatest. Some carriers have been recognizing that fact and are offering up technological marketing and educational opportunities for BGAs and their staff. Otherwise, it’s about going out and hiring young, smart IT people who can make sense of these apps and incorporate them into your business.
  • This is a business of storytelling, but people have lost this ability. Trying to replicate storytelling with technology is difficult and there’ll be a long transition period here.
  • The biggest advantage to technology is the ability to eliminate the heavy lifting at the low end. A term policy, for example, is not a difficult transaction in and of itself. If you give a producer the right tools to make that process go quickly, smoothly, and painlessly, it frees up their staff and time to focus on larger case design and advanced planning concepts, which are the business we all look to. When you look at those two things, technology is designed to automate repetitive tasks. If you’re processing an application, there’s a hundred steps we each take – of those, how many can be automated? Can you get it down to where an app only needs to have three human touches? One? None? Technology doesn’t take the human interaction out of it. Tech should actually be leveraged to increase human interaction by eliminating redundant, repetitive tasks.
  • Technology is an asset that can make humans more efficient. It could allow one to market in different ways by leveraging big data. It can support the underwriting process and get the simplified issue product that’s competitive. It doesn’t replace the heart of what we do – support, advice, and solutions. To describe it a different way, technology doesn’t build a house. But power tools help you build a house more efficiently and more effectively. They help you communicate what that house looks like. People still need to design, build, and live in that house. If you’re not ahead of the curve, you’re behind the curve. You have to understand what’s out there to try to get ahead of it - or you will be behind.
  • There are processes that we can take out b/c of tech – we can run more profitable and lead to more solution-based selling and creativity b/c we’re not spending all this time and money on repetitive processes.

We’ll bring you more from this podcast series as episodes are released. Stay tuned!

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