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AXA, W&S debut new research, programs aimed at helping agents communicate need to consumers

Brian Anderson

A pair of carriers recently came out with new research and programs intended to help agents and advisors begin an effective dialogue with clients and prospects.

Extensive new research from conducted for AXA by Maslansky + Partners reveals a better way to engage with consumers so they won’t “turn off” when life insurance is discussed.

Meanwhile, Western & Southern Financial Group Distributors has just introduced what it calls the “Elephant in the Room” program, designed for financial representatives to work with client couples in addressing what one spouse may confront financially when the other passes away. It is an awkward topic to address directly, but an important one too significant to ignore. The program provides agents and advisors with tools to help couple develop a “Plan B” for their financial future.

You can learn more about both programs below and on the following page.


Helping consumers understand the value of life insurance

NEW YORK – AXA, a leading financial protection company, recently revealed a new way to talk about life insurance, a long-time touchy subject that is often met with resistance, even though 86% of consumers say that most people need life insurance protection.*

The new language of life insurance resulted from extensive research conducted for AXA by Maslansky + Partners, an outside consulting company that provides research-driven insights and positioning language to help companies break through barriers and connect with their audience.

Knowing consumers are often turned off or confused by discussions about whole life insurance in particular, AXA says it wanted to find a way to open up conversations and help consumers understand the value of these products and how they differ from term life insurance.

“Permanent life insurance is designed to be more than just protection for the family,” said Ron Herrmann, head of the Financial Protection business for AXA US. “But many consumers don’t understand that, in many cases, they can access the cash value, income tax-free, to supplement retirement income, help pay for college or other expenses. Because they think of life insurance as simply protection, they can be skeptical about the savings part. That’s why it’s important to position permanent life insurance products correctly, so that consumers can get past their preconceived notions and really hear what these products have to offer.”[i]

How to talk about permanent life insurance

Research showed that some consumers didn’t understand the difference between term and permanent life insurance. Others thought that using the policy as a vehicle for savings seemed too risky. Research also showed that still others didn’t understand how the build-up of cash value in the policy could help with expenses or provide retirement income. Bottom line: they thought life insurance was for family protection only.

AXA found that changing the way financial professionals talked about permanent life insurance made a difference, helping consumers to stop and listen, and to see the benefits this type of life insurance can provide.

For example, AXA now directs its affiliated financial professionals to talk about permanent life insurance in these ways:

• As protection and more – starting with something consumers are familiar and comfortable with, then building in the extras.

• As a smart addition to many financial plans – so that consumers will understand why life insurance and savings can belong in a discussion together.

• For those who want more ways to protect their family, potentially minimize taxes and grow their money over time – highlighting benefits that matter to consumers along with protection.

“We’ve used language suggested by the study we did with Maslansky in our marketing materials and tested them to see if they are indeed effective,” said Ori Ben-Yishai, Managing Director of Marketing Programs at AXA US. “In a consumer test, over 90% said that the brochure they reviewed explained why life insurance is an important part of an overall financial plan and that the brochure would prompt them to talk to a financial professional about life insurance sooner than if they hadn’t read it.** Because only six in 10 Americans have life insurance***, let alone understand that permanent life insurance products offer much more than protection, we’ve succeeded any time we can help consumers to learn more about the options available to them for protecting their families and improving their finances.”

For more information, visit www.axa.com.

About AXA: “AXA” is a brand name of AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC and its family of companies, including AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (NY, NY), MONY Life Insurance Company of America (AZ stock company, administrative office: Jersey City, NJ), AXA Advisors, LLC, and AXA Distributors, LLC. In business since 1859, AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company is a leading financial protection company and one of the nation’s premier providers of life insurance, annuity, and financial products and services distributed to individuals and business owners through its retail distribution channel, AXA Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC) and to the financial services market through its wholesale distribution channel, AXA Distributors, LLC.For more information, visit www.axa.com.

*LIMRA 2016 Insurance Barometer Study

**AXA VUL client brochure evaluation, 2015

*** “Facts from LIMRA” brochure, 2015

i: Policy owners would be accessing the cash value through policy loans and withdrawals. Loans and withdrawals reduce the policy cash value and death benefit, may cause certain policy benefits or riders to become unavailable, and increases the chance that the policy will lapse. If the policy lapses, is surrendered or becomes a Modified Endowment Contract (MEC), the loan balance at such time would generally be viewed as distributed and taxable under the general rules for distribution of policy cash values.

W&S Financial Group Distributors helps couples acknowledge the ‘Elephant in the Room’

CINCINNATI —Helping couples acknowledge the “Elephant in the Room” when it comes to discussing their financial well-being is the aim of a multi-faceted effort sponsored by W&S Financial Group Distributors, Inc., the wholesale distributor of annuities and life insurance from member companies of Western & Southern Financial Group (Western & Southern).

Newly introduced, the Elephant in the Room program is designed for financial representatives to work with client couples in addressing what one spouse may confront financially when the other passes away.

“It is typical for only one spouse to handle the family’s finances, but it is important for both spouses to have financial information easily accessible when one becomes incapacitated or passes away,” said Mark E. Caner, president of W&S Financial Group Distributors. “Our program helps address an awkward topic — the elephant in the room that couples often avoid, but is too significant to ignore. This gives them tools to help develop a ‘Plan B’ for their financial future.”

The Elephant in the Room program includes:

  • Prescriptive Piece Plan, which provides financial representatives a step-by-step guide through the program
  • Rep Guide to assist financial representatives in navigating the considerations and process with their clients
  • Client Overview, which includes a list of key financial items couples need to share with one another
  • Reminder Booklet, which provides spouses the opportunity to organize key information
  • Web page where each client-approved element of the program is provided online

“No one wants to be faced with trying to manage their financial affairs from a position of stress and incomplete knowledge. With the Elephant in the Room program, we hope to trigger conversations and inspire preparedness that may help ease the burden during an otherwise difficult time in life,” Caner said. “This value-add program advances our goal of responsiveness to the needs of financial representatives as they work with individuals to help address their future financial needs.”

About W&S Financial Group Distributors, Inc.: W&S Financial Group Distributors, Inc. (WSFinancialPartners.com) distributes fixed, variable and immediate annuities and life insurance products from Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Integrity Life Insurance Company and National Integrity Life Insurance Company, all member companies of Western & Southern Financial Group, Inc. Variable products are distributed through Touchstone Securities, Inc.* Marketing through a national network of broker-dealers, financial advisors, independent agents and financial institutions, W&S Financial Group Distributors assists financial professionals in helping individuals invest for, live in and manage risk during retirement. For more information, visitWSFinancialPartners.com/MediaCenter.

*A registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC.

About Western & Southern Financial Group: Founded in Cincinnati in 1888 as The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Western & Southern Financial Group, Inc. (Western & Southern), a Fortune 500 company, is now the parent company of a group of diversified financial services businesses. Its assets owned (more than $42 billion) and managed ($24 billion) total more than $66 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015. Western & Southern is one of the strongest life insurance groups in the world. Its six life insurance subsidiaries (The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, Columbus Life Insurance Company, Integrity Life Insurance Company, The Lafayette Life Insurance Company and National Integrity Life Insurance Company) maintain very strong financial ratings and a Comdex Ranking* of 96. Other member companies include Eagle Realty Group, LLC; Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc.1; IFS Financial Services, Inc.; Peppertree Partners LLC1; Touchstone Advisors, Inc.1; Touchstone Securities, Inc.2; W&S Brokerage Services, Inc.2; and W&S Financial Group Distributors, Inc. For more information on the Western & Southern family of companies, visit WesternSouthern.com.

* Lafayette Life has a 97 Comdex Ranking.

1 A registered investment advisor.

2 A registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC.

For current ratings, please visit http://www.westernsouthern.com/industry.asp.



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