Managing multiple agency channels across lines of business can leave the field force struggling with disparate messages and prevent it from seeing the big picture. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s (MassMutual; Springfield, Mass.; $350 billion in assets under management) Donna Resutek, second VP, systems organization and distribution common services, and Hector Maury, second VP, field effectiveness, spoke with I&T Associate Editor Wendy Toth about helping MassMutual's career agency system - which is comprised of 86 general agencies that employ roughly 3,500 individual agents - gain a holistic view of the carrier, improve productivity and meet clients' evolving needs.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
Donna Resutek, Second VP, Systems, Organization and Distribution Common Services
Hector Maury, Second VP, Field Effectiveness
I&T: What key technology does MassMutual employ to help its agency force manage multiple lines of business?
Resutek: We have an internally built and hosted producer Web site, FieldNet, which runs on our J2EE platform and allows us to keep control of how we interact with our agents and how our agents access both our technology and data. We believe that our agents are the key to success and this technology gives them access to our company, so we'd rather not farm that out.
Maury: The Web site gives us the ability to customize the site based on who the person is that is logging in, as well as the general flexibility and speed of delivery on data that we get with our internal employees. We also provide them with tools via the Web site so that they can be more customer-centric.
I&T: How do you provide your agent force with a holistic view of the company?
Resutek: We deliver enabling technologies through the consistent portal provided by the Web site. These include a lead-generation capability that uses market data to generate leads for our agents and helps our general agents analyze their territories for new business. We also deliver sales and compensation reporting on the portal so agents can have a clear view of how they are doing as far as sales goals and access various reports that reflect their progress across all lines of business.
Maury: It takes approximately 17 different policy administration systems to support all of our lines of business. To insulate the agents from having to deal with that, we implemented PAAR (Portfolio Audit and Account Review program), an in-house-built application that is accessed through the Web site and allows agents to produce a consolidated report of all of the different holdings for an individual client or household. The application launched in July 2004 and after six to seven months, we've seen about $83 million in new premium and $125 million in new investment dollars - and that generated about $8.8 million in new commissions to our agents.
I&T: What role do industry standards play in your agency systems and applications?
Resutek: Industry standards allow us to have data from one application more readily accessed by another application. Our agencies may purchase external contact management systems independently of us, and with standards we are able to import our own data directly to their systems without having to implement any added technology on either end.
Maury: We encourage our sales force to be entrepreneurs, so we end up having agencies with different systems. A one-size-fits-all philosophy doesn't work in this kind of model. So we try to develop true plug-and-play-type applications. For instance, when we built the PAAR system, we adopted the ACORD XM Life standard for data transmission, and now, as we build new applications or work with new vendors, we support the ACORD standard so that we can move data from application to application more easily.