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Pru Goes B2B To Woo Distributors for "Mass-Affluent" Market Share

PrudentialXpress, a Web-based, business-to-business platform to support sales by independent financial services distributors, has been launched by Prudential.

PrudentialXpress, a Web-based, business-to-business platform to support sales by independent financial services distributors, has been launched by Newark, NJ-based Prudential Insurance.

The platform provides brokers/dealers with presales support tools—such as access to marketing materials, illustration tools and preliminary quoting—and XpressApp, an electronic application function that streamlines the application process through electronic initiation of the underwriting process. Following receipt of an XpressApp, Prudential's "tele-underwriters" follow up with a client interview to complete the process.

The B2B platform represents a shift in Prudential's financial products marketing strategy to what it describes as the "mass-affluent" market, according to Erik Raper, vice president and project leader for PrudentialXpress. "Historically, for our independent distribution market we have been focused at the super-affluent. We've seen captive distribution sales eroding, with roughly 70 percent of premium coming through independent distributors. This trend has been driven by consumers who want one-stop shopping from brokers who can provide life insurance, stock and other investment advice."

In order to succeed in this new market, Prudential has recrafted its products and services through the PrudentialXpress platform to leverage its relationship with brokers and dealers, Raper adds. "We've revamped our products, we've revamped our underwriting and we've added business processes and electronic connectivity to make it easier for our distribution partners to do business 24/7," he says.

Among the chief benefits of PrudentialXpress is that it relieves brokers from conducting intrusive interviews involving personal medical history questions with their financial clients, Raper says. Another benefit is that, through the tele-underwriter follow-up, Prudential underwriters engage clients personally, enabling better underwriting ratings through direct questioning, he adds. The platform also provides a tool for brokers to monitor the progress of an application.

Prudential has adapted its variable universal life product for PrudentialXpress, which will be followed in August by its universal life and short-term life products. "Going into 2002, we expect to add variable annuity and long term," Raper says.

Distributor response to the platform has been positive, according to Raper. "The comments are twofold. The first is, 'Prudential is headed in the right direction,' and the second is, 'You're way ahead of your competitors with the breadth and speed of your services,'" he asserts. "Some of our competitors are coming out with tele-app underwriting, but they're lacking the online electronic app. Some have that but are lacking the other tools to assist effective sales, such as online illustration and marketing."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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