Prudential has launched a direct-to-consumer hybrid advisory service that represents one of the most recent developments in the move away from paper and analog processes for that industry.
LINK by Prudential is designed as a “personalized experience that learns about what’s important to you and connects you with solutions and financial professionals to help you achieve your goals,” according to the insurance provider. Using the new insurance website, consumers can buy policies and related products, and do so with the help of insurance professionals via “phone, video or even in person.”
According to Reuters, Prudential’s new online effort “comes long after insurance and financial services competitors have established an online presence and dozens of online life insurance startups have sprouted up, in an effort to balance a growing demand for online sales, without alienating the sales force that has played a large role in building the company.”
Sandler O’Neill Analyst John Barnidge told the news service that LINK by Prudential could appeal to millennial consumers, who have “large purchasing power … and do not value agent relationships as much as previous generations.”
That said, Prudential’s agents still have a “critical role” in the company’s future, Stephen Pelletier, chief operating officer of Prudential’s U.S.-based businesses, told the news service. The company, which reportedly serves five million customers, wants to reach some 20 million consumers via the new online service.
Direct-to-consumer activity is becoming ever more digital.
A point in favor of that recently came from Financeit, which said late last month that it had launched Financeit Direct, a direct-to-consumer financing platform. The tool, which the company said is a first-of-its-kind platform, is available 24/7 from any location on any device.
According to the company, while point-of-sale financing has traditionally been a complicated and paperwork-heavy process only available to large merchants, Financeit Direct is mobile-enabled and fully paperless. It takes the burden of processing applications off of the merchants, making the process so simple that companies of any size can easily offer financing and still have time to focus on their core business offerings.
At the same time, some financial institutions are looking toward direct-to-consumer activity for guidance. An example of that comes from Varo, a digital banking startup that reportedly has won “preliminary approval from the OCC for a banking license.”
“We draw from the playbook of companies like Amazon to fundamentally minimize friction and maximize delight for consumers in an industry where they’re used to their bank doing the opposite,” Varo CEO Colin Walsh told a reporter.
Earlier this year, Varo raised $45 million in Series B funding as it strives to become a mobile-only regulated bank.
Beyond that, Prudential’s direct-to-consumer move comes amid other changes in the insurance industry. Amazon, for instance, is reportedly eyeing an entrance into home insurance. The eCommerce giant is considering offering home insurance in collaboration with its development work on robots and other connected devices for the home. Robots and other smart devices could be used to monitor for threats such as fires and burglaries, making it possible to offer cheaper premiums.
There will always be a need for insurance, but there is no doubt that rapid – and digital – changes are happening in the industry.