From Life Insurance Agent to Vlocity Insurance Software Designer
An Interview With Todd Sears, Director of Insurance Product Management at Vlocity, on How the Industry is Changing and How Vlocity is Playing a Role in this Transformation.
The Insurance team at Vlocity includes several people with former lives in the insurance industry, including Todd Sears, who started his career as a life insurance agent.
Todd explains how he transitioned from insurance to software and provides his perspective on the insurtech phenomenon.
Your first job after you graduated from college was as a captive life insurance agent for Northwestern Mutual. Tell us a little about that role.
I actually started as an agent during my Senior year at University. Northwestern Mutual had a program they called “Test Drive a Career” where they allowed college students to give a try to selling life insurance and affording you a guaranteed backup plan in the case that you didn’t find the job you were looking for after graduation. I did have several job offers, but selling insurance suited me well and so I carried on with it after school.
Selling life insurance to my fellow recent grads was not easy. I quickly identified that I needed to find young families with new children where the need for coverage was more evident to my prospect. Selling life insurance is a numbers game. You need to ask X people to get Y meetings to close Z deals. The sales program at Northwestern Mutual was proven over 100 years. They know how to coach new agents through the activities that lead to successful selling.
Insurance carriers are going to need to reinvent themselves, or become extinct as a new wave of disruptors is changing the way insurance is bought.
– Todd Sears, Director of Insurance Product Management, Vlocity
What did you do after that?
I went to the University of Oregon for my MBA, and then got into insurtech. I worked first for a small SFA and life illustration vendor called FDP that was eventually rolled up into SunGard. Next for a company that did Life Agency Management software for NAILBA independent brokers. And then spent five years working in the Financial Services / Insurance vertical at Siebel Systems.
What are you doing for Vlocity today?
I currently own product management for the Vlocity Insurance and Health Insurance verticals.
How much do you use your experience in the life insurance business in your current role?
While technology has changed, the basics of selling and underwriting life insurance have not changed that much. I often draw on my experiences as a life agent in understanding and translating customer requirements to well-designed software.
The insurance industry is undergoing massive disruption right now. What are your thoughts on that?
I see an incredible opportunity for carriers to sell directly to customers. Especially for products like term life, auto, home and renters. While there will always be customers that want to buy from agents, I think many younger buyers prefer direct for these kinds of transactions. Insurance carriers are going to need to reinvent themselves, or become extinct as a new wave of disruptors is changing the way insurance is bought.
You spend a lot of time with Vlocity’s insurance customers. What do you think is the most striking difference between the life insurance industry 20 years ago and the industry today?
Technology. Tech changes how agents sell, how buyers buy, underwriters accept risk, and marketers reach customers. That’s why our customers come to us - to help transform these processes with modern technology.
To learn about Vlocity’s modern, digital insurance solutions that Todd helps create, visit vlocity.com/insurance.