Explosive Shift to Hybrid Wholesaling & Agent Sales is Taking-Off

Captura de pantalla 2021-03-01 a la(s) 13.10.26


The Life & Annuity “Pre-Covid” Sales Model Will Not Return


This week’s LIMRA Distribution Conference only confirmed that the rapidly emerging Life and Annuity sales operation is going “hybrid”.


If you missed the conference, you can read three wonderful articles debating the “Hybrid” trend in Insurance News Net, with reference to some fantastic research by LIMRA:


– “Virtual Selling Might Be Here To Stay”

– “Hybrid Is The Future For Advisors, Says LIMRA Research”

– “Will Agents Ever Return To The Office”


Of course, given our (Ensight) discussions with L&A senior executive sales leadership and digital transformation leaders over the past 18 months, this comes as no surprise.


Indeed, I wrote about the coming transformation of the traditional life and annuity wholesaling model last year. Whether you call it “eWholesaling” or “Hybrid Wholesaling”, it makes no difference, digital sales enablement for wholesalers is the new English Longbow, changing the nature of ‘engagement’ in the sector.


And, notably, the digital hybridization of the advisor-client discussion has already been underway for several years. It’s worth noting that the majority of financial advisors today already use some form of virtual meeting (Zoom; WebEx; Go To Meeting) in the client engagement repertoire.


Whether you are a L&A carrier or distributor, if you are not putting a hybrid wholesaling and agent digital model into practice today – you simply won’t be able to catch-up tomorrow.


But let’s also take a look at 7 additional dynamics at play in the panorama of market forces which are driving “The Shift”:


1. Millennial “Digital Tools” Expectations – As a Gen Xer, it still shocks me that millennials now span up to 40 years old. As the first purely digital generation, millennial wholesalers, advisors and agents will expect digital tools to support a hybrid sales engagement model, if they are going to work for your company or sell your products.

2. The New Consumer Digital Expectation Bar – The client service model is in rapid transition. Informed by Vanguard, Robo-Advisors, new trading apps (Robinhood), and every VC-backed FinTech firm driving a simplified hybrid digital experience, the mandate now is to engage with clients both digitally and in a personal manner.

3. The “T&E” Transition – The old “Travel and Entertainment” cost centre is ripe for a rebranding exercise. I like to call it – “Technology & Education”. Given emerging Best Interest (BI) regulation and GenX / millennial advisor preferences, spending millions on travel and entertainment – while underfunding digital – is a recipe for disaster.

4. Growing Eyeballs on Sales Effectiveness – Every other sector in the modern economy focuses on sales effectiveness (funnel yield, productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction) through a data-rich, digital approach. Carriers need to move fast to enable, empower and measure both wholesaling teams and agent channels. Winners and losers will be defined on this battleground.

5. The Rise of “Platform Distribution” – Today, digital “platforms” are the structure of the economy. And every platform is hybrid in nature. When was the last time you weren’t prompted to “chat” in your banking app. The emerging Life and Annuity distribution platforms are already driving the scale adoption of hybrid virtual selling. Many carrier wholesaling teams are at risk of falling far behind the norm.

6. The New “Hybrid” Workplace – The work-life balance trend has been underway for a decade now. And COVID-19 will permanently alter the vision and model of the “corporate office”. The new corporate office is “virtual”; and, the new internal sales desk wholesaler and captive agent is “Zoom-empowered”.

7. The New Power of Talent – As the Life and Annuity sector moves forward into the technology “Arms Race”, talent will define the winners and losers. And talent can demand how and where it works in today’s economy. Today’s emerging titans, upending Fortune 500 firms and sectors, at their heart, are built on talent alone. If you want to win in the life and annuity distribution game, recruit, retain and empower a hybrid top-talent sales force with empowering digital tools.


We are now entering uncharted waters for the Life and Annuity sector. The “arms race” has begun. And the nature of this arms race is that the speed of digital change and competition will only increase with every passing year. It is Moore’s Law, now applied to the Life & Annuity sector.


Whether you are a Life & Annuity carrier or distributor, if you are not putting a hybrid sales and service digital model into practice today – you simply won’t be able to catch-up tomorrow.


Sail with the wind, not against it.

What’s New In Life And Annuity eApp, Illustrations, Mobile And Self-Service

By Ken Leibow – March 1, 2021

Originally Published in Broker World Magazine


Life and annuity technology solutions are growing in both innovation and in the number of platforms that are available in the marketplace. Today I want to give you a taste of the latest stats on eApp and eDelivery for BGAs; a new simple method of presenting complex illustrations; a mobile modular option for carriers for eApp and illustrations; and self-service tools for policyholders.


The Latest Stats and Trends on eApp and eDelivery for BGAs

It was a no brainer to reach out to iPipeline whose eApp platform (iGO) has the biggest footprint in the BGA space. They provided the latest stats and trends in eApp and eDelivery: “Why does going digital today really matter? Over the past year, we’ve seen our world turned upside down in every way. In a business where relationships rule and in person meetings have been the key to selling more, the insurance industry was quickly turned on its head. Many carriers were left struggling with how to get paper polices out the door, agents were scrambling to figure out how to work better with consumers, and consumers were afraid to meet with anyone at the kitchen table anymore.


The good news is that the industry, although mildly prepared, is pulling through. During these times, we’ve seen a huge surge in adoption by brokerage agencies to push digital processes even further. In 2020, dozens of insurance carriers started a process to bring live more eApps and more ePolicy deliveries. Here are some benefits for you to think about, as a brokerage agency, on why having a digital strategy is essential.”




– Shortens the application cycle time by 50 percent.

– Average cost reduction over paper 37 percent.

– Offers client collaboration where the agent and consumer can both work on the same digital app together—keeping the relationship, and the app, alive.

– On Behalf Of—allows case managers to take over the eApp process for their agent to provide more value in the process.


ePolicy Delivery


– Shortens the cycle time by 23 days on average.

– Increases placement ratios by 11 percent on average.

– Has an over 90 percent consumer adoption rate.


“2020 was a wakeup call for everyone in our industry, especially brokerage agencies whose agents were traditionally paper-based. iPipeline, one of the biggest players digitizing these processes, saw a huge growth in some areas, in both eApp and eDelivery by you and your peers last year—more than 70 percent growth in eApps, and nearly 300 percent growth in ePolicy delivery.”


“Sales-Stories” Simplifying Life and Annuity Illustrations for Agents and Consumers

Today there are three exciting sales model transformation dynamics taking place in the InsurTech life and annuity space. First, the consumer experience of financial products is being driven towards simplicity, transparency and an easy-to-understand digital experience. Second, the traditional wholesaling and agent model is on the cusp of radical transformation, shifting towards a hybrid (cyborg) agent/wholesaler who is digitally enabled with interactive educational sales tools. Third, the “pre-sale to application experience” is rapidly driving towards a “single experience” digital workflow, from quote to pre-sale proposal to eApp submission. A seamless experience completed in minutes, “live” and during the engagement with the prospective client. These three strategic shifts are core drivers to meeting the new FinTech “experience threshold.” and will be critical to sustainable growth for the life and annuity sector going forward.


I am very excited to say that Ensight’s new “Sales Story” platform module has made a significant leap forward in helping to drive these industry shifts. Working in partnership with leading life, LTCI and annuity insurance carriers and national distributors, Ensight™ has created a configurable sales experience engine, empowering the rapid creation of a broad range of different types of consumer-centric sales experiences—based on rich content and personalized client illustration data. For instance, a “Sales Story” may take the form of a new engaging product concept to support a critical market launch, encapsulating the product benefits and performance in an intuitive, personalized interactive microsite. Or a “story” may take the form of an online product training course. Or a step-by-step sales script to walk a client through a proposal at the point of sale. The Ensight “Sales Stories” engine is a highly configurable platform, enabling stories to be customized for each carrier’s or distributor’s sales model.


Ensight’s “Sales Stories” are also modernizing the traditional “sales concept” experience. The most successful financial professionals engage the client based on financial need and “story selling,” the art of “telling a story with the aim of engaging your client, so they remember, connect, and perceive the benefits of acquiring your product or service.” “Concept-selling” has been at the heart of life, LTCI and annuity sales for decades. Ensight has modernized the art of concept selling for the digital era. Think of an elegantly designed, interactive supplement retirement, Cost of Waiting, or “Life vs Another Asset” concept—that a client can digitally play with to drive understanding.


Finally, Ensight’s ”Sales Stories” also increase agent sales effectiveness (e.g. higher sales closing rates) for carriers and distributors with agent-based networks, providing the financial professional with a best practice, compliant and engaging (interactive) sales script to run a meaningful client conversation. Every captive agent network is seeking to make every agent, whether new to the business or not, a top selling agent in the field. Similarly, insurance carriers are seeking to digitally scale the expertise, education and pitch of the wholesaler. Ensight™ Sales Stories is the digital sales enablement platform to deliver on both.


Life and Annuity True Mobile Illustrations and eApp for Carriers

illustrate inc is proud to have recently launched OPUS Mobile, a downloadable app for individual life insurance carriers. OPUS Mobile is designed and customized to be carrier specific, with the core functionality centering on instant calculations and quotes for virtually any life or annuity product for on-screen visualization and report generation.


Lyndon Edwards, president of illustrate inc says, “Data shows that mobile users live in the app world and that downloaded apps capture much higher levels of user attention and usage than going through a mobile browser. Accessibility, design, user experience, and overall functionality are built specifically for the app, and users are very familiar and comfortable in that environment.”


While the entire OPUS line of web solutions—illustrations, eApps, and more—are responsive in design, meaning they will automatically adjust and reorientate to virtually any device and screen size, OPUS Mobile takes it to that next level.


“Our approach was to take OPUS Mobile beyond the core powerful quoting and reporting functionality through providing the opportunity to add high value features including quote compare, user preferences and tools, product and marketing information, needs analysis, push notifications, and more. Built using a single code base for both Apple and Android, OPUS Mobile is integration ready and highly secure.”


A major U.S. carrier has recently launched OPUS Mobile to their thousands of agents across the country. This custom branded carrier app is fully integrated with other company apps and systems, covers multi-channel requirements, and has a web service to allow approved users access on their desktop.


Carriers Deploying Self-Service Solutions for Life Insurance Policyholders

Sureify, an established insurtech provider, finds that roadblocks like legacy systems that don’t pair well with the new digital capabilities and a complex product line that isn’t typically intuitive are holding some insurers back from jumping into the digital waters where self-service is concerned. But perhaps the biggest hurdle remains confidence in the capability and security of self service.


“Life insurance agents have historically referred policyholders to call centers—the former pinnacle of self-service—because they had confidence in the ability of those call center employees to answer questions and solve problems,” explained Dustin Yoder, Sureify’s CEO and founder. “In 2021, we are helping insurers build the same kind of confidence into their web and mobile capabilities. Sureify’s goal is to help carriers’ reps and agents feel 100 percent comfortable referring their customers to these digital platforms, like LifetimeService, to find answers and solve problems. Once that confidence is achieved, those agents can focus their time and effort on building and growing business.”


LifetimeAcquire: Powers omnichannel sales capabilities that drive increased placement rates via quoting, e-application, automated underwriting and e-delivery.

LifetimeEngage: Uses multiple engagement methods and analytics to foster a lifelong digital relationship with policyholders, leading to a greater lifetime value for each policyholder.

LifetimeService: Enables insurers to provide a comprehensive digital self-service suite for their policyholders.


Sureify is a SaaS platform for the life and annuity industry that provides the digital technology experience that today’s customers expect. Sureify’s platform, Lifetime, is a modular, highly configurable set of software solutions that sits on top of policy administration systems. Lifetime delivers a best-in-class experience that modernizes sales, policyholder servicing and innovative customer engagement.


The solution platform landscape for life and annuities is growing and the workflow models are multiplying. We are now seeing new innovative digital point of sales solutions that not only help close the sale but are designed for our new virtual world. Even if agents and consumers are not traveling, they still spend more time on their mobile devices than their laptops. As the Millennials are becoming the target consumer, self-service technology solutions are growing in popularity.

ApplicInt Partners With SBLI to Simplify the Life Insurance Application Process Using U*Complete



RENO, Nev.Jan. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — ApplicInt, an industry leader with their suite of insurance application fulfillment solutions, recently led efforts to digitize the Life Insurance application process for Savings Bank Life Insurance Company (SBLI), based in Woburn, Massachusetts. In a Pilot, SBLI successfully implemented ApplicInt’s U*Complete platform for clients to self-complete Life Insurance applications, which is seamlessly integrated into SBLI’s fulfillment process. SBLI is planning for a full production rollout of U*Complete in the second quarter of this year (2021).


Direct to Consumer Life Insurance Electronic Application software solution.
Direct to Consumer Life Insurance Electronic Application software solution.


“We are very excited about our partnership with ApplicInt and the opportunity to use UComplete in innovative ways to help our clients,” said Rose Conneely, COO, SBLI. “Our focus is to simplify the application process for agents and their clients alike, and our 100% digital Self-complete Application Process Pilot has demonstrated very positive results. We look forward to rolling it out to the market.”


“Our goal is to make the application process as simple and convenient as possible, and via our partnership with ApplicInt, we have piloted an easy-to-use 100% digital process for clients to self-complete their application, while automatically providing agents and their clients ‘status alerts’,” said Rose Conneely, COO, SBLI. “We are planning to roll-out this new option in mid-2021.”


ApplicInt’s U*Complete has two workflow self-service models: “Carrier Direct to Consumer” and “Agent Direct to Customer”. In the Carrier Direct to Consumer process, the consumer has a secure login to the Carrier’s Website. The consumer chooses a face amount/term product and runs a quote. They then complete a Part A Life Insurance Application, with the Part B medical questions being optional depending on the carrier’s fulfillment process. The consumer then eSigns Forms. There is real-time chat available when needed or a warm transfer to a call center to schedule an exam if needed. Forms and data are sent to the carrier in good order. The Agent Direct to Consumer model is essentially identical, except that the Agent initiates the fulfillment process and the consumer can review quotes from various carriers.


Mike Feroah Sr., Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of ApplicInt stated, “We are overly excited about the extension of our technology that allows a common platform to be used by consumers, call centers and examiners to provide part A or part B application information to carriers. U*Complete also can be integrated with automated underwriting platforms for deep instant decisioning. And if you have existing ApplicInt software, it can be converted to U*Complete in a matter of weeks. U*Complete provides better a customer experience with enormous cost and efficiency savings.”


About ApplicInt


ApplicInt, a leading information technology company, has developed several innovative, interoperable solutions that can be customized to meet the unique requirements of each client. ApplicInt was founded in 2003 to provide efficient and cost-effective technology solutions for the collection and distribution of information for life insurance applications. Automating the broker’s world not only means digitalizing their offices but, more importantly, streamlining and simplifying the process of obtaining insurance.


Media Inquiries:

Trish Gates

ApplicInt USA Inc.



Related Images

Direct to Consumer Life Insurance Electronic Application software solution.

SOURCE ApplicInt USA Inc

Creating an Integrated Experience for Buying Life Insurance

Slide1 11


The life insurance industry is at a tipping point! Forced to deal with constant challenges in optimizing operational costs, improving overall accuracy, and enhancing customer experience, all the while ensuring the highest return on allocated capital, insurers worldwide are treading treacherous waters. As insurance companies are overwhelmed with vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, they find it extremely hard to collect and analyze data from multiple sources. Most insurance carriers still rely on outdated technologies and legacy IT infrastructure to facilitate data capture, and this typically leads to poor data quality, scalability issues, and cost and operational inefficiencies. Alongside, the intense market competition, stringent regulatory norms, and growing compliance pressures are making it much harder for life insurance companies to keep revenue flowing and stay in the game.


The need of the hour for carriers is to embrace faster and more efficient business practices and advanced technologies that not only accelerate the insurance application processes but also eliminate redundancy and reduce operational costs. This is where automation plays its part; it streamlines the repetitive mundane tasks, clears up bottlenecks, enhances risk management, and drives companies toward the next level of growth. Tapping into the immense potential of automation, ApplicInt, a leading information technology company, has developed several innovative, interoperable solutions that can be customized to meet the unique requirements of each client. ApplicInt was founded in 2003 to provide efficient and cost-effective technology solutions for the collection and distribution of information for life insurance applications. Automating the broker’s world not only means digitalizing their offices but, more importantly, streamlining and simplifying the process of obtaining insurance.


“Whether you are an agent, call center representative, consumer, or examiner, our intelligent solutions can be utilized to quickly complete life insurance applications digitally”


To that end, ApplicInt provides alternate ways for agencies to become more efficient. “Whether you are an agent, call center representative, consumer, or paramedical examiner, our intelligent solutions can be utilized to quickly complete life insurance applications digitally,” says Michael Feroah Sr, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, of ApplicInt. All of ApplicInt’s solutions are designed around automating the entire process of collecting and moving data from the pointof-sale to a carrier, making it easy and fast to issue policies. Since its inception, the firm has worked with a growing list of carriers, brokers, third-party administrators (TPAs), paramedical companies, and banks to increase revenue and dramatically reduce the cost of acquiring new customers for life, health, and disability insurance; annuity; and mutual fund products.


Faster Policy Decisions at No Additional Costs

While segments of the insurance application process are automated today, most of them are yet to be fully digitalized. ApplicInt is the first company to provide a fully digital, end-to-end process for all types of insurance. ApplicInt’s end-to-end digital technology can connect all software solutions—regardless of the software provider—into a unified solution that can process all types of life insurance products. ApplicInt’s solutions can be used by insurance examiners, call centers, and even consumers to address information collection and consolidation problems. In other words, ApplicInt’s software includes a consumer-direct solution; consumers can fill out the insurance application on their own instead of relying on a third-party. “The key to dealing with challenges in today’s business landscape is flexibility. ApplicInt’s solutions are designed to work the way you do; their flexible workflow and easy configuration allow carriers to quickly adapt to changing market conditions and seamlessly integrate into any software solution or process,” informs Feroah.


ApplicInt has a complete suite of insurance application fulfillment solutions. ExpressComplete serves as an easyto-use multi-carrier quoting and drop ticket platform that guides and directs a user or agent in filling the insurance application order and cuts down on the processing time. ExpressComplete has integrated ticketing capabilities such as health analyzer (which confirms the underwriting rate class), call scheduling (passes an order to the carrier call center), and real-time exam scheduling. The software comes with single sign-on, and helps connect producers (individual agents) to fulfillment centers. Agents can keep track of their applications and pending status via ExpressComplete. It also helps guide reps through the process of accurately filling the carrierspecific short application form and electronically submitting it to the designated fulfillment center.


CallComplete, on the other hand, is a web-based flexible application fulfillment platform that snaps easily into any carrier’s call center and can be used by distributors and third-party call centers to gather medical as well as nonmedical information. The CallComplete solution has scripted reflexive interview questions (Part A/B) that ensure cases are 100 percent in good order. CallComplete can also be used remotely as a fulfillment process for ExpressComplete term ticket and any other platform. Forms, including unique special authorizations—required for over 25 percent of attending physician statement (APS) records—are signed with voice or eSignature. A distinctive aspect of CallComplete is the fact that it can also be combined with ApplicInt’s digital paramed platform, ExamComplete, to provide a seamless end-to-end application process. “We developed all of our solutions as a response to the increased complexity of the insurance sales and underwriting process. We achieved our ultimate goal to automate the information collection process for insurance agencies, carriers, brokers, and other stakeholders involved,” mentions Feroah.


Eliminating the “Not In Good Order” Problem

ApplicInt’s ExamComplete can be deployed in multiple paramedical service providers’ systems and call centers. Through the software, ApplicInt enables insurance carriers to accurately collect information during the paramedical exam via a reflexive interview. “We have also automated the process of ordering copies of attending physician statements (APS), which are medical records from doctors and hospitals. ExamComplete is the only platform that facilitates the examiner to obtain the digital special authorizations that has proven to reduce cycle time attributed to APS health record acquisition,” adds Feroah. In fact, ExamComplete is the leading digital paramed platform used by the top lab facilities and paramedical vendors in the industry, like APPS Paramedical Services, ExamOne, and Clinical Reference Laboratory (CRL). ApplicInt also developed end-to-end digital application solutions where the software could qualify the proposed insured in real-time.


ApplicInt Flow 7-23-2020


Providing the customer with the tools to complete some or all of the application on their schedule has been a goal of the life industry for years. With the recent launch of UComplete that flexibility is now a reality

More recently, ApplicInt incorporated electronic lab slips into ExamComplete and introduced a consumer facing solution (UComplete) that allows consumers with the resilience to complete the application package online on their own schedule. Alongside, the firm also integrated pharmaceutical prescription historical data into the data collection processes and introduced Exam-2-CallComplete, a new module that enables an insurance examiner that failed to complete the exam in the field to revert the application process to a call center for fulfillment . “Earlier, it was just a matter of automating and digitalizing the parts of the insurance industry that were paper-based. We have expanded our core information collection processes to provide more flexible data collection solutions, better information with integrated Rx history, and eliminate the black holes of information collection by integrating automatic APS ordering (attending physician statements) and reducing the time taken for special authorizations,” stated Feroah.


“ApplicInt’s solutions are designed to work the way you do; their flexible workflow and easy configuration allow carriers to quickly adapt to changing marketing conditions and seamlessly integrate into any software solution or process”


Dedicated to Continuous Innovation

It is not just ApplicInt’s ability to deliver innovative, customer-focused technologies and solutions that have helped the company attain exponential success; it is their approach toward solving consumer and business needs that set them apart in the marketplace. ApplicInt is an accessible, service-driven, software provider that keeps its development costs in order to create an environment that makes innovation easier and less expensive while maintaining high quality. The firm works in partnership with each of its clients and focuses on building successful, long-lasting relationships. “We find different ways to automate the insurance application process and make it much more efficient and less expensive. The cost to deploy an ApplicInt solution has a nominal fee compared to our competitors and we generate revenue by charging a modest transaction fee,” says Feroah. ApplicInt’s result-oriented staff interacts with each customer from beginning to end of a project and continues to own the relationship. “Our team’s engagement and commitment to constantly inquiring and learning the ongoing needs of our customers is key to our growth and success. We listen, we work together, we create solutions,” cites Feroah.


The Way Forward: Adapting to Change

ApplicInt is always in pursuit of providing better solutions and being better partners to its clients. For the road ahead, ApplicInt is looking forward to expanding into the emerging market where a paramedical exam is not required. In parallel, the firm is also working on new extensions for its software with additional capabilities. This includes incorporating pharmaceutical data from information sources like the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) on the front-end to allow carriers to speed up the application process even more, and essentially, in the long run, make the agencies and agents a lot more profitable. Currently, the firm works with over 40 carriers and we are growing our customer base. “We are well-positioned for continued growth. Our goal is to expand our core products and technology and continue to make the insurance application process easier and more efficient,” expresses Feroah. As digital technologies continue to disrupt the insurance sector, the industry will have to move from its current ‘reactive’ mode to ‘predict and prevent’ mode. And, this evolution will have to be at a faster pace than before as the stakeholders in the insurance value chain (like brokers, consumers, financial intermediaries, carriers, and suppliers) become more adept at using advanced technologies. With the right tools and approach, such as those offered by ApplicInt, carriers and distribution can thrive in these changing times.

. ***

By Pamela Morgan

In$urance CIO Outlook Magazine

NOVEMBER – 25 -2020 ISSN 2644-2795



The Future of Automation in Life Insurance



The Future of Automation in Life Insurance


There are really four areas of technological revolution happening together and at once to reshape the industry: automation, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and cloud. Combined and intertwined, they mark the current disruption that shapes any discussion on the future in life insurance


Cloud computing has been around since the 1960s, though only adopted for mainstream use in the last twenty years. Widespread cloud acceptance means uninterrupted access to data. If you think about it, this mirrors the same timeline for many types of records and databases. Twenty years ago, most medical records were not even electronic; the big push was to get industry-wide acceptance of electronic medical records by 2014. Constant access is a new phenomenon.


Big data means we have more complex data sets from new places. More connected devices in the world means more data. Think of late generation devices and the data they collect: exercise wearables, fitness apps, smart TVs, smart vehicles, and even surgically implanted medical devices collect information about you. The implications for the insurance industry are undeniably massive. Insurance companies will be able to leverage data assets for strategic decision making, sometimes in real time. Constant access to next-level data offers insurers new insights into risk mitigation, and new avenues to recognize and seize opportunities.


Such opportunities may be just in time to address generational challenges. Millennials have shown a general unwillingness to buy life insurance. Not only that, but they are less likely to join the insurance workforce. Millennials prefer the more lucrative tech-jobs.


Part of the reason why is that legacy industry entry-level jobs had long been filled with mundane, repetitive, routine-type tasks – the very same jobs that are being replaced by a combination of AI and automation. Underwriting is a perfect example. The job has traditionally required repetitive, time-consuming, manual processes that once provided a small army of young professionals with industry experience. Underwriting was a paperwork-laden task. Today, the desire for fast decisions combined with 24/7 access to increased data sources means the role can be performed electronically and instantly. It’s not uncommon for the technology firms that service insurers to process 19 out of 20 insurance applications immediately and without any human intervention.


Digital transformation across the industry has delivered business agility but transforming has been more about survival. 44% of policyholders surveyed in 2019 stated they would change carriers if they couldn’t access and service their account electronically.


The future of life insurance involves a heavy dosage of the same four ingredients: automation, AI, big data, and cloud working together to provide new growth opportunities with the same old-world concept of security. Look for more data, increased reliability, and immediate decisions made with less human intervention.


Ushering the industry into tomorrow are technology and automation firms like Management Research Services (MRS). MRS helps carriers streamline their application system with their no-code platform. Underwriting decisions can be made in just moments and at the point of sale. With voice and electronic signature capability, the MRS system allows for a time-to-issue of just a few minutes. For carriers seeking a technology partner that provides AI-based automated insurance services and solutions, learn more at www.managementresearchservices.com.


iPipeline Expands Product Management Group with Appointment of Industry Veteran Roy Goodart

Roy iPipelien 20 Year

Focus Will Be on Advancement of iPipeline’s SSG Digital Platform for Brokers and Advisors, Direct Writers and the Direct-to-Consumer Digital Experience


EXTON, PA (August 4, 2020) – iPipeline®, a leading provider of cloud-based software solutions for the life insurance and financial services industry, today announced the appointment of Roy Goodart as VP of Product Management. A 20-year veteran with a record of success in managing SaaS and business process automation platforms for the life insurance and financial services industry, Goodart comes to iPipeline from Paperless Solutions Group, where he served as Chief of Product and Customer Success. In his new role at iPipeline, he will be responsible for implementing his vision for the enhancement of the SSG Digital® Platform and Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) solutions, as well as executing the company’s overall product strategy to fulfill customers’ digital initiatives.


“We have been re-thinking our approach to our solutions given the impact of the COVID pandemic. As part of our initiative to accelerate the pace of digital transformation we have decided to add multiple additional senior leaders and top talent to our Product organization. We are happy to welcome Roy Goodart back to iPipeline to drive a seamless digital experience for consumers, agents, and advisors.” said Larry Berran, CEO, iPipeline. “We are looking to double down on our investment in this space and Roy has a track record of producing innovative, easy-to-use products that meet the immediate needs of our industry. Given the likelihood that more business will be transacted remotely, one of his strategic initiatives will be the continued development of comprehensive, next-gen direct-to-consumer (DTC) solutions, including DTC offerings enabled by advisors and brokers. Roy is no stranger to anyone in our industry, and we are pleased to have him onboard at iPipeline to drive our innovation.”


“iPipeline is in a unique position to deliver incredible value to an industry greatly in need of fulfilling their digital transformation imperative. The new challenges emerging from COVID-19 are going to be with us for the foreseeable future. There is no better way to overcome remote engagement obstacles than by using an integrated platform designed for agents, advisors, and consumers,” said Roy Goodart, VP of Product Management, iPipeline. “My immediate focus will be on advancing the SSG Digital platform, integrating new products, and delivering on the next installment of a DTC solution to power sales and meet consumer expectations.”


Prior to Goodart’s role at Paperless Solutions Group, he held key executive positions at Prospect9, Aplifi, AgencyWorks, and InsureSocket. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing at Westminster College, and a Master of Business Administration Degree from University of Phoenix.


For assistance in reimagining how your organization does business in the COVID-19 environment and to achieve a competitive digital advantage, contact sales@ipipeline.com or call 1-800-758-0824, option 2.


About iPipeline

iPipeline is a leading provider of cloud-based software solutions for the life insurance and financial services industry. Through our SSG Digital, end-to-end platform, we accelerate and simplify sales, compliance, operations and support. We provide process automation and seamless integration between every participant in our ecosystem including carriers, agents, general agencies, advisors, broker-dealers, RIAs, banks, securities/mutual fund firms, and their consumers on a global basis. Our innovative solutions include pre-sales support, new business and underwriting, policy administration, point-of-sale execution of applications, post-sale support, data analysis, reporting, user-driven configuration, consumer delivery and self-service, and agency and firm management.


iPipeline’s platform is used by approximately 150 carriers, 1,400 distributors and financial institutions, and their agents and licensed advisors in a cloud-based environment. With headquarters in Exton, Pennsylvania, iPipeline has locations in Bromley (UK), Burlington (Canada), Cheltenham (UK), Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Huntersville, Ontario (CA), Philadelphia, Pleasanton, and Salt Lake City. Visit www.ipipeline.com.



For iPipeline:

Lisa Shea



484 870 6234

Solving Unique Pain Points For Life Insurance New Business And Underwriting

Broker World qtq80-RQWy5T-768x512

By Ken Leibow

Published: August Broker World Magazine


There are a lot of changes happening in the life insurance industry because of COVID-19—market environment, types of insurance products, processes, and technology. As these changes are evolving, there are unique challenges impacting new business and underwriting. I want to show you some innovative solutions solving these pain points.


Life Carriers Need Predictive Underwriting in the COVID-19 World
In a perfect world insurance companies are changing their strategy in a void, a company changes pricing while the industry is static and the company can evaluate the impact on the policyholders and the profitability of the company over time. Due to new regulations, principle-based reserving (PBR) and a new standard mortality table, the 2017 Commissioners Standard Ordinary (CSO) Table, and now due to COVID-19, companies are changing pricing while the rest of the industry is also changing pricing. To be able to trace the impact of a change, to simulate strategies and make decisions quickly, companies must have reliable data and predictive technology (such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) to evaluate the impact in real time.


Companies are building complex products, and sophisticated underwriting protocols and benefit programs, to attract specific distributors, producers and customers or specific market segments or specific risks. Being able to simulate what-if scenarios and build strategies based on data allows companies to be more scientific and therefore generate better results. COVID-19 disrupted the way insurance companies onboard a policy, there is a move to eApp, underwriting is done remotely, the ability to take liquids has decreased. Companies that can predict the probability a policy will be placed and what would be the biggest driver to improve placement probability can help companies optimize their operation, reduce waste, and improve consumer satisfaction with the process.


iPipeline,® a leading provider of cloud-based software solutions for the life insurance and financial services industry, has integrated its InsureSight Case Analytics Platform with Atidot’s Predictive Analytics Models to analyze the impact of product and pricing changes based on prior sales performance and industry data. The ability to predict future performance based on product selection, producer group, producer, location, demographic and other critical factors, will enable life carriers to adjust product, pricing, or distribution strategy dynamically to optimize market penetration.


Transform Paper Apps into Digitized In-Good-Order Applications
In an ideal world we all want our agents to use eApp for submitting life insurance applications instead of paper so that they are submitted in-good-order, processed quicker, and automated as much as possible without having to manually handle the case. There are times when agents will paper-out of an eApp for various reasons or send paper apps to a BGA sending it down that NIGO, slow, expensive path. But now there is a solution to get the app back on track on the data highway. PaperClip, Inc., has a platform called Mojo. This is an innovative cloud-based service that digitizes the life insurance paper application from handwritten or typed text with 99.9 percent accuracy transforming it to data and data transactions.


Let’s say, for example, an agent sends a handwritten paper application to the BGA. The BGA then scans the paper application into Mojo, securely transforming the application into data. The BGA can use Mojo for several purposes. Mojo can send data to the agency management system (AMS) to auto-create the case. At the same time, Mojo can file the documents into the BGA’s document management system like PaperClip’s VCF System. And the application data transformed by Mojo can be sent to an eApp platform automatically to get it back on track and in good order. iPipeline has partnered with PaperClip whereby Mojo is seamlessly integrated into iGO eApp. iPipeline calls the integrated solution iGO Link. If the agent had papered-out of iGO, they still would have the opportunity from the BGA’s website to access iGO Link and get it back on track into the eApp process.


BGA’s can Reign in the Costs and Turn Around Times for Informals
Informal underwriting has not kept pace with the advances in formal underwriting. For decades there have been two forms of informal underwriting practiced by agents and agencies. One way, all the collection of health information is collected by the agency before formally presenting a prospect to carriers. When an agency does not have the resources of a support team nor a strong, cooperative relationship with the prospect, an agency will use a victim carrier’s formal underwriting to prequalify a prospect. With this second way, an agent’s investment may only be to find the carrier with the lowest Super Preferred rate, get a ticket app and let the carrier, the agency and the prospect do all the work until the carrier can come back with an offer. Often this offer is not Super Preferred and underwriting and selling starts from here.


Both processes are expensive and disruptive. Employee Pooling (EP) has a better solution. They can eliminate weeks of physical and emotional toll on all parties. EP’s accelerated informal platform uses data technology and human capital to give distributors on-demand access to the tools traditionally reserved for insurance companies. Tom Gray, CEO of Employee Pooling, said, “I have been on the distribution side of this industry for 30 years. This is how it has been. I have been determined to obtain solid underwriting data to use to get a meaningful tentative offer that can be counted on and reign in the costs and turn-around time. Our platform can find rich medical data, have it assessed by technology and our medical team and deliver an underwritable package, often within 24 hours. This way, the EP way, gives the agency the tools to put a summarized case up for bid and find the right carrier able to offer a premium that can be placed. The rest is a formality.”


eApp and Auto-Underwriting using an Omni-channel Sales Model
Life Insurance is still sold and not bought, however instant issue or simplified issue products can be quoted and applications electronically submitted through a consumer facing solution. This is not a carrier direct-to-consumer model because we are maintaining the agent ecosystem for the purpose of having the agent available for questions and for upselling and cross selling. There is a trend with several vendors today providing these eApp/Sales tools for agents and agencies. Management Research Services (MRS) has a unique platform that is No-Code, fully configurable electronic application platform. It can streamline requirement gathering during the application process, gathering data in the background (in real time) to reduce time with the applicant and provide an instant underwriting decision. Utilize the omni-channel approach to customize your sale, whether in an e-app, tele-app, or both. MRS’ seamless case management provides transparency for your agency and agents so they know where every applicant stands in the process.
COVID-19 and the unstable economy, with service providers who may or may not be in business tomorrow, it is time for BGAs and IMOs to take more control of their business by adding a call center to their agencies. Some of the benefits include increased customer satisfaction, higher conversion rate in completing submitted applications, and higher placement ratio. You also get an automated drop ticket experience that you control. A BGA who changes their model by adding a call center will get more efficiency and reduced costs in agent recruitment, freeing up specialists to focus on handling calls that utilize their expertise. There is consistent service when adding a call center which results in overall improved call quality.


BGAs and IMOs Can Take More Control of their Business by Adding a Call Center

A BGA will need a software solution that can seamlessly automate the drop ticket fulfillment process for the call center. ApplicInt’s CallComplete software is an end-to-end digital platform for a call center, already plugged into the carrier’s fulfillment process for completing the app with a client interview for term life drop tickets. CallComplete allows you to take control of the drop ticket process and better service your agents, automatically receiving the drop ticket from the eApp platform and then the carrier’s script, process, and voice signature are all integrated into CallComplete for either scheduling the exam or automatically ordering RX, MIB and MVR for an accelerating underwriting process.


Features of a Call Center for a BGA and IMO:

  • Real time assistance for the agent to help complete the drop ticket;
  • Warm transfer agent to client;
  • Call center can initiate the interview without a drop ticket;
  • Agent recruitment (prospecting);
  • Promoting new products and services, then handing over or scheduling to a specialist;
  • Front line to support agents for high level questions; and,
  • Agent pre-script before the carrier compliant interview and post-script cross-selling and agent referrals.


Yes, the digital sales model, whether agent-facing or consumer-facing, is being pushed in a direction requiring flexible, easy to use new business eApp tools with products and underwriting that can automatically make an underwriting decision when possible. This is driven by new market conditions like COVID-19 and Millennials. Whenever there is a break in the process there needs to be a doorway to get it back on track. These solutions enable life carriers, BGAs and agents to reduce their operational costs and become more efficient focusing on growing sales.

LBTC Announces New Co-Chairs



We are excited to Announce that The Life Brokerage Technology Committee (LBTC) has elected 3 New Co-Chairs (See complete bios at end of post). The new leadership team brings a vast amount of industry experience to drive LBTC forward in working with its members in solving industry technology pain points and creating process improvement for Life Insurance services. The LBTC new co-chairs will also bring awareness of new innovations to the industry.


12345* Pat Wedeking, Vice President of Tellus Brokerage Connections

12345* Marjorie Ma, VP & Head of Product Management of AIG USA Life Insurance

12345* Brian Kirland, Senior Director Sales & Marketing of SuranceBay



The new co-chairs each represent respectively Distributors, Carriers and Vendors. They will serve a 2-year term. The new co-chairs are supported by the LBTC Steering Committee: Joann Mattson of Highland Capital Brokerage, Jeff Lingenfelter of John Hancock Insurance Company, and Ken Leibow of InsurTech Express. LBTC has 120+ industry members. Please see below on how to join LBTC.


The Life Brokerage Technology Committee (LBTC) is an independent working group whose purpose is to exchange information about technology related systems and services related to the marketing, sale, and servicing of insurance in independent distribution channels. Some of LBTC’s past initiatives focused on process improvement and solving technology pain points: Automated-Underwriting, eApp, eDelivery, eSignature, Commission Accounting, and Pending Case Status to name a few. LBTC conducts industry surveys, whitepapers, webinars, media and has a face-to-face meeting at the Annual NAILBA Conference in November. LBTC partners with other industry associations such as NAILBA, ACORD and LIDMA.



There is no cost to becoming an LBTC Member. Each person who wants to participate in LBTC in your organization can join. Each person will need to fill out a membership form.  You can join LBTC by downloading the membership form and emailing it to Joann Mattson at jmattson@highland.com. Download LBTC Membership Form: https://lnkd.in/eHhHjfZ

Pat Professional 2012

Pat Wedeking

Pat Wedeking is an industry veteran whose focus has been on process improvement, direct marketing and brokerage business development. Coming from the hospitality business as a PGA apprentice, Pat entered the life insurance business through Northwestern Mutual’s training program.  After 10 years in personal production Pat entered the general agency business with a technology driven brokerage focusing on lead generation a lead relationship management (LRM) system.  This platform served as the foundation of Quick Life which was sold to Crump in 2016.


During the growth of the brokerage Pat was the founding President of the Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association known throughout the industry as LIDMA.  This organization focuses on industry technology that improves the process of obtaining insurance and helped usher in the ubiquitous use of electronic payments, signatures and delivery of policies.  Further process improvement initiatives focus on voice signature, data based underwriting and bringing data closer to the point of sale.  After service to LIDMA Pat was elected to the Life Happens board of directors and served as Chairman of that organization in 2017. Since joining Crump Pat has been in business development positions focusing on the use of their transaction center platform and, most recently, with Crump’s IMO division, Tellus Brokerage Connections.  Pat brings energy and a big picture mentality to his endeavors.  He has a wealth of knowledge and industry relationships that will help any organization he serves.

Marjorie Ma photo

Marjorie Ma

Marjorie Ma is the Vice President and Head of Product Management and Market Intelligence, AIG USA Life Insurance. She has over 8 years life insurance experience and is now responsible for Life Insurance Product Development and Management at AIG, including product strategy development and implementation, as well as day-to-day product management across AIG’s broad life product portfolio. She is also leading Market Intelligence Team to collect industry and competitor updates and to provide actionable intelligence to product, pricing, sales, marketing and operation teams.  Marjorie joined AIG in 2012 after obtaining her MBA degree from Rice University and has since worked in the Life Insurance Industry.


Brian Kirland 0411181615b

Brian Kirland

Brian J. Kirland received his Economics degree from Saint Mary’s College of California in 1997. He began his career in the financial industry as a Portfolio Manager’s Assistant at NWQ Investment Management. From 1998 until 2014, Brian was a part of a growing technology firm, Xtiva Financial Systems, whose products focused on the Broker-Dealer and Securities industry for Sales compensation. Brian then joined LaserApp Software in 2014, deepening his insurance technology expertise. During his two years with LaserApp, Brian spent his time meeting agency principals and carrier partners helping establish a new business platform for the firm.


Brian joined SuranceBay as a National Account Executive in July of 2016 and currently serves as Senior Director of Sales & Marketing and a member of the executive management team. Brian works to increase sales within the distribution channels, carrier partners and vendor integrations for SuranceBay’s flagship product, SureLC™. Since 2009, SuranceBay has been an industry leader in providing innovative licensing and contracting software to independent brokers, agents, and carriers. The recent introduction of complementary tools such as DataLink, SureLC One, Background Screening, and AML training, makes SuranceBay’s SaaS platform a one-stop-shop for over 85% of the independent life insurance agents in the United States. SuranceBay incorporates the assets of more than 600 life insurance carriers with subscriptions from over 800 BGAs, optimizing the workflows of 425,000+ active producers nationwide, and processing over 50,000 monthly contract submissions.


Issues and Solutions to Commission Accounting


By Ken Leibow

Published in NAILBA Now Newsletter

November  2019


Commission Accounting Systems have been around since the mid-1980s. They are usually found as a standalone system, and having three main purposes:

  1. Commission Reconciliation (Did you get paid as expected?)
  2. Tracking Payables (Track out-of-house deals with top producers on modal premium)
  3. Know your score card (Report on your income by line of business, carrier, and top producers)

Current Issues
There are two challenges with commission accounting systems. The first challenge is setting up carrier commission schedules, assigning those contracts to agents and then building hierarchies. In the Life Brokerage General Agency (BGA) channel for example, the average BGA is writing business with 20 + carriers and each carrier has several Life and Annuity products. Each product has rules like commission banding by year (first year & renewals), banding by age, target and excess premium commission rates on UL products etc. Carriers offer BGAs several commission levels that a BGA can use for their hierarchy downlines. Setting up these commission schedules is a lot of manual work. Even if a system offers tools and resources to build and maintain these commission schedules, there is no process that validates they were even setup correctly.


The second challenge with commission accounting systems is to process commissions received on each case on modal premium. If a BGA, for example, writes a large block of business, then to manually process each commission statement is cost prohibitive. Therefore; a carrier’s commission data feed into a commission accounting system is critical. The problem is that even if the carrier uses a data standard, the commission data feeds are not consistent or complete from every carrier, making it difficult to accurately reconcile commissions.  Many distributors will still go to visit 20 + carrier websites or even lookup paper commission statements to verify they have been paid correctly.


There are several solutions to the challenges of commission accounting systems. A carrier, for example, could electronically send their commission schedules in a data standard that could automatically update the distributor’s commission accounting system. This would eliminate all the manual setup of commission schedules for a distributor. Commission data aggregators could build a verification process that rejects bad or incomplete commission data files, thus only delivering clean data to a distributor.


A new innovative solution is that a carrier and distributor together could use Blockchain technology. The carrier commission schedules could be programmed into “Smart Contracts” that are used by both the carrier to calculate to pay commissions and used by the distributors commission accounting system to reconcile commissions. The commission schedules only need to be created once. The beauty of the Blockchain is that each party of a commission contract must approve the contract prior to it being available on a Blockchain for use. These parties connected to the contract essentially build an agent hierarchy and each participant in the hierarchy has a private key with access to the contract and the commission detail in the commission statement. This type of solution can offer privacy and security, thus enabling trust, accuracy and simplicity across the business.



Digital Insurance: Technologies and Strategies Driving Insurance into the Connected Age


Mariana Dumont
Head of USA Operations
Insurance Nexus


The ability to accurately discern the past and predict the future based on nothing but data points and the experience of actuaries and adjusters has served the industry well up to now. Insurance is, after all, a multi-billion-dollar, truly global industry. While this remains the case, the landscape is now radically different to the past, thanks in part to the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). The use of these technologies that collect, record and transmit live data has proliferated exponentially over the past decade, and for a data-reliant industry like insurance, the impact has already been profound.


They may already seem ubiquitous but estimates of how many IoT devices will connect our cars, homes, communities, medical services and work lives by the year 2020 range from 30 billion[i] to 50 billion[ii]. Whatever the precise number, this will generate (and already is) a huge amount of data to be analyzed and monetized.


This increase in the quality and quantity of available data is already producing some significant outcomes; the process of writing policies can now be far better informed by what is known about the risk level of an individual or entity, as opposed to simply what is known about the claims generated by an entire class of risk. Some carriers have already begun this transition; John Hancock, for example, announced in 2018 that all new life insurance policies must henceforth use digital fitness trackers to monitor policyholders[iii]. Using the high-quality, objective data derived from IoT, it is now possible to assess claims more accurately and efficiently, and in some cases, even prevent them from arising entirely.


“IoT is already enabling customers to avoid bad things happening to them. Some people call it prevention. I see it as empowerment of customers.” – Nick Ayrdon, Head of Strategy & Development at Aviva


In turn, this is changing how insurers interact with customers, both before and after a claim, with one executive predicting that that we are in fact “shifting from a claims-handling business to a claims prevention one”. As the value proposition of exchanging data for value becomes more concrete, it could become a strong pull-factor driving uptake of connected insurance products. And yet, already operating in an environment of squeezed profits, high regulation and low consumer trust, the industry is witnessing something of a perfect storm at present.


There is no question as to whether the global insurance industry is going to go digital, and most of the industry understands why it will. The real problem for most is how it should happen and creating an environment in which they can maximize the value of insurance technology. As Michael Lebor states, this is not simply a case of reorganizing a particular department or function: “In my opinion, IoT is not a product, it’s a paradigm shift, a completely different way for technologies to interact with each other. Devices are going to be talking to each other, there are going to be hubs, and we must leverage that throughout the entire lifecycle of our product, whether for distribution, or on-boarding customers, or using it for claims and first notice of claims. It’s not one product, it’s a holistic way of thinking.”


Any transformation of this nature will invariably lead to substantive changes in how insurance carriers operate internally and whereas digital insurance projects were generally siloed to innovation departments in the past, executives agree that is starting to change. While the survey found that only 14% of senior management teams were currently affected by the introduction of digital insurance, the most commonly cited reason was that initiatives had not yet reached the point where it had become necessary (the implication being that management will take a more active stance when projects have scaled sufficiently).


Similarly, American Family Business Development Manager, Shaun Wilson, suggests “until there are a lot of devices providing a lot of data about specific risks, the carrier is not going to have the insights about whether or not these devices mitigate risks to any level of significance. That’s the promise of this approach, but nobody has enough data yet to validate the hypothesis.” As carriers leverage connected technology more and the impact on the business deepens, however, we can expect to see greater top-down management and involvement from board level stakeholders[iv].


To provide a comprehensive overview of the progress and prospects of Connected Insurance, Insurance Nexus have produced the Connected Insurance Report, an in-depth study of the progress of insurance technology globally, today, and in the future.


As the industry begins to understand how it can exploit the possibilities of connected and digital insurance, the Connected Insurance Report has crystalized the concerns of those tasked with turning an unprecedented technological revolution into market-ready products. At first glance, one might assume that the ability to learn more about the risks they are insuring should allow both for policies to closely follow the risk over time, and secondly that the ability to gather more information about a claim will discourage fraud. The net result should therefore be greater profit for companies, and lower premiums for their customers.


At second glance, it is just as clear that the picture is much more complicated than that. As we talked to more and more executives, it became apparent that the industry is only just beginning to work through the practical problems it faces. Indeed, questions as basic as the best way to install a sensor in a building are still the subject of lively debate. Ultimately, the world of insurance may be next in line for the kind of creative destruction that the tsunami of digitisation had brought to IT, telecoms, media, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, financial and business services.


The Connected Insurance Report was researched and produced by Insurance Nexus in collaboration with the IoT Insurance Observatory. It is the first of its kind to conceive of insurance IoT holistically, as a paradigm shift necessitating changes in insurer business models, organisational structures and technology stacks. Insurance Nexus surveyed the experiences of more than 500 insurers and reinsurers to assess where they sit in the connected insurance market and to extract the challenges they face and their stories of success.


Along with a panel of 20 industry leaders who have been operating at the sharp end of the IoT revolution, Insurance Nexus looked at these hurdles and opportunities and pulled them apart to provide readers with the case studies with actionable insights to help guide decision-making as the industry tackles its own strategic milestones.



Tech infographic


[i] https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/internet/popular-internet-of-things-forecast-of-50-billion-devices-by-2020-is-outdated

[ii] https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insight-insurance-internet-things

[iii] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45590293

[iv] https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2019/03/insurtech-trends-2019.pdf