Posted on August 7, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Among the Insured Retirement Institute’s (IRI) core strategic objectives is leading the retirement income industry to modernize the annuity transaction process. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative gained a new sense of urgency. Social distancing was having an adverse effect on the day-to-day functionality of IRI members’ operations and sales requiring the adoption of alternate processes, especially immediate digital solutions.

IRI’s Board of Directors approved guiding principles for IRI to lead its members and the industry toward practical, digital solutions that improve the advisor-client experience across the lifecycle of the annuity.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic placing a spotlight on the need for remote-friendly operations, IRI is leading an effort to push adoption of methods and practices that modernize the annuity transaction process,” said Wayne Chopus, IRI President and CEO. “The guiding principles set best practices to enable sales, portfolio updates, advisor-consumer communication, and the transfer of confidential materials without face-to-face interaction.”

IRI is now implementing the initiative with the goal of driving universal adoption across all IRI members while encouraging other industry partners to follow suit. The primary focus is on electronic signature and electronic document delivery capabilities that facilitate transactions in a manner that is safe from both a public health and an information security perspective. IRI also will advocate for long-term use of these practices beyond the duration of social distancing measures due to their benefits to consumers and the industry.

Participating carriers and distributors have enabled e-Signature capabilities with trading partners and to-date have had the largest impact on new business transactions. However, there is a great opportunity to deliver more of that capability for replacement and in-force policy transactions. IRI’s goal is to have full adoption of e-Signature capabilities for all transactions across the annuity lifecycle.

Additionally, social distancing and work-from-home policies have limited the ability to deliver physical policy and supporting documents directly to consumers. The industry’s greatest opportunity is to deliver all policy-related documents electronically.

“Moving to e-Signature and e-Delivery would dramatically improve efficiency and, for e-Delivery, provide the flexibility for consumers to access their policy level correspondence as needed,” Chopus said.

IRI reports that early benchmarking results indicate a positive starting point with many member firms already making strides to meet the outlined criteria.

“Our industry serves a vital and growing need in our nation to assist consumers in planning for and achieving a secure, dignified retirement,” Chopus said. “IRI and its members will now lead the industry into a new era that will deliver the retirement security products, advice and services that consumers need in the modernized, digital transaction structure that they expect.”

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Contact: Dan Zielinski