Are you looking for the best life insurance FMO for your business? FMO is short for “field marketing organization,” and you may have heard of an FMO by other names as well. Those include IMO, NMO, BGA… but they basically refer to the same thing.
Partnering with the right life insurance FMO isn’t easy. Depending on what you need, FMOs can vary greatly in life insurance products, sales support, training, marketing programs, potential for higher comp, and other business resources that they offer you as an agent.
Most life insurance FMOs will give you the standard support: access to carriers for life insurance products, carrier and product knowledge, underwriting guidelines, processes to get your business placed, often some tools for faster underwriting and approval, and maybe a life quoting tool.
The key is finding what is the right support for YOU from your life insurance FMO. We will go over a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right partner.
What Can You Expect from a Life Insurance FMO?
Just as with annuity FMOs, life insurance FMOs check off the boxes on a few basics, but their support will depend on the kind of agents they work with.
Some life insurance FMOs focus heavily on final expense and mortgage protection sales. These are more “everyman” markets and more for agents who are just starting out or getting involved with life sales.
The value of these FMOs mostly lies in lead generation programs, training, appointment scripts, and even handholding by a mentor agent or sales coach. These kinds of sales are very much a numbers game, and because of the support, you might have split cases or lower comp payouts due to smaller life cases.
On the traditional life side, FMOs vary. Some focus on infinite banking, tax-free cash-flow, or other niche sales concepts with whole life or IUL products as their bread and butter. You might find individual agent marketing programs or plug-and-play national campaigns in which you are a “local representative.” These FMOs tend to have their own go-to carriers for the life products they are using.
Other life insurance FMOs specialize in advanced case design for high net-worth or ultra-high net-worth households with complex estate and business needs. They have life and insurance planning consultants with advanced subject matter knowledge for the high-end producer in these markets.
Other life insurance FMOs are very training-driven and have educational seminars, where you fly out, learn about advanced selling concepts using life insurance (often for tax-free retirement income, long-term care protection, and other needs). They may have seminar programs, digital marketing, and other such marketing programs to get you in front of prospects.
Finally, some life insurance FMOs focus on the ease of doing business with them due to technology. They have built advanced digital platforms that make carrier updates, business monitoring, and other crucial areas easier for agents. Some FMOs mentioned above may also have this as part of their overall value-add to life insurance agents.
Again, it depends on what you are looking for.
What Should You Ask in Looking for the Best Life Insurance FMO?
Here are a few things to get you started in locating the right partner:
- Does the life insurance FMO or IMO have a good reputation?
- What do other agents say about them? Is what they are saying reasonable and grounded?
- No life insurance FMO is perfect. How do they handle mistakes or other times when they drop the ball?
- If you are looking at split comp or opportunities where your comp can increase with more life premium, what are the FMO’s requirements and conditions? Are there any gotchas to watch out for?
- Do they customize their product recommendations to your clients’ unique situations?
- Are they hawking IUL or other permanent life products as a Swiss army knife solution or one-size-fits-all? If so, run.
- If you are a new agent or getting involved in a new advanced market, what does their training look like? What does support look like post-training?
- What is the release policy for the life insurance FMO? Is it reasonable?
- Are there any production, non-compete, or other business provisions if you are looking at a certain life insurance FMO? Not all FMOs are truly independent.
- Does the life insurance FMO appear to be free of sales agendas that prioritize one carrier consistently over the others in the market? If so, what is their rationale?
- Do they offer you technology that saves time, effort, and is easy to onboard and use?
- Does your life insurance consultant, marketing director, or wholesaler give you a warm experience?
- How experienced are they? How long has the life insurance FMO been around?
- Do you trust your marketer’s recommendations? How do they handle it when they disagree with what you are thinking?
- Does how your marketer handle conflicts give you confidence in their recommendations?
- Does the FMO have vendors and other relationships that they can introduce you to, depending on what you need?
Life Insurance Support Based on Production?
Let’s say that a producer is more on the traditional side of the life insurance business. They are concerned about how much support and comp that they might receive. In this case, it usually depends on what sort of agency they have.
If they are a lone wolf in their agency, the opportunities for higher comp will be limited unless they are writing high five figures or six figures in life business. Some bigger or high-performance FMOs won’t give you attention unless you have this sort of production, and they may ask for proof.
Other FMOs are willing to give support, but their ideal recruiting target is producers that have an agency downline with writing agents. If our producer has a downline of agents that are writing lots of life business – say in excess of $1-2 million (and that is very rare) – then they might be willing to have conversations around the agency being paid most of the comp. In that case, the FMO’s earning on the spread will be substantial, although the spread percentage is small.
The resources available to you for marketing support, technology investments, and other personal value-adds for your business can go up with more life premium, but as you are paid more, the FMO will also be giving up economic incentive for support in your business. They are giving away more of their spread after all.
Talk to other producers in your business network about what sort of support you might be looking for. If you are part of trade or professional associations such as NAIFA, other independent agents or financial professionals can offer valuable advice or referrals to life insurance FMOs that align with your current business and goals.
If you are focused on more beyond life insurance, say annuities, you might consider if the FMO offers competitive annuity products and has good specialty knowledge in that area. Not all FMOs are equal in these other lines of business. For that reason, it’s not unusual for agents to do life business with one FMO and annuity business with another.
Watch Out for the Sales Agendas
Of course, life insurance companies want to maximize profits. They will be interested in expanding business relationships with FMOs that bring them the most premium. When an FMO reaches certain production levels, it may approach a life insurance company about a proprietary product with certain features, buildout for a certain market, or other competitive advantages.
But just as we have seen in the annuity market, not all proprietary products are that great or that versatile for client needs. If an FMO has a proprietary product relationship with a life insurance carrier, take heed. The FMO may hawk that carrier so it can meet certain production goals for bonus money or other incentives. But that also doesn’t mean that proprietary offerings are bad, just that they might be a fit for certain client situations.
Do your due diligence on the FMO, their history with their biggest carrier relationships, and see how that might affect your business. That is why it always pays to explore more than one FMO relationship for your agency before making a commitment.
Some Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Life Insurance FMO
Safe Money Broadcasting is a marketing agency for agents and financial professionals. We aren’t paid on any annuity or insurance business, nor are we tied to any financial organizations or financial services companies. We have put together this quick piece on life insurance FMOs for your benefit, and it’s also based on our conversations with thousands of agents over the years.
The independent distribution for annuity and life products does a huge service in helping Americans maintain financial security. Your independence isn’t a small matter.
Take some time to think about the kind of support that you need for your life insurance business. Do you need marketing help? Need better ideas and concepts in positioning life insurance as a solution to certain problems and how to close clients? Need handholding because you are relatively new to the life business? Are you wanting to maximize your comp payouts?
All of these questions matter in determining which FMO is right for you. Above all, look out for an FMO partner that will help you maintain your independence and save you time, energy, and headaches in serving your clients well.
A true partner that is looking out for you is worth more than words can express. Also, if you are looking for non-FMO ways to market your business and expand your client reach, give us a call today at (305) 680-0940. We can cover how we have helped hundreds of others just like you grow their production.