Glenbrook Life and Annuity Co., a division of Allstate Financial Group in Northbrook, Ill., has launched Hatrack, a training program designed to help bank-based financial consultants become better coaches, trainers, motivators, and mentors to insurance-licensed platform sellers.

The program, made available to Glenbrook’s bank partners March 1, was developed to handle the need for better training for platform reps, the company said.

“Plenty of financial consultants will drop off a fact sheet to a platform rep in the morning and tell the platform rep to be prepared to discuss the material in the fact sheet that afternoon,” said Rob Shore, senior vice president of financial institutions for Glenbrook. “The platform person might not have the time to do that, or might not understand what they are reading. That’s wrong.”

The program is named Hatrack because platform reps wear several hats, including insurance sales, Mr. Shore said. “We found that several of the dedicated bank reps were not good trainers of their platform people, and we wanted to improve matters.”

Hatrack consists of four individual courses, called Training, Coaching, Motivating, and Mentoring, each of which is designed to function as a stand-alone, 45-minute workshop or as part of an overall program.

Course materials include a participant’s guide that outlines skill assessment activities, interactive learning practices, and self-improvement goal-setting activities, as well as a training video.

The program includes a lot of what Mr. Shore calls “before-and-after activities,” where the financial consultants will see what they did wrong before. “We realize financial consultants have quite a few appointments in a day, but they have to be good trainers,” he said. “They have to be well organized, and they have to interact with their audience.”

Val Jordan, president of Jordan & Jordan Associates, a Belchertown, Mass., bank-insurance consulting firm, said dedicated bank reps are frequently short on time, but if they only stop in and give out a fact sheet, they shouldn’t even bother coming into the branch.

“If I was the branch manager, I’d throw him out on his ear,” she said. “If you are a mentor and you can’t get excited about selling the product, and all you can do is give them a study sheet, you aren’t doing your job.”

But in defense of the reps, Michael White, president of Michael White Associates, a Radnor, Pa., consulting firm, said the lack of time spent training platform sales reps may have more to do with the time and skill available than with the effort put in.

“A dedicated rep might be a good salesperson, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good teacher,” Mr. White said. “Plus, they’re busy. They’re generally selling a wider range of products than are the licensed platform people.”

Jackson National Life Insurance Co. of Lansing, Mich., run its own training program called Dedicated Support Partnership.

“We want to train the trainers,” said Bradley Powell, president of Jackson National’s Institutional Marketing Group in Atlanta.

The Jackson National program, which takes anywhere from one to three hours, teaches reps how to connect with platform sellers, Mr. Powell said.

Mr. White said training programs like Allstate’s and Jackson National’s are helpful, because they help the dedicated reps organize their activities.

If the dedicated reps “aren’t good teachers, it helps lay down a program and gives them a track to run on,” he said. “Can you imagine an after-hours meeting, where the platform reps stay late, and then” the dedicated rep “shows up and fumbles around? The platform people are going to think they could have beaten the traffic home.”

But Mr. Powell said a bank has to do more to maximize its investment and insurance sales than training the financial consultant.

The big mistake banks make “is not passing the key message to the platform people: why the bank believes” insurance sales “is a very important part of the business,” he said.

Banks that are serious about their insurance programs should “get a senior banking official in to tell them why,” he said. “Show senior management support, and they’ll take it much more seriously.”

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.