COLUMBUS, Ohio - Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.'s Nationwide Financial Services Inc. unit has developed an electronic appointment system that requires agents to have their license checked before they can sell a given company's insurance products.

"We now have an e-solution that makes it easier and faster for firms to set their producers up to do business with Nationwide Financial," Rick Karas, president of NFS Distributors Inc., said in a news release announcing the intranet/e-mail system. "Appointing producers is one of the more time-consuming and expensive requirements for financial services providers and distributors."

Nationwide Financial has appointments with 128,344 agents in banks, regional and national brokerages, and independent broker-dealer firms.

Conventional appointment processes require each agent to complete forms and provide paper copies of state licenses and National Association of Securities Dealers registrations, and the agent's employer must pass this information along to the insurance company. The Nationwide system is paperless; agent signatures are not needed for appointment forms, secure license copies, and NASD U4 registration documents. Firms using the system get daily e-mail reports on the status of pending appointments and other matters.

Nationwide said this process allowed Nationwide Financial to process 7,500 appointments for all producers of the regional brokerage Waddell & Reed in just one month. That would have taken four to six months using conventional processes, it said.

Nationwide Financial Services is the retirement savings and income operation of Nationwide Mutual Insurance. It has assets under management of $111 billion.

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