Not sure how many of you even remember the big printed (8-9 pages) airline tickets (not too long ago – 2002 it was still in vogue)…the travel agent (without whom you could not book the tickets), the discounts of 8% that the agents gave (to people who asked!!), or the free ticket for the wife (if you were a corporate customer)….

The internet surely ended all this. Today you need an agent only if you are planning something big, need a taxi pick up (even that the taxi drivers give you their cell numbers for you to call!), need hotels,….etc.

Do you notice a similar trend for the life (and general)  insurance agents?

I do. Imagine I meet a guy in the aircraft, get talking and tell him ‘Take term insurance’ and once you have taken that, just surrender all the other 20 plans that you have’.

Imagine the guy does that. He stays in Cochin, I stay in Mumbai. We may not even meet again except through mail or as a reader of my blog. I gained NOTHING out of giving that advice. He saved a lot of cash flows. He thanks me.

What does it do to his agent?

He is pulling his hair. He does not even know that subramoney exists. He cannot understand why the……HIS LOYAL GOOD, LISTENING client is suddenly surrendering his policies. After all these policies are government guaranteed. They are issued by the biggest insurance house. He keeps wondering what hit him.

Nothing Mr. Agent. Just the power of the net. Sure, it is for the customer to find out what is good for him….but 15 years ago when the agent started the business, he did not know:

a. A product called Term Insurance will be sold with so much gusto.

b. Clients need for insurance could go DOWN too (with inheritance, ESOP, logic, an earning spouse, ..)

c. A client would have a choice of providers

d. A free advice provider with NO hidden agenda (called the net) will say things very, very differently…

poor agent. Not that ALL of them will be eliminated, but yes, most of them will be. Also banks will continue to mis-sell and its clients will continue to mis-buy.

After all even the regulator has a vested interest in the industry being ALIVE..(remember the alphabet D in its acronym?)

LOL

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  1. Whatever is available on net right now is available in books, newspapers also. In fact, if he had a one of his friends in finance industry then he would have known the facts from word of mouth.
    However, internet is free, searchable, almost instantaneous. But the fact is a person with quest for financial knowledge would have known simple facts long ago.
    However, internet has tremendous advantages. For example, I came to know yesterday about market bubbles/crashes of last three centuries through Investopedia.

  2. there have always been public libraries. Have you been to one? It is not about data. It is about being arranged and made into info and made well tagged. Let me add not enough people can understand and use it sensibly, but at least it is available.

    People in the financial industry know finance is almost a joke.

    Internet has made info organised, tagged, and available to everybody immaterial of caste, creed, color,…and ANONYMOUSLY. Huge advantage. What the net has done to the travel agents, it will do (if not already done) to financial service agents who do not add value.

  3. Internet replaces middle-man. sometimes even the chain of whole distributor channel. Take example of ebay, 99acres.com, makemytrip, fundsindia.com, FundSuperMart.com. These are removing middleman from auctions, real estate market, travel services, financial services.

  4. The guy in cochin was lucky to meet you in person and get your advise.
    But happy are those who have not met you but still followed your advise on your blog. I am one of them and am glad.

  5. Internet has been a very useful tool for information. It has helped me. Another field is medicine…

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