Michele Trogni, CEO of Zinnia, appeared on a Feb. 20 episode of “That Annuity Show” with host Paul Tyler, CMO of Nassau Financial Group. The focus was on how Zinnia is creating the “modern rails” for life insurance and annuities and simplifying how these products are built, sold, and serviced.

Together with George Esposito, general counsel and head of business development at Zinnia, Trogni talked about how Zinnia’s business ethos and technological capabilities are changing the way the industry operates. They also discussed Zinnia’s upcoming acquisition of Ebix’s life & annuities software assets, which promises to be “transformative.”

Here are three things to take away from the discussion:

1. Zinnia’s End-to-End Capabilities Are Key

For Zinnia, creating the modern rails of the insurance industry means using its tech and data to simplify the building and distribution of insurance products at a marketwide scale. 

Both Trogni and Esposito emphasized that Zinnia should be understood not just through its history in third-party administration, but as a strategic partner for carriers, offering deep industry expertise and a suite of end-to-end technology solutions

“We want to be there in the room with the product team as they’re building the product and weigh in on what technology could be differentiating, not just on the in-force administration, which is what we do and do well, but how do we help you get your product to market? How do we help you reduce friction in the environment? How do we help you engage with your distributors so you can sell it?” Esposito said.

Zinnia’s goal is “to make it weeks to launch a product,” Trogni said, not months. In fact, Zinnia has already drastically reduced turnaround times. “Our last product launches over the last 12 months were almost half the time they were” in the year before, Trogni said. 

Zinnia’s secure system of record, Zahara, is crucial to getting products to market faster. Carriers can now assemble new life & annuity products “like Lego blocks” instead of having to start from scratch with a new spec every time, Trogni said.

2. Data and AI Are Enabling Even Better Experiences for Customers

Data will play a key role in the digital transformation of the life & annuities industry, Trogni said, enabling more seamless experiences for advisors, carriers, and consumers alike: “You get the data right and the experience is better for everybody.”

One way Zinnia is creating a better experience for consumers is by seeking to leverage artificial intelligence. Zinnia’s AI-powered call center analytics capabilities can help companies process vast amounts of call center data to understand consumers’ needs and better prepare representatives to answer their questions — or build out digital experiences that eliminate the need to call at all. 

“At the end of the day, [when] I think about the AI work that we’ve done today, it’s just about creating better customer experience and giving people the medium to engage with us in the way that they want to,” Trogni said.

And with the recently announced acquisition of the Ebix life & annuity software assets comes the opportunity to create better experiences for distributors, too. First, of course, comes stability and uninterrupted service for Ebix’s existing customers, as well as continued investment in these industry-leading products and services, including WinFlex, SmartOffice, AnnuityNet, LifeSpeed, VitalSales Suite, and TPP (The Policy Processor).

Beyond that, “We’re going to connect the dots to simplify insurance more,” Trogni said, using Zinnia’s data and technology to not only enable distributors through the sales cycle, but ensure a great after-sales experience for their clients.

3. Less Friction Means More Growth

“I think about designing so that it’s as easy to transact an annuity as it is to … buy and sell stock,” Trogni said. By using its data and technology capabilities to reduce the friction across the full lifecycle of an annuity contract or life insurance policy, Zinnia can help facilitate growth across the industry.

On the front end, with its 2023 acquisition of Policygenius, Zinnia can now leverage the customer service, lead acquisition, and fulfillment capabilities of the Policygenius marketplace, creating smoother experiences for consumers, advisors, and carriers alike. Simpler consumer experiences, in particular, help enable sales growth and retention.

Reducing friction for distributors and advisors enables them to focus on selling, as well as on building their client relationships — the foundation of their businesses — rather than, say, spending time calling customer service lines on behalf of their clients.

As for carriers, newer entrants to the annuity space can especially benefit from Zinnia’s cloud-native technology solutions, which enable them to get to market without a heavy investment in building a new platform or back-end administration. “And then they put their energy and their investments into things that really differentiate them as a provider of the product itself,” like risk management, Trogni said. “Then they grow, and we grow with them.”

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