Yong Lee (Lee) and PHP Agency use tech innovations to inject life back into life insurance
The Diffusion of Innovations Theory was developed by E.M. Rogers, a communication theorist at the University of New Mexico, in 1962, and it describes five categories of adopters based on how quickly they’ll take to a new product or idea. The Innovators are the leading 2.5% who bring new things to the market. They’re followed by Early Adopters, people who are always eager to try something new, accounting for the next 13.5%. The vast majority of
people fall into the Early Majority and Late Majority (34% each). The last 16% is the Laggards, the ones who resist trying something new until they basically have no choice. When it comes to new technologies, life insurance has long been a laggard industry, says Yong Lee. With nearly 30 years’ experience in the technology and financial services industries, he took on the role of Chief Technology Officer at PHP Agency in 2022. Together, they’re bringing a new energy to life insurance, one that promises to speed the industry along in its digital journey.
Energizing the Industry
Lee’s extensive experience includes C-suite roles and consulting background for insurance companies. What drew him to PHP Agency was their shared vision of what the life insurance industry could become.
“PHP was founded by a visionary entrepreneur (Patrick Bet-David), and with an entrepreneurial culture. It has a very, very high energy level,” he said. “The company’s
vision of changing the culture and diversity of the insurance industry aligns well when accelerating the adaptation of technology to the next levels.”
PHP Agency markets and distributes other carriers’ products. The secret to PHP Agency’s success is its agents and effectiveness of those agents. Its proprietary agent management system, Bamboo, provides its agents tools that their business needs from licensing to writing new business to receiving commission, and it helps grow agents’ businesses to a new level. Also, with Bamboo’s leaderboard concept, it spurs competition among agents and bring effectiveness of insurance distribution to a new level. Bamboo is a robust mobile enabled application that puts much of the functionality right in agents’ hands.
For customers, it makes the new application process faster, smoother, and easier, making virtually all PHP Agency applications paperless. This simplifies an often-mystifying process for new generations of life insurance-seekers and, crucially, attracts new generations of agents to the field.
“We empower agents through a robust system to build the next generation of agents,” Lee said.
That business continuity, with the next generation coming in, is what the industry has been missing and a big reason it lags behind in tech adoption, he said.
Next Decade of Innovation
In recent years, robotic process automation (RPA) and the IoT have begun to make their marks on insurance. IoT devices can track things like health measurements, driving behaviors, etc. to give insurers more insight and set premiums more specifically for individuals. From a back-office standpoint, RPA can quickly digitize information that used to be entered and processed manually.
The next decade is a crucial one for insurance, and PHP Agency aims to be spearheading the changes.
“This new, younger generation that’s coming aboard, how are they going to transform the industry?”
The old way of doing things isn’t going to fly with digital natives, he said.
The latest technology that will have potentially far-reaching implications for the insurance industry is AI. It’s still in its infancy, “but as it matures, how we can mold that technology is going to be the key to accelerating technology adaptation across the industry.
“Truly, there is an opportunity there that we need to continuously innovate with.”
Thus far, progress of AI applications has been focused on the back office, things like business process automation and customer service. But there has been precious little focus on utilizing AI to improve frontline sales and marketing.
“What will be the most exciting and transformative development is how we utilize this technology to help the top line,” Lee said. “You can improve your EBITDA by cutting bottom lines, but you’re not going to be a market leader by doing so. You can only cut so much, and then the growth trajectory curve doesn’t add up.”
Tech With a Purpose
As innovative as technology can be, it must always be implemented with a specific purpose in mind, Lee says. It’s a lesson he’s learned from being on both the business and technology sides.
“You can build the best technology tools in the world,” he said, “but if a business can’t use it as it has intended, it has no value.”
Thus, every new system PHP Agency builds comes with a business objective in mind.
“The other thing that has made a difference here is building and finding the right technology partnerships,” he said, “because I’m a true believer in not inventing the wheel again.”
Though PHP Agency’s software product is proprietary, key to its success comes from integrated solutions using the best of breed model when it comes to specific business functionalities.
Lee’s vision for the future of life insurance is an acceleration along the technological adaption curve that transforms the industry in much the same way banking, investment, and other financial services have changed. But no matter how tech-savvy the industry becomes, it will never lose the need for the human touch.
“When it comes to life insurance, it’s a very personal topic to many people, and that human interaction will be very, very hard – next to impossible – to replace,” he said.
You might rarely set foot in a bank or carry much cash anymore, but when it comes to making sure your family is taken care of in the event something happens to you, that’s not a process you want 100% automated.
“You will never be able to replace a trustworthy agent.”
For Lee and PHP Agency, the digital transformation journey is about speeding life insurance along that Diffusion of Innovation curve so they can introduce new generations to their trustworthy agents.
PHP Agency is a national financial services marketing company with a compelling two-part vision: change the culture and diversity of the insurance industry and build the world’s largest financial services marketing company in history. To realize this vision, PHP has partnered with some of the world’s leading insurance carriers to offer clients personally suitable life insurance and annuity products and provide a part-time or full-time career opportunity to those wishing to pursue a career as life insurance agents. The company is privately held and headquartered in Dallas, TX.
16650 Westgrove Drive,
Addison, Texas 75001
Phone Number: 469-917-4600
Homepage Link: https://phpagency.com/