What do the top bank life insurance programs in the nation have in common?  Nearly all have established a profiling process to gather data on their customers' life insurance needs.

That's one of the key findings of a joint study from LIMRA, a trade organization for insurance and financial services companies, and the Bank Insurance and Securities Research Association, a provider of research and business intelligence to banks and credit unions.

The study found that 13 of the top 15 banks and credit unions that sell insurance products through their financial consultants profile their customers as do nine of the top 10 institutions that sell insurance through licensed platform bankers. Other winning strategies include making life insurance sales an organizational priority by linking sales results to overall compensation, bonus, and performance management. Setting life-insurance-specific goals for sales professionals also proved effective. 

Financial consultants and platform reps handled most of the sales and are expected to continue playing a dominant sales role going forward. According to the study, nine out of 10 banks and credit unions sold insurance products through their financial consultants; 58% sold such products through their licensed platform bankers.

"Banks already have a relationship with their customers, so an increased emphasis on life insurance and other financial product sales can make them a one-stop shop," said Patrick Leary, corporate vice president of Distribution Research for LIMRA.

The biggest challenge for financial institutions that sell life insurance is lack of consumer awareness, with almost eight in 10 program managers identifying this as a roadblock to growing their sales.

The LIMRA-BISRA 2015 Bank Life Insurance Study surveyed 45 U.S. banks and credit unions.

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