Improved Incentive Programs Engage and Motivate Financial Services Agents

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LIMRA and Maritz survey reveals: new realities require new approaches for better incentive performance.

Financial services agents want to be rewarded and recognized. According to a recent study conducted by LIMRA, an association for the financial services and insurance industries, and Maritz, a sales and marketing company including Maritz Travel, Maritz Motivation Solutions and Maritz Research, 83 percent of financial and insurance sales representatives attribute some portion of their efforts to reward and recognition, which demonstrates the overall, positive impact of reward and recognition. While legacy incentive strategies continue to engage producers, they are no longer creating the level of performance effectiveness they once provided. To create higher levels of performance, organizations need to better understand the program participant.

In July 2012, the National Motivational Research Agent Study surveyed agents from 20 LIMRA member companies, resulting in key insights from more than 5,400 U.S. and Canadian respondents. The study was conducted to help companies understand both the appeal and effectiveness of reward and recognition strategies. The study indicated a disconnect between companies and employees on current incentive programs.

“This study demonstrated that further emphasis needs to be placed on effective design to better engage financial services agents,” said Tom Wilson, financial services sector lead at Maritz. “Throughout the industry, we evaluated agent producers of varying levels of performance to understand what effectively motivates them when specifically evaluating personal values, goals and preferences.”

The study was conducted using an academic values framework in cooperation with The Maritz Institute. It provided insights into attitudes, interests and opinions regarding the personal values and goals of agents, which can help program designers understand what is important to the agents. Ultimately this allows companies to make better business decisions and increase program effectiveness. More than half (54 percent) of agents fell into one of three personal value categories:

  • One-of-five agents (20%) identified “self-direction” as a primary personal value. Self-direction represents independent thought and action with regard to choices, creation and exploring.
  • “Achievement” was a close second (18%), representing individuals striving for personal success by demonstrating their ability to perform based upon identified performance expectations.
  • Third place, “security” (16%), involves the sense of safety, harmony, and stability of peer and organizational culture, along with what those relationships represent at the individual level.

In addition, the study revealed specific elements to help design a more motivating travel experience, including the value it provides the program participant and experience elements such as the destination, the length, the on-site schedule and the number of guests allowed. Key findings from the study are:

  • Destination is perceived as a highly influential motivator in reward and recognition.
  • Four-star inclusive properties are more appealing than five-star (not inclusive) properties.
  • Producers prefer more relaxing experiences and activities, so limit scheduled daytime activities.
  • Respondents prefer shorter on-site business meetings (a maximum of two hours).
  • Younger agents prefer summer travel experiences (July or August).

These elements not only affect the appeal of the travel award and how hard an agent will work to earn it, but also affect the company’s budget and bottom line. Out of all respondents, 76 percent indicated they would make some effort to earn that travel experience, with 70 percent noting a high level of effort.

“There’s a strong correlation between agents’ perceptions of their company and the programs it offers; with these insights, it’s clear companies need to adjust program focus,” said Wilson. “These data supports the theory that participant experience is key when designing incentive travel programs.”

For the complete executive summary, Improving Legacy Incentives Leads to Better Engagement, please visit

For more information, visit or call 1-877-4MARITZ.

About Maritz

Maritz is a sales and marketing services company, which helps companies achieve their full potential through understanding, enabling, and motivating employees, channel partners and customers. Maritz provides marketing and customer research; communications; incentive initiatives; rewards and recognition programs; meeting, event & incentive travel management services; and consumer loyalty programs. We demonstrate our commitment to human potential by supporting educational endeavors in our community. For more information, visit or call 1-877-4MARITZ. Follow us on Twitter @Maritz_LLC.

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Chrissy Hugyez
Standing Partnership
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