As Vice President, Marketing at DMI, Ms. Kurstin is responsible for the company’s overall go-to-market strategy in addition to overseeing its advisor marketing services. With over 20 years of marketing expertise, Ms. Kurstin leads the team in strategic direction, brand positioning, advertising and media planning. Prior to joining DMI, Ms. Kurstin was the VP of Marketing at Congruity360, where she was responsible for leading the marketing efforts and launching new big data storage and hybrid cloud data security solutions across the Healthcare and Financial sectors. Prior to Congruity360, Ms. Kurstin held the role of Vice President of Marketing at ThriveHive, a digital marketing tech firm catering to the growth of small businesses across the U.S. Whether it was developing multi-channel go-to-market strategies or building a library of sales enablement tools, Ms. Kurstin has delivered high-performing strategies and direction that led each company to success.
1. Tell us about your role at DMI?
I am the VP of Marketing at DMI. I am responsible for heading up the company’s go to market strategy in addition to overseeing the advisor marketing services team. My number one priority is to continue to drive value to our partner agents through the life and annuity products we offer coupled with innovative, yet simplified marketing solutions to help advisors grow their business. If we can do this and do this well, everything else falls into place.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I have spent over 20 years in Marketing across private, public and non-profit and public sectors. Prior to joining DMI in June of 2019, I was fortunate enough to spend the last decade working in tech with a heavy focus on digital marketing, SaaS, and data storage offerings. During my 4 years at a large national digital marketing agency, I was fortunate enough to work closely alongside some of the top Techstars from MIT in addition to partnering with Silicon Valley giants, like Google.
3. How do you think technology is upgrading financial sector?
Technology is not only upgrading the financial sector, it is completely disrupting it.
Being with tech companies for so many years, I have been part of product development teams that incorporated AI in order to improve applications and user experiences. It is exciting to see the financial sector take hold of technology like machine learning, artificial intelligence and Fast Convergence technology and apply them to The Nasdaq and S&P 500 indices. Fast Convergence technology allows for more efficient control of the realized volatility of an index . For example Nasdaq FC Index, Ticker: BOFANFCC, is powered by bank of America and uses Fast Convergence technology to reduce risk by adapting faster to changing market conditions, all done with the goal of higher participation rates in fixed indexed annuities.
AiPEX, ticker AIPEX, sponsored by HSBA is using innovative technology by IBM Watson to turn data into insight by using artificial intelligence to help reduce the impact of short-term volatility in the equity markets.
As a data-driven person, I understand how utilizing data to drive decisions is a lot easier of a sell to an end-consumer. It also allows the consumer to build trust and feel confident with the agents and the brands they are working with.
4. How has digitalization benefitted annuity and insurance businesses?
With the launch of e-apps and an increasing adoption of them, we are seeing applications get processed at a faster rate due, less mistakes, and faster paid commissions. This helps to not only offer a better experience for the end-consumer, but also for the agent. What use to take weeks or even months can now be done within hours or days.
With everyone practicing social distancing, agents are now able to have phone calls or Zoom meetings with clients and fill out an application while on the phone with them. It is a win/win.
Coming from the data storage space, I understand the need to be able to store, secure, archive, and destroy data while maintaining compliance and adhering to regulations and policies across federal, state, and corporate levels. The financial sector is one of the best examples of Big Data out there
5. Do you think that marketing and sales solutions for financial advisors is different for any other industry?
The core need and solutions are very similar. There are staples across all business categories such as the need for a sales CRM, a marketing automation platform, and of course solutions to drive more business via email, social media, print and online advertising, and multimedia, like TV, Radio and Podcasts.
Where I see the largest difference is in the adoption rate of many of the available tools and technologies. The Financial sector has been significantly slower to adopt, mainly due to regulations. However, coming off the heels of GDPR, there are more stringent regulations being applied to consumer data and consumer privacy laws here in the US and we are seeing tech companies being forced to be more vigilant in the security of their own platforms, like HubSpot and Facebook. These efforts are making these platforms more compliant and now more widely accepted by the financial sector.
6. What features of your sales and operations solutions makes it a perfect fit for financial advisors?
Our sales and operations teams are lock step when it comes to applications and sharing of pertinent information. We have spent a significant amount of time, and investments, to ensure the sales and operations teams all have access to the same data in real time.
7. What sales tips would you like to give to our audience from fintech sector?
Buckle up and enjoy the opportunities that this new virtual environment affords you. Those who have been able to sell successfully via traditional models, such as in-person meetings and events, have an opportunity to embrace virtual tools and harness new technologies. Once this Pandemic is over, or subsides, the traditional selling model will not come back in the same capacity it once was. Rather, those who have a healthy mix of traditional selling skills coupled with the use of new virtual tools will rise to the top.
I recommend thinking outside the box and being open to new ways to engage in targeted audiences.
8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
Focus on just one offering and doing it well. Perfect it before adding additional ones. Time and time again I see tech companies trying to be all things to everyone, and quickly becoming less than adequate at everything.
9. What is the Digital innovation in sales technology according to you that will mark 2020?
The new levels of predictive customer insights inside Sales CRMs. Salesforce.com, amongst others, is doing a significant amount of work in this area and will continue to fine-tune these efforts for the remainder of 2020.
10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
Working in the tech space has afforded me the opportunity to take hold of the AI reigns earlier than most. Whenever we can properly use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to improve our lives and while reducing risk though human error, then I welcome it in any aspect of my life.
How I prepare my team for an AI-Centric world is ensuring they understand that artificial intelligence and machine learning is only as good as the human who develop it. We have become a society that is so reliant on automation, I feel we are losing some of the art behind human selling and the understanding of basic scientific fundamentals behind marketing. Those email may be able to be sent on their own, but it is what is inside the email that truly matters.
11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
About 6 months ago, we launched our custom-developed advisor portal, all built in-house. We aggregated tools across carriers and technology partners to create a true single sign on experience where agents can do everything they need to do in one place. Agents can check up on the status of their apps, submit e-apps, and use various calculators, etc. We even aggregate important updates dynamically from across our carriers and store those updates in one, easy-to-find location, while providing access to marketing and sale materials and training resources. Over the next six months we plan on integrating data from our CRM to be able to give agents real time access to their production levels and even their individualized marketing solutions being provided to them.
Last month, we launched Social Simplified, in partnership with White Glove’s Social Connect, and have an agile product roadmap to continue to offer value to our agents. It is important we continue to differentiate from the standard social media offerings currently found on the market and use innovation to help drive more business to our partner agents.
12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I essentially have two teams filled with talent that service the needs of DMI and of our partner advisors. These two teams however, operate as one when it comes to sharing expertise to improve upon the efforts across the organization and our agents alike.
13. What movie inspires you the most?
The Pursuit of Happyness
14. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
o Google Drive
o LinkedIn Recruiter
o Prime Video
o Marriott Bonvoy