Field Marketing Organization (FMO)
As an insurance agent, there are many attractive reasons to partner with a Field Marketing Organization. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Field Marketing Organization (FMO)?
A Field Marketing Organization (FMO) markets, sells, and distributes various insurance products such as annuities, life insurance, health insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement plans, final expense insurance, and other related offerings.
To provide the best possible service for agents, some FMOs limit the range of their associated products and services, instead preferring to specialize as a way of focusing their efforts.
Essentially, the FMO is a wholesaler of the products they represent. Insurance carriers create, register, and underwrite the insurance products while the FMO handles distribution.
This means that an FMO can offer the highest commission levels from the carrier while still allowing agents to work as independently as possible.
It’s also important to note that while a few carriers will contract directly with agents, most of the name-brand insurers require agents to work through an FMO to access their products and services.
Not only is there added efficiencies for the carrier, but an FMO can also often offer contracts to agents they might not otherwise be able to access, due to the volume of business they conduct with the carrier, and the quality of their relationships built up over time.
As an agent, when you choose to work with an FMO, you are choosing a business partner to help grow your business and your income. You’ll need to do your homework, ask the right questions, and do your due diligence to determine the best fit.
The strength of those relationships has a positive trickle-down effect that benefits agents and puts more money in their pockets at the end of the day.
The Basics of Insurance Marketing Acronyms (FMOs, IMOs, NMOs, MGAs, and GAs)
Part of immersing yourself in any industry is learning the language of that industry. Insurance is no different, and it starts at a high level with a variety of acronyms for various marketing types of businesses.
At the most basic level, it’s important to know what an IMO and FMO are.
But, further complicating insurance marketing is that there are also other marketing types of organizations that can complicate your understanding even more. You need to have a basic knowledge of NMOs, MGAs, and GAs as well if you’re in the industry.
This is a reflection of the fact that marketing organizations don’t have a set industry standard for what they call themselves. That can make it difficult for agents to try and differentiate the missions of each one.
An FMO and an Independent Marketing Organization (IMO) have the same purposes. They are both wholesalers licensed to sell insurance products in most states. These businesses can contract with hundreds or even thousands of agents and several small and big-name carriers across the United States.
Where they differ is that an FMO tends to focus primarily on health insurance-related products, and an IMO focuses more on life insurance types of products, although cross-selling often is the case.
Agents contracted with an FMO may have certain quotas they need to meet to maintain their preferred commission levels.
Generally speaking, IMOs tend to be a little smaller than FMOs, and as a result, may not be able to muster up the same clout that will give them the ability to pay agents the same level of commissions as some FMOs.
National Marketing Offices (NMOs) are often interchangeable with FMOs or IMOs. There is not much that sets them apart from other than it is a more neutral term, or it can be used when an organization sells both life and health products.
Managing General Agents (MGAs) partner with FMOs, IMOs, and NMOs. Most of the time, these are the next step down, creating another layer in a selling hierarchy. MGAs still have their own downline agents and offer higher commissions that a general agent, but typically less than FMOs, IMOs, or NMOs. Many times, they have sales quotas they must meet for these top-line providers to maintain their MGA status.
MGAs are more widely associated with life insurance products. In some cases, they may also refer to themselves as brokerage general agencies (BGAs), which is a common term in the life insurance business.
General Agents (GAs) contract with these upper-level organizations. GAs can still have their own agents (Writing Agents) and will also need to meet production quotas to maintain their GA status.
GAs provide some level of support as the others do, but because they are smaller and with fewer resources, that support is generally more limited.
Working with an FMO
Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect when you contract with an FMO. Each FMO will be slightly different, but in general, here are some of the benefits you can expect to enjoy:
Higher Commissions. Through existing relationships and a higher volume of business, an FMO can negotiate with carriers to offer some of the highest possible commissions in the industry.
Communication. The main objective of an FMO is to provide excellent communication. That can take many forms, from marketing assistance to generate leads, sales training, product and industry updates, and other vital and timely information.
Marketing Support. An experienced team of marketing professionals helps agents by creating qualified lead using several outreach methods.
Multiple Carriers. When you work with an FMO, you can contract with multiple carriers instead of just one. You have a wider product selection for your clients and can better meet their needs more often.
Lead Management System. A top-notch FMO will utilize a quality lead management system to help agents grow their business. This also streamlines other aspects of the business, providing greater efficiencies and focus for a participating agent.
Sales Support. A strong sales support system lets agents focus on growing their agency without worrying about tedious and time-consuming details. Automated quote engines also do much of the heavy lifting, saving time and creating a more responsive approach to customer service.
Online Sales Training. An FMO provides broad-based support through online continuing education courses and sales techniques developed specifically for agents. Strategic courses help agents achieve optimal success.
Do Independent Agents Need an FMO?
The short answer is a resounding, “Yes!” and here’s why.
Insurance companies have largely eliminated their sales forces and were the ones who created FMOs. When sales forces were eliminated, training and product knowledge took a big hit as well. With marketing gone, for the most part, carriers soon saw a sales decline, and that’s when FMOs came about.
FMOs fill that gap between independent agents and carriers. In fact, many carriers won’t even work with an independent agent directly, preferring the convenience and uniformity of working with an FMO.
With greater efficiencies, carriers are able to share a bigger piece of the profit pie; meaning agents can earn bigger commissions than they would otherwise. When an FMO negotiates an attractive top-level deal, everyone benefits.
Similarly, an FMO can steer agents clear of carriers that may not be a good fit or a red-flagged for any number of reasons. That screening process saves time, money, and frustration.
Because an FMO also has a stake in an agent’s success, they make more money when an agent does well. Knowledgeable, better trained, and more confident agents with a higher level of support turn more sales, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
That mutually beneficial relationship also extends to back-office support, lead generation, and other critical parts of the sales process. FMOs usually offer quote engines that let you compare prices of multiple carriers at one time. You won’t get that if you were able to contract with a single provider.
When you’re able to represent multiple carriers, your clients will have greater confidence they are getting the policy that best meets their unique needs. This makes it easier to build a trusting and long-term relationship that can last for many years.
The Value of a Great FMO
We’ve already taken a look at some of the key benefits that an FMO can offer agents. Here are some other value-added reasons to contract with a great FMO.
More often than not, FMOs provide their contracted entities with access to a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved quoting tool. As an agent, you need a full disclosure quoting tool to see a complete view of the market when you quote Medicare Advantage Insurance Plans, Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.
A top tier FMO will also offer comprehensive and intuitive customer relationship management (CRM) tools. The more organized you are, the more efficient you can be. And the more efficient you are, the more sales you’ll make.
A great FMO will also have a wide range of insurance carriers and product options from top insurance industry providers. These well-known carriers will remove many sales barriers, especially when their plans are highly ranked.
Do not overlook the benefit of an FMO that helps you get your America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) required annual sales certification. Certification for some products is required no matter which FMO you contract with, but the really good FMOs may offer reduced rates for required AHIP training.
A generous commission structure is also the sign of a great FMO. Work with an FMO that offers commission levels that increase as your production increases. Giving you a worthwhile goal you can grow into is vital for ongoing motivation.
A great FMO will also have an open release policy. This means that when you leave the FMO, you simply part ways but still retain your book of business. Some FMOs allow this, but there are others that don’t easily release the agent, or they may keep the book of business, claiming that it belongs to the FMO and not the agent.
Why Senior Market Advisors is the Best FMO For You
You have a lot of choices when deciding which FMO to partner with to grow your insurance business.
Here’s why we think you should consider us.
We’re an FMO created by insurance agents for insurance agents.
We were launched by insurance agents for insurance agents in 2007. Our CEO Jeff Pitta began his career as an independent agent. He knows, firsthand, what it’s like to knock on doors, to schedule appointments, and what it takes to make the most of those efforts. He values having the best tools to work with, along with extensive training to help close sales on a regular basis.
That’s why we’ve grown to become a multifaceted support organization that gives you everything you need so you can focus on growing your business.
We give you a technological advantage.
Our experienced team has developed the best sales tools and practices using state-of-the-art technology to power our CRM/Lead Management system, and Quote Engine to give you the competitive advantage you need.
SMA’s new eContracting system will allow you to contract with multiple carriers electronically, all from the comfort of your own home. Our automated systems also make sure you get paid the high commissions you deserve, on time.
We’ll split your marketing costs.
In your first year with SMA, we’ll completely reinvest in your marketing costs. Through the rest of your time with us, we’ll split your costs and help you pay for everything from business cards to lead-generating mailings.
We’ll do most of the lead generation work for you, so you can spend more time on what matters most – taking care of your clients.
We’ll help you earn top-tier commissions.
We’ll give you all the tools you need to close as many sales as possible and earn top-tier commissions. Our lead crediting program rewards you for generating your own leads with free marketing tools and efforts to help you gain even more leads and close a larger percentage of sales.
We’re people over profit without bias.
Our bias-free, multiple-carrier model allows us to best provide for underserved agents. We provide agents with tools and practices that no one else can and serve clients the best possible way by allowing our agents to help them select plans that best meet their needs.
How to Become an Insurance Agent
You can enjoy a rewarding career as an insurance agent. There are a lot of perks, such as being your own boss and building lifelong relationships with your clients.
The financial rewards can be substantial as well. You can be handsomely rewarded for your efforts and the amount of time you put into your career.
It helps if you’re a self-starter who likes talking to people and doesn’t want to be a part of the 9 to 5 grind. You also need to be at least 18 years old and have not been convicted of a felony to meet licensing requirements.
If this sounds like something you’re interested in doing, the actual steps are fairly simple.
First, partner with an FMO like Senior Marketing Advisors. There is no better way to jumpstart your new career path than by working closely with an experienced team who can teach you sales and marketing techniques, help you generate leads, and set up an effective CRM system to track your clients and your efforts.
You don’t need a college degree to become an insurance agent, but you will need to pass a certification exam and a background check. You’ll also need to live in the state where you plan to sell insurance.
You will have the ability to gain a license to sell in another state after you gain your license in your state of residence.
Requirements for getting an insurance certification vary by state but are similar in most cases. Before taking your licensing exam, you will need to complete a series of courses.
Do your homework, and do not take the test until you know that you are ready and able to pass.
Once you have your certification, visit SMA’s contracting page to contract with all available insurance carriers.
You’ll earn the same commission no matter which carrier’s plan you sell. Also, contracting with multiple carriers means you will always be able to sell the best policy for their health needs.
What do I need to do to Affiliate with Senior Market Advisors?
We invite you to join our team of FMO affiliated and qualified agents across the United States.
Ready to start?
Call us 1-844-452-5020 or eContract with us today!