Nerdwallet HQ in San Francisco
So, what’s all the buzz about Nerdwallet and why should consumers care?
I’ve been asked by a lot of clients lately if I’ve ever seen the relatively new do-it-yourself financial advice platform called Nerdwallet. I’ve definitely seen it and I am an active advisor on the site as well. Let me tell you, I LOVE Nerdwallet! Yes, you heard correctly, I truly love NW and most of the content they feature. I have a feeling that a lot of other life insurance brokers might think I’m a heretic, but the fact is, I truly believe in low cost financial products, especially term insurance, and Nerdwallet has the web presence and clout to force financial advisors to provide the best possible advice to readers possible.
If you’re not familiar with Nerdwallet or you haven’t heard of them, NW for short, is a financial advice platform that matches consumers who have questions about all sorts of financial issues with advisors who openly and honestly answer these questions for FREE. It’s like the old newspaper columns on modern steroids as NW has literally millions of active users in the four or so short years they’ve been around.
So, you’re probably thinking, “what kind of advice can I get for FREE on a website?”. Well, actually, you’d be surprised how decent the answers are. I have answered roughly 30 open questions on all sorts of subjects from medical billing issues to queries about replacing old whole life policies that have been around for over 50 years. If you look at my NW profile, you’ll see my background, education, firm name, expertise, years of experience, etc all in one place. This is awesome for advisors who don’t have a web site, but who want to develop a web presence. Take a look at my NW profile here.
This is the key, I think to Nerdwallet’s success. They are marketing to younger folks who Google potential advisors the very first thing when they get a recommendation. It’s the first thing I do when I want to learn more about someone or a product I need. So why shouldn’t you do the same? you should! This is COMPETITION and that leads to LOWER PRICES in the long run! Of course, that flies in the face of all of the old-school life insurance training guys my age got from an agency. Thirty-one years ago I started my career and learned what all these complicated policies were and how they worked. And that’s very important for your life insurance broker to know, but it’s not completely important to consumers when they simply want preliminary information on a life insurance policy like term insurance and want to know how much term insurance will cost. Don’t get me wrong, we life insurance professionals need to know a lot about estate planning, tax planning, certain legal issues related to life insurance, specifically contract law, rules on authority, and policy valuations. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Howver, most people reading this piece probably aren’t looking for a complicated tax answer and for the most part, folk reading free answers on Nerdwallet aren’t trying to find free representation in tax court either.
Ok, so how does nerdwallet make its money? I recently had a conversation with Cliff Goldstein, the head of the “Ask An Advisor” platform, where consumers get answers directly from participating advisors. Cliff told me that they have “affiliate agreements” with specially vetted and selected product providers. They’re called partners and the life insurance partner for Nerdwallet is called Quotacy, an agency based in Minneapolis. If you look at Quotacy’s site, you’ll see that Hallett Financial Group owns and operates the site. Obviously Hallet is paying Nerdwallet significant affiliate fees because Nerdwallet does promote them heavily on the insurance part of the NW platform, which is fine. Everyone needs to pay the light bill…
As for Quotacy, they use the same products that a local broker uses, like I do. They have a really nice web site, but remember, a good local broker with online capability can provide exactly the same products and services. I have over 40 active contracts and use all mainstream companies. What most consumers don’t realize is that the compensation for a web broker like Quotacy is identical to my compensation. Same goes for Ehealthinsurance and others. They main difference is that local brokers tend to value relationships and want to do business in the towns/cities where they live. I see my clients in the grocery store and talk with them on the phone and tend to know their kids since I have kids who went through the local school system as well.
So, yes, I LOVE Nerdwallet! Anytime a “disrupter” comes along and causes people to take action for their families and to make active well-informed decisions, that’s good for society! I applaud the people at NW and hope that they continue to be a force for the good of all of us in the financial community by helping to spread the word that financial products and advice don’t need to cost an arm and a leg and can be accessible to us, no matter our socioeconomic background.