Donna Jermer: Team-oriented leadership for RGAX
Life insurers aspire to expand into the underserved Gen X and Millennial markets, but need to approach and sell to these customers via their preferred online channels. Many are building out direct-to-consumer platforms as a response, and Donna Jermer, VP, Distribution Lead at RGAX, the transformation engine and innovation incubator for Reinsurance Group of America Incorporated, spearheads that. company’s efforts to optimize digital outreach and sales to appeal directly to the customer.
Under Jermer’s leadership, RGAX is launching transformative distribution services for life and health carriers, creating the tools to address the industry’s distribution pain points. Along with her team, she is setting the strategic foundation for developing and executing RGAx’s digital distribution initiatives, which include building out a set of robust distribution capabilities, commercial agency services and associated operational controls.
Her responsibilities include implementing consumer marketing digital capabilities that can be used to test the distribution value chain, from lead generation and engagement programs to product sales and policyholder support. In addition, she is responsible for carrier and distributor marketing digital distribution programs to support sales growth among new target consumer segments and accelerate online policy issuance.
“In order to understand how to frame life insurance from an awareness and education perspective so we can ultimately convert prospects to become policyholders, we have to do a lot of message testing, involving psychology and behavioral economics,” she explains.
Jermer’s previous distribution channel-building positions have led her to right where she is now. As SVP, AMT Workforce Benefits at AmTrust Financial Services, she built out an employee benefits channel. Similarly, as director of marketing at Forethought Financial Group, she built the firm’s life insurance distribution strategy through funeral homes. She has also held key marketing positions at Landmark Management Group, Yieldmark Advisors and Protective Life. She earned her BBA degree in business and marketing from Bowling Green State University, and a “mini-MBA” in social media marketing from Rutgers University. She is past president of LOMA’s Life Insurance Council.
But she says now, her team has an agile, brand-new organizational design that’s not siloed in traditional insurance communications processes. “We’re looking to understand more about how the consumer is thinking of buying in line with e-commerce and the retail side, then consequently adopting those approaches with user experience testing within the life insurance vertical,” she elaborates.
The team, made up of talent from retail, packaged goods and other external disciplines, looks at new approaches and digital techniques that aren’t yet in market. “A lot of what we do is work with leading edge and disruptive technology. We work directly with companies like Google and Microsoft. We’re doing machine learning and building out digital voice capabilities on the back end. We’re pushing that forward to find consumers and engage with them on the front end,” Jermer says. “The type of experiments we do and the test-and-learn environment is very exciting.”
That’s thousands of weekly tests, she explains, seeking to identify online shopping patterns and study how consumers respond to the latest quoting and data transparency requirements. Developed under Jermer’s supervision and direction, RGAX's branded solutions rLinkage and rGility feature modular business platforms to help life insurers establish digital distribution capabilities. The campaign framework for rLinkage features automated marketing solutions that provide speed, testing and analytic capabilities for carriers within an eight-week implementation timetable.
Jermer largely credits her team for RGAX’s impact and success, explaining that she surrounds herself with people who are smarter than her and who are self-managed and self-motivated. “Together, we look for wins and I make sure to share the credit appropriately with those doing the heavy lifting,” she says.