Building on DTCC’s success in the mutual funds industry, Insurance & Retirement Services (I&RS) was founded in 1997 when two broker-dealers, Edward Jones and Raymond James – then power users of the Mutual Fund Services (MF) platform – asked DTCC to bring the benefits of data automation to their insurance business. Their carrier partners, Lincoln National Life and The Hartford, joined them and the four became the first clients to exchange data through a fully centralized platform – then called the Annuity Processing Service (APS).
Since then, DTCC has built a suite of 20 distinct insurance services for a community of over 500 clients across the United States. Today, I&RS celebrates its 20-year anniversary and commemorates a storied past. View this interactive timeline to see how I&RS has evolved and expanded.
Historically, the insurance industry has been entrenched in inefficient, expensive, and error-prone manual processes. I&RS has helped bring order to business practices by developing solutions that connect distributors, carriers and third party providers of all sizes on a single platform.
Initially, I&RS served the annuities marketplace, but has since expanded its portfolio to cover life and retirement income products.
Barbara Smith, head of I&RS, was one of I&RS’ first employees. She re-joined DTCC in January after several years working in client firms. Barbara recalls that the DTCC team went on the road to help grow the new service. “We were meeting with carriers to educate them about the ‘DTCC standard’,” she said, “Broker-dealers who were NSCC clients already understood and welcomed the types of services we were bringing to market.”
As a result, it only took about two years to attain a notable growth rate in the core annuities services – Positions (POV), Commissions (COM) and Financial Activity Reporting (FAR) – and, from there, I&RS continued to expand.
“Ongoing collaboration with our clients is key to the success of I&RS offerings,” said Jeanann Smith, Director, I&RS Product Management. “Each time an industry challenge arises we engage with our clients, seeking their input on services to meet their needs and collaborating with them to design solutions. Given the level of service and our position in the industry, they often come to us at the outset.”
Primarily, I&RS has engaged with its clients through advisory groups, working groups and task forces. The groups assemble as needed but one has remained a steady force for more than ten years: the I&RS Review Board, which convenes monthly to discuss general industry challenges and helps to inform I&RS product development and strategy.
I&RS developed its newer services to address clients’ compliance needs based on feedback from this group. One such example is Producer Management Portal (PMP), which helps insurance carriers and distributors manage National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) producer training requirements by providing a centralized resource for sharing, tracking and verifying producer training completions.
What I&RS Clients Say:
“We really appreciate DTCC as a partner. They’re absolutely instrumental in promoting industry standards, setting priorities, getting consistency — and getting everyone working together.”
- Cat VanWey, Assistant Vice President, National Accounts & Broker Dealer Services, Pacific Life, 2011
“DTCC’s services enable Ebix to transmit files securely and reliably. We’re even able to offer straight-through processing to our firms that do not qualify for a full DTCC membership. We greatly appreciate DTCC’s partnership and look forward to working with them as our industry faces ongoing regulatory and operational challenges.”
- Robin Raina, Chairman and CEO of Ebix Inc., 2017
More recently, I&RS has introduced Insurance Profile. This solution makes fee and commission data more readily available to support a fiduciary standard for financial advisers set forth in the U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule that took effect this month. Both services were designed with input from clients on key elements and required functionality.
An eye to future evolution
“I&RS has kept pace with a changing industry landscape through the years, serving as a trusted-partner along the way,” said Ann Bergin, DTCC Managing Director and Head of Wealth Management Services. “The team has been able to step in, collaborate and achieve consensus at pivotal times of change.”
As I&RS marks this 20th anniversary milestone, the business is also looking ahead, watching for opportunities to develop new solutions to help the industry meet whatever challenges come next.