Foresters Financial celebrates 150th anniversary with product refreshes and modernized systems

CEO reveals plans and priorities for milestone year

Foresters Financial celebrates 150th anniversary with product refreshes and modernized systems

Life & Health

By Gia Snape

Foresters Financial is marking its 150th anniversary by rejuvenating its infrastructure and product offerings with an eye toward long-term growth.

That’s according to CEO Matt Berman (pictured), who spoke to Insurance Business about his vision and plans for the organization.

“I’m very focused on making sure that we continue to give back in the unique and impactful ways we have in our 150-year history,” Berman said.

As a fraternal life insurer, according to Berman, Foresters Financial’s “North Star” is different from other players in the market.

“Our objective, at the end of the day, is to enrich the well-being of everyday families in their communities,” he said. “That provides us with a fairly long runway, in terms of our market, and it elevates our mandate to give back to our members, and we give back in several ways.

“We manage a portfolio of member benefits that range from grants, scholarships, and engagements on managing well-being. Along with our mandate to give back and volunteer in our communities, that has always been our top priority. I would say, in many ways, it begins and ends with that mandate.”

What’s ahead for Foresters Financial in its 150th year?

Berman, who was appointed president and chief executive in January, has three main priorities for Foresters Financial:

  • Ensuring continuity in Foresters’ mission of giving back
  • Modernizing infrastructure
  • Developing and innovating products and services

Foresters has invested in modernizing its infrastructure over the past few years to improve the experience of its members, customers, advisors and employees.

The upgrades include using advanced analytics tools, including data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to streamline processes, improve underwriting efficiency, and enhance decision-making capabilities.

For Berman, the experiences Foresters delivers internally and externally are as crucial as the products they design and underwrite for the marketplace.

“Our journey has been to make sure that we’re… delivering turnkey transactional experiences, and leveraging data in ways that can empower all of these stakeholders and enable us to make better underwriting decisions,” he said.

Product refreshes in the US and Canada

Berman also revealed that Foresters is refreshing its suite of offerings in the US and Canada, as well as introducing products to address the evolving needs of its members.

“We are continuing to elevate the quality, effectiveness, and competitiveness of our product suite,” he said.

In the US, Foresters is launching a new par-whole life insurance product set for launch in Q2 2024. Berman said the new product will offer death benefit protection with a savings vehicle.

“We’re also refreshing products in the US, and that means the experience around the offering, the ease of use in terms of that application, and the underwriting process will be much cleaner, a bit more straightforward, which will impact the experience of the advisors and the customers,” he told Insurance Business.

Foresters released a new term product in Canada last month and continues to make changes to its electronic application platform. The insurer is investing in data resources to streamline the underwriting process, meaning it won’t necessarily need medical data to underwrite an individual.

“The combination of that work with the introduction of products with innovative features that are competitively priced, and the work that we’re doing behind the scenes, is making sure that both the advisor and the end-customer feel that the experience is straightforward and frictionless in many ways, not only in the buying experience but post issue when our customers need to manage those products,” Berman said.

150 years strong – What’s the future for Foresters Financial?

How does Berman feel about taking the reins of Foresters Financial in a pivotal year?

“I couldn’t feel more energized to be in the seat at this juncture,” he answered. But he’s also mindful of the long-term impacts of the investments his organization is making.

“As a life insurance organization, we sell long durations, and while we’re mindful of our present day, of our quarterly and annual results and the engagement of employees, the success of our advisors and members, we inevitably have to make decisions and investments for the longer term.”

Berman is optimistic that Foresters’ focus on its core principles will pay dividends.

“My hope is that the investments we’re making to serve individuals and households, the investments we’re making inside of infrastructure, can make this business more efficient, to drive more scale. I’m hopeful that the investment we make in our products is building a durable capital base so we can continue to do what we’re doing. I think of our success in the form of earnings; if we build the capital, we can deploy it to continue to write business.

“It’s my very small part in this long history, and if I can sustain this growth, then I think I’ve done my job. I will certainly be happy that I left the organization in a better place than I joined it.”

What are your thoughts on Foresters Financial’s plans amid its 150th anniversary? Please share your comments below.

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