Digital Signatures for Annuities: An Authentication Workflow Review


A digital signature approach successfully used by several financial firms, including many of the largest life insurance carriers, achieves multifactor authentication of the client without disrupting the sales process. Distributors and life insurers not using this process should evaluate, test, and potentially adopt this more streamlined approach to collecting signatures and client authentication for new-business annuities.

The Communication Intelligence Corp. (CIC) patent pending process that exhibits a best practice for e-signing contracts begins after completing the electronic order entry, wherever this might be done (e.g., the financial advisor’s office, the client’s home, or at a Starbucks). The financial advisor initiates the seamless client signing process. Via integration with the order-entry platform, the financial advisor opens a secure signing portal that facilitates the collection of the client’s signature. Each signer is assigned a “sign now” button to initiate his or her signing session. To begin signing, each signer clicks on a link and must provide a simple, intuitive validation that shows that the intended recipient (signer) is the same person who the financial advisor validated with the driver’s license. The information used for validation can be any known data that was entered during order entry: for example, the last four digits of the client’s social security number, or his or her birth date or driver’s license number. This data is then matched to the information provided during the order-entry process.

The financial advisor still matches the driver’s license to the client, but the matching of the other information now provides multifactor authentication that reduces fraud and identity theft risk in an intuitive, nonintrusive way for the client. New-business annuity transactions expose the transaction participants to relatively low risk, since there is no ceding insurance company that loses assets, only a receiving insurance company that receives new assets. For this reason, these Tier-1 life insurance companies have determined that the workflow approach illustrated in Figure 3 achieves the necessary level of multifactor authentication without disrupting the sales process and needlessly endangering new sales. At least one of the Tier-1 firms has extended this Communication Intelligence Corp. (CIC) signing portal further by including an email button that allows the financial advisor to send the signing link to the client via email for remote signing. The financial advisor and client can then sign whenever and wherever is most convenient for them. 

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