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All downhill from here?

One sport at this year’s Winter Olympics has totally altered my view of the competition. If you asked me a few weeks ago if I was going to be glued to the Winter Olympics, thoroughly entertained then the answer would have been no. But one discipline, the only new sport at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver changed all that for me – ski cross.

Ski cross isn’t stuffy or traditional, the competitors aren’t clad in lycra and it’s exciting, fun and most of all it is hugely appealing. It was captivating. The Olympic organisers recognised they were going to have to reinvent the competition to attract a new generation of followers.

The lesson for all of us is that without some serious re-engineering of the protection industry and its products, we will continue to see dwindling interest.

Sales of income protection and critical illness in particular have seen a steady decline over a number of years and that may well be due to consumers’ preconceptions that the products are complicated and expensive.

There again, it could well be because they have not been exposed to the products and their benefits. What is definite is that we need to shake off the mantra that the best way is the way we have always done it. We need to embrace change and attract the next generation of customer.

The solution at best is twopronged. First, to introduce more innovation and product development and second, to talk to more people to not only make them aware but also to generate a keener interest.

So it sounds like this is a partnership, the providers need to work at innovating – and feedback from advisers will certainly help with this – and advisers need to think of ways of communicating with the mass market.

Providers have taken steps to develop more simplistic products and there is certainly more exposure to protection products. New sales channels have meant that every time someone queues at their supermarket there is an array of insurance leaflets to prick their conscience and inform them of what is out there.

The industry has at least tackled the issue of confidence as the dawning of a new era of claim statistics helps convey a message of trust in the products being sold.

The need for protection is never going to go away but advisers need to think about reaching out and adapting to entice a new customer set.

Over the last decade or so, the internet has brought about a technological revolution that has changed the world significantly but has this affected the way in which advisers do business?

The internet has made aradical difference to the way we communicate and the way people interact with friends and contacts.

A large percentage of a protection adviser’s database will be made up of clients from Generation X (born between 1961 and 1981), but with the emergence of Generation Web, the current generation, who have grown up in a webenabled world, things will need to be different.

Generation Web are our customers of tomorrow, they are immersed in technology and the benefits of a virtual world, they are at ease with researching products and companies online, buying online and complaining and complimenting online.

Advisers selling protection need to recognise new ways of doing things. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that social networking is providing opportunities for some enterprising advisers who are using these forums as a costeffective lead generation tool.

Roger Edwards is proposition director at Bright Grey


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There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. “There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that social networking is providing opportunities for some enterprising advisers who are using these forums as a costeffective lead generation tool.”

    Can you imagine every IFA on Facebook or any other site where kids twitter?

    Almost as useful as joining all the golf clubs, becoming a Freemason or standing by the bar downapub?

  2. Roddy McKenzie 9th March 2010 at 2:09 pm

    What’s with the ‘we’ bit? Come on get a grip you are NOT an IFA. Please butt out of our game.

  3. This reads like it’s been written by someone who is not part of the industry suggesting how the industry might do better!

    Unless I’ve misread Roger’s job title, since he’s proposition director at a leading provider why doesn’t he get on and put some of his ideas into practice.

    Why not develop products that really meet a consumer need in place of variations on the same old theme.

    Or maybe he is already planning and we can sit back and wait for the new beginning of Bright Grey.

  4. Peter Chadborn 9th March 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I believe Mr Edwards is right. IFAs need to be aware of how the next generation is interacting with the world or unwittingly rule themselves out of that part of the market.

  5. Roger

    If it is that easy why don’t you do it yourself? Become an intermediary-set up a website-start talking about life insurance in blogs-see how you get on instead of talking down to us as if we don’t know anything about it.
    No IFA is bothered about supermarkets leaving leaflets hanging around.
    In your articles you seem to think that talking to intermediaries from an elevated perch in the forest of your apparent ignorance, will help in some way. Exactly how will it help? I don’t get it.

  6. Quality of Product offering, Quality of advice are key . Experience of CI claims and PMI conditions seem unfair to potential clients and bad news travels fast. See sunday telepgraph for attacks on IFAs These combined with internal back biting mean we all loose business and clients go without adeqaute cover

  7. Some good thoughts in that article. The advisers who have written above would be better spent reading them again. Gone are the days when a potential client is not likely to go home after an IFA meeting and see if they can get a better protection quote online than those the adviser suggested. Time to wake up and smell the coffee guys.

  8. A member of Generation X 9th March 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I would suggest that all Roger is pointing is; that all players in the Protection market need to be taking into consideration the influence and buying habits of younger generations. It’s not just down to providers to spoon feed the adviser with products they believe the customer wants, but also for the adviser to think about how and what their clients might want to purchase and feed this intelligence back to the providers so that they can adapt accordingly, and co-hesively..
    Without providers, advisers have nothing to sell clients and without advisers, providers have no market. If ‘WE’ can actually start learning to work together for the benefit of all, maybe Financial Services won’t be considered the demon it currently is by the dis-affected generation Y and Web.

  9. IFA’s deal with advice driven products and because of this the cost of the advice is higher than with execution only driven products.

    IFA’s are not therefore in the market to compete with Tesco’s especially when
    AVIVA got into bed with Tesco’s to offer simple core products on an execution only basis and on terms not given to the IFA.

    NB: AVIVA claim to support IFA distribution but offer preferential terms to Tesco’s. These terms kill independent advice on like for like products, stone dead. Go see if you can match Tesco’s/AVIVA even with 100% commission give up! AVIVA is no IFA champion!

    The issue is not helped by the regulator! The regulators have made advice so expensive that the IFA can no longer offer help to clients on these core areas and even when they do they find the same clients going online to Tesco’s in order to cut the adviser out of the loop.

    Advice on basic core products is being priced out of the market. This is “not” down to market forces, it is down to an artificial manipulation by design or by default.

  10. Mr Bright Grey is correct in that we IFAs need to adopt different and evolving methods to attract customers (obvious really!). However the comments about Bright Grey’s responsibility to develop innovative products to match changing consumer demand are well voiced. In my experience, the only real credible innovation of the last few years has been PruProtect, who may not be the cheapest, but have come at the market from a different perspective (well done guys!).

  11. It’s fascinating that there is even a debate on this subject. Social networking sites are the future of online delivery of financial products and services.

    After Google, people looking for information on financial matters go to social networking websites. There, they not only find what they want, but they also get personal recommendations from others.

    Those that think that Twitter and Facebook and the like have no place in financial advice and planning, have got a nasty surprise around the corner. It’s not RDR that will finish off many IFAs – it’s the Internet.

    Philip Calvert

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