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