Every day, protection policyholders and their families around the country receive payouts that, thanks to the hard work of advisers both big and small, can make the difference between financial security and poverty.
Advisers not only ensure their clients buy the right policies with the right definitions (for example, an own-occupation definition on income protection) to make sure it pays out come claim time, but they also help clients and their dependants through the claim process to ensure the monies are paid as swiftly as possible.
What is surprising is that so few IFAs seem willing or able to publicise the good work they do. In my other capacity of head of public relations for financial planners Baigrie Davies, I attended the launch day of Financial Planning Week recently. The Mail On Sunday’s Jeff Prestridge, a supporter of the cause of financial planning, was on hand to offer his support and some words of wisdom from the media perspective. What surprised me was how many IFAs/financial planners in the room were both afraid of the media and also completely in the dark about how best to approach a journalist with a story. Case studies are a staple of the personal finance press and yet few advisory companies approach the media with stories that would boost both the image of the company as well as the financial advice industry as a whole. That the IFP is encouraging advisers to get more involved in promoting the good work they do is to be commended.
Which brings me back to my main role at LifeSearch and the world of protection. There is so much good done by advisers and yet so little of it seems to reach the consumer press. Yet even the smallest adviser in the most inconspicuous part of the UK should be achieving positive publicity for themselves and, by extension, the world of protection advice. All you need is a happy client who is willing to speak (and often be photographed) by the press, and the effort of a quick phone call to a journalist. If it is a client who has received a payout, so much the better – you would be surprised how many customers are willing to speak to the press. It adds a human interest angle to any article and demonstrates how valuable and important protection advice is through the words of the customer.
So here is a call to arms. All advisers who sell protection, big or small, should aim to place at least one case study in the consumer press in 2012. If you need any advice, feel free to get in touch. Protection advice needs a boost and, with insurers like Aviva and Unum doing the industry proud with their latest advertising campaigns, it is time for advisers to step up to the plate and show the regulators as well as the public why what we do is a noble profession.
Matt Morris is a senior policy adviser at LifeSearch