The challenges to the protection industry are well documented and the most successful businesses are those that come to terms with them and adapt quickly.
In the next few months the European football championships, Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games mean we can create linked marketing messages to specific clients. Linking health and wellbeing reviews for your clients during the Olympics or focusing on informing targeted female lives about the gender directive during the football might create new opportunities and there is evidence from a few of the providers of the likely impact on premiums.
This is also an opportunity to try different approaches to how you do business to see if it reinvigorates sales activity. In the medium term, you might want to assess how your own sales approach is perceived by your clients, compared with the way they buy other products and services.
The quickest way to find an answer to a question is to go online. If you look at some of the articles written by behavioural economists, consumers are looking for helping advice when it comes to making buying decisions. This process is always personal and the non-threatening nature of the internet allows the process to be non-judgemental. In face-to-face sales, the customer wants to move from helping to selling advice in a comfortable and trustworthy way.
For financial services, helping and selling advice must be delivered within a process of regulated advice, which usually overcomplicates the sales process. This needs to be considered carefully as part of your business plan. Are you looking for a restricted or full advice model for your target customers? Is the advice you are giving aligning to your clients’ broader goals?
Having read a recent report from Aviva, I note I fall into the squeezed middle-age group, which is the most pessimistic. This group values family, health and financial stability and the research is valuable in helping understand how you can identify needs and create solutions that match an individual’s aspirations.
As family structures change and state provision reduces, a detailed knowledge of living benefits such as income protection and critical-illness cover as part of a financial plan becomes more significant.
Basic life cover is still only held by 36 per cent of adults, so we have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference if we can increase awareness of the value of the different types of protection available to support simple life products.
The internet has many sites selling term insurance but few sell other life products successfully. Identifying and testing new marketing approaches during this year should increase your client bank with little risk to existing relationships.
Neil McCarthy is sales and marketing director at Direct Life & Pension Services