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Help is at hand

Protection sales have held up for many providers despite the current economic crisis.

With more brokers and advisers looking towards protection as a way of diversifying income streams, the FSA has warned intermediaries must be properly trained-up before moving into new areas.

Towards the end of last year the FSA director of small firms and contact Lesley Titcomb warned brokers they needed to ensure they were properly trained-up before moving into new areas.

Speaking at a Mortgage Business Expo in London, she said: “There is nothing wrong with looking to diversify income but I do not want to see people lose their focus on regulatory responsibilities. We are concerned where firms switch to selling products outside their area of expertise and to selling riskier products.”

This sentiment was repeated in the FSA’s business plan for 2009/10, published last week. So what are provides doing to help fill any skills gap in protection?

Across the industry we have seen seminars, sales aids and samples, new modules, movies, and marketing materials.
Axa director of protection marketing Iain Mallon says the provider has invested significantly in adviser training due to the “enormous demand for help”.

He said: “There has been a major shift in the market place. The IFA now has the time to do a full financial in-depth analysis of client needs, and are asking for training and consumer facing tools to take to the market.

“Last year we spent around £500,000 on developing 10 modules for sales training. Basically, you can pick and mix from the modules so the IFA can select what is most suited to them. It is about trying to make it as linked up as possible.”
LV= is offering online training and a protection marketing toolkit for maximising existing business, or assisting newcomers to the market.

The toolkit has been designed to help advisers generate reviews with their existing clients, focusing on mortgage and lifestyle protection as an alternative to MPPI.

Its adviser site features three training modules, including an introduction, more detailed product information, and a quote/submission demonstration. Advisers are granted CPD accreditation once completed.

LV= head of protection Chris McFarlene says the training support “is another example of our commitment to financial advisers in the challenging climate”.

Similarly, Legal & General is offering DVDs, support packs and client pamphlets.

Legal & General PR manager for housing and protection Joe Wiggins says its ‘Let’s Talk Protection’ DVD – focusing on family protection – uses case studies to explain the product’s importance, and how’s best to sell it.
The support pack includes an adviser guide outlining state benefits and upselling mistakes, and explanatory flyers for clients.

L&G is now planning on launching a business protection DVD later in the year, supporting its existing business protection microsite.

Canada Life, which has also seen a number of new intermediaries requesting face to face training, is taking the interactive approach by putting on individual and group training sessions with advisers.

Advisers can also access ‘how to’ guides, online demonstrations and tips for entering the group market via its Class website. Employers meanwhile, are given the opportunity to cover any training issue they might have around protection using Canada Life’s CMS+ service. The spokeswoman says: “We will continue new and refresher training throughout the course of 2009 including new product and system changes when necessary.”

Bright Grey head of product proposition Ian Smart says there is a “two-way benefit” to providing sales and training tools. For the provider it keeps their name prominent in the advisers’ mind, and for the adviser it enables them to keep up to date with the market.

what do you think of any of these new training initiatives? Email me at tracey.scott@centaur.co.uk.

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