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Income Protection Task Force takes ABI to task

At this morning’s launch of the Income Protection Task Force’s white paper, the ABI was attacked for failing to show up, with one member branding the trade body’s absence “embarrassing”.

The IPTF used the event to set out a raft of protection proposals including better Government support, the removal of unnecessary complexity and an end to product name-jackers.

But tensions between advisers and the ABI also surfaced. Speaking at the event, IPTF member Master Adviser IFA Roy McLoughlin said: “To me income protection should be instrumental to any adviser, and arguably it is part of our business that is going to increase above all else this year. The fact that the ABI is not here is embarrassing for them. It is supposed to be representing the industry and the so called trade body is not here.”

An ABI spokeswoman put its failure to attend down to a diary clash as assistant director of health and protection Nick Kirwan was tied up at the trade body’s Protection Development Committee meeting this morning. She expressed the ABI’s support for the IPTF but the outburst does seem to show up a fracture within the industry.

Despite the ABI and FSA’s failure to attend today’s IPTF white paper launch in London, there was much to digest and debate.

Speaking at the launch of the paper, task force co-chairman Peter Le Beau opened up discussions by reflecting on its original nine-point action plan, set in December 2006.

Of the nine points, which included ideas for innovation, robust enforcement of regulation, greater collaboration with Government and ABI, increased consumer awareness and better adviser understanding, Le Beau said some progress had been made.

However, some areas had failed to show signs of improvement, thus leading to a revised nine-point plan.

Le Beau said: “The paper attempts to do four things. Look at the current state of the UK IP industry, look at key issues and drivers stopping us making progress, develop an agenda for the product and produce a vision to get more people covered.

“In the nine-point plan revisited we look at Welfare Reform, we look at the awareness of IP and how that can be improved, controversially we have tried to help advisers prioritise protection and we want to increase adviser awareness – that is a real priority we have here.”

Also on the agenda is for more providers to release claims data, a stronger emphasis on where the group protection market is heading, the ability for consumers to compare IP quotes, the need to connect with Government, and what the recent PPI ban means for IP.

IPTF co-chairman Clive Waller said he believed that while the Competition Commission’s decision to ban credit point of sale PPI has left a vacuum in the protection market, an intermediated product will not serve the millions of consumers who would otherwise buy PPI.

He said: “The Commission’s report will create a vacuum and we have got to react to that, and to a large extent that is not going to be an IFA product. This has got to be a bank solution. They are still on the high street and only banks really have that resource to get to the mass market.”

Waller also flagged up the position of IP on the FSA’s Money Made Clear website. In order to protect your income or borrowing income protection is placed fourth after critical illness, PPI and MPPI.

Waller said this is not TCF, and the white paper aims to tackle the hierarchal position of protection.

Referring to adviser education, a key issue outlined in the white paper, McLoughlin said advisers are not confident enough to sell IP and need help when being introduced to the product.

However Personal Finance Society chief executive Fay Goddard hit back, saying McLoughlin’s suggestions would offend many advisers.

She said: “The whole culture of the change now is about a holistic approach and meeting peoples’ needs, not about selling a product. I do think this is hugely undersold product but we have to recognise that you don’t train people to sell the product you train people to identify the need of the customer or client.”

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