A few weeks ago, I went to Download festival because Iron Maiden were headlining. Even if metal is only a tiny bit your thing, they are a brilliant bunch of musicians and their fan base is the very salt of the earth. Loyal too: some 80,000 surprisingly young people stayed in a field in the pouring rain and gathering gloom for hours to peer at a stage in the distance. But we all saw a great show, full of the vast riffs, licks, honest emotion and insurrection that seems to be the hallmark of heavy metal.
While I waited in the mud with this sodden, cheerful army, I got to thinking. To be a serious global success like Iron Maiden have been for decades, one does not have to appeal to everyone, just to a growing group that gets what you do and why, and so is happy to pay to be part of it.
You and I, dear reader, need to work out how we can be a bit more like Iron Maiden and a bit less like a Eurovision troupe everyone laughs at or ignores.
Financial services needs to be more like the music business and less like some failing religion whose misdemeanours are the only thing the consumer ever hears about.
What I spotted at Download is that the way to do that is to forever build and renew your fan base and get it talking about you, especially now social media means that even subjects like ours can become interesting if it is the fans who are having the conversation.
I am one, and I was not always. As those who follow the consolidation of the financial planning market will know, I have given up on complicated financial services to focus on protection. It was the way a critical illness claim saved a family that first persuaded me protection was the most vital part, the underpin, of all one’s finances. If our existing fans can get talking, they could get many others to follow the consumer version of the journey I have taken.
And we do have many fans we could get talking about us: those who are claiming on their income protection policies, still alive, still paying the bills and surviving okay because of the money their policy is paying them and the rehab, care and advice their insurer provides.
Aside from the Number of the Beast, it is the Seven Families campaign that has made me see this light. Its next incarnation, supported by all insurers and by advisers too, should be to get income protection claimants telling their stories about what they use the money for and what they achieve with insurer support.
That is genuine “it-could-happen-to-you” human interest and if it is being talked of on social media by the people directly affected there is no ghoulishness. There is just what we all seek: the truth from its righteous source.
Tom Baigrie is chief executive of LifeSearch