Innovative firms have spurred on technology providers, driving them to bring out new solutions to speed up processes.
The protection industry is not like other industries. We have complex products, generally sold via an advised process, using fragmented tools and distributed within a highly regulated framework.
Growth in our market needs a combination of factors to come into force. We need firms that see the opportunity and need to sell protection, technology that makes it easy to conduct a sale and products that consumers value and want to buy.
We have begun to see real growth over the last three years. The growth trend is very positive, with income protection sales doubling, for example.
The change has been ignited by advice firms and networks embracing the protection market in a way we have not seen before. Those who have implemented new sales processes, new technology and new, improved products have benefited most. This has been particularly evident within the mortgage market, where Mortgage Market Review time constrained firms have had to adapt and change the way they work.
These innovative advice firms and networks have spurred on technology providers, driving them to bring out new solutions to speed up the advice and sales processes. They have demanded better levels of integration, such as removing re-keying work and the potential for errors. They have demanded more intuitive and easier to understand user interfaces, which result in faster processes and helps ensure higher quality outcomes and improved compliance recording.
Advancements not possible without providers investing in new systems
Comparing multi-benefit plans used to be a laborious and time-consuming task that put many off advising on protection. Great design aligned with the knowledge and input from skilled advisers has revolutionised the work, making protection far more accessible to intermediaries across the board.
We have also seen great product advancements with a focus on better fitting clients’ needs, rather than just on driving to the lowest unit price.
We now have products that offer many more selectable features, products geared to the needs of different market segments, products with a greater deal of personalisation and products designed for direct consumer selection.
These advancements would not be possible without providers investing in new systems that support rapid delivery. It would also not be possible without technology that enables the administration of these new products to be highly automated with features such as customer portals and straight through mid-term adjustments.
There is still much to do. Getting all mortgagees, renters, self-employed, new parents, newly wedded or coupled, among many other groups, to focus on their personalised needs and take out the right protection is still a significant challenge. But it is also a significant opportunity. Use of nudges and triggers will be key in a world of increasing consumer messages and demands on their wallets. Speed of technology advancement is increasing and we need to make sure we keep up.
Paul Yates is product strategy director at iPipeline