For 12 years I have pleaded with the bosses of critical-illness insurers to set up training courses to assist us in learning how to utilise this exceptional product and to teach others. Year after year, they argue that they will not put up the money as they may not get any benefit.
These are the same companies that will spend millions of pounds on sponsoring football teams, sailing, golf days, racing cars and a host of events at which the chairmen and managing directors can be seen and admired.
Now ask them to sponsor – at a fraction of the cost – the training of IFAs to sell their products and there is a tightening of their collective sphincter muscles and a resounding silence.
The art of advising on critical-illness policies is becoming more complicated each day. Whole life, with or without death, rolling term, term, decreasing, fixed or reviewable premiums, interaction with income protection policies – the list goes on.
I am sure there are thousands of IFAs out there who have something to offer in terms of experience and who would be willing to share those experiences with others. As a profession, what are we going to do about it?
Not for one minute do I believe that I am the only one who reads this column, as I had one email last week agreeing with me on another subject. On the basis that I did not ask for that email, how about this for a challenge to you all?
I have a conference suite at my office in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, which can take 50 IFAs for the day. I propose an all-day sales and marketing conference specifically on the subject of critical illness. The first 50 of you to email the address below will receive an invitation and, if the conference is successful, we will roll out the concept as a feature around the UK.
I will arrange a sponsor so it will not cost you anything (that should attract those who think everything should be free) but you will have to pay a deposit to secure your place. If you book it and do not turn up, you can kiss your deposit goodbye.
Please remember that it will take me some time to arrange the acknowledgements, so be patient. If we get inundated – that is, 51 replies – we will arrange an extra day.
The first conference will take place on Wednesday, March 24, with a 9am start and a 5pm finish. Those of you who have suffered one of my training days will know that it will start promptly, so anyone who arrives late misses out.
Is it worth it? If you register for the conference, I will send you the feedback from the Berkeley Berry Birch/Unum conference last year. You can make your decision then.
What is in it for us? We will all learn sales ideas, underwriting tips, compliance matters, how to research products, frontand back-office advice systems and, most important, lateral thinking.
We will share among each other the ideas and methodology that make us tick and successful at what we do.
The conference will make all of us a little wiser and, finally, it may just move those holier-than-thou managing directors with salaries that could settle a Third World debt to remember that it is us who put them in the driving seat and it is us who may just push the button for the ejector seat.
To reserve your place at the conference, please email me at email@example.com.
For all those managing directors who want to be seen to support such an initiative, you too can email me at that address and I will be delighted to take this discussion a stage further.
John Joseph is director of John Joseph Financial Services