Louise Colley: Moving away from transactional protection advice

Louise Colley MM blog

I’m sure many of you were engrossed in the London 2012 Olympic games. We’ve enjoyed the highs and lows, from the ceremonies to the endless Team GB medal successes.

But of particular note was the truly stand-out performance of the Team GB cycling team under the masterful leadership of performance director, Dave Brailsford.

How did they manage to dominate every other nation in winning a total of seven gold medals out of a possible 10? It was even suggested that they used ’magic wheels’! But there is no magic or trickery – just a determination to succeed and improve performance.

Brailsford puts this down to the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ philosophy. The whole Team GB cycling operation was motivated by a simple aspiration – to meticulously examine the minutiae of every detail and make improvements. In aggregate these tiny changes added up to a significant gain in competitive performance.  This isn’t a new phenomenon – it is based on Kaizen through the concept of continuous improvement.

So what on earth has this got to do with the protection industry you say? I recently presented at a mortgage and protection senate where we discussed this very subject and how we can apply it to our industry and businesses. The most notable opportunity is establishing an ongoing and long-term client relationship with your client base. Let’s face it, our industry has been criticised for being a transaction-led industry where advice is given and then the client never sees the adviser again.

Let’s look at two approaches to client interactions:-

∙         Transactional (one and done, infers short term relationships, instant, more impersonal);

∙         Relational (long term relationship, human and real, customised, personal, professional, gravitas, trust and honesty).

I suspect the litmus test is when did any of your clients last call you to update you on their financial or personal matters? To tell you “I’ve got married”, “I’ve got divorced”  “I’ve been made redundant”? The changes in circumstances are endless. 

We’d all like to pass this test but I’m sure most of us wouldn’t. This isn’t a criticism but demonstrates on this basis what could be done differently from tomorrow by applying the marginal gain principles to establish a long term relationship with your clients? 

I’d suggest much can be achieved by establishing a contract, a sort of “customer charter” which leaves the client with a very clear understanding of what to expect from your services – but also when they need to contact you.  It is worth considering how you will become part of that ‘family’ and their conscious state so that you are always front of mind when financial or personal circumstances change.

What makes me proud of our industry is when you read of the impact our products have made to people’s lives. Fittingly praised by a lady who lost her husband, please do take a look at this blog.

At the time I recall speaking to the IFA mentioned in the blog Andy, Anna’s adviser. He hadn’t been aware of its existence where she praises his financial advice and the impact of having life insurance. He was one of the first people to be there for her when her husband sadly passed away during a family holiday a couple of years ago.  The bond and relationship is clearly evident. To this day he still carries out financial reviews with her and all his clients, in Anna’s instance ensuring the dreams of Nigel and his legacy are achieved.

We know the protection market is about to enter unprecedented change (as a reminder: I-E, gender directive, MMR and RDR to mention a few) but with confidence to take the challenge head on I’m sure we can go for gold and ensure more families have financial protection.

Imagine if we could ‘inspire a generation’ – a generation of advisers where protection returns to the bedrock of financial planning whether this is achieved by a wealth adviser, a generalist IFA or mortgage broker. Better still, let’s make sure this is coupled with the strength and durability of long lasting relationships. I know for sure Andy will be there to give financial advice to Anna’s girls in years to come.

Louise Colley is head of protection sales and marketing for Aviva