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Neil McCarthy: Protection technology has fallen behind

Neil McCarthy MM blog

I found myself worrying about liquid rescaling the other day.

When I first heard this phrase I assumed it was something to do with just buying a larger drink but my IT friends assure me it’s the only way to create web pages these days.

You need to ensure that whatever information you want to display on a webpage can be seen on any device that you happen to be using. Forty-one per cent of email is opened on a mobile device, the UK uptake of tablet devices has risen significantly, as Ian McKenna has reported frequently in his Technology column, and 2013 is reported to be the year mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide.

Is there enough effort being expended in challenging the existing protection sales delivery and administration processes to reflect the way that most people are transacting other purchases?

Technology that supports the protection quote and apply process has not advanced significantly over the past few years.

Advisers ideally need to be able to transfer simple customer data to generate a wide range of relevant illustrations for different products, identify and compare the features that are important to the customer, summarise the costs of these products and obtain provider specific quotes for particular features that are not supported on different quotes portals. In addition, they need to summarise the research in a compliant way, justifying the provider product chosen, and create a suitability text summarising the demands and needs, whilst ensuring that all the products that were discussed, but not bought, are also fully documented.

Doing this efficiently at the moment is not easy, and this is before the case is submitted to the providers for processing, and everything is added to a back office system so a case can be audited if required.

The need for a modern flexible point of sale system that can deliver all these aspects and make an adviser’s interaction with a customer more simple will revolutionise the way protection sales are written.

It is obvious, but improving conversions at the point of sale, selling a better range of living and death benefits that are relevant and affordable, and improving the supporting admin services will generate increased income whilst reducing operational costs.

As providers have battled to compete by improving product features, in areas such as critical illness, little thought has gone into how these features can be effectively explained and compared at the point of sale to customers to support and enhance the sales process.

In a world where most comparisons are now done on line, the existing key facts documents do not really aid this process.

Technology can now assist this by providing supplementary drill down information, and delivering in the right technology means that it can be demonstrated at an appropriate degree of detail within a phone, tablet or PC.

Whether a customer will buy a life product via a phone is a different matter – but they will certainly want to access information and start making decisions using one.

The next generation of protection “portals” is being developed and will support this technology providing advisers with a broader choice on how they select a product, increasing the degree of information provided to their customer, enabling a variety of application processes and delivering the ability to outsource most elements of the protection transaction.

This simplification can only help to increase the number of advisers selling protection products.

Neil McCarthy is sales & marketing director at Direct Life & Pension Services

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  1. The starting point for clients is always the desire to understand the level of cover that they require. It never ceases to amaze me just how many clients have no concept of the rationale behind the cover levels they have in place. Surely consumer education is the starting point that all advisers should consider. This is why http://www.calqlife.com was born to provide advisers with the ability to provide clients with bespoke protection analysis reports that are easy for clients to understand and therefore easy for clients to buy into the required levels of protection.

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