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Phil Wickenden: Avoid protection procrastination

Phil WickendenThe following sorry verse embodies procrastination on a whole new level: “Hello there, my name’s Phil; I rap like a small bear writing a will [diligently]; Estate-planning, ninja-whooping IHT; Shame I’m not as bizzie [urban affectation] with the RLP.”

These words were penned in response to my father’s short verse sent to me, after the birth of my son, enquiring as to the status of my relevant life policy application. (FYI, the status was very much “on my desk” at the time said rap was spat).

That such creative lengths can be gone to and still yield no immediate results highlights the challenge facing advisers and providers, for most of whom faux rap battles are not an appropriate means of client contact.

While there have been encouraging signs of engagement since 2015 across most of the more technically demanding protection markets covered in our study, the fact remains that only 32 per cent of clients that advisers believe should have cover in place do so currently.

Is this enough for those purporting to deliver holistic, joined-up plans? Perhaps, being far more aware of the business cost of time, many are less keen to engage. I can understand the frustration, having been the source of much of it for both my financial adviser and my dad. Is it acceptable? That is up to you.

Aviva axes critical illness cover from disputed protection product

There is no doubt more can be done, but the real – and often unpleasant – challenge is getting clients to associate more strongly with a mental image of the future that is much more vivid, concrete and focused on the specific, detailed problems that need to be solved.

Advisers need to fundamentally believe that the undoubted effort and skill required to facilitate this level of engagement is, frankly, worth it – both for them and their clients. In this regard, it is telling that only around 50 per cent of advisers have business protection in place for their own company. Slightly less have a relevant life policy.

For all of the markets considered in this report – subject to the product being economically acceptable and the process to completion being smooth (not always a given) – there is a real opportunity for providers to more proactively engage with advisers to develop the market through effective disturbance and solution creation.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of Cicero Research

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