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Phil Wickenden: Going technical in the protection market

A few weeks ago, I was bold/stupid enough to suggest that as an industry we can be too eager to dive into the technical nitty gritty and gloss over some of the simple but important bits – understanding the stuff people like and want, then delivering said stuff in a way that floats their boat.

However, holding the “technical” name in vain is a sure-fire way to have one’s pocket money withheld – and this is precisely what Mr Wickenden senior has done until some redress for this profanity is made.

Phil Wickenden: Providers and advisers must engage on protection

So, it is my penance and my pleasure to spend a couple of weeks with you exploring opportunities for doing protection business in some of the more technically demanding markets such as: 

  • Inheritance tax-related cover
  • Business continuation
  • Business succession
  • The provision of employee cover through relevant life policies

As a backdrop, there is an understandably strong current and continuing focus on acquiring and serving high-net-worth clients, with advisers more actively supporting those who are prepared and able to pay for ongoing service. Commitment to a higher level of servicing to a smaller group of clients should put the spotlight on some of these more niche solutions.

Phil Wickenden: Calling time on protection inaction

My particular focus will be on what advisers are doing, what action plans they have and what they see as the challenges and opportunities in these markets. But I will also be finding out what is needed in the form of support, inspiration, training, documentation, literature and tools to really crack this market. So, a quick taster menu for the coming weeks:

Hot buttons: Price remains a significant driver of selection for IHT-related cover, key person and business succession. But underwriting, flexibility of cover, service/support and financial strength are playing an increasingly important role on product and provider selection. 

Taxing times: Protection as an IHT solution has been overlooked to date, but the possible continuing investor/client requirements to retain full access to investments could continue to drive up the attraction of a refreshingly simple alternative. 

Down to business: The business insurance market remains vastly underpenetrated. If the reason why can be better established and articulated, there could be a strong opportunity to increase business.

Increasingly relevant: The tax attraction for employers and relative newness of the relevant life policies could offer an excellent opportunity to enter and build on the employer/employee cover market.

I’m off to spend my pocket money!

Phil Wickenden is an independent consultant

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