As we prepare to wave goodbye to 2012, I’m not sure if I should be breathing a sigh of relief or lamenting its demise.
It was a year of highs and lows. The Olympics and the Jubilee injected the nation with a much needed shot of optimism, while other highlights include dogs learning to drive cars and the launch of the iPhone 5.
Meanwhile, in the insurance industry, much of our resources were occupied by RDR, the Gender Directive and Solvency 2.
As we enter 2013 with the first major price increases the protection industry has seen for almost a decade it’s not easy to predict how the market will go.
There will probably be a mass flurry of activity in January around gender pricing because no-one knows where the new equilibrium will settle. We will see many reprices and changes and some of this activity will hide the effect of the life company changes.
And as the increases come on top of the cheapest rates we have ever had the hike in prices might not be as massive as some would have us believe.
It has been suggested that we’ll see a flood of protection business from those advisers who can no longer get commission from pensions and investments.
While some advisers might look to supplement their turnover in this way it won’t be on the scale some are expecting. Any increase in protection business might even be balanced by a fall because some firms will decide to call it a day. And while some advisers catch up with their accreditation, the first three months of the year could be quiet.
This means we will need to work harder at promoting protection and find new and innovative ways to reach out to a wider audience. While some will continue to use traditional TV advertising for those with more modest budgets there are opportunities to use social media.
Advisers can tap into this as well. I predict that video infomercials and sales aids will become increasingly popular on adviser, as well as provider, websites. Video content is a cost effective way of getting a message out there and now that most iPhones record full broadcast quality HD video, there’s an opportunity to make a very low cost film.
LinkedIn and twitter are becoming embedded within the marketing mix and are important methods of driving traffic to blogs and websites. Webinars and online debates are replacing presentations in golf club meeting rooms and are much more cost effective.
Sometimes, in the protection industry, the published news is often the bad news.
But take a step back and there are some really great things happening in the industry. More claims than ever are being paid and despite the imminent price increases, protection is still great value for money.
As we continue to improve products and find new ways to market them we could take protection sales from strength to strength in 2013.
Roger Edwards is managing director of Bright Grey & Scottish Provident