A few weeks ago the FCA approved a new role for me, one that until recently I had not ever considered. Joining British Friendly as a non-executive director is an exciting opportunity and I write this as I prepare for my first board meeting.
I have had a lot of reading to do and I am pretty sure my knowledge of issues such as pricing and reinsurance is set to improve dramatically in the coming months.
For those who are wondering, advisers who take up board roles can no longer recommend the products of those companies to avoid any conflict of interest. Should there be circumstances where British Friendly might be the most suitable option I will refer the client to a colleague within Master Adviser.
However, this is more than compensated by the opportunity to bring the voice of the client to the insurer table. As far as I am concerned, there are only upsides for insurers who gain a better understanding of what life is like for advisers. Of course, the overall goal is to help grow the income protection market. The RDR and automatic enrolment are two areas which have brought new challenges for everyone within the protection sector.
Insurers rarely, if ever, meet actual clients, so they need high level input from the people who speak to clients day in and day out in order to understand these challenges and how to tackle them. These are not the only issues that confront us. Welfare reform, direct offerings and new technology are set to change the face of protection advice further and insurers and advisers need to work together more closely. The more we as advisers are directly involved with insurers, the more the voice of the consumer will be heard at the place where products are designed and claims are paid.
More importantly, the role is about the bigger picture rather than individual clients. In time we hope to show how the needs of both advisers and insurers can be better aligned. We will work on product development and communications as well as claims and underwriting, which are all crucially important aspects of a protection adviser’s typical day. I also hope to work more closely with industry bodies such as the Money Advice Service and the Association of British Insurers.
There is a role for everybody to play in growing the protection market and in understanding what the future market looks like. What surprises me is that we do not see more advisers in similar roles within insurers. There are certainly a few already in place but perhaps it will become the norm. So far the responses I have had from insurers and advisers generally say “it’s about time”. It is important for advisers to be represented with insurers at the highest levels.
Roy McLoughlin is partner at Master Adviser and non-executive director at British Friendly