View more on these topics

Special delivery

Last month, I had the honour of being invited back to Singapore to deliver a speech to the Financial Planners Association Congress. While there, I was invited by Prudential Singapore to educate its advisers about a new product, a unit-linked whole-of-life plan, and how advisers could sell more of it.

That’s right, sell. There is nothing dirty about that word once we appreciate that the delivery of top quality advice requires knowledge and expertise in professional sales ideas and techniques.

Prudential Singapore has designed a tremendous product, combining the benefits of a whole-of-life policy with unitised funds charged at normal mutual fund prices. This results in fantastic surrender values and very fair remuneration for the adviser comprising normal commission (for those that work that way) on the insurance part of the premium and unit trust commission on the investment part, addressing concerns about up-front charges.

Then last week, we heard that Prudential UK had a flat year for new business while its Asian outlets boomed.

Arguably, UK insurers should also be vibrant and adviser numbers should be increasing. We have a qualified adviser base and a fairly well-educated, knowledgeable marketplace but things are getting worse. The number of advisers has collapsed and is still reducing, the average age of 54 is relatively high and rising, insurers are not growing and famous names are closed to new business. How proud the FSA must be of such achievements.

Over-regulation would be a glib and predictable response from many quarters although it certainly carries a large element of truth. Singapore probably has just as strict regulation, with other countries not too far behind, yet it is very buoyant.

The difference between regimes is that its regulator provides the framework for the advisory environment and actively encourages product innovation while our regulator does not understand the marketplace or products, interferes with the delivery of products and service and adversely influences product design.

Insurers do not help. Some have so few remaining protection products that they no longer deserve the right to describe themselves as insurance companies. They remove excellent products because they do not sell enough of them. Half the time, they do not even know how good their products are or how to help IFAs sell them. At least in Singapore they do something positive about it.

For example, Standard Life lost credibility when it closed its superb whole-of-life contract. Scottish Widows’ regular savings plan used to be one of the best products ever designed, until it changed the terms. A little lateral thinking and better informed broker consultants could have prevented this. Misguided and ignorant FSA attacks on both these products did not help.

For those of you who are aghast at endorsement of whole-of-life and maximum investment plans in the same sentence, all I can say is that you never really understood these products and what they could do for clients.

Organisations such as the Personal Finance Society and the Institute of Financial Planners are too focused on developing technical skills and knowledge, alongside jousting for position over the relevance of each other’s qualifications, when what is needed is joined-up thinking about how that expertise is delivered to the marketplace.

Since the demise of the Life Insurance Association, there is no organisation teaching basic, let alone sophisticated, sales and marketing techniques.

So, Prudential UK, why not snack on some humble pie and find out what other parts of your organisation are up to. It may improve your new business figures.

Bhupinder Anand is managing director of Anand Associates


Tories call for Darling to be sacked

Conservative leader David Cameron has called for Alistair Darling to be sacked after his handling of the Northern Rock disaster and decision to nationalise the stricken bank.

No more love of the 125% LTV market

As of today, the market for loans up to 125 per cent loan to value is no more. BM Solutions has become the last lender this week to confirm it has pulled out of the market as of yesterday – giving brokers no notice at all.

Ifs ProShare to host CGT workshop

Ifs ProShare is holding a capital gains tax workshop on Monday March 17. Facilitated by Grant Thornton, the workshop will explain the tax changes introduced by Alistair Darling and the impact those changes will have on employees participating in employee share plans.Ifs ProShare head of employee share ownership Fiona Downes says: “The imminent changes to […]

180M cash for victims of LTC charging

The Department of Health has paid out more than 180m in compensation to patients who were wrongly charged for long-term care.Around 2,000 people who were forced to pay for nursing care between 1996 and 2004 have received payments averaging 90,000.According to a 1999 court ruling, the NHS should have provided the care for free because […]

Who pays inheritance tax and how to declare it

By Kim Jarvis, Canada Life In this article we look at which forms personal representatives (PRs) need to complete and who actually pays inheritance tax (IHT).  To recap, under current rules, any part of the estate that falls within the available nil-rate band (NRB), currently £325,000, is taxed at zero. Anything in excess of the NRB […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm