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Take an efficiency test

Stephen Crosbie, head of proposition development for investments and protection at Aegon, says technology is the vital link when assessing the efficiency of doing business

In challenging economic times, it is important for advisers to take some time to make sure your business – and most important, the way you do business – is as efficient as it can be. Looking at current processes and business streams is a good starting point when giving your firm an efficiency MOT.

Being able to write protection business electronically allows advisers to check the status of all individual protection applications through to completion, providing up-to- date information on applications at the touch of a button.

This can help reduce the time it takes chasing applications, and advisers should consider taking advantage of providers who can offer an end-to-end, value-for-money online service.

Save time with new business tracking

Straight-through processing of applications allows you to get a quote, submit, apply and get your clients on risk immediately. This automatically makes your business more efficient by cutting out the processing and decision-making time that a paper application would incur.

But some of the biggest time savings and benefits of an online system come from a new business tracking service. A good tracker will allow you to stay informed about your pipeline applications at every stage of the process, from initial application to the policy going live. It will also give you real-time updates so you always know the current situation.

Keep track of your commission

Having new business tracking data available will enable you to keep track of both your pipeline business and commission streams within your own back-office records. You can use the data to reconcile commission and the status of business coming on to your books.

You can drill down into further individual cases or see outstanding information required as well as counting down to the deadline for returning the declaration signature. All this is at the click of a button, saving you manual effort and valuable time calling service centres or sales consultants.

To sign or not to sign

Protecting your clients and yourself from the pitfalls of non-disclosure is another important area to consider within an efficiency MOT.

With the emphasis on treating customers fairly, a foolproof declaration process is essential if your business is going to survive these tough times. Providers can make the process easier for you by asking for the client’s signature direct.

The clearer and simpler an application form is, the more likely a client is to complete and return it quickly so by using a provider with a straightforward confirmation form and process, you can ensure your clients are protected against the unexpected happening even faster.

Protecting your clients

There are also lots of tools available to help highlight the importance of having adequate protection, helping to reduce rates of business not taken up and making your business more profitable.

In our experience, the key reasons why policies are not taken up are affordability and ratings being applied.

A useful tool to use at the fact-find stage of the application process is a pre-sale underwriting questionnaire.

This will make sure you are asking the right questions and getting the correct information as early as possible, which will smooth out the underwriting process and alleviate any nasty surprises for the client when the premium is calculated.

Quality protection providers will actively work with you to help you make your business more efficient. Our tools help you identify the key issues affecting your revenue stream, improving your profitability in a particularly challenging marketplace.

Take some advice

Take advantage of providers offering training and advice on creating a long-term solution for your business. Many providers offer workshops on topics such as creating new business streams, sales and marketing tips for your business or segmenting and using your client bank – existing and prospective. These are often offered free of charge and are invaluable if you want to survive the downturn.

Toolkits and websites, as well as provider support material, are also good ways of improving the profitability of your business and making the most of your income streams.

Technology

There is no question that technology has a key role in the financial services industry.

It brings cost-efficiency and labour savings, not to mention increased client satisfaction through a slicker service. Far from spelling the end of the face-to-face client relationship, a good online system should enhance this as it gives you more time to spend on client visits and following up on referrals.

By taking a bit of time out to re-evaluate your business and perform an efficiency MOT, you could find you only need to make a few small changes to get big results. Maximising your business will help you make sure you are one of the survivors.

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