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This week in Protection

An increase to the retirement age by three years could put even greater pressure on employee benefit schemes and force insurers’ hands when it comes to determining policy details of group risk schemes, according to UnumProvident.

The insurer is a staunch believer that group EB schemes need to be reviewed. Rather than employers forking out on growing numbers of essential workplace benefits, they might be inclined to wave goodbye to an ageing workforce.
Unum believes the issues of an ageing UK working population is a key reason to address the issue of age discrimination in the workplace.

The recent ‘deal’ struck by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to increase the retirement age to 68 must be striking that chord even harder with the likes of Unum. It will be interesting to see whether advisers recognise the opportunity to grow their businesses on the corporate advice side.

Networks and support service providers, are voicing their concerns that not enough advisers are taking sufficient advantage of Icob regulation that enables them to sell protection products.

Bankhall’s Tony Murrell recently told IFAs that he was ‘astonished’ that there are almost 500 firms giving mortgage advice that were not authorised to sell protection products.

As the common belief is that most protection products are sold off the back of a mortgage, Murrell wonders what these guys are waiting for. He says they are basically handing their new business opportunities over to someone else who is adequately authorised.

General insurance also poses huge potential new business opportunities. Alpha to Omega chief executive Stewart Wooles thinks if GI brokers are not considering expanding their own level of competency to morph into becoming independent financial advisers, they could still exploit the opportunity by partnering with IFA firms.

He says there is a huge potential for introducer arrangements between GI brokers and IFAs that Wooles says should be tapped into to generate additional income streams.

Prudential should be one to watch over the coming weeks. Head of protection Paul Cowman has been voicing his disdain over the current products available at the moment and says the market needs a real shake up. With industry understanding that Pru is on the starting blocks to launch a staged payout product product something the industry has been calling on for many months this might well be the first of many providers to launch such a product.

Scottish Provident has taken some providers by surprise as it announced its plans to launch a PTA product that will be offered through its menu plan.

Some providers believed this was not possible given the complexities of PTA, so it will be interesting come May 22 when the product launches to get some IFA feedback. It may well be that Scot Prov have found a way to enter the PTA that was previously though impossible.

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