My career has taken an unusual path over the past 24 years having started out at a life office in direct sales, working as an adviser, working for a large network and now back at a life company.
When I reflect back, I think it’s fair to say that nothing stands still in this business. In fact, I’ve seen an incredible amount of change over the years within our industry.
If you’re of a certain age, take a moment to think about the way technology has had an influence on the world in your lifetime.
Imagine living in a world without the internet or mobile phones. That was a time not that long ago.
As advisers, you’ve had to acknowledge and adapt to an ever changing world. You’ve had to adapt to changes in regulation, compliance, you’ve had to achieve qualifications and take examinations. Not to mention the constant changes to products, technology and so much more.
Against the backdrop of a changing world, within your own business you can’t stand still and you always need to be aware of and acknowledge any risks.
But what are the biggest risks you face today?
Well perhaps the biggest risks are anything that could damage your profitability and take business away from you?
Over the past couple of decades what we’ve seen within the protection industry is the number of face-to-face advisers shrink but at the same time, we’ve seen the emergence of protection businesses that transact online, over the phone and very often without advice.
These business models are slick and operationally efficient. They provide the consumer with protection in a convenient way and probably at a lower cost.
But many of these businesses don’t give advice. This means they’re able to shed a lot of risk from their business as well as expense.
But is it worth it for the consumer? Is paying a cheaper premium worth it if the consumer is taking most of the risk in terms of getting the protection solution right?
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to take a moment to reflect on all the good things that you as advisers do and the benefits your clients receive by dealing with you.
What does ‘advice’ mean to you?
Well, right at the start of any meeting with a new client you hand over your disclosure documentation, you’re going tell them about regulation and compliance. This is really important for the client and its actually excellent news! It means that if anything goes wrong, they’ve got recourse and they’ve got a process that’s there to protect them. They’ve got someone who will have their back!
Advice also means that it’s never a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Before you can give advice, you must first get to ‘know your client’. That means talking to them and finding out about them and what’s important to them as a family. Advice means getting an understanding of their lifestyle and standard of living so you can look to protect it.
You can also talk about the different protection risks that your clients are exposed to and the chance of them actually making a claim. For many people, this is crucial in helping them understand and organise their priorities.
We know that budget and affordability is always a factor, but with your expertise and knowledge of the market, there are many ways to design a solution that provides great cover across different needs, all within a monthly premium the client can afford.
Then, you put your recommendations in writing, evidencing and documenting the thought process that led to a tailored solution based on the priorities and needs of your client.
When you’ve concluded business, that shouldn’t be the end of the journey…you need to book the client back in the diary - just like your dentist does - so you can review what your client has in place and you’re there to give specialist advice on any changes, amendments and updates they need to make.
Better protection conversations
Giving protection advice means having a better protection conversation and it requires us to create the conditions for the client to see the importance of solutions that they never actually want to use. But if the worst does happen and the client does need to use their protection cover, they’d be so glad they met you and had that conversation.
Protection advice doesn’t need to ever be complicated. In fact, it needs to be simple and it needs to be easy to understand. Yes, there are layers of complexity in terms of different products, underwriting, completing trust forms, but as far as the client is concerned it’s money on the table when they need it the most.
So, if you ever get asked the question about cost… “Why should I use you if I can go online and buy protection cheaper”, it’s really a question of cost versus value.
The cost of a slightly lower monthly premium? Or, a tailored bespoke solution, advised by an expert.
Advice means better protection conversations that will give your client true peace of mind.
Vincent O’Connor, Senior Business Development Consultant, Royal London