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Technology is making it far easier for advisers to write protection

ABR editor Rob Kingsbury talks to Paul Yates, product strategy director, iPipeline, who believes ‘protection’s time has come’ as advances in technology mean it is now far easier for advisers to research and write protection business

Rob Kingsbury: What’s the current buy-in to protection products in the adviser market.

Paul Yates: In my experience over the last 12 years of working in the portals and protection market, I haven’t seen as much interest in protection in all that time as there is now.

There has been growing interest in two areas; protection for individuals and families who want things like mortgage protection and also business protection seems to have kicked off very heavily as well. It’s a really exciting time.

In part that is the result of new technologies being designed and coming to market that make it easier to both research and sell protection.

RK: Why should advisers consider adding protection to the financial plans they are putting together for clients?

PY: I am firmly of the belief that there are very few people that don’t have a protection need. It think it is encumbent on financial advisers to talk to people about holistic financial planning and by it’s nature, protection should form a part of that conversation.

We’re seeing changes in the financial advice market brought about by demographics and changes to legislation. Now people often have quite complex financial circumstances and after paying down any debts, I would argue that protection should be the second item on the checklist of their financial plan – no matter whether they are young or in retirement.

RK: You say technology has improved the ease with which advisers can research and sell protection – how has it done so?

PY: The protection world has changed considerably in recent years in that the market has been responding to consumer needs, bringing out a range of products, including multi-benefit, combination, as well as single products, which makes for a complex choice for advisers and their clients. On top of which you have issues such as whether the client will be rated or not.

Advances in technology mean we can bring all those things together in very simple to use software so that people can more easily research and compare insurance products, whether single or multi-benefit.

Also, if an adviser is worried that their client might be rated, then they can far more quickly get an indicative rating and more easily look at the different protection needs, which they can model with the client. Then, if their client is interested, it is very easy to get a full comparison through one piece of software these days.

What’s also making it easier is that alongside advances in research and comparison technology, there have been enormous improvements in the range of products as well as the back-office systems of providers, so it is much easier to access products and there is a far smoother process than there was one or two years ago.

RK: One reason advisers tell us they don’t use protection is that the time and cost involved is prohibitive, especially where multi-benefit and other complex products are involved. Has technology improved that situation?

I can only talk about our technology, but what we do is provide all the different options and advisers can then select what the client needs and when they hit quote, they will see all the relevant products from the various companies on the one screen. It’s astonishingly simple to use.

This has made a huge difference to obtaining quotes for multiple benefit products, for example. When we went out to demonstrate our SolutionBuilder software, we found that people were printing out reams and reams of paper and some of them were also putting those results into a spreadsheet in order to try to make sense of them for the client.

Doing the research and getting the quotes and having them in front of you on one screen is so simple now that I would say there is no excuse for any adviser not to be looking at protection with their clients.

RK: So you’d say that advisers who haven’t looked at the protection market for a while are going to see a massive difference between now and a few years ago?

Wealth managers, mortgage brokers and financial advisers are looking at the technology available and how it’s has made it so much easier to access the right products for their clients and they’re saying to us that it has changed the dynamics of the market.

It’s so much easier now for advisers to talk to their clients about protection and to be able to demonstrate the solutions in front of them. Our SolutionBuilder for example, provides indicative quotes that are accurate to within a pound or so and using sliders that change the period and benefit amount advisers can dial up or down to fit their client’s needs.

RK: How do you see the protection market growing from here on?

It’s all about having more people able to put the right solutions in front of the right people at the right time.

By that I mean, it’s about advisers having the functionality in front of them to be better able to promote a range of different solutions, and who have the means to engage their clients with those solutions. They can show clients what their needs are, what’s available in the market that would suit those needs, they can talk them through that opportunity and then they can write it far more easily than they have ever been able to before. Having more people doing that is what’s going to grow the protection market.

I really think that protection’s time has come – it’s just so much easier to do and there is no cap to the number of people who need it. The only cap is to advisers’ business ambitions.

RK: An adviser could talk to the client using the software and have a specialist member of staff in their back-office working on the after-sale process?

The technology is available on desktop or tablet which means the adviser can be having the conversation with the client either in the office or in their home. They can talk through their needs and find them the right product and then pass it through to someone else to do all the follow up work. That can be someone in their own back-office or some firms pass it on to a specialist to do the follow up. For example, iPipeline is setting up a partner service which will allow advisers to write the business and a specialist company will do all the follow up work for them.

There are all sorts of different models people can use but it’s about making sure it is really efficient for the business. The adviser is making sure that they are following up speedily, and in an aligned way and if they are passing it on to someone else to complete, that it’s part of their business process so the consumer experience is always a good one.

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