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News Review: General Insurance

Make sure your advice is up to scratch by

Jason Berry, head of

distribution and strategy, Safe and Secure

Now that the industry has had time to digest the findings of the Mortgage Market Review most of the suggestions made seem fair and will in the long run, lead to a safer and more stable market. Far from spelling the end

for brokers, the MMR actual- ly recognises and highlights the need for them. Indeed one of the most positive things to come out of the pa- per is the abolishing of non- advised sales, demonstrating that the regulator really does understand the value of un- biased advice. It was always a myth that non-advised sales meant

customers made up their own minds purely from in- formation received. Both bank call centres and inter- net comparison sites were consistently guilty of skilful- ly filtering consumers down certain routes where it was obvious an advice process had been followed. Research subsequently validated that not all consumers purchas- ing via this


route were the financially savvy professional it was thought best fitted the pro- file.

With this type of sale set

to become a thing of the past it seems inevitable that bro- kers’ services will be more in demand than ever. Positively, this means the intermediary market should strengthen with more opportunities from a contracting market even if lending stays circa £130bn.

Review clients’ GI policies

The start of a new year usually gives us the chance to re-evaluate our lives, whether it be deciding to actually start using that gym mem- bership or taking the time to look at our careers and ask ourselves where we could make improvements. It’s a good time then for brokers and IFAs

to review their customer databases and ask themselves if they really are doing enough for the customers they have and making the most of the business opportunities that present themselves. I’m sure the majority of brokers are well versed in conducting their annual consumer reviews as after all it’s basic business practice to check up on your customers on a yearly basis. However, I can’t help but think that many brokers are missing a trick in opting only to con- duct such reviews on mortgages and protection products – the low hanging fruit, so to speak. How many brokers are actively looking into pe-


ripheral areas when reviewing their customers’ financial dealings?

Home insurance, motor insurance, utility bills, wills and trusts are all necessities and the majority of your customers would welcome assistance, especially if that assistance can help them save money. It’s no secret that with prices creeping up (and sometimes falling, as the latest energy price cuts demonstrate) consumers are unsure where to turn to for the best deals. Using comparison sites to find the best costs only gets consumers so far and as highlighted earlier there’s no substitute for good old face to face advice.

In the tough times we’ve all experienced over the last few years we’re only too aware of the importance of retaining customers. By reviewing ALL of your clients’ financial needs as opposed to just the obvious ones brokers should make their offering much more appealing and impor- tantly keep competitors of all types away.

With consumers relying

on advice, brokers need to ensure they stay on top of their game. There is little use in being a jack of all trades but master of none in this business. Brokers should still strive to be experts in areas they enjoy most and are best at. However, consid- eration should be given to partnering with specialists in financial services areas that complement their own businesses. Consumers will require

advice on a range of prod- ucts and if your offering is limited you risk losing that business to a broker with a more rounded offering. Don’t be lulled into think-

ing execution only sales of- fer an alternative to non- advised sales as this area will quite rightly be under mas- sive scrutiny from the regu- lator. Instead, make the most

of the contacts you have and set up introducer relation- ships. Advice is finally being val-

ued so make sure yours is up to scratch.

News in brief

• Good luck to departing Association of Mortgage In- termediaries director general Stephen Gay as he embarks on a new role with the Asso- ciation of British Insurers. As a marketplace let`s now get behind Rob Sinclair, director at AMI, who continues to do a great job getting interme- diary views across to the bureaucrats.

• Recent retirement news continues to demonstrate how ignorant and apathetic UK public are when it comes to pensions or care plan- ning in old age. It’s vital intermediaries articulate just how rubbish future state provision is likely to be and importantly don’t themselves become a negative statistic and use tools available to build their own guaranteed trail incomes.

• Protection providers have just been offered informa- tion that is absolute gold in terms of how they can shape their propositions. 500 IFAs have recently completed a Defaqto survey which highlighted areas that are most important to them. From the top 10 most impor- tant aspects only Treating Customers Fairly and staff competence in dealing with new business saw IFA expectations met. I wonder how many providers will sit up and take note.

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