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Underwriters look to adviser example

The strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by many financial advisers in their client relationships should be emulated by insurance underwriters, says a senior Zurich executive.

Speaking to ifa, Zurich Financial Services chief underwriting officer Phil Anderson said the recent Association of Financial Advisers-Beddoes Institute white paper, which found there is demand for soft skills from advice clients, has implications for the underwriting industry.

“A good adviser is one that has a very good technical level but also can create empathy, understanding, caring and get down to the needs of the client and communicate effectively,” Mr Anderson said.

“That is exactly the same skill set I would want to have – and expect to have – in an underwriter working with an adviser. Underwriters need to build trusted relationships with advisers, just as advisers need to build trusted relationships with their clients.”

Mr Anderson said the development of communication and interpersonal skills would give underwriting professionals a “competitive advantage” when building business relationships with advisers.

“Technical skills are a given – the client expects that – but on top of that, a level of interpersonal skill is necessary.”

Financial advisers and underwriters are also united in that they both are affected by the global underinsurance problem. Mr Anderson – who recently returned to Australia after several years in Hong Kong – says the two industries can work together to educate consumers on the importance of insurance.