Specialist life insurance adviser, Ben Day, of Fitzpatrick Financial Services discusses with Risk Adviser the challenges and opportunities facing advisers.
What do you see as the challenges and opportunities facing risk advisers in the future?
The challenges will be the same as always, I think mainly from my experience the main challenge that advisers have is getting in front of people and engaging with them based on their needs – that has been the same issue for a long time. It also is trying to find clients and trying to get them to understand the effects of [significant life changes] things like disability will have.
What are some of the things you have been doing, or looking to do, to increase the engagement you have with your clients?
Going forward, I will be looking at more client-focused engagement. We have talked about – inside our business – the benefits of direct mail. When we talk about direct mail it is actually personalised mail and highlighting their specific needs. So an example would be a client who works as a plumber. I might have 50 clients that work as plumbers and we may have some information that is specifically related to a plumber in regards to something like income protection, so we will send out mail but it will be personally addressed. I have an issue with direct mail where it is just issued as ‘Hi All’ or something that is not personally addressed. We take the little bit of extra time and care to make sure we personalise mail and make sure that when we send mail it is not [generic] content which may or may not be relevant. I believe it is those sorts of things that will make a difference and it is more likely that people will read your mail, because I believe if you send out something that just says ‘Hi All’ it will be binned before it is even read. So something that is personally addressed, that will hit the mark – when clients get something from us they know it is going to be relevant to them and are more likely to read it as a result. That is just one of the things that we are doing and will continue to do going forward to make sure we are hitting the mark and we are building relationships.
You often refer to yourself as an income protection specialist risk adviser, almost a specialist within what is already a specialist side of advice. Do you think that identifying as an income protection specialist helps your engagement with clients?
One hundred per cent.
When you go and see a doctor and you have a specific need or condition, the doctor will go and send you to a specialist and a specialist in that area. They don’t go and send you to a foot specialist for a back problem.
I think we are going against the trend where the financial services industry is going towards more holistic advice models and we are going in the opposite direction where we are setting ourselves up to be the be all and end all when it comes to risk insurance. I was with a client yesterday and they asked if I would be looking into their super and I said no I will not be. I replied, if you would like that sort of advice I will refer you onto someone else, but I do not do that. It is a powerful position to be in with the client because they quickly understand what you are there for and what exactly it is that you do. The industry is going towards more holistic advice, but we are wrapping it up differently simply because I think it is very difficult to be all things to all people. But [if] I am able to say to people, when you come and see me, I will be working very hard to get you the best result I can just in this one specific area, people will build confidence with you very, very quickly. But I believe that when you say you are a specialist you want to make sure that you are. I have seen a lot of advice that could have been carried out a lot better simply because the person was trying to do everything for the client. They were looking after the client’s superannuation, home loan, general insurance and [multiple other areas] instead of saying I am here to help with your risk insurance needs.
Do you see a strong need for the specialist risk adviser in the future?
Absolutely. I think it will be hard for specialist risk advisers to operate in the new world regarding the new remuneration model and a lot of people are going to suffer because of that and a lot of really good advisers are going to get out. I think the future specialist risk adviser market will be very, very limited – which is a shame, and the Australian public are the ones who will miss out – but we believe that people will be calling on us more and more as specialists in this area rather than trying to do it themselves and trying to do it poorly. Smart operators will say we are really good at financial planning and the risk side of things is difficult; we are struggling to make it profitable for us and engage the client properly so why not get someone in to do this for us.
But I also think that the advisers that do survive in the new remuneration world will be massively in demand from clients to have their insurance needs met.
What support would you like to see from insurers so that risk advisers can continue helping and providing advice?
I don’t want to go easy on the insurers because they have caused a lot of the problems. Advisers get blamed for a lot of the problems but it is the insurers that have driven so much of it. But after saying that, they are really limited on what they can do, apart from providing high quality products that are affordable to people and making our underwriting and application process as easy as possible. I think most importantly, what I would like to see, is that they continue to look after people when it comes to a claims situation, and I am sure they will.
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