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The care factor
BY TONY STEPHENS | THURSDAY, 25 JUL 2019   4:04PM

A good friend of mine lost his son to cancer not long ago, something no parent should ever have to experience. Even though this would have been one of the hardest things he will ever go through, he had the courage to write an article about his experience with his son's financial adviser.

I will paraphrase, but, in short, his "adviser" had not done a particularly good job in managing his son's financial affairs. He had no will, the insurance policies he had were old and not adequate, he had not had a "review" for years, the beneficiaries were incorrect, and he had a trauma policy that should have been claimed while he was sick. All the money in the world was not going to make his son better but imagine the help the removal of this financial burden would have been for his family.

We often write articles about practice management issues; client engagement, client segmentation, client value propositions and the list goes on... sometimes I think (as an industry) we can lose sight of what is really important, and that is the word at the front of those three things just mentioned - client. Being put into these life-altering situations makes you think about what actually is important, for both client and adviser.

I remember very fondly when I first started out in the life insurance industry, a young adviser spoke to me one night (it was the 90's so there would have been beer involved) about the first time he delivered a cheque for a life insurance claim. The widow had held his hand at the funeral. At that time the adviser was one of the most important people in her life, because her husband had the good sense to prepare for his family financially if anything happened to him. And unfortunately it did. The adviser cared. This one story had a huge impact on how I thought about life insurance and financial services.

Do we care enough? Do we do the things in our business that we need to do, to show that we care?

A member of my family also had an experience with cancer. A trauma claim was involved. The insurance company said it was a "partial" claim. The adviser initially agreed with the insurance company. I worked for a life insurance company for 10 years and I did not agree. I told the adviser as much and suggested that he fight a little harder (for his client). The adviser did fight, and the full claim was eventually paid. I wonder if the outcome would have been different if I was not related to the claimant or if they had not asked me for help?

The message here is that when the proverbial hits the fan, people want someone who cares. They want someone to fight for them. They want someone who has dotted the i's and crossed the t's BEFORE there is a problem.

One could argue "knowing the client" and "reviewing" their situation on a regular basis is seen by many as primarily a compliance issue. I would argue it should not be seen as a compliance burden, but more about demonstrating how much the adviser cares about their client.

I think Theodore Roosevelt said it well... "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."

2 comments so far
  

I am a 30 year risk specialist. With respect, this article is repeating the old shibboleth that because a risk policy is " old" it is , ipso facto, not "adequate " It ain't necessarily so. Take IP - in 1988 it was indeed bad - non-coterminous benefit periods, injury definitions designed never to pay for a crook "tradie's back", exclusions for injury involving a "material breach of law" and "plague limitations" on No 4 Statutory Funds. It started to improve in the 90's, and by the mid 2000s, was much improved under the influence of small innovative insurers, all since subsumed into larger insurers. Then insurers discovered they had not priced for claims under the improvements, so little delightful "improvements" such as Capability Clauses and Criminality Clauses were introduced.

Watch out, we are heading backwards, and once all the risk specialists depart under the glare of FASEA & LIF, the insurers will have a picnic with part -time risk advisers.

Trauma & Own Occupation TPD have improved, but if you want some fun, compare stroke definitions today. Severity still abounds in some stroke definition cases

Finally the best value an adviser can provide is at claim. Yet I am still alarmed at the number of holistic advisers who refer the potential claimant direct to the insurer and do not get involved. That is bad business practice, BUT it might also now be a breach of FASEA rules

I do agree a competent adviser review should pick issues with low ( or high ) sum insureds, incorrect beneficiaries etc but please read, and understand, the risk policy terms and conditions

BILL BROWN  |  29 JUL 2019   9.02AM
  

Caring for my clients is and has always been my number one priority (as my business ethos prior to joining this industry and while I'm still a part of it is "look after your clients and the rest takes care of itself"). Sadly, my ability to now do that like I used to has been systematically eroded the last 3-4 years by ASIC's hidden agendas, LIF's constraints and diminishing adviser remuneration, over the top Best Interest Duty compliance obligations and the deceitful, conflicted ambitions of FASEA.

So with all due respect Tony, I'd love to care more for my clients but the regime advisers are currently dealing with makes it near impossible to do that now. And it just infuriates me.

WARREN BAILEY  |  29 JUL 2019   10.24AM
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