How can Financial Services Professionals better engage with their clients?

Are we fighting a losing battle trying to overcome public perception that protection insurance is expensive, difficult to buy and that insurers go out of their way to decline claims?

At a national level this might be the case.

I’ve written before about the concept of “confirmation bias”. If someone has a viewpoint there are plenty of articles and videos online which will confirm their viewpoint. And it is human nature not to go looking for something that supports the opposite view.

Financial Services Professionals

Over two decades we’ve seen massive efforts by the protection industry to improve. Customer service is better. Marketing and technical material is simpler and easier to understand. And we’ve increased the percentage of claims paid up into the high 90%.

But such is the national media’s influence that the public still believe the opposite.

Confirmation bias works because the Daily Mail and other publications still publish enough negative articles, and have a huge back catalogue of content, that perpetuates the view.

National Media shapes a national viewpoint.

Take the Westminster offshore investment scandal as an example. Many newspapers ran stories condemning David Cameron for “dodging” and “avoiding” inheritance tax. Everyone is up in arms about this. It proves that David Cameron is a crook doesn’t it? He must resign.

It took Martin Lewis to point out on Twitter:

“Dear fellow journalists, calling legit inheritance tax planning dodgy, even if it’s Cameron, is wrong. Pls stop.”

As I write this people have liked Martin’s tweet 1900 times and retweeted it 2700 times.

That’s an overwhelming vote of support for his correct viewpoint. But I guarantee that the articles about David Cameron being crooked will continue, thus adding to the weight of confirmation bias against him.

Can the UK protection industry hope to overcome such a media view at a national level?

In his recent Cover Magazine article Kevin Carr suggested that we should pay all claims and not rely upon definitions. Leading industry personalities responded saying this wasn’t possible. Prices would go up.

On the assumption that paying all claims, perhaps by using a “something bad happening” catch all definition, isn’t going to happen, we have to assume the media will continue to fuel confirmation bias at a national level. If we can’t pay every claim, then there will always be some declines that the press can pick up on.

In fact, you can guarantee that even if providers paid 99.9% of claims, the media would still report its outrage on the 0.1% declined.

The solution to the problem then is for the industry to focus its attention at the local level. One of the keynote speeches I have in my kit bag is, “The Only Hope for Protection Market Growth is the Social Financial Adviser”. I still believe that this is the case.

It’s the financial adviser that has strong relationships with their clients at a local level. Whilst the national psyche is that you can’t trust financial planners, individual advisers have the strong trust of their own clients.

We can change things.

Many people talk about social media and using it to find more clients. It’s definitely possible to do this but we must remember that social media is not a promotional vehicle. It’s an engagement platform. A method to create, build and strengthen relationships with new and existing clients. A foundation to build trust.

Telling positive stories, about the 90% plus claims statistics for example, and building upon that trust in those relationships might help change public opinion much more than battling against the established national media fueled perception that continues to hinder protection market growth.

Now it’s Your Turn:

What have you been doing to promote your business and engage with more clients? Please share your ideas here or on social media.

Cover magazine originally published a version of this piece in the May 2016 issue.