The Only Hope for Protection Market Growth is the “Social” Financial Adviser

Protection continues to struggle. According to Swiss Re’s Term and Health Watch report 2014, term insurance sales are down 17.4% year on year, critical illness cover is down 21% and income protection is down 24%.

We’ve talked for years about what we can do to make protection grow. Is it generic TV advertising? Or simpler products?

Whilst some companies are dabbling with new direct to consumer approaches, providers to the adviser sector seem content to add complexity to existing products to keep their slice of a shrinking cake.

I think it is up to the financial adviser to stimulate protection market growth – and I’m speaking about this at the Financial Liverpool May event.

Protection Market Growth

Here’s an outline of what I’m going to cover.

Protection is the cornerstone of anyone’s financial existence. And yet the market remains flat and consumers remain indifferent.

Providers are locked in a price and conditions war that layers more complexity onto products and processes. Complexity requires advice but complexity doesn’t engage clients or grow markets.

I believe that the only way we can grow the market now is through advisers using social media and content to find more customers. The “Social” Financial adviser is now key to future success.

In this presentation we’ll consider:

  • The current state of the protection market and its products. There’s no going back from complexity, but how can we better help clients understand what’s available

  • Will complexity in the adviser market drive clients to buy direct? Many providers seem to think that D2C is the way forward for protection. Is this true?

  • How can advisers grow the market using social media and content? For most consumers financial services are of no interest until suddenly it is the most important thing on their minds. How can we be there when it “gets urgent”?

To find out more about the event please click here.

If you can’t make it – I’ll post my script as another post in June.

Now it’s your turn: What do you think about growth in the protection market? Do we need TV advertising? Will more D2C products increase awareness and encourage more people to seek financial advice? Is the only hope for protection market growth the “Social” Financial Adviser?

Please leave a comment or a link to your own blog or article.

Avoiding Airline Check In Queues and Speeding Up Protection

Why does everything seem so complicated these days?

Especially with so much online technology which should speed up processes and make customer experiences better.

I asked this question in my latest Blog for Financial Reporter with specific reference to the time it can take to process a piece of protection business. In the article I draw a tangent to my trick for avoiding airline check in queues. Check it out. It’s guaranteed to mean you’ll never have to queue at check in again.

Click on the photo below to link to the article.

Speeding Up Protection

Now it’s your turn: What cheeses you off about complex modern processes? What would you like to see technology change? What can we do to go about speeding up protection? Do you think protection sales would benefit from a much quicker application process? And what “premium” could we charge for that?

Are Scary Headlines really needed to guarantee more Eyeballs on Screens?

Do you want someone to read your email, blog, article, or newsletter?

Of course. We all do.

Marketers like me will tell you the key to success is to craft a irresistible headline. Pick up any newspaper or magazine from a newsagent’s shelf and scan the headlines and you’ll see that the media have this down to a fine art.

Scary Headlines

(Click on the picture if you want to Tweet this article)

The glossies are the masters of this science. In fact writing tutors encourage students to study titles like Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health to learn how to do it.

Here’s a Cosmopolitan article title:

20 Ways to Make Him Scream. In a good way

Here’s one from Men’s Health:

15 Powerfoods that Fight Fat

Headlines with statistics seem more effective. And if the statistics are scary – all the better.

But what about manipulating statistics to increase clicks? What about subtle interpretation of statistics to embellish a story to guarantee more eyeballs on screens? I ask this because Regulators have lambasted the Protection Industry for using scary statistics in the past. How far is it acceptable to go?

Let me give you an example.

Being partial to a nice bottle of red wine, especially if the grape is Zinfandel and it comes from California, a headline in a newspaper alarmed me recently claiming that a new study says that just one glass of red wine per day could increase your chance of getting throat cancer by 168%.


Wow that’s a huge increase isn’t it? I bet a lot of people who read that would be worried enough to read the article. I was (proving of course that the scary headline technique works).

But what is annoying, when you look into the detail of the article, is that they never tell you what the baseline is. What is the 168% increase on top of?

If the real chance of getting throat cancer is 1 in 1 million then a 168% increase on that turns a miniscule chance into a slightly more than miniscule but still miniscule chance. So it’s a non-story. Red wine drinkers however couldn’t resist clicking through and reading the copy.

And here’s an example from the Protection Industry. I recently came across an article with the following scary headline:

40 to 60 is the most dangerous time of life

They’d written the article about some figures Reinsurer RGA released stating that, “The majority of life insurance and critical illness claims are for people between the age 40 and 60.”

Whilst RGA’s claims figures are correct the headline’s interpretation of the statistics was completely wrong.

Scary Headlines

It is certainly true that age 40 to 60 is when most illnesses and deaths happen (and therefore claims) among the INSURED population. But given the average policy is taken out by someone in their 30s for about 25 years that’s absolutely expected.

If you looked at the wider population as a whole – most illnesses and deaths would not take place during that window. At a much older age in fact. The headline is more of a “interpretation of the stats” and not reality.

Does it matter if a headline is technically wrong as long as it compels someone to read it? In this example the more people reading might prompt more of them to go and seek advice about protecting their finances. That’s not a bad outcome is it?

If a life insurance company used that headline in a brochure there’s no way it would be compliant. They wouldn’t be able to use it.

But the media are not subject to those same compliance concerns. So are scary headlines, even wrong scary headlines, justifiable as long as they guarantee more click-throughs?

Now it’s your turn: What do you think about scary headlines and the interpretation of statistics? If it makes more people read articles that might ultimately benefit them is it acceptable? Please leave a comment below and let me know your views.