A Four Hour Work Week. Seriously? Two Business Books worth your time.

If you want to read a couple of business books that are truly different then look no further than Tim FerrissThe 4 Hour Work Week and The 4 Hour Chef.

business books

If you think everything is too complex these days then you will like Tim’s style. He is very successful in cutting through clutter, seeing the big picture immediately and getting to results. This certainly resonates with me when I see an increasingly complex industry with increasingly more complex processes, products and rules.

Tim has many interesting and funny stories to tell.

For example he won the gold medal in the Chinese Kickboxing National Championships. Not because he was any good at Chinese kickboxing but because he read the rules and looked for unexploited opportunities. Much to the annoyance of the Chinese judges, he won the competition snatching victory from those who had 5 to 10 years experience. If you read his story you will learn how he literally pushed them out-of-the-way.

Now I know that your first thought when you look at The 4 Hour Work Week will be, “That’s not possible.”

However the 4 hours is not really the point. What he demonstrates is how to cut the complexity and the bureaucracy and the clutter in our lives and focus immediately on results.

business books

Tim Ferriss’s other book , The 4 Hour Chef,  is also a captivating read. Again you don’t really expect to become a chef in 4 hours, although there are some amazingly tasty recipes in this book that are genuinely easy to cook and wouldn’t look out-of-place in a Master Chef final.

Have a look at the “Sexy-Time Steak” recipe. Truly mouth-watering results.

Here’s the thing. The book isn’t really about learning to cook. It’s about learning ANY new skills.  And it’s about learning those new skills quickly, and successfully. Once again Tim describes how to cut the clutter from the learning process, allowing you to focus on results. As business books go these are entertaining,  insightful, funny and in some instances, a revelation.

Now it’s your turn: Have you read Tim Ferriss’s business books The 4 Hour Work Week or The 4 Hour Chef? What did you think? Have you tried any of the techniques? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below or post a link to your own reviews.

Have recent product developments shown that it’s time to put Income Protection first?

Have recent product developments shown that Income Protection is now on the right trajectory?

We now have some momentum that will continue until we are left, hopefully, with a product that is simple, easy to understand and, most importantly, protects people when they need it most – when they can not do their “own” occupation.

Please read my latest article in Financial Adviser – just click on the picture below.

Income Protection

Now it’s your turn: Now that most companies are offering “own” occupation for most jobs, what do providers need to do next to make Income Protection simpler to understand? Please leave a comment or post a link to your own article.

What do you think is the Future of Critical Illness Cover in the UK?

If a journalist phoned you and asked you what you thought was the future of critical Illness cover in the UK, how would you answer?

Would you say it had a bright future? Can it look forward to stronger sales and growth? Or  would you say that the market will remain flat?

Critical Illness

(Click here to tweet this article.)

I don’t know about you but I hoard things. Press cuttings, articles, comment pieces, ebooks, everything. It’ s given me an opportunity to look back at some of the answers people gave to the “future of critical illness cover” question over the last twenty years. Most were very optimistic about growth. Many mention “complexity” and the “illness race”.

One article in particular stands out. It was written by high-profile protection adviser, John Joseph, in the early 1990s. The gist of the article was as follows.

“Critical illness cover is important. But each company covers a different set of conditions. And they all use different definitions. How is an adviser meant to cut through that complexity and make a sound recommendation? We need standard definitions.”

After a few years of campaigning in the media and speaking at conferences, John Joseph finally created inertia for standardisation. First came the AIFA standard definitions for six core illnesses. Then came the Association of British Insurers (ABI) standard twenty (now twenty-three) in 1999.

Thanks to John Joseph’s efforts sales of critical illness cover began to take off. The market grew. Everyone agreed that the future of critical illness cover was very bright indeed. That’s what they said to journalists then.

But are we actually any further forward now than we were twenty years ago?

Most mainstream critical illness propositions cover up to 50 conditions. That’s twice as many as the ABI standard twenty three. And most providers offer what has become know as “ABI Plus” definitions. These offer better cover by missing out some of the standard small print. Whilst this is good for the customer, and means providers pay more claims, it also means that we are exactly where John Joseph described all those years ago. Each company covers a different set of illnesses. And they all use different definitions.

The original round of standardisation created market growth. Since the product has become more diverse again sales have flat lined. And yet there is not a month that goes buy without another product launch added more conditions, partial payments and new takes on “ABI Plus”.

They may give clients comprehensive cover but they are complex and difficult to understand. So is the future of critical illness cover simpler products?

One adviser I spoke to doesn’t think so:

“You might expect a simplified product to work but it won’t in the independent market. You can’t differentiate the simplified product on price without removing one of the five top reasons for claim so only removing illnesses 10 and above is going to make almost no difference whatever, other than the perception that you’ve made the product worse. Advisers won’t sell it – why should they? Their fear is their client would get that very obscure disease at number 12 on the claims chart and sue them for not recommending a product that was available at a similar price which covered it.”

My conclusion is that product providers make the propositions more complex purely to gain more share of a market which is declining because it’s complex. The mechanics of the industry feeds our craving for complexity and stifles the potential success simplicity could bring.

Now it’s your turn: So what would you say to that journalist about the future of critical illness cover? Do you agree with my diagnosis? I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment by clicking below or leave a link to your own article.