Andy Couchman on Protection Review and the launch of the I Mark – MAF197

On the show this week, I talk to Andy Couchman, co-founder of Protection Review.

We chat about how the Protection Review Conference, Dinner and Awards has grown to become one of the premiere financial services events of the year and the new “I Mark” which seeks to recognise true innovation.

Welcome to episode 197 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Andy Couchman on Protection Review and the launch of the I Mark - MAF197

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • How Andy started Protection Review with another financial services luminary, Peter Le Beau
  • The process Andy goes through to write product reviews and how he scores them
  • What innovation really means in financial services
  • The reasoning behind the launch of the I Mark
  • What companies will have to do to receive the I Mark.

Who is Andy Couchman?

Andy started his career in product marketing roles in various large UK financial services companies.

After leaving corporate life he made a success writing about financial services topics. Together with Peter Le Beau he started Protection Review back in 2003. What started as a paper publication and an annual dinner has turned into a prestigious annual Conference, Dinner and Awards event and a popular website.

Although he has retired from the day to day running of Protection Review, Andy still writes the reviews published each month.

Summary of our chat

In his reviews Andy always remembers that teams of people will have worked hard on launching the product or service he is reviewing. They’ll be looking for the highest score possible. But over the years he’s developed a method of setting a benchmark for the products and services he’s reviewing.

He rarely gives a 10 out of 10. In fact this may only have happened a couple of times.

Until now, Andy has always acknowledged innovation in his reviews. Thinking back to the launch of Critical Illness Cover in 1986 he acknowledges that it was real innovation back then. However the current practice of adding new illnesses and conditions, whilst a good thing because it improves the product, is more evolution than innovation.

That’s why he’s please Protection Review is launching the “I Mark”. It will recognise and promote true innovation in the protection segment of UK financial services.

He’ll still mark his reviews on a scale of 1 to 10, but from now on he’ll also award the I Mark to products and services that offer something different.

Recommended business book

Andy likes Damon Hill’s Autobiography. The racing driver faced many mental health challenges over the years and Andy thinks this is sobering reading and reiterates how important it is for insurance companies to take care of people with similar issues rather than simply rejecting them for cover.

He also recommends Lucian Camp’s book about financial services marketing. Lucian was my first ever guest on the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Links

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Debbie Bolton on underwriting, simpler protection and trust – MAF158m


This week we dive back into the world of financial services and protection. My guest is Debbie Bolton.

We talk about underwriting, protection product development and whether products and processes are getting simpler for customers.

Welcome to episode 158 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Debbie Bolton on underwriting, simpler protection and trust - MAF158

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • A simple definition of underwriting anyone can understand
  • The role of an underwriting development team in an insurance company
  • How AIG Life is speeding up the application process for protection products
  • Why the industry is trying to simplify insurance products
  • How AIG Life works with financial advisers
  • Why trust is a three-way process

Who is Debbie Bolton?

Debbie works for AIG Life. She’s responsible for claims and underwriting strategy. She’s been in the insurance industry for 20 years. 17 in underwriting. The role was completely different when she started, for example, paper-based with stacks of case files.

Starting off in smaller companies, Debbie progressed in her career, moving to Ageas (as AIG was then) as manager for the underwriting development team. The company represented innovation, technology and automation. It was an exciting place. And she says it still does. Debbie says the work is fast-paced, and she loves her job.

Summary of our chat

Underwriting is the combination of science and maths to work out a price for a customer. It looks at an individual’s health, their hobbies, occupational risks and where they travel. Healthy office-workers will pay a lower price than unhealthy people in dangerous jobs.  But the aim is to charge as little as they can so everyone benefits.

Debbie’s team differs from typical underwriters. They set the philosophy of the company.  They’re involved in all AIG Life’s developments. From products to technology. They manage the rules engine, to incrementally and continuously improve the processes for assessing, simplifying and pricing risk.

AIG Life is aiming its “Instant” product at younger, healthier customers who want to take out protection at speed. The application process has no interruptions. So after completing a form, a person knows straight away whether or not they’ve got cover. AIG Life came up with a shorter list of questions people can complete quickly. It offers a favourable price.

Debbie says companies are simplifying products and the processes. She explains that AIG Life customers want instant results. They want their insurance policy as quickly as possible. The shorter quiz has specific questions for identifying risks that would increase premiums. It often cuts out the need for medical evidence.

The response to the “Instant” product has been overwhelmingly positive from financial advisers. AIG Life has a team of underwriters who speak to advisers every day. Their feedback gives the strategy team a better understanding of the issues they face and helps product development.

There needs to be trust between the customers, the advisers and the underwriters in insurance companies. Being available to the advisers builds trust with them, particularly those writing complex cases, so they know they’re getting the best rates. AIG Life want the public to have confidence in their automated service, and to trust the information they offer.

The one thing she’d like listeners to take away

Underwriters and claims assessors are the technicians of the whole case. They decide if a case can be underwritten or a claim paid. As a rule, underwriters start from yes; they want to get a case on the books or pay a claim, as quickly as possible. They don’t want to say no to people.

A marketing campaign or product Debbie loves

Debbie’s recently been impressed with parcel delivery. Wanting to send something to New Zealand at Christmas, she researched a quick and simple solution to get it there in time. She found a company online which gave her a competitive quote, collected her parcel and shipped it six hours after she started looking.

Links and contact details

If you enjoyed – Debbie Bolton on underwriting, simpler protection and trust – please leave a comment or a review on iTunes.

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Kate Stalter on how cognitive biases affect investment decisions – MAF151

This week I talk to Kate Stalter about cognitive biases and how they affect investment decisions.

She’s a journalist turned financial adviser so we also chat about how media coverage can influence people’s biases.

Welcome to episode 151 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Kate Stalter on how cognitive biases affect investment decisions - MAF151

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • Kate’s career from journalist to financial adviser, and more specifically financial educator
  • How news media across the globe affects investments decisions
  • The US perspective on active versus passive investments
  • Avoiding cognitive biases when making financial planning decisions
  • Home country bias and its effect on investment portfolios

Who is Kate Stalter?

Kate works for Better Money Decisions, a US financial adviser firm, and lives in Albuquerque.

She’s been a journalist writing in-depth market analysis for Investor’s Business Daily. She hosted the Daily Stock Analysis and Market Wrap videos on Investors.com and taught Investor’s Business Daily live seminars throughout the US.

She still contributes to Forbes, US News & World Report and TheStreet, but her main focus is helping clients around the US who face decisions about portfolio allocation, Social Security strategies, insurance needs, estate planning, college funding and all manner of financial questions.

Links:

If you enjoyed – Kate Stalter on how cognitive biases affect investment decisions – please leave a comment or a review on iTunes.

And if you know anyone who would enjoy the show – please share it with them. You can use the buttons below to share on social media.

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