When we in the financial services sector talk about ‘protection’, we’re referring to a set of products – life cover, critical illness cover, income protection and the like. However, ‘protection’ for consumers doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing at all.
Talk to consumers about protection and they are just as likely to think about personal protection against physical harm, or protection against disease. We’re all acutely aware of that in Covid times.
So, knowing there is clearly a lack of consumer understanding here about what ‘protection’ is in our terms, it’s advisers who have to be the ones that impart the knowledge about what it could mean for clients and the ‘protection’ it affords.
How best to do that? At our recent annual conference, we had a presentation from David Jones, sales director at Legal and General on this very topic, and it really brought home to me how important the ‘personal’ is when it comes to any discussion of ‘protection’.
The personal touch
For instance, as a differentiator, I too spoke a little about protection to our appointed representative (AR) firms, but I couched it in terms of income lost, in terms of the number of mortgages written which have no protection element to them. To advisory firms I wanted to highlight the missed opportunity in terms of the bottom line.
But, when it comes to protection, advising on it, dealing with mortgage clients who are thinking about a new home or refinance rather than protection, we have to take it back to the personal.
David clearly highlighted this in a short video – and I hope I’m not stealing his presentation thunder – but it was a powerful reminder of just who we’re protecting and the difference it can make, not just to the individual but the entire family unit.
Bringing it back to the personal is incredibly thought-provoking and, I suspect, can make all the difference in terms of how you approach the personal protection needs of your client and their family.
David asked a number of pertinent questions here: What if you woke up and your world had changed? What if you couldn’t work again? What position would you be in? Would you be able to pay your mortgage? Would you be able to pay all your bills? If not, what would it mean to your life?
Some simple questions, but David also asked those in the room to then ask the same question of the last 10 clients they’d advised. How many of those 10 clients had sufficient protection in place to be able to cope with such a situation?
It was a real eye-opener and I suspect every adviser in that room was carrying out some mental gymnastics there and then. Thinking about the clients they had advised who had no, or insufficient, protection in place. Who, for whatever reason and through no fault of their own, would struggle to deal with their financial situation should something bad befall them.
Assess your client base
Look at the clients on your system right now.
Think of those you’ve advised just since the start of the year. Many firms take protection incredibly seriously, but many do not.
In our line of work, it’s possible that you could make a real difference to many, many individuals who later in life may have much to thank you for because you took the time to talk about protection with them, to make them understand what it could do for them personally, and to give them the confidence to take out policies that they would eventually come to rely upon.
How would that make you feel and how would it make them feel? There are so many ways to ensure your client, at the very least, has a protection conversation. Make it personal to you, and I suspect you’ll be more than willing to choose a route that ensures they know exactly what protection means.
Lesley Sharkey is recruitment director at Stonebridge