How Could Life Companies Innovate to Better Support Advisers?

This is the first in a series of “Advisers’ Voice” articles. In this article, Dr Rebecca Sheils, co-founder of the Beddoes Institute, discusses what advisers want from their Life Companies to help them with their businesses.

The Beddoes Institute conducts an Adviser Experience Benchmarking study between November and February each year that underpins the AFA Life Company of the Year Client Service Team Awards including the Underwriting Team of the Year, Claims Management Team of the Year, and Business Development Team of the Year Awards. This study also forms part of Beddoes’ Life Insurance Industry Performance Barometer, which is a 360 degree customer experience suite of studies covering advisers, policyholders and claimants.

The 2015 study concluded on Friday 5 February and asked 16,000 advisers nationwide to rate the performance of their main insurance providers.  This resulted in adviser ratings of life company performance across a range of areas including underwriting and new business administration, business support services and BDM teams, and claims management.

As well as evaluating life company service performance, this study also sought to understand what innovation advisers are looking for in support of their own businesses.  We asked advisers an open ended question, “What is the most important type of product or service innovation you would like to see from Life Insurance Companies to help you with your business?” and half the advisers responded indicating that life company innovation is a ‘hot topic’, many with more than one suggestion.

The top-line findings of this study will be outlined over the coming months in this series of “Advisers’ Voice” articles as well as being formally presented to Life Insurance Companies on behalf of advisers in a Life Insurance Industry Performance Barometer Report.

By conducting a thematic analysis of all of the written responses, we were able to group them into five cohesive and actionable themes and produce an Innovation Agenda for Life Insurance Companies in 2016.  In order of importance to advisers, these are:

  1. Products
  2. Underwriting and New Business Administration
  3. Business Support Services & BDMs
  4. Claims
  5. Commissions

In 2016, product innovation is most important to advisers with 49% of all advisers want this.  Secondly, 37% advisers want the life companies they work with to innovate in the areas of Underwriting and New Business Administration and 35% want Business Support Services and BDMs to help them run better businesses.

The following Adviser’s Voice series of articles will take a deep dive into each of these critical areas, explaining the specific types of product and service innovation advisers are asking for within each area.  The next article will focus on the specific types of product innovation requested by advisers.

Dr Rebecca Sheils is Director and co-founder of the Beddoes Institute, which specialises in delivering research and consulting services to the financial services sector.

The Life Insurance Industry Performance Barometer delivers insights into the needs and expectations that advisers and customers (policyholders and claimants) want from life insurance companies and maps how companies perform in terms of meeting these needs.

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