Life insurers challenged by waning planner loyalty

Almost half of all financial planners cut ties with at least one life insurer in the last 12 months and a further 27% intend to follow suit.

Investment Trends' annual Planner Risk report for 2017 shows a record 47% of planners changed life insurer last financial year, up from 45% in 2016 and 35% in 2015, while more than a quarter said they would like to establish a new insurer relationship in the coming year.

Senior analyst King Loong Choi said the findings highlight the need for insurers to articulate a value proposition that extends across the entire value chain.

"Insurers need to provide support from the back end, through seamless underwriting and online applications, all the way to the front end, by assisting planners with client engagement and education," Choi said.

"Insurers that cultivate their planner relationships and maintain high satisfaction levels will benefit from lower attrition levels."

This is of particular importance given the changing nature of life insurance advice as planners prepare their businesses for the impact of the Life Insurance Framework (LIF).

The research shows planners becoming more dependent on hybrid commission models as upfront commissions are faded out, though many of the planners surveyed by Investment Trends maintain that the reforms will be of no benefit to their practice, the financial planning industry or consumers.

"Many planners are evolving their business to meet the regulatory requirements. In addition to these changes, planners face a raft of other challenges in providing life insurance advice including paperwork, admin and compliance," Choi said.

Choi said insurance and technology provider assistance is more vital than ever in helping planners expand their life insurance advice as evidenced by the 70% of planners who seek additional support, commonly around improved process efficiencies, the LIF reforms, and business support.

The survey findings suggest insurers are - for the most part - meeting the challenge, with 90% of planners industry-wide rating their primary life insurer as 'good' or 'very good', however this is down from 94% year-on-year.

ClearView received the award for overall satisfaction for the first time in the report's nine-year history, with BT Life and AIA Australia rounding out the top three.

"It's exceedingly pleasing that the advisers we deal with have thought it appropriate to recognise us like this. I think it's proof that our product, relationship expertise and service come together nicely to provide a harmonious balance for advisers and clients - that's why they choose Clearview," ClearView general manager of distribution Christopher Blaxland-Walker said.

Read more: LIFlife insuranceClearViewInvestment TrendsAIA AustraliaBT LifeChristopher Blaxland-Walkerfinancial planningKing Loong ChoiLife Insurance Frameworkrisk advice
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