Operational efficiency has always been the key focus for any professional services business, but where you also operate in a tough regulatory environment, it’s even more critical. However, not only do Risk Advisers face an increased cost of compliance (and seemingly endless change), they’re also seeing reduced income from commissions. And while compliance and commissions take up a lot of focus and airtime these two factors are somewhat immovable – as they are legislated.
So where can you get some of that margin back? Your major supplier is the first place to look.
I spoke at a professional development day recently and was asked to go back in time a bit and look at recent history in life insurance. For the ‘this is my first job’ demographic within the audience, I passed around a ‘memo’ from 1989 – a quaint, hand typed missive that would wander around inboxes back then… which were actually boxes that sat on your desk. Then came the fax machine. Then came email. Now we have portals and applications – that process work in real-time.
What is important to highlight here is not the history lesson itself, but to understand that with changes in technology there are changes in expectations, and life insurance has always been a people business, and an emotional one. What we do and what we say has implications for people’s lives and livelihood, so the time taken becomes a reflection of that importance. It was ok to call someone back a few days later, now a same day response is appropriate (ideally within a few hours).
At Integrity, we have embraced technology to the extent that is can speed up processes that don’t need my attention so that ultimately, I have more time to do the human stuff. Like speak to Advisers, provide considered decisions, facilitate their advice, understand their business, and clients.
Underwriters, policy administrators, and even more importantly, claims managers – need to be efficient with the routine stuff – get it right every time – so they can concentrate on the less routine. But those less routine issues are the ones that really count in life insurance. The ability to consider and write a contract so a customer can take a risk and start or expand their business. The customer on claim, who could use a slightly longer chat with their claims manager, or adviser. To help them through that time.
And, you know what? More time spent talking about the needs of our customers, supported by great digital tools – might go some way to making this business fun again. Fun because we can engage more, riskies are fun people! And having done our job from sale to claim, we can also be satisfied we’ve met our noble purpose.