Wimpie Mouton, PPS Executive: Life Broker Services
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only stifled the economy but has changed the way we live and do business. Before the lockdown, we relied on face-to-face meetings with clients, but the pandemic has necessitated a fundamental shift towards adoption of technology and concurrent adjustment in managing portfolios and relationships.
Digital interaction has become the new normal in business practice as we navigate the restrictions placed on physical human interaction.
Programmes, products and tools such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts or Zoom have seen a sharp increase in usage to enable client interaction and for online training and tutorials. Modifications, development and improvements to Robo Advice tools aimed at assisting financial advisers and facilitating remote analysis and interaction have also increased.
Complying with CPD levels has never been easier. Many financial advisers are using this opportunity to update themselves in all respects as the future of major national conventions and conferences remain uncertain.
The question is what the role of the financial adviser is when technology is replacing the pre-pandemic way of doing business.
The role of financial advisers under Covid-19
Any crisis creates feelings of fear, anxiety, uncertainty and even dread. Couple that with social distancing and lockdown, and you may feel disconnected from your business and your clients. In this financial decision-making environment, financial advisers may live in fear of the next call given the number of clients seeking ways to make it through the month on their limited or reduced income. The volatile investment market has further added to their jitters as retirement savings are impacted.
The time now is to be the steady guiding hand for your clients. To be calm amid the financial storm.
Clients need to hear from their financial advisers more regularly. Reach out. Have that difficult conversation. Don’t wait for your client to call you – they may be making that call when their emotions are fraught and their decision-making compromised.
This is the moment to play a leading role in providing quality financial advice, reminding clients why they sought financial protection at the outset. Relationships are strengthened and greater trust is built when financial advisers are seen as a financial partner through thick and thin, rather than only being the intermediary to a product purchase.
In these emotional times, financial advisers have to be unemotional, clear and give fact-based, objective opinions suited to each individual’s need. For example, the advice you give to a young graduate professional should be different to the advice you give to a rising career professional starting a family versus one who is approaching retirement.
Opportunities for insurance and financial advisers during this adversity
Under the current circumstances, financial advisers who solidify their role as knowledgeable financial guides will be best placed to make use of the opportunities given during these difficult times.
Personal financial needs and risks are not suspended during Covid-19 times and good analysis and advice is as important now as in any other circumstance. Even if no immediate sale or product implementation is possible, do a good job, make the remote or digital contact, have the discussions and at least give your client information and peace of mind that will pave the way for action as soon as the new normality returns.
Long term client relationships are ultimately far more valuable and lucrative than short term sales and gains.
The greatest opportunity now is to drive home the real and tangible value of having a financial adviser. This will be apparent to your clients from the quality of advice given, the knowledge and insights provided and consistent engagement using digital consultations and telephonic interactions about their portfolios.
This is the greatest opportunity – positioning you as a financial partner of your client in good and bad times.
The PPS differentiator
The combination of a reliable financial adviser and a good product is a recipe for success.
While many other life product suppliers have imposed cover limits and have restricted applications for new and additional cover, PPS has made concessions, making proper cover unchanged from before the coronavirus outbreak. We have extended our sickness claim definition to accommodate Covid-19 related claims for asymptomatic situations, and have refined the options available for assisting with payment of premiums during these financially stressed times. Professionals need to know of these options and opportunities and need financial advisers to inform them and advise accordingly.
This is not the only differentiator.
Financial advisers and insurers need to be digitally adept and embrace innovation as part of their future-fit business model. As part of our efforts to support digital transformation and to change the model of our intermediary business approach at PPS, we have introduced digital application forms, automated underwriting as well as changed our quotes system and business operations system for brokers. We have also launched a play-zone where financial advisers can develop scenarios based on clients’ portfolios in a way which is simple and easy for them to discuss with their clients.
Another major differentiator in engaging with graduate professional members that will help financial advisers seal the deal is the PPS Profit-Share Account. Members who have purchased PPS qualifying products will benefit from the PPS Profit-Share Accounts. The pooled money of all Profit-Share Accounts is reinvested and members benefit from compound interest, based on the performance of the markets. Funds in the Profit-Share Account are vested and payable tax-free at retirement age.
Financial advisers have to remind clients of the Profit-Share Account benefits as well as why they bought insurance in the first instance, and that in the instance of risk insurance, the importance of life cover as a way they can leave a legacy for future generations.
PPS is an authorised financial services provider.