Whatever 2013 holds, we need to return to the art of actually selling, says Mark Dennison
So, I wonder what can we expect and hope for in 2013 for the protection industry.
For starters RDR will soon be in full force and many advisers will hold up the white flag and join the ranks of protection only advisers.
They may also quickly realise that this isn't quite the easy option that some were looking for and as such a few 'Plan Bs' or even 'Plan Cs' might be in place before we reach the summer.
Hopefully the newly formed Financial Conduct Authority will seek to introduce the long overdue and much needed level four protection qualification to add professionalism to the industry, as well as help separate some of the 'wheat from the chaff'.
Perhaps even the admirable call from LifeSearch for a Protection Sellers Code of Conduct will see some action and become the norm.
All of that said, what would make the most welcome change in 2013 would be if the industry went back to teaching the dying art of selling.
Everybody has conversations and even seminars about products, innovations, professionalism, premiums, definitions, statistics, underwriting and more, but at the same time we have an industry swollen with order takers and naive new entrants, oblivious to the fact that protection has always traditionally had to be sold, rather than bought.
While technology may change this in time, change is often slow when it comes to the protection industry, especially where technology is concerned.
So no wonder the public are often hugely under insured and so few protection policies are taken up.
Where are the salespeople who understand the need to find out about the client's position, project them forward to their potential future situation, ensure they understand the realities of that situation and make appropriate and cost-effect solutions?
Where are the advisers who understand qualified answers, open questions, that can empathise and identify and who realise you have to make it easier for your prospect to buy from you and at the same time make them feel that they've just had the most important conversation they have ever had? Where indeed?
Instead, the industry is fast becoming a minority of skilled protection professionals and a majority of incompetent techies and order takers.
So for 2013 I hope for a lot of things, but most of all I hope that insurers and the wider industry makes use of some of the excellent sales trainers they have had locked away for all these years - and of course for a regulator that truly understands the consumer benefits here when it comes to protection - preferably while we still have time to make a difference.
Mark Dennison is the Owner of LightBlue UK Ltd.